The strongest link
Say goodbye to your poor memory and boost your brainpower with oily
fish and fresh veg, says Dr John Briffa
SCIENTISTS FIND GENETIC SECRETS OF LONGER LIFE -
Scientists have discovered a set of up to 10 genes that they believe may carry the secret of longevity.
The genes, nicknamed "genetic booster rockets", allow their carriers to fight off cancer, heart disease and dementia, as well
as the fatal bone-thinning condition osteoporosis. In all cases, the people in the study were not only very old, but also
active, in good health and so able to enjoy the benefits of living much longer than most people.
Researchers now want
to identify the chemicals the genes produce in order to synthesise them into drugs that could protect others from debilitating
Unhealthy Life North Of the Border
Government figures reveal that Scotland, once again, is the unhealthiest
part of the UK. The annual survey of regional trends by the Office of National Statistics, which looks at health, wealth,
education, and employment, paints a gloomy picture of life north of the border. Health differences between Scotland and the
south of the UK are particularly marked among women.
While female mortality rates for heart disease in the South-east,
South-west, London and Eastern NHS regions were all fewer than 170 deaths per 100,000 population, in Scotland, Northern Ireland
and the North-West the rates were over 210 - more than 23% higher. Women in Scotland also have a 50.8% higher chance of getting
lung cancer than the national average.
The traditional Scottish diet and the national aversion to exercise also show
little sign of improvement. Scots spend the most money per person on drinks and confectionery, and cooked meat products such
as pies and sausage rolls. Television viewing is also two hours above the national average - 31 hours a week for women and
28 hours for men. Overall, mortality rates in Scotland are 118% of the UK average, ranging from 94% in East Renfrewshire to
144% in Glasgow.
No foot in the grave
expectancy is rising so fast, says a new report, it could become common to live to 90 or 100. But will we be able to afford
or enjoy such longevity? Richard Woods and David Smith report.
Children born in Britain this year can expect to live for
80 years, perhaps much longer. It is a life-span far greater than most women or men could hope for at the beginning of the
previous century. Then a mere 50 years was the norm for women, by some estimates; for men, who tend to die younger, it was
By the time a girl born this year is a grandmother, say in 2070, life expectancy for women in
some countries will be close to 100, according to a study published in the journal Science last week. That will be the average.
Some individuals will live to become far older, not because of medical science or genetic manipulation but simply because
better, healthier living standards are delaying the ageing process.
LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE FOR ARTHRITIS.
Becky Callicoatte loves Lucy - and with good
reason. She accidentally discovered several years ago that a good laugh immediately eased the enduring pain of her rheumatoid
arthritis. Since then, she has used tapes of re-runs of I Love Lucy, The Odd Couple, Candid Camera and other television comedy
shows, as well as a joke wherever she can pick one up, for pain relief.
Callicoatte, of Shreveport, La., is one of nine
arthritis sufferers who have been trained as patient-partners in a new program created by the Arthritis Foundation and G.D.
Searle & Co., the pharmaceuticals manufacturer, to teach other persons with the condition how to use cognitive pain management
to help break the self-reinforcing cycle of chronic pain. Dr. William Fry, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford
University Medical School and a pioneer researcher in the physiology of humour and laughter, says Callicoatte may have been
doing a lot more than taking her mind off of her pain. A lot of the pain you experience with arthritis has to do with muscle
spasm, Fry said. In response to pain in the connective tissue - in ligaments, cartilage and so forth - surrounding muscles
try to pull away from that pain, to get away from it. This secondary level of pain is overlaid onto the initial arthritis
pain, Fry said.
Laughter is a spasmodic process, he said. Muscles are contracting, relaxing, contracting, relaxing and
This tends to override other muscle spasms, Fry believes. When you are laughing, muscles that are not involved
in the laughter activity usually go into a more flaccid state. The Searle-Arthritis Foundation program, entitled Taking Control
of Arthritis Pain, is straightforward. Patients are told that pain often occurs in a cycle. People who hurt lose abilities
and become depressed and stressed, which leads to more pain.
Although pain is a physical symptom, you can actually use
the power of your mind to help manage it, a workbook used during the Taking Control sessions states. Then it lists techniques
such as distraction, controlled muscle relaxation and guided imagery in which the patient concentrates on positive memories
or pleasant experiences. New York Times: