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Category: Quality of Life (page 1 of 7)

People who frequent art galleries, museums, attend the theatre, concerts may live longer

Vishwadha Chander, Reuters »

Even after accounting for a wide range of other health and social factors, researchers from University College London found that people over 50 who regularly engaged with arts activities were 31% less likely to die during a 14-year follow-up than peers with no art in their lives.

Those who took part in arts-related activities only once or twice a year still had 14% lower odds of dying during the study.

“These findings support previous statistical analyses and anthropological work suggesting there may be benefits of the arts to individuals as they age,” said Daisy Fancourt, an associate professor of psychobiology and epidemiology at University College London and co-author of the study.

Alcohol-related deaths in the US have more than doubled in the past 20 years

Vanessa Romo and Allison Aubrey, NPR »

Some of the greatest increases were found among women and people who were middle-aged and older.

[…]

Overall, researchers found men died at a higher rate than women. But when analyzing annual increases in deaths, the largest increase was among white women.

“With the increases in alcohol use among women, there’s been increases in harms for women including ER visits, hospitalization and deaths,” Aaron White, who authored the paper, told NPR.

The research shows that in 2017, alcohol proved to be even more deadly than illicit drugs, including opioids. That year there were about 70,000 drug overdose deaths — about 2,300 fewer than those involving alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Human evolution explains why physical activity is important for our brain health

David A. Raichlen and Gene E. Alexander, Scientific American »

  • It is by now well established that exercise has positive effects on the brain, especially as we age.
  • Less clear has been why physical activity affects the brain in the first place.
  • Key events in the evolutionary history of humans may have forged the link between exercise and brain function.
  • Cognitively challenging exercise may benefit the brain more than physical activity that makes fewer cognitive demands.

[…]

People often consider walking and running to be activities that the body is able to perform on autopilot. But research carried out over the past decade by us and others would indicate that this folk wisdom is wrong. Instead exercise seems to be as much a cognitive activity as a physical one. In fact, this link between physical activity and brain health may trace back millions of years to the origin of hallmark traits of humankind. If we can better understand why and how exercise engages the brain, perhaps we can leverage the relevant physiological pathways to design novel exercise routines that will boost people’s cognition as they age—work that we have begun to undertake.

There’s lots more to this article over at Scientific American »

 

Study predicts 1 in 2 adults in the US will be obese within 10 years » 1 in 4 will be severely obese

Reuters »

In addition, severe obesity – and the serious health problems and extra healthcare costs associated with it – will disproportionately affect women, low-income adults, non-Hispanic black adults and states bordering the lower half of the Mississippi River.

Beth Mole, Ars Technica »

Nearly half of all adults in the US will be obese just 10 years from now, according to new projections published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Nearly a quarter will be severely obese.

Currently, about 40 percent of US adults are obese and about 20 percent are severely obese.

The new modeling study, led by public health researchers at Harvard, attempts to provide the most accurate projections yet for the country’s obesity epidemic, which is increasing at a concerning rate. “Especially worrisome,” the researchers write, “is the projected rise in the prevalence of severe obesity, which is associated with even higher mortality and morbidity and health care costs” than obesity.

For the study, the researchers defined weight categories by body mass index, BMI, defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. BMI’s of under 25 were considered underweight or normal weight, 25 to 30 were considered overweight (25 to <30), 30 to 35 were considered moderate obesity, and 35 or over were considered severe obesity.

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 »

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