Tag Archives: Reduce

Vaginal mesh implants: new material could reduce complications

Alternative material could replace current controversial implants, which have prompted many complaints of pain and discomfort

Vaginal mesh implants


Scientists believe a polyurethane vaginal mesh implant could reduce the problems affecting huge numbers of women Photograph: Emily Critchfield/Duke Health

Scientists believe they have come up with an alternative to the material used in vaginal mesh implants which prompted a huge number of women to complain they had been left in severe pain.

Mesh treatment has been offered in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but sparked controversy after many women said they felt discomfort and had difficulty walking or having sex after undergoing the surgery.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield said they have now come up with a better material following seven years of research, suggesting the use of polyurethane rather than polypropylene.

The research group said polyurethane is more suitable because it has more more elasticity and a likeness to human tissue.

They also inserted oestrogen into the new mesh in a bid to speed up the healing process after treatment.

The research, published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics, said: “We believe that we have developed a new biomaterial that will avoid complications due to a better mechanical match with the native tissues.”

Prof Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering in the department of materials science and engineering at the university, said they began their research “because it was clear that the polypropylene mesh was not fit for use in the pelvic floor”.

She said: “Over the last seven years, we have investigated a range of materials and for the past few years, we have focused our efforts on polyurethane, using the method of electrospinning to create a fine mesh which we have fabricated in layers to mimic the structure of human tissue.

“We have shown through our research that it does not provoke inflammation and retains its strength and elasticity. The addition of oestrogen is a major breakthrough as we have proved its beneficial effects in regenerating pelvic tissue.”

The scientists recognised their research “now needs to be further evaluated in suitable preclinical animal models”.

Guidance from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in December said that following “serious, but well-recognised safety concerns” vaginal mesh should only be used for research purposes in future.

Data from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that in the five years to 2017 more than 1,000 adverse incidents related to mesh implants had been reported in the UK.

About 1,500 vaginal mesh operations are carried out in the UK each year, according to the NHS, which adds that the majority of women respond well.

Vaginal mesh implants: new material could reduce complications

Alternative material could replace current controversial implants, which have prompted many complaints of pain and discomfort

Vaginal mesh implants


Scientists believe a polyurethane vaginal mesh implant could reduce the problems affecting huge numbers of women Photograph: Emily Critchfield/Duke Health

Scientists believe they have come up with an alternative to the material used in vaginal mesh implants which prompted a huge number of women to complain they had been left in severe pain.

Mesh treatment has been offered in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but sparked controversy after many women said they felt discomfort and had difficulty walking or having sex after undergoing the surgery.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield said they have now come up with a better material following seven years of research, suggesting the use of polyurethane rather than polypropylene.

The research group said polyurethane is more suitable because it has more more elasticity and a likeness to human tissue.

They also inserted oestrogen into the new mesh in a bid to speed up the healing process after treatment.

The research, published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics, said: “We believe that we have developed a new biomaterial that will avoid complications due to a better mechanical match with the native tissues.”

Prof Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering in the department of materials science and engineering at the university, said they began their research “because it was clear that the polypropylene mesh was not fit for use in the pelvic floor”.

She said: “Over the last seven years, we have investigated a range of materials and for the past few years, we have focused our efforts on polyurethane, using the method of electrospinning to create a fine mesh which we have fabricated in layers to mimic the structure of human tissue.

“We have shown through our research that it does not provoke inflammation and retains its strength and elasticity. The addition of oestrogen is a major breakthrough as we have proved its beneficial effects in regenerating pelvic tissue.”

The scientists recognised their research “now needs to be further evaluated in suitable preclinical animal models”.

Guidance from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in December said that following “serious, but well-recognised safety concerns” vaginal mesh should only be used for research purposes in future.

Data from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that in the five years to 2017 more than 1,000 adverse incidents related to mesh implants had been reported in the UK.

About 1,500 vaginal mesh operations are carried out in the UK each year, according to the NHS, which adds that the majority of women respond well.

