Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Daily TV quota of six hours could shorten life expectancy by five years

Family watching television, c. 1958

Image via Wikipedia

From the 15 August 2011 Science Daily article

Watching TV for an average of six hours a day could shorten the viewer’s life expectancy by almost five years, indicates research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The impact rivals that of other well known behavioural risk factors, such as smoking and lack of exercise, the study suggests.

Sedentary behaviour — as distinct from too little exercise — is associated with a higher risk of death, particularly from heart attack or stroke. Watching TV accounts for a substantial amount of sedentary activity, but its impact on life expectancy has not been assessed, say the authors….

Read the article

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Lifelong gap in health between rich and poor set by age 20

 

 

Study by McGill geography professor finds that as people age, the differnce in the health-related quality of life between rich and poor remains constant

From a 8 June 2011 Eureka news alert

 

“We can’t buy our way out of ageing,” says Nancy Ross, a McGill geography professor. “As we get older we start to have vision problems, maybe some hearing loss, maybe lose some mobility – ageing is a kind of a social equalizer.”

Ross is the lead author of a new study about how socio-economic and educational status affects Canadians’ health-related quality of life over the course of a lifetime.

“My research looks at how poverty and social disadvantage affect your health status. Our work was about using social circumstances as a lens to look at how people’s quality of life changes as they age.”

The good news, according to Ross, is that there is no sign of an accelerated ageing process for those who are lower on the social ladder. “The trajectories for declining health as people age look fairly similar across the social spectrum. That surprised me. I thought that there would be a bit more of a difference across social groups.”

But the bad news is that Canadians who are less educated and have a lower income start out less healthy than their wealthier and better-educated compatriots, and remain so over the course of their lives. “What we found, basically, is that people who are more educated and with higher incomes have a better health-related quality of life over their whole lifespan, and that these health “tracks” stay pretty parallel over time.

“The message there is that if you start out with a health-related quality of life deficit through early life experience and a poor educational background, it’s never made up for later on,” says Ross. “Poorer Canadians are in poorer health and they have lower life expectancy than their more affluent counterparts, and by age 20 the pattern for health-related quality of life as people age is already fixed.”

“We might speculate that universal health insurance and other social policies directed to adults and seniors have played a role in preventing accelerated decline in health-related quality of life of the poorer and less educated Canadians. That said, we would need some comparative research in other countries to test this more fully,” she adds. “But this study suggests the need for policies aimed at making sure kids and teens are given the chances early in life to even out socio-economic inequalities that will affect their health as they age.”

 

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keys to long life? Not what you might expect

Keys to long life? Not what you might expect

From a March 12 2011 Science Daily news item

ScienceDaily (Mar. 12, 2011) — Cheer up. Stop worrying. Don’t work so hard. Good advice for a long life? As it turns out, no. In a groundbreaking study of personality as a predictor of longevity, University of California, Riverside researchers found just the opposite….

“We came to a new understanding about happiness and health,” said Martin, now a psychology professor at La Sierra University in Riverside. “One of the findings that really astounds people, including us, is that the Longevity Project participants who were the most cheerful and had the best sense of humor as kids lived shorter lives, on average, than those who were less cheerful and joking. It was the most prudent and persistent individuals who stayed healthiest and lived the longest.”

Part of the explanation lies in health behaviors — the cheerful, happy-go-lucky kids tended to take more risks with their health across the years, Friedman noted. While an optimistic approach can be helpful in a crisis, “we found that as a general life-orientation, too much of a sense that ‘everything will be just fine’ can be dangerous because it can lead one to be careless about things that are important to health and long life. Prudence and persistence, however, led to a lot of important benefits for many years. It turns out that happiness is not a root cause of good health. Instead, happiness and health go together because they have common roots.”…

…Friedman and Leslie R. Martin , a 1996 UCR alumna (Ph.D.) and staff researchers, have published those findings in “The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study” (Hudson Street Press, March 2011).

