Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Women: Living Longer, Looking Younger

By Nicky Morris


Did you know, that making simple changes to your lifestyle can keep you healthier and younger.

It doesn't take a doctor to tell you that being overweight, smoking, drinking too much and lack of exercise will contribute to poor health. But how do all these different factors increase the chances of dying?

A group of researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health and Human Services, joined together to examine this question. They've been looking at the many factors which may possibly influence the life expectancy of older women, either by increasing or decreasing it.

The team of researchers said, "Our goal was to assess the relative strength and joint contributions of factors on the risk of death in postmenopausal women". Specifically they looked at factors affecting life expectancy that could be modified easily through, for example, a change in diet or increase in exercise.

What are most important factors for a long life?

It was a sizeable study, composed of nearly 18,000 women, with mean age of 68.

Of all the high risk factors, those that could be changed easily were: smoking, being overweight with fat stored in the abdominal area, being unfit, and having high blood pressure.

What can you do reduce these risk factors?

This study demonstrated fortunately, that just making some simple changes to your lifestyle can in fact pay big dividends to your overall health and wellbeing and also your life expectancy.

Including:

Start to exercise. Any type of exercise is good for health, even a simple 30 min daily walk has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, reduce arthritic pain, reduce the progression of dementia and diabetes, reduce depression, and make you lose weight, which leads to the second point and third points.

Drop a few dress sizes. The researchers noted in the study, that it's good to lose that 'tummy fat', as according to results of other studies, carrying fat around the waist is a key factor in increasing the risk of heart disease.

Balancing high blood pressure, this can be achieved by exercise, cutting back on sugary, salty and fatty foods, and by not smoking.

Quit smoking. For smokers, giving up dramatically reduces the risks of cancers and heart disease. It's never too late.

In considering these four factors, the researchers pointed out that smoking was perhaps the most damaging to your health, causing 25% of cancer deaths in women. The researchers said: "The strong association of smoking with mortality is a critical reminder that smoking is the most important modifiable risk factor that physicians and society should address, even in older women." (Arch Intern Med 2006;2469-77)




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