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Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(12):2261

Female athletes use oral contraceptives to regulate their menstrual cycles with no negative effect on their body composition, but the use of these agents could have a long-term impact on their athletic performance because the agents may cause an increase in fat mass. As reported by the Endocrine Society, a study at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, showed significant changes in body composition among 26 athletes (13 with regular menstruation and 13 with irregular menstruation) who had been taking oral contraceptives for 10 months. There were no changes among the 13 sedentary controls. Among the 13 athletes who were not menstruating, the study showed an increase in weight and fat mass while they were taking oral contraceptives. This effect was associated with a decrease in ovarian androgens. Oral contraceptive use also resulted in an increase in bone mineral density (BMD) in all women, with the larger increase in the athletes who had a low BMD at baseline.

The news in fusion: punk rock yoga. According to a report on, a punk rock yoga class in Seattle was inspired by the success of punk rock aerobics. The free weekly classes are held at an all-ages nightclub with dark-painted walls. While the music is mellow—ranging from Arabic drums to saxophone and flute—it is still raw and organic. Designed for teens and young adults, the class positions participants in a circle around glowing votive candles. Ohm!

Remember those graceful young people who thrilled us all during this summer’s Olympics with their flashy gymnastic feats? They may be paying for their prowess with the loss of inches of height. As reported by the Endocrine Society, two studies at the Greek University of Patras Medical School show the impact of intensive training on growth patterns in male and female gymnasts. In these athletes, skeletal maturation is delayed by one to two years, and the gymnasts turn out to be both shorter and thinner than age-related peers. In addition, male and female gymnasts are shorter than their genetically predisposed heights. Continuous, intensive exercise, undertaken for years on nd, has a negative effect on bone acquisition, especially in female adolescents.

Weekend warriors—athletes who expend at least 1,000 kcal a week by participating in sports or recreational activities once or twice a week—have lower mortality rates than people who are sedentary, shows a prospective cohort study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Part of the Harvard Alumni Health Study, the trial monitored the health and physical activity levels of 8,421 men without major chronic diseases. While the results suggest that regular physical activity generating 1,000 kcal a week should be recommended for lowering mortality rates, it also found that sporadic physical activity may not benefit patients with high-risk health factors.

Fido can be trained to detect bladder cancer on the basis of urine odor? Honest, it’s true! According to an experimental proof-of-principle study published in BMJ, six dogs were trained to discriminate between urine from patients with bladder cancer (n = 36) and urine from diseased and healthy controls (n = 108). During tests requiring the selection of one bladder cancer urine sample from among six control samples, the dogs correctly selected urine from patients with bladder cancer 22 out of 54 times. This was better than the expected chance outcome of 1 in 7 times.

Night fears are justified: chronobiology, the study of how the time of day affects the body’s functions, is beginning to show that many diseases become worse at night. As reported in The New York Times, the body’s internal cycling of chemicals and hormones causes many diseases to flare up at night. Approximately 75 percent of patients with asthma have difficulty breathing one night a week, and 50 to 60 percent report attacks on three nights a week. Researchers believe that low nighttime levels of cortisol and epinephrine may cause constriction of the bronchi, triggering asthma attacks.

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