Cardio Fitness for Cognitive Fitness

Boy playing the chessCould more exercise make you smarter?  Yes, according to a large population study that showed a positive association between cardiovascular fitness and cognitive performance.

The authors looked at information from more than 1 million men from Sweden born between 1950 and 1976.  They analyzed the physical activity and intelligence measures in these men at age 15 and again at age 18.   Improved cardiovascular fitness at age 18 was associated with improvements in logical, verbal and other aspects of intelligence.

These results held even after adjusting for genetics and shared environment.  The authors caution that since only men were included in the study, the results might not be applicable to women.

So, whether you want to get better grades, wow your boss, or just feel better, AICR has some ideas to help you start and maintain your physical activity this holiday season.

Check out these creative ideas from AICR’s December E-news articles:

Twelve Days of Holiday Fitness

Sweat the Small Stuff

AICR’s expert panel found convincing evidence that physical activity decreases risk for colon cancer, probably decreases risk for post menopausal breast cancer and cancer of the endometrium.  Check our earlier blog postings from the AICR Research Conference on physical activity – how it impacts cancer prevention and survival and how we can improve our sedentary habits.


Sea Cucumbers: Possible Cancer Fighters?

This beautiful picture of a translucent sea cucumber — released last week by the Census of Marine Life and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution – reminded me of some interesting research presented at AICR’s conference.

SeaCucThe lab research, presented in a poster session, found that a compound in sea cucumber decreased the growth of breast cancer tumors in mice and decreased cancer growth in cells. Previous lab studies have found that this same sea cucumber compound  — called Frondoside A – inhibited the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells.

The research is still only in the laboratory phase but if you want to try a new seafood, look for dried sea cucumbers in Asian markets.  (Sea cucumber are a common delicacy in many Asian dishes.)

Sea cucumbers are pretty fascinating. They are generally cucumber-shaped and there’s over 1,000 different species of them. To escape predators, sea cucumbers can jettison some of their internal organs, and then grow them back again.

You can see more newly-identified deep-sea organisms here.


Beyond the Test Tube: Translating Research Results into Action

Dr. June Stevens is the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund Distinguished Professor at the AICR/WCRF Institute for the Advanced Study of Diet, Nutrition and Cancer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She oversees AICR’s Marilyn Gentry Fellowship Program, which seeks to develop tomorrow’s leaders in nutrition-cancer research.

Last week, she chaired a session at the 2009 AICR Research Conference called, “From Policy to Action in Cancer Prevention.” We caught up with her at lunch to ask her about the session, and about the research that’s revealing how best to translate the findings from laboratory studies and clinical trials into practical, actionable advice for the public.

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