Tag Archives: Reduce

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

Can brain training reduce dementia risk? Despite new research, the jury is still out

More than 30 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s disease, and while researchers are pushing hard to find a cure, their efforts so far have met with failure. With no effective treatment on the horizon, prevention has become the only game in town. But what can be done to reduce the risk of dementia, now the leading cause of death in England and Wales?

In research published on Thursday, US scientists claim that a form of computer-based brain training can reduce the risk of dementia by 29%. The training was designed to speed up people’s visual information processing, for example by having them spot a car on a screen, and a truck on the periphery of their vision, at the same time. Those who are claimed to have benefited trained for an hour, twice a week, for five weeks, and some went on to have booster sessions at the end of the first and third years. To see if the training made any difference, the participants sat tests up to 10 years later.

There are good reasons to be cautious about the results, which appear in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions. The study wasn’t designed to examine dementia, and the scientists didn’t rely on a clinical diagnosis when they totted up who had the dementia at the end of the trial. Instead, they opted for a broader definition and allowed people to self-report that they had the disorder. “If you’re going to say you are preventing dementia, you want that defined to the nth degree,” said Peter Passmore, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Queen’s University in Belfast.

The scientists actually tested two other kinds of brain training too. These were designed to strengthen memory and mental reasoning respectively. A decade after training began, the scientists found that 22.7% of people in the speed training group had dementia, compared with 24.2% in both memory and reasoning groups. In a control group of people who had no training, the dementia rate was 28.8%.

But in studies like these, scientists have to take into account whether an intervention might look good or bad simply by chance. The results for the memory and mental reasoning brain training failed this statistical test. More importantly, the effect linked to visual processing was at best at the very edge of statistical significance. Scientific convention has it that if the chance of a result being a fluke is greater than 5%, it is not worth taking seriously. For visual speed training, the figure was 4.9%.

“We’re lacking high quality evidence to show that brain training has any impact on the risk of dementia, and based on current studies we can’t recommend people take it up,” said Clare Walton, research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society. “What we do know is that keeping the body and brain active across life can go someway towards reducing the risk.”

There are some risk factors for dementia that we cannot change, such as age, genetic makeup, gender and ethnicity. And it may be too late to do much about others. Spending more years in education as a child, for example, has a protective effect against dementia, but whether returning to education later in life helps is unclear.

Until effective treatments are found, the most promising way to reduce dementia risk is through lifestyle changes. Smokers are estimated to be 30-70% more likely than nonsmokers to develop dementia, so quitting immediately is a good start. High blood pressure in midlife seems to raise the risk too, and better control of blood pressure may be one reason the rate of new cases of dementia in Britain has dropped in recent years.

Alzheimer’s researchers often say that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain. The basis for the claim comes largely from research on exercise and diet. It shows that regular aerobic exercise can reduce dementia risk by 30-40%, while eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish, and low in red meat and sugar, can potentially halve the risk of dementia.

Walton advises people to take up a hobby that hits a number of risk factors all at once. Joining dance classes or a table tennis club is a way to get exercise, to challenge the brain by learning new skills and to socialise, for example. “The best thing is to find activities that do all three,” she said.

Can brain training reduce dementia risk? Despite new research, the jury is still out

More than 30 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s disease, and while researchers are pushing hard to find a cure, their efforts so far have met with failure. With no effective treatment on the horizon, prevention has become the only game in town. But what can be done to reduce the risk of dementia, now the leading cause of death in England and Wales?

In research published on Thursday, US scientists claim that a form of computer-based brain training can reduce the risk of dementia by 29%. The training was designed to speed up people’s visual information processing, for example by having them spot a car on a screen, and a truck on the periphery of their vision, at the same time. Those who are claimed to have benefited trained for an hour, twice a week, for five weeks, and some went on to have booster sessions at the end of the first and third years. To see if the training made any difference, the participants sat tests up to 10 years later.

There are good reasons to be cautious about the results, which appear in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions. The study wasn’t designed to examine dementia, and the scientists didn’t rely on a clinical diagnosis when they totted up who had the dementia at the end of the trial. Instead, they opted for a broader definition and allowed people to self-report that they had the disorder. “If you’re going to say you are preventing dementia, you want that defined to the nth degree,” said Peter Passmore, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Queen’s University in Belfast.

The scientists actually tested two other kinds of brain training too. These were designed to strengthen memory and mental reasoning respectively. A decade after training began, the scientists found that 22.7% of people in the speed training group had dementia, compared with 24.2% in both memory and reasoning groups. In a control group of people who had no training, the dementia rate was 28.8%.

But in studies like these, scientists have to take into account whether an intervention might look good or bad simply by chance. The results for the memory and mental reasoning brain training failed this statistical test. More importantly, the effect linked to visual processing was at best at the very edge of statistical significance. Scientific convention has it that if the chance of a result being a fluke is greater than 5%, it is not worth taking seriously. For visual speed training, the figure was 4.9%.