Longevity Project Book Reviews

 

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

America’s Health a Mixed Bag: Report

America’s Health a Mixed Bag: Report
Life expectancy rates are up, but so are obesity levels, CDC says

HealthDay news image

From the February 16, 2011 Health Day news report

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) — U.S. officials on Wednesday released the annual state-of-the-nation’s health report and the news is mixed, with life expectancy rates on the rise but obesity levels still climbing.

On the positive side, life expectancy was up slightly in 2007, to 77.9 years from 76.8 years at the beginning of the decade.

And while women are still ahead of the game, gender and race gaps in longevity have narrowed, according to the report, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s encouraging that life expectancy continues to increase, although at a very small pace, but as we’re living longer we’re living longer with disease,” said Dr. Patrick Remington, associate dean for public health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. “Years added to your life expectancy are years with disease.”

Perhaps even more troubling, said experts, are climbing obesity rates, with two-thirds of adults now overweight or obese, up from 29.9 percent a decade ago. While obesity rates among 2- to 5-year-olds seem to be leveling off, rates among older children and teens are still increasing, the report showed.

“The overall trend for childhood obesity is upward, which is not a good sign for future obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” said Cheryl L. Perry, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus, part of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “There may be some hope for the younger children, but it’s probably too soon to declare victory, since the 6- to 11-year-old rates also declined, but then increased substantially in the next wave.”

Other risk factors for chronic illnesses, including heart disease, aren’t looking too good, either.

“Obesity, diabetes and hypertension are really critical in terms of looking at the future health status of the U.S., and that news has not been good for a long time and it doesn’t look like it’s improving,” said Dr. Nancy Bennett, director of the University of Rochester Medical Center‘s Center for Community Health.

Heart disease and cancer remain the two leading killers, collectively accounting for nearly half of the 2.5 million deaths in the United States in 2007, 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Among the report’s findings:Image of Health, United States, 2010 book cover

  • Hypertension levels are on the rise, with 32.6 percent of the population suffering from high blood pressure in 2007-2008, as compared with 28.9 percent in 1999-2000.
  • Twelve percent of U.S. adults are now diabetic, up from 8.5 percent in 1999.
  • On the other hand, cholesterol levels are coming under control, probably because a quarter of U.S. adults aged 45 and over are now using the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, a dramatic increase from just 2 percent in the 1988-1994 period. “The increase in statin use is pretty dramatic,” said Bernstein.
  • Skyrocketing medical costs continue to be a problem, with more Americans than ever before delaying or simply foregoing medical care: 11 percent in 1997 to 15 percent in 2009. People skimping on prescription drugs went from 6 percent to 11 percent, and those missing out on needed dental care increased from 11 percent to 17 percent.
  • More kids are moving to Medicaid (35 percent in 2009 versus 18 percent in 1999), and fewer are staying on private insurance. The good news is that fewer kids are uninsured: only 8 percent as compared with 12 percent a decade earlier.
  • More children have skin allergies (10.7 percent, compared with 7.4 percent in the late 1990s), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (9 percent versus 6.5 percent) and food allergies (4.6 percent, up from 3.4 percent).
  • Americans do seem to be moving more, with 18.8 percent reporting exercising, a marginal uptick from 18.1 percent in 2008 and a bigger increase from 15.1 percent in 2000, but experts said it’s still not enough. “It’s pretty discouraging,” Bennett noted.
  • According to a new special section in the report, one-quarter of deaths in both the under-65 and over-65 age groups took place at home in 2007, up from one-sixth in 1989. Still, most deaths occurred out of the home, 36 percent in hospitals (down from 49 percent), and 22 percent in nursing homes and other facilities.
  • Infant mortality has declined 2 percent from 2000.
  • Half of middle-aged and older Americans are now having regular colonoscopies, up from one-third in 2000.
  • The smoking rate among adults has largely stabilized, at about 21 percent, while smoking among teens has essentially stalled since 2004, at about 20 percent.

SOURCES: Amy Bernstein, Sc.D., chief, analytic studies branch, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Nancy Bennett, M.D., director, Center for Community Health, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.; Cheryl L. Perry, Ph.D., professor and dean, University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus; Patrick Remington, M.D., associate dean, public health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison; Feb. 16, 2011, CDC’s Health, United States, 2010



February 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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