Vaginal mesh implants: new material could reduce complications

Alternative material could replace current controversial implants, which have prompted many complaints of pain and discomfort

Vaginal mesh implants


Scientists believe a polyurethane vaginal mesh implant could reduce the problems affecting huge numbers of women Photograph: Emily Critchfield/Duke Health

Scientists believe they have come up with an alternative to the material used in vaginal mesh implants which prompted a huge number of women to complain they had been left in severe pain.

Mesh treatment has been offered in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but sparked controversy after many women said they felt discomfort and had difficulty walking or having sex after undergoing the surgery.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield said they have now come up with a better material following seven years of research, suggesting the use of polyurethane rather than polypropylene.

The research group said polyurethane is more suitable because it has more more elasticity and a likeness to human tissue.

They also inserted oestrogen into the new mesh in a bid to speed up the healing process after treatment.

The research, published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics, said: “We believe that we have developed a new biomaterial that will avoid complications due to a better mechanical match with the native tissues.”

Prof Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering in the department of materials science and engineering at the university, said they began their research “because it was clear that the polypropylene mesh was not fit for use in the pelvic floor”.

She said: “Over the last seven years, we have investigated a range of materials and for the past few years, we have focused our efforts on polyurethane, using the method of electrospinning to create a fine mesh which we have fabricated in layers to mimic the structure of human tissue.

“We have shown through our research that it does not provoke inflammation and retains its strength and elasticity. The addition of oestrogen is a major breakthrough as we have proved its beneficial effects in regenerating pelvic tissue.”

The scientists recognised their research “now needs to be further evaluated in suitable preclinical animal models”.

Guidance from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in December said that following “serious, but well-recognised safety concerns” vaginal mesh should only be used for research purposes in future.

Data from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that in the five years to 2017 more than 1,000 adverse incidents related to mesh implants had been reported in the UK.

About 1,500 vaginal mesh operations are carried out in the UK each year, according to the NHS, which adds that the majority of women respond well.

Vaginal mesh implants: new material could reduce complications

Alternative material could replace current controversial implants, which have prompted many complaints of pain and discomfort

Vaginal mesh implants


Scientists believe a polyurethane vaginal mesh implant could reduce the problems affecting huge numbers of women Photograph: Emily Critchfield/Duke Health

Scientists believe they have come up with an alternative to the material used in vaginal mesh implants which prompted a huge number of women to complain they had been left in severe pain.

Mesh treatment has been offered in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but sparked controversy after many women said they felt discomfort and had difficulty walking or having sex after undergoing the surgery.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield said they have now come up with a better material following seven years of research, suggesting the use of polyurethane rather than polypropylene.

The research group said polyurethane is more suitable because it has more more elasticity and a likeness to human tissue.

They also inserted oestrogen into the new mesh in a bid to speed up the healing process after treatment.

The research, published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics, said: “We believe that we have developed a new biomaterial that will avoid complications due to a better mechanical match with the native tissues.”

Prof Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering in the department of materials science and engineering at the university, said they began their research “because it was clear that the polypropylene mesh was not fit for use in the pelvic floor”.

She said: “Over the last seven years, we have investigated a range of materials and for the past few years, we have focused our efforts on polyurethane, using the method of electrospinning to create a fine mesh which we have fabricated in layers to mimic the structure of human tissue.

“We have shown through our research that it does not provoke inflammation and retains its strength and elasticity. The addition of oestrogen is a major breakthrough as we have proved its beneficial effects in regenerating pelvic tissue.”

The scientists recognised their research “now needs to be further evaluated in suitable preclinical animal models”.

Guidance from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in December said that following “serious, but well-recognised safety concerns” vaginal mesh should only be used for research purposes in future.

Data from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that in the five years to 2017 more than 1,000 adverse incidents related to mesh implants had been reported in the UK.

About 1,500 vaginal mesh operations are carried out in the UK each year, according to the NHS, which adds that the majority of women respond well.

