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Category: Quality of Life (page 1 of 7)

Life expectancy in the U.S. is getting shorter » Alcohol related liver disease and deaths on the rise

Reuters »

Americans today are expected to live shorter lives than just a few years ago, in contrast with trends seen in other developed nations, and rising deaths from alcohol-related liver disease may be partly to blame, researchers say.

Analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they found that U.S. deaths from alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) are at their highest levels since 1999 and have risen every year since 2006 in nearly every racial, ethnic and age group.

[…]

The researchers analyzed causes of death for people aged 25 and older in the two decades since 1997, and found that 2017 had the highest rates of death from ALD, at 13.1 per 100,000 deaths in men and 5.6 per 100,000 in women. That compares to 1999 ALD mortality rates of 10.6 per 100,000 in men and 3.3 per 100,000 in women.

Mortality rates and recent increases in ALD diagnoses were particularly pronounced among middle-aged adults, Native Americans and non-Hispanic whites, the researchers report in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Read the whole article at Reuters »

Related » CBC News » U.S. life expectancy being driven down by middle-aged deaths, study suggests

Being kind could help you live longer

Lauren Turner, writing in BBC »

Columbia University doctor Kelli Harding has been examining the phenomenon in her recent book, The Rabbit Effect.

She says: “It helps the immune system, blood pressure, it helps people to live longer and better. It’s pretty amazing because there’s an ample supply and you can’t overdose on it. There’s a free supply. It’s right there.”

A 4-day workweek at Microsoft Japan boosted employees’ productivity

Microsoft experimented with a four-day workweek this past August. Employees received Fridays as paid leave. Not 92% of employees were happy with the program.

Humza Aamir, writing in Techspot » 

All of 2,300 employees working at Microsoft Japan had three-day weekends in August this year, as part of the company’s ‘Work Life Choice Challenge.’

[…]

Getting an extra day off every week made for improvements in several areas, including productivity and operational costs. Sales per employee, used to determine productivity, rose by 39.9 percent as compared to figures in August 2018, while remaining closed for an extra day reduced the firm’s electricity costs by 23.1 percent and saw a 58.7 percent decline in paper printing.

Given that employees had only four days to work, meetings were capped at 30 minutes, while remote conferences were increased to eliminate commuting where possible. The experiment also incorporated self-development and family wellness schemes and received positive feedback by the majority of employees, 92.1 percent of whom liked the shorter workweek.

More » The Inquirer, Interesting Engineering, Bored Panda

New study links trans fatty acids to dementia

Trans fats have been known to increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A new Japanese study has found that people with higher levels of trans fats in their blood were 50 to 75 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than people with lower levels of trans fats in their blood.

American Academy of Neurology »

The study found that people with higher levels of trans fats in their blood were 50 to 75 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia years later than people with lower levels of trans fats in their blood.

The study involved 1,628 people living in a Japanese community with an average age of about 70 who did not have dementia. The level of trans fats from industrial-produced sources in the participants’ blood was measured at the beginning of the study, and they were divided into four groups based on those levels. Participants were also given a questionnaire about how often they ate certain foods.

Then they were followed for an average of 10 years. During that time, 377 people developed dementia.

Of the 407 people with the highest level of trans fats, 104 developed dementia, or an incidence rate of 29.8 per 1,000 person-years. For people with the second-highest level of trans fats, 103 of the 407 developed dementia, for an incidence rate of 27.6 per 1,000 person years. Of the 407 people with the lowest level, 82 developed dementia, an incidence rate of 21.3 per 1,000 person-years.

In 2004, Denmark was the first country to start regulating industrially-produced trans fatty acids. Today they are banned in Canada, the United States, and other jurisdictions. In the U.S. however, the Food and Drug Administration allows foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats to be labeled as containing zero grams of trans fats. Consequently, some foods still contain partially hydrogenated oils and could continue to pose an increased risk.

Trans fats are also typically found in foods that can be hard to resist.

The researchers also looked at which foods contributed the most to high levels of trans fats in the blood. Sweet pastries were the strongest contributor, followed by margarine, candies and caramels, croissants, non-dairy creamers, ice cream and rice crackers.

Trans fats are also found in cookies, chips, baked goods, french fries, doughnuts, popcorn.

The World Health Organization has called for trans fats to be eliminated worldwide.

Read more »

Journal Reference » Neurology, October 23, 2019

More » NY Times, The New Daily, Medical News Today, MedPageToday

Number of Americans living with dementias will double over the next 20 years

Science Daily »

Milken Institute research estimates that by 2020, roughly 4.7 million women in the US will have dementia, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all people living with the condition.

The number of both women and men living with dementia is projected to nearly double by 2040, with the number of women projected to rise to 8.5 million, and the number of men expected to reach 4.5 million (up from 2.6 million in 2020), according to the report, which was released at the 2019 Milken Institute Future of Health Summit in Washington, D.C.

Over the next 20 years, the economic burden of dementia will exceed $2 trillion, with women shouldering more than 80 percent of the cumulative costs.

Read more »

More » The Hill, AARP, WebMD

Too many bad nights of sleep could play a role in developing dementia

Katherine Ellen Foley, writing in Quartz »

“Sleep disorders and insufficient sleep contribute to Alzheimer’s decades before people develop the disorder,” Ruth Benca, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Irvine, said during a panel on brain health at the summit in Washington, DC.

