A new study, one of the largest of its kind, suggests being the wrong weight i.e. overweight or underweight cold knock four years off a person’s life expectancy. According to the study, the findings of which were published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, from the age of 40, people towards the higher end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range (a healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 25) had the lowest risk of dying from disease, including cancer and heart disease. In contrast, individuals who had BMI scores of less than 18.5 or more than 30 had life expectancies that were 4.4 years and 3.85 years shorter respectively. BMI scores, which are calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres squared), are still considered by health professionals to be the simplest and most accurate way to work out if someone is overweight or underweight. For the population-based cohort study, researchers analysed anonymised data on 3.6 million adults from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran, lead author of the study, said: “The most striking thing about our findings was how widely BMI was linked to different causes of death. BMI was associated with deaths from nearly all major causes.” He added that the research reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that people who have low BMI scores are at as much risk, if not more, of reducing their life expectancies.
Diets that are low in carbohydrates, such as the Atkins Diet, have become increasingly popular among people wanting to lose weight. But while some swear that cutting carbs is the key to weight loss and a long, healthy life, a new study suggests it could actually shorten your life expectancy by up to four years. The 25-year study in the US found that moderate carbohydrate consumption and/or replacing meat with plant-based protein and fats is healthier than a low-carb diet. Based on questionnaires completed by some 15,400 people and published in The Lancet Public Health journal, the study found that individuals who got around half of their energy from carbohydrates had a slightly lower risk of death compared to people who had low and high card intakes. From the age of 50, people in the moderate carb group were expected to live, on average, for another 33 years, the researchers found. That’s four years more than the individuals in the extra low-carb group and 2.3 years more than the low-card group. Dr Sara Seidelmann, a cardiologist from Boston and leader of the study, said: “Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight-loss strategy. “However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged. “Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.” [Recommended reading: Serving food on smaller plates doesn't fool hungry people - study]
Individuals who routinely drink more than one alcoholic beverage every day have an overabundance of bad bacteria and less good bacteria in their mouths, a new study has found. Compared to their non-drinking peers, drinkers have less good, such as Lactobacillales that help protect your gums, and more bad bacteria, such as certain Actinomyces, Bacteroidales, and Neisseria species that can lead to gum disease, heart problems and even some cancers. [Related reading: Regular excess drinking found to shorten life expectancy] Publishing their findings in the science journal Microbiome, the study authors said the acids found in alcoholic drinks could make the oral environment hostile for certain bacteria to grow, hence the lower number of so-called good bacteria. For the study, a group of more than 1,000 individuals had their saliva tested. The group included 270 non-drinkers, 614 moderate drinkers and 160 heavy drinkers. The results show that the drinkers had more Bacteroidales, Actinomyces and Neisseria species of bacteria, all potentially harmful, as well as fewer Lactobacillales, a family of bacteria associated with a reduction of gum inflammation. Talking about the findings of the study, Jiyoung Ahn, the study's senior investigator and an epidemiologist at the NYU School of Medicine, said: "heavy alcohol intake is a known risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including cancers (head and neck, esophagus, colon and breast), liver disease and cardiovascular diseases."
People who regularly drink more than the UK’s recommended alcohol guidelines risk taking years off their lives, a major new report has found. According to the study of some 600,000 drinkers, having 10 to 15 alcoholic drinks every week could shorten a person's life by between one and two years. People who regularly consume more than 18 alcoholic drinks every week could lose four to five years of their lives. UK government guidelines, which were last updated in January 2016, recommend that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week (equivalent to 6 pints of average strength beer). Previously, the guidelines advised 21 units for men and 14 units for women each week. The authors of the Lancet study say their findings support the UK government’s revised guidelines. Commenting on the study’s findings, Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, said: "This study makes clear that on balance there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true. "Although non-fatal heart attacks are less likely in people who drink, this benefit is swamped by the increased risk of other forms of heart disease including fatal heart attacks and stroke."
South Korean women will become the first people in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study, conducted by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation, analysed the lifespans of people living in 35 industrialised countries. In each country analysed, the average life expectancy is expected to increase by 2030 and the gap between men and women will start to close in most countries. "As recently as the turn of the century, many researchers believed that life expectancy would never surpass 90 years," said study lead author Majid Ezzati in a journal news release. Ezzati is a professor at Imperial College London's School of Public Health in England. "Our predictions of increasing life spans," he added, "highlight our public health and health care successes. However, it is important that policies to support the growing older population are in place." The biggest issue for governments, say the researchers, will be how they overcome the challenges associated with pensions and care for elderly people. Equality of life, say the researchers, is the secret to South Korea's success, with things like education and nutrition benefitting most people in the country. Furthermore, South Korea is better at dealing with hypertension and has some of the lowest obesity rates in the whole of the world. Surprisingly, Japan, which currently has the longest life expectancy for women, is expected to tumble down the rankings going forward and be overtaken by both South Korea and France. By 2030, the US will have the shortest life expectancy of all the rich countries analysed for the research.