Vaginal mesh implants: new material could reduce complications

Alternative material could replace current controversial implants, which have prompted many complaints of pain and discomfort

Vaginal mesh implants


Scientists believe a polyurethane vaginal mesh implant could reduce the problems affecting huge numbers of women Photograph: Emily Critchfield/Duke Health

Scientists believe they have come up with an alternative to the material used in vaginal mesh implants which prompted a huge number of women to complain they had been left in severe pain.

Mesh treatment has been offered in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but sparked controversy after many women said they felt discomfort and had difficulty walking or having sex after undergoing the surgery.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield said they have now come up with a better material following seven years of research, suggesting the use of polyurethane rather than polypropylene.

The research group said polyurethane is more suitable because it has more more elasticity and a likeness to human tissue.

They also inserted oestrogen into the new mesh in a bid to speed up the healing process after treatment.

The research, published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics, said: “We believe that we have developed a new biomaterial that will avoid complications due to a better mechanical match with the native tissues.”

Prof Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering in the department of materials science and engineering at the university, said they began their research “because it was clear that the polypropylene mesh was not fit for use in the pelvic floor”.

She said: “Over the last seven years, we have investigated a range of materials and for the past few years, we have focused our efforts on polyurethane, using the method of electrospinning to create a fine mesh which we have fabricated in layers to mimic the structure of human tissue.

“We have shown through our research that it does not provoke inflammation and retains its strength and elasticity. The addition of oestrogen is a major breakthrough as we have proved its beneficial effects in regenerating pelvic tissue.”

The scientists recognised their research “now needs to be further evaluated in suitable preclinical animal models”.

Guidance from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in December said that following “serious, but well-recognised safety concerns” vaginal mesh should only be used for research purposes in future.

Data from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that in the five years to 2017 more than 1,000 adverse incidents related to mesh implants had been reported in the UK.

About 1,500 vaginal mesh operations are carried out in the UK each year, according to the NHS, which adds that the majority of women respond well.

Vaginal mesh implants: new material could reduce complications

Alternative material could replace current controversial implants, which have prompted many complaints of pain and discomfort

Vaginal mesh implants


Scientists believe a polyurethane vaginal mesh implant could reduce the problems affecting huge numbers of women Photograph: Emily Critchfield/Duke Health

Scientists believe they have come up with an alternative to the material used in vaginal mesh implants which prompted a huge number of women to complain they had been left in severe pain.

Mesh treatment has been offered in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but sparked controversy after many women said they felt discomfort and had difficulty walking or having sex after undergoing the surgery.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield said they have now come up with a better material following seven years of research, suggesting the use of polyurethane rather than polypropylene.

The research group said polyurethane is more suitable because it has more more elasticity and a likeness to human tissue.

They also inserted oestrogen into the new mesh in a bid to speed up the healing process after treatment.

The research, published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics, said: “We believe that we have developed a new biomaterial that will avoid complications due to a better mechanical match with the native tissues.”

Prof Sheila MacNeil, professor of tissue engineering in the department of materials science and engineering at the university, said they began their research “because it was clear that the polypropylene mesh was not fit for use in the pelvic floor”.

She said: “Over the last seven years, we have investigated a range of materials and for the past few years, we have focused our efforts on polyurethane, using the method of electrospinning to create a fine mesh which we have fabricated in layers to mimic the structure of human tissue.

“We have shown through our research that it does not provoke inflammation and retains its strength and elasticity. The addition of oestrogen is a major breakthrough as we have proved its beneficial effects in regenerating pelvic tissue.”

The scientists recognised their research “now needs to be further evaluated in suitable preclinical animal models”.

Guidance from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in December said that following “serious, but well-recognised safety concerns” vaginal mesh should only be used for research purposes in future.

Data from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that in the five years to 2017 more than 1,000 adverse incidents related to mesh implants had been reported in the UK.

About 1,500 vaginal mesh operations are carried out in the UK each year, according to the NHS, which adds that the majority of women respond well.