“We’re lacking high quality evidence to show that brain training has any impact on the risk of dementia, and based on current studies we can’t recommend people take it up,” said Clare Walton, research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society. “What we do know is that keeping the body and brain active across life can go someway towards reducing the risk.”

There are some risk factors for dementia that we cannot change, such as age, genetic makeup, gender and ethnicity. And it may be too late to do much about others. Spending more years in education as a child, for example, has a protective effect against dementia, but whether returning to education later in life helps is unclear.

Until effective treatments are found, the most promising way to reduce dementia risk is through lifestyle changes. Smokers are estimated to be 30-70% more likely than nonsmokers to develop dementia, so quitting immediately is a good start. High blood pressure in midlife seems to raise the risk too, and better control of blood pressure may be one reason the rate of new cases of dementia in Britain has dropped in recent years.

Alzheimer’s researchers often say that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain. The basis for the claim comes largely from research on exercise and diet. It shows that regular aerobic exercise can reduce dementia risk by 30-40%, while eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish, and low in red meat and sugar, can potentially halve the risk of dementia.

Walton advises people to take up a hobby that hits a number of risk factors all at once. Joining dance classes or a table tennis club is a way to get exercise, to challenge the brain by learning new skills and to socialise, for example. “The best thing is to find activities that do all three,” she said.

NHS urges 1.4m staff to have flu jab to reduce risk of epidemic

NHS bosses are writing to all 1.4 million staff to say they must have the winter flu jab as soon as possible to reduce the risk of them infecting patients who might die.

Those who decline the jab will have to tell the NHS trust that employs them why, and it will have to record their reasons, as part of a bid to drive up what the NHS admits are “disappointing” staff take-up rates.

The move comes as the chairman of NHS England admitted on Thursday that health service chiefs were “more scared than we have ever been” about how bad winter could be. There is a strong likelihood of hospitals being inundated with flu sufferers, Prof Sir Malcolm Grant said.

The prospect of a flu epidemic presented a real crisis, added Grant. NHS leaders are seriously concerned that Britain could be hit by its biggest flu outbreak in years this winter. There is acute anxiety because Australia and New Zealand have been experiencing their worst flu season for many years with struggling to cope.

NHS bosses have got tough on staff’s jab uptake as part of a new series of “intensified cross-NHS winter preparations” in a bid to reduce the estimated 8,000 annual deaths from flu in England and Wales.

They are sending out letters to healthcare workers across England urging them to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of them passing on the flu virus to vulnerable patients, especially older people and those with breathing problems such as asthma, pneumonia and emphysema. It is staff’s professional duty to have the jab, they say.

The letter says: “As winter approaches it is worth reminding ourselves that flu can have serious and even fatal consequences.

“Healthcare workers, as members of the general population, are susceptible to flu. When coupled with the potential for a third of flu cases being transmitted by asymptomatic individuals, it means patients are at particular risk.”

Although a record proportion of NHS staff received the jab last year – 63% – in some trusts as few as 20% of staff took up the offer of free vaccination at work.

In another previously unused tactic, NHS England bosses are writing to all 234 NHS trusts telling them to do much more to ensure staff have the jab. “We require each NHS organisation to ensure that each and every eligible member of staff is personally offered the flu vaccine, and then either signs the consent form or states if they decline to do so,” that letter says.

Grant, speaking at the national children and adult services conference in Bournemouth, said: “We face winter better prepared than we have ever been, but more scared than we have ever been.

“We have the strong likelihood of hospitals being inundated with people suffering flu.”

The NHS is expanding its £237m winter flu campaign by offering free vaccination for the first time to over 1 million people who work in care homes, at a cost of £10m, and also to the 670,000 eight- and nine-year-old pupils in school year four. Those aged two, three and four will be offered a flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray rather than an injection, however.

In all, 21 million people in England will be offered free immunisation on the NHS. They include pregnant women and anyone over 65 and anyone deemed at clinical risk, for example due to asthma.

“This move to help keep care workers stay well during flu season is a really positive step by the NHS. Not only will it help to protect thousands of care home residents from getting sick, but it sends a strong signal about the importance of social care staff in providing an integrated health and care service,” said Imelda Redmond, the national director of the campaign group Healthwatch England.

Last winter, 133 people died as a direct result of flu after being treated in an intensive care or high-dependency unit in England, Public Health England said.

The NHS has also responded to the widespread shortage of A&E doctors by deciding to expand the number of doctors training to become specialists in emergency medicine from 300 to 400 a year for four years from next year. Currently, about 6,300 different grades of medics work in A&E units across England.

NHS urges 1.4m staff to have flu jab to reduce risk of epidemic

NHS bosses are writing to all 1.4 million staff to say they must have the winter flu jab as soon as possible to reduce the risk of them infecting patients who might die.

Those who decline the jab will have to tell the NHS trust that employs them why, and it will have to record their reasons, as part of a bid to drive up what the NHS admits are “disappointing” staff take-up rates.

The move comes as the chairman of NHS England admitted on Thursday that health service chiefs were “more scared than we have ever been” about how bad winter could be. There is a strong likelihood of hospitals being inundated with flu sufferers, Prof Sir Malcolm Grant said.

