NEWS FLASH: Exercise and Surviving Cancer, Dogs and Longevity, and When Too Little Sleep is Deadly

Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at new exercise guidelines to help both people in cancer treatment and those wishing to avoid the disease, as well as new studies on dog ownership and living longer and why getting less than six hours of sleep can be deadly for certain populations.

Exercise should be part of the treatment for cancer

Just a little bit of exercise could help people avoid and survive many types of cancer, according to new exercise guidelines issued by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Cancer Society, and 15 other organizations.

The guidelines, covered by the The New York Times, provide advice on how much and what types of exercise may be the most helpful and tolerable for those receiving a diagnosis of this common disease.

While exercise does build strength, reduce fatigue and fight the gloom, scientists and patients alike worried that it might somehow make people’s condition worse, despite a 2010 report urging activity, and assuring that exercise was safe for most people in cancer.

In the last decade, strides in research related to exercise and cancer persuaded this latest panel that exercise should be part of treatment recommendations, as well as a means to significantly drop the risk of developing it in the first place.

Consider this: The scientists involved in this research report that physically active people have as much as a 69 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with certain types of cancer than sedentary people.

Based on these findings, the authors recommend that people with cancer should aim to exercise at least three times per week at a moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, and also try to lift weights twice a week if possible.

Your fur baby may be doing more for your health than you realize

You eat right, you exercise, and get plenty of sleep to live a long, healthy life. But do you have a dog?

A new study published in the journal Circulation, which reviewed several decades worth of research on dog ownership and mortality in 3.8 million people, found that dog ownership was associated with a 24 percent risk reduction for “all-cause mortality as compared to non-ownership.”

Greater benefits were found among those who’d experienced cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke, according to the Washington Post.

What is it about owning a dog that’s so darn healthy? A cardiologist weighed in on an accompanying editorial, saying that it was not only the mental health benefits of their companionship but the physical requirement of walking a dog each day and getting outdoors. The simple act of petting a dog has been shown to lower blood pressure.

But to make a definitive statement on dog ownership and longer life, researchers say there need to be randomized, controlled trials that track the health of groups who have both purchased a dog or remained petless.

Getting less shut-eye can be more deadly for these groups

If you have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or existing heart disease and you typically sleep less than six hours a night, you could be setting yourself up for cancer or an early death from heart disease, according to this report on CNN.

That’s the alarming finding of a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that sleep-tested 16,000 adults and then tracked their health for 20 years.

People with existing high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes who slept less than six hours were twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke. And those with heart disease not getting shut-eye were three times as likely to die from cancer. That’s bad news considering that an estimated 45 percent of Americans have either stage 2 high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes or both.

Mendoza and other doctors recommend seeing a sleep specialist to determine the cause of sleep problems and improving sleep “hygiene” by cooling the bedroom, avoiding the blue light of devices, avoiding alcohol, and getting at least 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.

Photo credit: João Victor Xavier, Unsplash