NHS cancer hospital may have to delay or reduce treatment

An NHS cancer hospital may have to make patients wait to undergo chemotherapy, or reduce the amount of treatment that dying patients receive, because it has so few nurses, a leaked memo has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the prospect of the Churchill hospital in Oxford in effect rationing life-extending and potentially life-saving chemotherapy was “deeply worrying”, especially for people dying of the disease.

The warning is thought to be unprecedented in cancer care. It is set out in an email from Dr Andrew Weaver, the chemotherapy lead, to fellow cancer specialists at the hospital.

Sent on 3 January, Weaver refers to the difficulties on the day treatment unit (DTU) caused by a shortage of specialist cancer nurses who administer chemotherapy.

He makes clear that limiting access to the treatment could affect both newly referred cancer patients and those in their final weeks or months of life.

Weaver writes: “Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU and as a consequence we are having to delay chemotherapy patients’ starting times to four weeks.”

Two types of cancer patients will continue to receive their chemotherapy as normal: dying patients undergoing their first course of chemotherapy and those who are receiving it in addition to other cancer treatment, such as surgery or radiotherapy.

In future, however, dying patients could receive less chemotherapy as a result of the lack of nurses.

Weaver said: “We propose that for second, third and fourth line palliative treatments the cycle length is increased by one or two weeks and/or the total number of cycles administered is reduced – for example, where normally six cycles are given then teams should consider reducing to four cycles in total.

“I know that many of us will find it difficult to accept these changes but the bottom line is that the current situation with limited numbers of staff is unsustainable in the short, medium and long term. Sadly we cannot see the staffing levels on DTU improving for at least 18-24 months.”

Q&A

Does the UK have enough doctors and nurses?

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses than many other comparable countries both in Europe and worldwide. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britain comes 24th in a league table of 34 member countries in terms of the number of doctors they have relative to their populations. Greece, Austria and Norway have the most; the three countries with proportionately the fewest medics are Turkey, Chile and Mexico. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, regularly points out that the NHS in England has more doctors and nurses than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. That is true, although there are now fewer district nurses, mental health nurses and other types of health professionals.

NHS unions and health thinktanks point out that rises in NHS staff’s workloads have outstripped the increases in overall staff numbers. Hospital bosses say that understaffing is now their number one problem, even ahead of lack of money and pressure to meet exacting NHS-wide performance targets. Hunt has recently acknowledged that, and Health Education England, the NHS’s staffing and training agency, last month published a workforce strategy intended to tackle the problem.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Dr Karen Roberts, Macmillan’s chief nursing officer, said patients’ lives could be shortened if the hospital implemented Weaver’s proposals.

“Such a situation is deeply worrying and delays cause untold distress to patients. A group who may be particularly affected by such a decision would be those who have treatable but not curable cancer.

“Chemotherapy can help relieve their symptoms, extend survival and enable people to spend precious time with their family. If access to treatment is reduced, all these factors may be affected.”

Oxford Universty hospitals NHS trust, which runs the Churchill, said it had not decided to implement any of the suggested measures, but did not rule out doing so.

“We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive,” it said in a statement.

“We would like to reassure our patients that no changes to chemotherapy treatment have been made or will be made before thorough consideration has been given to all possible options.”

David Bailey, a nurse with the trust who is being treated for cancer at the Churchill, said the high vacancy rate for cancer nurses, and any consequent reduction in chemotherapy, would affect the outcomes for patients..

“I am lucky, I’m part of a clinical trial, which will not be affected; but how frightening is this for other, newly diagnosed cancer patients?”

NHS cancer hospital may have to delay or reduce treatment

An NHS cancer hospital may have to make patients wait to undergo chemotherapy, or reduce the amount of treatment that dying patients receive, because it has so few nurses, a leaked memo has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the prospect of the Churchill hospital in Oxford in effect rationing life-extending and potentially life-saving chemotherapy was “deeply worrying”, especially for people dying of the disease.

The warning is thought to be unprecedented in cancer care. It is set out in an email from Dr Andrew Weaver, the chemotherapy lead, to fellow cancer specialists at the hospital.