The prospect of a flu epidemic presented a real crisis, added Grant. NHS leaders are seriously concerned that Britain could be hit by its biggest flu outbreak in years this winter. There is acute anxiety because Australia and New Zealand have been experiencing their worst flu season for many years with struggling to cope.

NHS bosses have got tough on staff’s jab uptake as part of a new series of “intensified cross-NHS winter preparations” in a bid to reduce the estimated 8,000 annual deaths from flu in England and Wales.

They are sending out letters to healthcare workers across England urging them to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of them passing on the flu virus to vulnerable patients, especially older people and those with breathing problems such as asthma, pneumonia and emphysema. It is staff’s professional duty to have the jab, they say.

The letter says: “As winter approaches it is worth reminding ourselves that flu can have serious and even fatal consequences.

“Healthcare workers, as members of the general population, are susceptible to flu. When coupled with the potential for a third of flu cases being transmitted by asymptomatic individuals, it means patients are at particular risk.”

Although a record proportion of NHS staff received the jab last year – 63% – in some trusts as few as 20% of staff took up the offer of free vaccination at work.

In another previously unused tactic, NHS England bosses are writing to all 234 NHS trusts telling them to do much more to ensure staff have the jab. “We require each NHS organisation to ensure that each and every eligible member of staff is personally offered the flu vaccine, and then either signs the consent form or states if they decline to do so,” that letter says.

Grant, speaking at the national children and adult services conference in Bournemouth, said: “We face winter better prepared than we have ever been, but more scared than we have ever been.

“We have the strong likelihood of hospitals being inundated with people suffering flu.”

The NHS is expanding its £237m winter flu campaign by offering free vaccination for the first time to over 1 million people who work in care homes, at a cost of £10m, and also to the 670,000 eight- and nine-year-old pupils in school year four. Those aged two, three and four will be offered a flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray rather than an injection, however.

In all, 21 million people in England will be offered free immunisation on the NHS. They include pregnant women and anyone over 65 and anyone deemed at clinical risk, for example due to asthma.

“This move to help keep care workers stay well during flu season is a really positive step by the NHS. Not only will it help to protect thousands of care home residents from getting sick, but it sends a strong signal about the importance of social care staff in providing an integrated health and care service,” said Imelda Redmond, the national director of the campaign group Healthwatch England.

Last winter, 133 people died as a direct result of flu after being treated in an intensive care or high-dependency unit in England, Public Health England said.

The NHS has also responded to the widespread shortage of A&E doctors by deciding to expand the number of doctors training to become specialists in emergency medicine from 300 to 400 a year for four years from next year. Currently, about 6,300 different grades of medics work in A&E units across England.

Test for breast cancer risk could reduce pre-emptive mastectomies

A genetic test that accurately predicts the risk of developing breast cancer could soon be used on high-risk groups.

Researchers behind the test say it could reduce the number of women choosing pre-emptive mastectomy surgery as they will be able to make more informed decisions about their care.

The blood test looks at 18 genetic variations, or single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), known to affect the chances of getting breast cancer.

It will initially only be available at St Mary’s hospital and Wythenshawe hospital in Manchester to women having tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

A study carried out by researchers at the hospitals and the University of Manchester analysed the DNA of 451 women with a family history of breast cancer who had developed the disease, using the information alongside other factors to predict an overall risk estimate.

Many of the women who were originally in the high-risk category were reclassified to a lower risk category, where risk-reducing breast removal surgery is not recommended.

The study suggested the number of women with BRCA1 and 2 mutations who choose to have a mastectomy could be reduced from 50% to about 36%.

Becky Measures, who had a mastectomy at Wythenshawe hospital 11 years ago after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, said: “When they find that they have the BRCA1/2 gene, many women fear that they have to take action immediately. The new test will give women more options and help them to make a more informed decision.”

Probably the most famous person to have undergone the surgery is actor Angelina Jolie, who made the decision after learning she had an up to 87% chance of developing breast cancer, a disease her mother had died of.

Following the revelation, referrals for the gene mutation tests more than doubled in the UK, which doctors described as the “Angelina effect”.

While all women with a BRCA gene mutation are given this same risk figure of 87%, it is actually much more complex and different for every person.

A breast cancer charity described the more tailored approach as an exciting development.

Lester Barr, the chairman of Prevent Breast Cancer, which partly funded the research, said: “With more accurate genetic testing, we can better predict a woman’s risk of developing the disease and therefore offer the appropriate advice and support, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

“It’s so exciting to see this additional test go into clinical practice, as it’s this more tailored method that will help us on our mission to protect future generations from breast cancer.”

The research was led by Prof Gareth Evans, a medical genetics expert at the University of Manchester and Saint Mary’s hospital.

“This new test will help women at risk of familial breast cancer to make more informed decisions about their care,” Evans said. “BRCA1 and BRCA2 are just part of what we should be looking for when assessing risk and in Manchester we plan to incorporate screening for these new genetic markers in clinical practice within the next six months.”