Study: Fake Malaria Drugs Threaten Progress
Fake, poor quality malaria drugs are widespread throughout southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa—undermining efforts to fight the disease. More than one-third of malaria medicines in those areas are bogus and contain the wrong chemical makeup, according to a study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. It's a lucrative business for counterfeiters, bringing in high profits and scant punishment. While some of the drugs are clearly counterfeits, others are expired and repackaged, while others yet are poorly made with too little active ingredient, the New York Times reports. The situation is serious, the study authors say, because fake drugs can lead to death and promote resistance that could eventually render actual medicines useless. Over the past couple years, the Thailand-Cambodia border, for example, has seen increasing resistance to the only drugs used to cure the disease. "Production and distribution of counterfeit antimalarial drugs should be prosecuted as crimes against humanity," the study authors wrote.
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You Really Are What You Eat
If your mental image of an older person is someone frail and thin, it may be time for an update. For the generation currently moving through middle age and beyond, a new concern is, well, growing: obesity. Government figures show that Americans in their 60s today are about 10 pounds heavier than their counterparts of just a decade ago. And an even more worrisome bulge is coming: A typical woman in her 40s now weighs 168 pounds, versus 143 pounds in the 1960s. "People used to start midlife [at a lower weight] and then lose weight when they got into their 50s, but that doesn't happen as much anymore," says David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and author of The End of Overeating.
If you're entering that danger zone now, be aware that it's not going to get any easier to lose weight, because people need fewer calories as they age. Blame slowing metabolism and the body's tendency starting in midlife to lose muscle mass—a process known as sarcopenia—and gain fat, especially around the abdomen. (Fat burns fewer calories than does muscle.) "All that conspires to make it harder for people to maintain the same body weight when they eat their usual diets," says Alice Lichtenstein, director of the cardiovascular nutrition laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. "People have fewer discretionary calories to play with, so they need to make better food choices." [Read more: You Really Are What You Eat]
Are You Sitting Yourself to Death?
Do you exercise every day—pounding the pavement, breaking a sweat, raising your heart rate—all in the name of good health? Well, recent studies suggest that when it comes to your risk of premature death, all that physical activity may not matter as much as you think.
Prolonged periods of inactivity—best described as sitting a lot—is unhealthy. Deadly, even. In a survey of some 220,000 adults, those who sat for more than eight hours a day had a 15 percent greater risk of dying within three years than those who sat for fewer than four hours a day, found a March study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. This risk still held true for those who spent part of their day exercising. The results were worse for those who sat for 11 hours or more a day. They had a 40 percent greater risk of early death compared to those who sat for under four hours. It should be noted, researchers say, that the study didn't prove that sitting caused this risk. It could very well be that people who tend to sit longer are less healthy or have a condition that makes it difficult to walk or stand. Further studies to clarify the relationship between sitting and mortality are needed.
Previous studies, though, have discovered similar results. In 2010, the American Cancer Society released a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology stating that men who sat for six hours or more a day in their leisure time had an overall death rate that was nearly 20 percent higher than men who sat for three hours or less in the 14-year follow-up period. Women who sat for more than six hours a day had a death rate that was almost 40 percent higher. And again, dedicated exercise had no neutralizing effect. [Read more: Are You Sitting Yourself to Death?]
Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.