Feeling fine for Fenland findings

ANOTHER UPDATE: I followed up this post with two additional posts outlining the issue that they flagged and a few other things. One was cholesterol, as I suspected, but after three weeks of cutting out savoury and fatty snacks it was back to normal. The other was a dodgy liver function test. I hoped that would just be the fact that I’d been taking omeprazole for a few weeks rather than liver disease. Having stopped drinking any alcohol for three weeks and ceasing the omeprazole the enyzmes were pretty much back to normal. My GP said that it could well be the omeprazole, but also advised on reducing alcohol intake regardless, even though it wasn’t particularly high. Like I say, take part in a trial like this, it helps others but also might give you the wake-up call you need to adjust your lifestyle for the better.

QUICK UPDATE: I had a call back from my GP who has now received the various test results from the study. I have not had my copy. So, I have to pay the surgery a visit…in two days time, so plenty of time to worry about what they found. They told me there would be no call back unless something was amiss. My suspicion is that my cholesterol (which was marginally high in a previous test) was a little bit higher still. Of course, I could be wrong and they may have found something far more sinister. That’s the trouble with being a hypochondriac, you see…always the worried well…or unwell.

Well, I’ve fasted overnight, urinated into a plastic vial, donated half a dozen shots of blood, been exposed to X-rays, had height (just under 6 foot), weight and waist & hips measured (not telling), body fat determined (somewhere between the “average” man at 18–24%), blood pressure recorded (138/72), sipped on a glucose solution and been smeared with water-based lubricant gel, and wired up to heart monitors and O2/CO2 breathing apparatus while marching and running on a treadmill. As I type, a heart monitor remains stuck to a lightly shaved patch on my chest recording each beat for the next week or so while a GPS tracker is hanging from a belt around my waist noting where I am when my pulse races!

Yes, I’m back from participating in the Fenland Study. It’s the full body M.O.T. test courtesy of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit.

The urine and bloods will be tested for various disorders, kidney function, liver disease and most importantly for this study, perhaps, diabetes (hence the glucose drink).

DEXA’s midday stunner

The X-rays amount to an additional half hour of background radiation exposure (unlike a conventional chest X-ray, for instance, which is about five-days worth). That scan – dual-emission X-ray absorptiometry (now known as DXA, previously DEXA) is used to determine bone mineral density (BMD) and body fat distribution. The process involves lying on a bed, keeping very still and having two X-ray beams of different frequency, or energy level, aimed at your body. The scan is akin to scanning a document on a flat-bed scanner. Anyway, the picture you see here, is how I look underneath my tee-shirt and scrubs and, in fact, underneath my skin! DXA is the most widely used and most thoroughly studied BMD measurement technology. If you’re at risk of osteoporosis they’re likely to use this scan to assess you.

Anyway, the Fenland Study has been underway since 2005 and randomly selects from patient registers for the regions surrounding Cambridge, Ely and Wisbech. The team recently passed the 5000th person born between 1950 and 1975 and is hoping to assess 5000 more, which will give the research team an excellent over-view of fitness, body metrics and metabolic issues across the population. Interestingly, they recruit people without diabetes and according to a wallchart published at the time they’d assessed 2387 people, they’d spotted 31 undiagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes.

I’ll receive a report some time after I send back the heart monitor and GPS tracker, this will include details of what they found and presumably any suggestions regarding lifestyle, diet and exercises that might be warranted. My physician will also receive a copy of the blood test results and will hopefully not have to give me a follow-up call.

The research at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, which is running the Fenland Study focuses on several key areas:

  • The causes of type 2 diabetes and obesity
  • The effect of diet and nutrition on type 2 diabetes and obesity
  • The effect of physical activity on type 2 diabetes and obesity
  • Early growth and development in children and how this affects the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Strategies for preventing type 2 diabetes, obesity and their related complications

If you get to take part you will not only be assisting medical science and a worthwhile cause you will be saving yourself a few pounds as the whole battery of tests would normally cost about 600GBP to undertake at a UK hospital. All members of the research team are highly skilled, very professional, courteous and offer you a cuppa and a sarnie when they’re finished with your body. Who could ask for anything more?

You cannot ask your GP or anyone else for that matter to add you to the study list, it’s done randomly, but if they offer you the chance to take part, grab it.

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