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February 24, 2011 / clayliesstill

Why reading the Daily Mail is one of the biggest causes of heart attacks

Stress caused by reading one of Britain’s mostly widely absorbed hate circulars newspapers is apparently a leading cause of heart attacks, scientists today confirm.

Ok, perhaps not wholly accurate.

The Mail has today come up trumps with a story about how cycling to work is one of the biggest causes of heart attacks, based on a study in The Lancet, but I think I’ll probably go in an apopleptic fit resulting from an ill-advised expedition into the Mail’s twisted world of hypocritical scaremongering.

Actually, the Lancet paper’s conclusion is that traffic exposure is the leading attributable cause of heart attack. The problem is with motor traffic, not with cycling. As with road safety, the literature on air pollution is the same: focus on the victims, rather than contributors to the problem.

Of course one of the best ways of preventing heart disease in the first place is regular physical activity, perhaps by… cycling to work.

The Copenhagen Heart Study found that, even after controlling for other physical activity, people who cycled to work had an all cause mortality 40% lower than sedentary commuters.

Incidentally the Lancet article also reveals that the highest risk activity (but not a huge contributor overall to population heart attacks) is using cocaine.

As an individual activity traffic exposure is very low and comes after half a dozen other ‘risk factors’, including both positive and negative emotions, marijuana use, big meals and sex. The problem is that heavy traffic, cars and associated air pollution is now ubiquitous, and all of us have to suffer the consequences.

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