A new large-scale study published in The Lancet contradicts the assumption that a longer old age will inevitably be accompanied by more ill health.
In 1998 researchers in Denmark assessed 2,262 people born in 1905, when they were aged 92 to 93, using a series of thorough mental and physical tests designed to assess factors such as memory, grip strength and mobility. In 2010 a further 1,584 people born in 1915, when they were aged 94 to 95, were assessed using the same tests. Despite being 2 years older, those born in 1915 scored significantly better than those born in 1905 on both the cognitive tests and the activities of daily living score, demonstrating that they were mentally much sharper and found day-to-day life easier.
photo by: Ann Gordon
In England, where asthma affects almost 5.9% of the population and one in every 11 children, two independent studies have demonstrated significant reductions in asthma attacks since smoking was banned in public places in July 2007.
The first study, by researchers at Imperial College London, examined the number of children admitted to hospital with symptoms of asthma. They showed the reduction was equivalent to 6,802 fewer hospital admissions in the first three years of the law coming into effect and 12.3% fewer admissions in the first year with subsequent reductions in the following years. Prior to the implementation of the ban, hospital admissions for children suffering a severe asthma attack were increasing by 2.2% per year.
The second study, by researchers at the University of Bath, examined the 502,000 emergency admissions for asthma among adults aged 16 and over in England between April 1997 and December 2010. They showed the reduction was equivalent to 1,900 fewer A&E admissions for adult asthma patients each year since the ban and that results were consistent across the country. Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, commented “This is important new research that further demonstrates how the smoking ban has dramatically improved people’s lives”.
photo by: Coyau
A weekend lie-in may be more beneficial than we realise. Dr Liu and researchers from the University of Sydney have found that insulin sensitivity can be improved by catching up on sleep at the end of a busy week, and retaining the body’s sensitivity to insulin reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – a chronic illness that is a major cause of death.
In the study, men slept an average 6.2 hours of sleep each work night, but then regularly caught up on their sleep at the weekends, sleeping an average extra 2.3 hours per night. Dr Liu said: “The good news is that by extending the hours they sleep, adult men – who over a long period of time do not get enough sleep during the working week – can still improve their insulin sensitivity”.
photo by: Polylerus