A study of 5,700 men in Norway has revealed that doing just three hours of exercise per week has a dramatic effect on life expectancy, with regular exercisers living up to five years longer than their sedentary peers. The study’s authors, writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, have called for more campaigns to encourage regular exercise and fitness in older people. Conducted by Oslo University Hospital, the study found that both light and vigorous exercise had a positive impact on life expectancy. This tallies with official UK government advice, which recommends 150-minutes of moderate exercise per week for people aged over 65. While the study showed that doing less than an hour a week of light exercise had little impact, those undertaking the equivalent of six 30-minute sessions – regardless of intensity – were a whopping 40% less likely to have died during the study, which lasted 11 years. "Even when men were 73 years of age on average at start of follow-up, active persons had five years longer expected lifetime than the sedentary,” said the report. It even added that exercise was as "beneficial as smoking cessation" at reducing deaths. Julie Ward, from the British Heart Foundation, reiterated the study’s findings, saying: "Regular physical activity, whatever your age, is beneficial for your heart health and ultimately can help you live longer.” Photo credit: Human Kinetics Sport, Health & Fitness Blog
For prostate cancer sufferers, docetaxel is usually only given after hormone treatment has failed. But now a major study has revealed that earlier treatment with the drug can extend life expectancy anywhere from 43 to 65 months. The results, which will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, are being labelled as “potentially game-changing”. In the UK alone, 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 11,000 die from the disease every year. The trial was conducted across Britain and Switzerland and involved 2,962 men. At the start of their treatment, some of the men were given six doses of docetaxel and subsequently lived 10 months longer than those that weren’t. However, patients who had already seen their cancer spread past their pelvis saw their life expectancies increase by 22 months. One of the researchers at Warwick University, Prof Nicholas James, who was involved in the study said he was very pleased with the results and emphasised that the NHS needed to act upon them quickly: "To see a 22-month survival advantage off six lots of treatment given several years earlier is a very big benefit.” Furthermore, the fact that docetaxel is out of patent means that it represents a potentially cost-effective method of treatment. Commenting on the study’s findings, Cancer Research UK said the results were “important” and "show that it should be given earlier in a man's treatment". Photo credit: NHS
Doctors say that a “ground-breaking” cystic fibrosis therapy could dramatically improve the quality of life for sufferers of the condition. Patients usually die before they reach the age of 40 as they’re left prone to infection from the mucus that clogs and damages their lungs. But now, a major clinical trial on some 1,108 patients, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that a combination of drugs had the ability to bypass the genetic errors that caused the condition and increase life expectancy as a result. In the UK alone, one in every 2,500 babies are born with cystic fibrosis and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust believes the new findings could “improve the lives of many”. A genetic condition, the DNA of cystic fibrosis sufferers contains an error which means the individual is unable to control salt and water levels in their lungs. A thick mucus forms and inexorably damages the lungs. Antibiotics have been used historically to prevent infection, but nothing has been developed to address the underlying problem for most sufferers. Lumacaftor and ivacaftor are the two drugs which when combined, improved the lung function of those patients that received them over the course of a 24-week trial. It was also reported that patients gained weight during the trial, something which was attributed to the mucus lining in the gut being affected too. Professor Stuart Elborn, who headed up the Queen’s University, Belfast part of the trial, said: “It is not a cure, but it is as remarkable and effective a drug as I have seen in my lifetime.” Photo credits: Discover magazine, The New York Time Magazine
According to a biennial report into healthcare across Europe, France remains in very good shape. It has the lowest stroke and heart attack death rates on the continent and was one of the few countries to increase healthcare spending in 2014. The report, which also analysed non-EU countries, such as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, outlined many areas where France is leading the field. Average life expectancy in France is an impressive 82.1 years and it also boasts just 86 heart attack deaths per 100,000 people. Compare this to the 184 that occur in the UK and you can see how impressive France’s figures are. France is also a big spender when it comes to hospital expenses – 38% of the total healthcare budget (4.4% of GDP). This comes at a time when most European countries are trying to cut their healthcare spending. France increased its own by 0.8%. Finally, France is a big spender on antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals – 469 euros per head compared to an average of 350 euros across the rest of Europe. The Health at a Glance – Europe 2014 report further underlines the great healthcare system we have here in France. So why not contact us today and find out how we can help you take advantage of the fantastic healthcare facilities here in France.