Roundup: Latest on 'Too Much Sitting'; Toxins in E-Cigs; and E. Coli in Ground Beef

Americans are Still Sitting for Too Long Or Less Active, New Research Shows

Despite awareness campaigns and recommendations from doctors, dietitians and fitness trainers, Americans are increasingly sedentary, spending even more time sitting down — and computers get some of the blame, according to new research.

Numerous other studies have linked sedentary lifestyles, or too much sitting, to a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. A new study involving nearly 52,000 participants measured sedentary behaviors from 2001 through 2016.

The results showed that rates of too much sitting remained at the same high level or increased over that time period, fueled by an increase in computer usage and TV watching, according to the study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The estimated total sitting time increased from 7 hours a day in 2007 to 8.2 hours a day 2016 among adolescents, and from 5.5 to 6.4 hours a day among adults, the study found.

Most U.S. adults and kids watched TV or videos for at least two hours daily. That figure is mostly unchanged throughout the findings, ranging from about 60 percent of children aged 5 to 11, up to 84 percent for older adults.

“The estimated prevalence of sitting watching television or videos for at least 2 hours per day generally remained high and stable,” the study’s authors concluded. “The estimated prevalence of computer use during leisure-time increased among all age groups, and the estimated total sitting time increased among adolescents and adults.”

U.S. physical activity guidelines say adults need at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week. That includes brisk walking, jogging, biking or a sports activity such as tennis. Muscle strengthening two days weekly is also recommended.

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E-Cigs Contain Toxins That Can Cause Respiratory Issues, Harvard Study Finds

Harvard researchers say they have found bacterial and fungal toxins in popular electronic cigarette products (e-cigarettes).

A new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed 75 popular e-cigarette products — both cartridges (single use) and e-liquids (refillable material). They found that 27 percent contained traces of endotoxin, a toxic substance secreted by “Gram-negative” bacteria, and that 81 percent contained traces of glucan, which is found in the cell walls of most fungi.

Exposure to these microbial toxins has been associated with health problems in humans, including asthma, reduced lung function, and inflammation, researchers say.

“Airborne Gram-negative bacterial endotoxin and fungal-derived glucans have been shown to cause acute and chronic respiratory effects in occupational and environmental settings,” said David Christiani, Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics and senior author of the study. “Finding these toxins in e-cigarette products adds to the growing concerns about the potential for adverse respiratory effects in users.”

The study, which is published in Environmental Health Perspectives, examined 37 e-cigarette cartridges, also referred to as “cigalikes,” and 38 e-liquid products, which can be used to refill some cartridges, from the 10 top-selling U.S. brands. The products were classified into four different flavor categories: tobacco, menthol, fruit, and other.

The study also found that endotoxin concentrations “were higher in fruit-flavored products, indicating that raw materials used in the production of flavors might be a source of microbial contamination,” researcher said.

The use of e-cigarettes has been steadily climbing in recent years, especially among high school and middle school students. It’s estimated that more than three million high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018, up from 220,000 in 2011.

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E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Ground Beef Covers 10 States, CDC Says

At least 156 people in 10 states, included Florida, have fallen ill from E. coli after eating tainted ground beef at home and in restaurants, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of those, 20 have been hospitalized, the CDC says. But there have been no reports of deaths. People infected range in age from under 1 to 83 years old, with a median age of 19.

“Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of raw ground beef supplied to grocery stores and restaurant locations where ill people reported eating,” the CDC states in an update this week.

K2D Foods this week recalled about 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. But additional analysis is needed to determine if there is a link to the current outbreak, officials said.

Subsequently, Grant Park Packing of Franklin Park, Illinois recalled about 53,200 pounds of ground beef out of concern that it may be contaminated with E. coli. Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia have the most cases in the outbreak – 65, 41 and 33, respectively. Illnesses have also been reported in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia, the CDC says.

The CDC adds that “no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef” has been identified in the E. coli outbreak.

The CDC states that it “is not recommending that consumers avoid eating ground beef at this time. Consumers and restaurants should handle ground beef safely and cook it thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness.”

Symptoms of E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. The symptoms usually begin three to four days after exposure to the bacteria. Most people infected recover in five to seven days.

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