Sent on 3 January, Weaver refers to the difficulties on the day treatment unit (DTU) caused by a shortage of specialist cancer nurses who administer chemotherapy.

He makes clear that limiting access to the treatment could affect both newly referred cancer patients and those in their final weeks or months of life.

Weaver writes: “Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU and as a consequence we are having to delay chemotherapy patients’ starting times to four weeks.”

Two types of cancer patients will continue to receive their chemotherapy as normal: dying patients undergoing their first course of chemotherapy and those who are receiving it in addition to other cancer treatment, such as surgery or radiotherapy.

In future, however, dying patients could receive less chemotherapy as a result of the lack of nurses.

Weaver said: “We propose that for second, third and fourth line palliative treatments the cycle length is increased by one or two weeks and/or the total number of cycles administered is reduced – for example, where normally six cycles are given then teams should consider reducing to four cycles in total.

“I know that many of us will find it difficult to accept these changes but the bottom line is that the current situation with limited numbers of staff is unsustainable in the short, medium and long term. Sadly we cannot see the staffing levels on DTU improving for at least 18-24 months.”

Q&A

Does the UK have enough doctors and nurses?

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses than many other comparable countries both in Europe and worldwide. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britain comes 24th in a league table of 34 member countries in terms of the number of doctors they have relative to their populations. Greece, Austria and Norway have the most; the three countries with proportionately the fewest medics are Turkey, Chile and Mexico. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, regularly points out that the NHS in England has more doctors and nurses than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. That is true, although there are now fewer district nurses, mental health nurses and other types of health professionals.

NHS unions and health thinktanks point out that rises in NHS staff’s workloads have outstripped the increases in overall staff numbers. Hospital bosses say that understaffing is now their number one problem, even ahead of lack of money and pressure to meet exacting NHS-wide performance targets. Hunt has recently acknowledged that, and Health Education England, the NHS’s staffing and training agency, last month published a workforce strategy intended to tackle the problem.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Dr Karen Roberts, Macmillan’s chief nursing officer, said patients’ lives could be shortened if the hospital implemented Weaver’s proposals.

“Such a situation is deeply worrying and delays cause untold distress to patients. A group who may be particularly affected by such a decision would be those who have treatable but not curable cancer.

“Chemotherapy can help relieve their symptoms, extend survival and enable people to spend precious time with their family. If access to treatment is reduced, all these factors may be affected.”

Oxford Universty hospitals NHS trust, which runs the Churchill, said it had not decided to implement any of the suggested measures, but did not rule out doing so.

“We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive,” it said in a statement.

“We would like to reassure our patients that no changes to chemotherapy treatment have been made or will be made before thorough consideration has been given to all possible options.”

David Bailey, a nurse with the trust who is being treated for cancer at the Churchill, said the high vacancy rate for cancer nurses, and any consequent reduction in chemotherapy, would affect the outcomes for patients..

“I am lucky, I’m part of a clinical trial, which will not be affected; but how frightening is this for other, newly diagnosed cancer patients?”

NHS cancer hospital may have to delay or reduce treatment

An NHS cancer hospital may have to make patients wait to undergo chemotherapy, or reduce the amount of treatment that dying patients receive, because it has so few nurses, a leaked memo has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the prospect of the Churchill hospital in Oxford in effect rationing life-extending and potentially life-saving chemotherapy was “deeply worrying”, especially for people dying of the disease.

The warning is thought to be unprecedented in cancer care. It is set out in an email from Dr Andrew Weaver, the chemotherapy lead, to fellow cancer specialists at the hospital.

Sent on 3 January, Weaver refers to the difficulties on the day treatment unit (DTU) caused by it being drastically short of specialist cancer nurses who administer chemotherapy.

He makes clear that limiting access to the treatment could affect both newly referred cancer patients and those in their final weeks or months of life.

Weaver writes: “Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU and as a consequence we are having to delay chemotherapy patients’ starting times to four weeks.”