Benca’s work has tracked the relationship between sleep—particularly the deep sleep known as rapid-eye movement (REM)—and its relationship to developing dementia later in life. In 2017, she and her team published work following healthy individuals with a variant of a gene called APOE that puts them at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They found that individuals who reported lower-quality sleep tended to have larger buildups of the proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, called amyloid and tau, in the fluid surrounding their brains than those who reported sleeping well. It seemed, they thought, that the process of sleep might be clearing some of these buildups.

Subsequent work has backed up that theory. The same year, another study found that among a cohort of adults over 60, those who took longer to enter REM sleep and dreamt less were at an elevated risk of developing dementia. Last year, researchers from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland published the results of a study that found healthy participants who agreed to be woken up hourly for a night (yeesh) had higher levels of amyloid the following day. And earlier this year, a separate group from Washington University School of Medicine found that older adults who got less REM sleep were likely to have higher amounts of tau, too.

Read more »

Canadian adults receive failing grade on overall physical activity report card

ParticipACTION, a non-profit group that promotes healthy living, released the first-ever Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults yesterday, giving adults living in Canada a “D” for overall physical activity.

The report stated that even though 83 percent of adults think physical inactivity is a serious health issue, only 16 percent meet the national guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week.

The research shows that 29 percent of adults in Canada fall within the low active lifestyle category and adults 18 to 79 years old are sedentary for almost 10 hours per day.

The research also shows that sedentary time increases with age and adults 65 and older are spending the most time inactive. This is extra concerning as for the first time in Canadian history, adults over the age of 65 make up a larger percentage of our population than those aged 15 and under.

Physical inactivity can lead to increased risk of chronic diseases, cognitive decline, slips and falls, and social isolation. We can’t stop aging, but we can age better with physical activity.

Fortunately, the Report Card is not all negative. 74 percent of adults in Canada say they have strong intentions to be physically active within the next six months. Perhaps they just require a little extra motivation.

As we age, natural changes such as slowed reaction times and decreased muscle and bone strength contribute to an increase in slips and falls. Engaging in activities like strength training or tai chi can help participants meet their weekly activity goals while improving balance, core strength, and stability.

Research shows that being physically active can also help protect against the onset of dementia and slow its progression. Regular brain stimulation along with physical activity can extend our years of strong brain health.

About 20 percent of adults in Canada experience some level of loneliness or isolation. Older adults are at higher risk due to a lack of mobility and shrinking social networks. Staying active, and making time to get active with others helps to build social connections and enhances community engagement.

Source: ParticipACTION

More » CBC

Are pets really good for us?

Jules Howard, writing in The Guardian »

The good news, at face value, is this: if you are looking for proof that having a pet improves your general health, the evidence abounds. For instance, there is plenty about how a bout of pet-stroking can lower your heart rate (and the pet’s), easing your body into a less stressed condition. This seems to apply across the spectrum, from dogs and cats to snakes and goats. And there’s more. There’s evidence from Germany and Australia (sample size: 10,000) that pet-owners make fewer visits to the doctor and, from China, that pet-owners sleep more soundly than those who aren’t. Just last week, the American Heart Association reported that the survival prospects for people who have had heart attacks and strokes are better in dog-owners than in those who are not.

and

If we were able to put all these pros and cons into a melting pot and come up with a definitive answer to the question of whether or not pets are good for us, what would the answer be? The answer would be … complicated. Because humans and our circumstances are so universally mixed up and complex. The simple truth is that having a pet has good and bad sides, and it may not be for everyone. Which means we have a duty to think carefully before acquiring one. We need to imagine the good times we might have with a pet and to consider the bad times, too: the insecurity, the grumpiness in old age, the infirmity.

Read the whole article at The Guardian »

Exercise and increased physical activity can prevent and treat depression

Exercise training and increased physical activity are effective for both prevention and treatment of depression, concludes research published in the Current Sports Medicine Reports, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The evidence of the use of physical activity and exercise for the management of depression is substantial and growing fast,”comment Felipe Barretto Schuch, PhD, of Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Brazil, and Brendon Stubbs, PhD, of King’s College London, lead authors of the special ‘Exercise Is Medicine’ article. “Despite this substantial evidence, the incorporation of exercise as a key component in treatment is often inconstant and often given a low priority.” Continue reading

Dog ownership linked with longer life, especially among heart attack and stroke survivors

Dog ownership is associated with a 33% lower risk of early death for heart attack survivors living alone and 27% reduced risk of early death for stroke survivors living alone, compared to people who did not own a dog.

Dog ownership was also associated with a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a 31% lower risk of death by heart attack or stroke compared to non-owners.

Anne Harding, writing for Reuters »

Overall, dog owners were 24% less likely to die over the next decade than non-dog owners. People who’d suffered a heart attack or other cardiovascular event had a 65% reduced risk of dying over the next decade if they owned a dog. Dog ownership reduced overall mortality from cardiovascular causes by 31%.

Increased physical activity plays a key role in the cardiovascular benefits of dog ownership, said Kramer, noting that her own step count has climbed “sky high” since she adopted Romeo, an energetic miniature schnauzer that she walks at least three times a day.

Read more at Reuters »

More » CNN, Science Daily, USA Today

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