Roundup: High Exercise Level Reduces Risk of 5 Chronic Diseases; FDA's First e-Cigarette Regulations Take Effect

Exercise can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, but few studies have helped determine just how much physical activity is needed to fully reap the benefits.

Researchers in the United States and Australia analyzed 174 studies published between 1980 and 2016 to determine the effect of exercise on five diseases: breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The bottom line: The more a person exercises, the greater the benefit — until a point.

The high level of exercise needed to help prevent the five diseases was deemed at 3,000 to 4,000 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes a week. Benefits stopped beyond the activity level of 4,000 MET minutes a week. MET measures the energy expended from certain type of physical activities or exercise. It is calculated by the number of calories an activity can burn multiplied by the number of minutes a person takes to complete the activity.

The study, published this week in The BMJ, explained that you can achieve 3,000 MET minutes a week by including different physical activities in everyday living. Those activities can include climbing stairs for 10 minutes, vacuuming for 15 minutes, gardening for 20 minutes, running for 20 minutes, and walking or cycling for 25 minutes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines the MET value of several activities, including walking the dog, biking, gymnastics, mountain climbing, aerobic dancing and various sports.

“With population aging, and an increasing number of cardiovascular and diabetes deaths since 1990, greater attention and investments in interventions to promote physical activity in the general public is required,” the study concludes. “More studies using the detailed quantification of total physical activity will help to find a more precise estimate for different levels of physical activity.”

The high level of activity cited in the study far exceeds 600 METS, which equates to 150 minutes per week of brisk walking or moderate-intensity activity. That’s how much the American Heart Association recommends as a minimum for achieving cardiovascular health. It also recommends additional sessions of moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening exercises, at least two days per week.

Risks of the five conditions dropped significantly with an increase in MET minutes per week from 600 to 3,000-to-4,000.

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FDA’s First e-Cigarette Regulations Take Effect

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially started regulating the sale of e-cigarettes this week. Based on the agency’s ruling that was finalized in May, the FDA now considers e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other related electronic devices as “tobacco products,” and their sale to anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited.

A key motivation for the FDA was the rising popularity of e-cigarettes and hookahs among young people. A recent report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found that e-cigarette use among high school students has soared from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015 (a 900 percent-plus increase). Meanwhile, the use of hookahs has also risen significantly.

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement urging U.S. health officials to go even further and ban e-cigarettes to anyone under 21. The evolving popularity of e-cigarettes is “threatening to addict a new generation to nicotine,” according to the AAP’s statement.

Starting this week, retailers will need to treat “e-cigs” the same way they treat cigarettes and cigars. They will have to verify the customer’s age against their photo ID. Meanwhile, most manufacturers will need to verify with the FDA that their products don’t carry any additional health risks. The regulations are outlined in the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which governs the sale of tobacco products to minors.

“E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and use continues to climb,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement earlier this year. “No form of youth tobacco use is safe. Nicotine is an addictive drug and use during adolescence may cause lasting harm to brain development.”

E-cigarettes are battery-powered products that typically deliver nicotine in the form of an aerosol. Hookahs are water pipes that are used to smoke specially made tobacco that comes in different flavors, according to the CDC.

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