Two types of cancer patients will continue to receive their chemotherapy as normal: dying patients undergoing their first course of chemotherapy and those who are receiving it in addition to other cancer treatment, such as surgery or radiotherapy.

In future, however, dying patients could receive less chemotherapy as a result of the lack of nurses.

Weaver said: “We propose that for second, third and fourth line palliative treatments the cycle length is increased by one or two weeks and/or the total number of cycles administered is reduced – for example, where normally six cycles are given then teams should consider reducing to four cycles in total.

“I know that many of us will find it difficult to accept these changes but the bottom line is that the current situation with limited numbers of staff is unsustainable in the short, medium and long term. Sadly we cannot see the staffing levels on DTU improving for at least 18-24 months.”

Q&A

Does the UK have enough doctors and nurses?

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses than many other comparable countries both in Europe and worldwide. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britain comes 24th in a league table of 34 member countries in terms of the number of doctors they have relative to their populations. Greece, Austria and Norway have the most; the three countries with proportionately the fewest medics are Turkey, Chile and Mexico. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, regularly points out that the NHS in England has more doctors and nurses than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. That is true, although there are now fewer district nurses, mental health nurses and other types of health professionals.

NHS unions and health thinktanks point out that rises in NHS staff’s workloads have outstripped the increases in overall staff numbers. Hospital bosses say that understaffing is now their number one problem, even ahead of lack of money and pressure to meet exacting NHS-wide performance targets. Hunt has recently acknowledged that, and Health Education England, the NHS’s staffing and training agency, last month published a workforce strategy intended to tackle the problem.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Dr Karen Roberts, Macmillan’s chief nursing officer, said patients’ lives could be shortened if the hospital implemented Weaver’s proposals.

“Such a situation is deeply worrying and delays cause untold distress to patients. A group who may be particularly affected by such a decision would be those who have treatable but not curable cancer.

“Chemotherapy can help relieve their symptoms, extend survival and enable people to spend precious time with their family. If access to treatment is reduced, all these factors may be affected.”

Oxford Universty hospitals NHS trust, which runs the Churchill, said it had not decided to implement any of the suggested measures, but did not rule out doing so.

“We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive,” it said in a statement.

“We would like to reassure our patients that no changes to chemotherapy treatment have been made or will be made before thorough consideration has been given to all possible options.”

David Bailey, a nurse with the trust who is being treated for cancer at the Churchill, said the high vacancy rate for cancer nurses, and any consequent reduction in chemotherapy, would affect the outcomes for patients..

“I am lucky, I’m part of a clinical trial, which will not be affected; but how frightening is this for other, newly diagnosed cancer patients?”

Marriage could help reduce risk of dementia, study suggests

Being married could help stave off dementia, a new study has suggested.

Levels of social interaction could explain the finding, experts have said, after the research showed that people who are single or widowed are more likely to develop the disease.

Experts conducted an analysis of 15 studies which held data on dementia and marital status involving more than 800,000 people from Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

Their study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, concluded that lifelong singletons have a 42% elevated risk of dementia compared with married couples.

Those who have been widowed had a 20% increased risk compared with married people, they found, but no elevated risk was found among divorcees compared with those who were still married.

The researchers, led by experts from University College London, said previous research has shown that married people may adopt healthier lifestyles. They may also be more likely to be socially engaged than singletons.

Meanwhile, the effect observed in people who have been widowed could be due to stress that comes with bereavement, they added. Another explanation could be that developing dementia could be related to other underlying cognitive or personality traits.

Commenting on the study, Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “There is compelling research showing married people generally live longer and enjoy better health, with many different factors likely to be contributing to that link. People who are married tend to be financially better off, a factor that is closely interwoven with many aspects of our health.

“Spouses may help to encourage healthy habits, look out for their partner’s health and provide important social support. Research suggests that social interaction can help to build cognitive reserve – a mental resilience that allows people to function for longer with a disease like Alzheimer’s before showing symptoms.

“Staying physically, mentally, and socially active are all important aspects of a healthy lifestyle and these are things everyone, regardless of their marital status, can work towards.”