Fewer than 5,000 steps can also boost health, air pollution linked to antimicrobial resistance, and other health stories you need to know about

Analysis of more than 226,000 people worldwide shows fewer than 5,000 daily steps may be enough to see a health benefit.
Analysis of more than 226,000 people worldwide shows fewer than 5,000 daily steps may be enough to see a health benefit.
Image: Unsplash/Arek Adeoye
  • This global round-up brings you health stories from the past fortnight.
  • Top health news: Fewer than 5,000 steps daily can also lead to health benefits; Air pollution may contribute to a rise in antimicrobial resistance; and Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) shows promise in breast screening trials.

1. Fewer than 5,000 steps a day can show some health benefits, study suggests

The number of steps you need to walk each day to start seeing health benefits is lower than previously thought, a new study suggests.

Analysis of data from over 226,000 people globally suggests that walking at least 3967 steps a day was enough to start reducing the risk of dying from any cause. And fewer than that - just 2337 - was enough to start showing a reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

But the study also demonstrated that the more you walk, the greater the health benefits. An increase in 1,000 steps was associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of dying from any cause. And an increase of 500 steps could cut the risk of cardiovascular disease-related death by 7%.

The researchers found that the health benefits continued to increase even for people walking 20,000 steps a day.

2. Air pollution could contribute to antimircobial resistance

New research has linked air pollution to the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) worldwide.

Scientists have compared the levels of particulate matter pollution in 116 countries around the world and have found a correlation between high levels of particle pollution and AMR.

The study looked at nine bacterial pathogens and 43 antibiotics and determined that particles in the air were one of the biggest drivers in AMR.

A 10% increase in air pollution annually could lead to a 1% increase in antimicrobial resistance and 43,600 premature deaths as a result, the study suggests.

3. News in brief: More health stories from around the world

Using AI in breast cancer screening is safe and has the potential to half the screen-reading workload of radiologists, research suggests. Analysis of AI-supported mammography shows that the technology resulted in a similar cancer detection rate as two radiographers reviewing the scans.

Half the population will experience a mental health disorder by the time they reach 75, a global study of 150,000 adults suggests. The study across 29 countries over 20 years showed that depression and anxiety were the two most common disorders and 15 is the peak age for a mental illness to surface.

More people died from suicide in the US in 2022 than any other year on record, provisional data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests. Over 49,000 people died as a result of intentional self-harm, equating to nearly 15 deaths per 100,000 people.

4. More on health from Agenda

A new 'atlas' of lung cells could help scientists better detect and treat lung diseases. Created with AI, the atlas maps out the cells in the human lung and will help researchers better understand its workings.

A team of researchers has developed a wearable ultrasound scanner that could be used to detect breast cancer earlier. A flexible patch is attached to a bra, along which the wearer moves an ultrasound tracker to capture images of the breast tissue from different angles. Researchers hope it will be valuable, particularly to patients at high risk of developing cancer in between routine mammograms.

Smoking rates in the Netherlands have dropped significantly after it adopted recommended measures from the World Health Organization, including increases in taxes on tobacco products and bans on advertising and promotion of tobacco products. It has become the fourth country in the world to adopt the MPOWER policy measures, after Türkiye, Brazil and Mauritius. Smoking rates have dropped from 25.7% of the Dutch population in 2014 to 20.6% in 2021.

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