NEW research finds that women with slimmer legs are at greater risk of heart disease and premature death Could many of those fashion models with ultra thin legs be marching to an early grave? Danish researchers have found that women and men whose thighs are less than 60 centimetres in circumference appear to be at an elevated risk of developing heart disease and suffering a premature death. We measured the right thigh at the maximum point which is often just below the buttocks, explained the lead researcher, Berit Heitmann, a professor of epidemiology at the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen. The new study, published today in the British Medical Journal, adds to previous research linking various body shapes to different health outcomes. For instance, its long been known that pear-shaped women with relatively large bottoms face a lower chance of being stricken by a heart attack than people who have a big gut, apple-shaped physique. But this is the first time researchers have investigated the implications of thigh size. The findings, based on 3,000 Danes whose health was charted for more than 12 years, suggest that doctors may have previously overlooked an easy predictor of cardiovascular disease. If we have too little fat or too little muscle in the region [of the thighs] it may be detrimental to our health, said Dr. Heitmann. The study wasnt designed to determine how thin thighs could lead to health problems, but the researchers have two theories. One relates to muscle mass. Dr. Heitmann noted that the thighs represent one of the largest muscle groups in the body. She also pointed out that muscles contain insulin receptors to assist in the removal of glucose, or sugar, from the blood stream. Its possible when there is too little muscle there are too few receptors to bind to the insulin, she said. Poorly controlled blood-sugar levels could eventually lead to type 2 diabetes which, in turn, may cause cardiovascular disease. The second theory concerns fat content. Dr. Heitmann said the lower body contains a special type of fat that produces substances known as adipokines which dampen inflammation and may help protect blood vessels from damage. If further research confirms the Danish results, doctors may some day take thigh measurements as part of routine medical exams. And they may prescribe lower body exercises to bulk up the thighs and reduce the risks of an early demise. But dont feel too smug if you have especially hefty thighs. There seems to be no added benefit in having thighs any bigger than 60 cm. or 23.6 inches. More is not necessarily better, said Dr. Heitmann. Aspirin warning The British Heart Foundation issued a warning this week, saying that healthy people should not be taking low-dose Aspirin as a way to prevent heart attacks. Studies have shown that Aspirin may benefit patients with obvious signs of cardiovascular disease, such as angina or a previous heart attack, by lowering the risk of blood clots. But many healthy people also take Aspirin, thinking it provides good insurance against future heart problems. The British warning follows the release of a new study suggesting that, in healthy people, daily Aspirin therapy may do more harm than good. The study, which was partly funded by the foundation, involved 3,350 middle-aged men and women who had no history of cardiovascular problems. Half of them took a daily 100 milligram dose of Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid. The rest were give placebos. After eight years of follow-up, the research team found no significant different in heart disease rates between the two groups. But the Aspirin users showed more signs of internal bleeding. About 2 per cent of them required hospitalization because of gastrointestinal bleeds, compared to 1.2 per cent of the those in the placebo group who ended up in hospital due to a serious hemorrhage. The study, lead by Gerry Fowkes from the Wolfson Unit for Prevention of Peripheral Vascular Diseases in Edinburgh, was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona. 'Molsons Muscle redefined Heres a bit of research that gives new meaning to the Molson Muscle. A U.S. study has revealed that people who routinely drink alcohol are more likely to exercise than teetotallers. The findings seem to shatter the old stereotype of the slothful drinker, said the lead researcher, Michael French a professor of health economics at the University of Miami. Most people would assume that drinkers, and heavy drinkers especially, are more likely to be sedentary than abstainers, he said. But, in fact, we did not find that. The more people drank, the more likely they were to exercise, according to the study based on a telephone survey of 230,000 adults. In particular, light, moderate and heavy drinkers exercised an average of 5.7, 10.1 and 19.9 minutes more per week than abstainers. - The Globe and Mail The raw numbers may appear small. But the average person in the United States doesnt exercise much - an average of about 80 minutes a week, explained Dr. French. So, 20 minutes more is a very large percentage increase. Some moderate drinkers exercise in order to burn off the extra calories they get from alcoholic beverages, he said. In other cases, sports and drinking are closely linked. For instance, people who engage in group sports often head to a bar afterwards. There are running clubs that advertise they do both running and drinking to excess, he noted. But Dr. French said his study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, should not be used as an excuse for people to boost their alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking is clearly bad for your health. - The Globe and Mail