Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Another iatrogenic disaster?

A popular diabetes drugs taken by up to 500,000 people raises the risk of dying by 60 per cent compared with other medicines for the condition, researchers have found. The drugs, known as sulphonylureas, are commonly used to treat type two diabetes, which can be caused by being overweight. The condition affects around two million people in the UK.

In the study, the drugs were found to increase the risk of dying from any cause by 60 per cent. They also increased the likelihood of heart failure - a condition where the heart fails to beat strongly - by 30 per cent, compared with another common medicine. It is thought sulphonylureas affect the way the body protects the heart from damage, leaving it vulnerable, the authors said.

The researchers at Imperial College London said the findings were 'important' but stopped short of saying that diabetics should avoid the drugs. They said guidelines already recommend that metformin, the drug they used for comparison, be used in preference to sulphonylureas.

Diabetics are already more susceptible to heart problems because of their condition and concerns have been raised that some of the medication may exacerbate this. In addition, the study - involving over 90,000 diabetics in Britain - found a newer drug pioglitazone, reduced the risk of dying when compared with metformin by up to 39 per cent.

The study was led by Prof Paul Elliott, who wrote in the British Medical Journal online: "The sulphonylureas, along with metformin, have long been considered the mainstay of drug treatment for type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest a relatively unfavourable risk profile of sulphonylureas compared with metformin. "This is consistent with the recommendations of the American Diabetes Association and International Diabetes Federation that favour metformin as the initial treatment for type 2 diabetes."

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at leading health charity Diabetes UK, added: “This study looks at the relative risk of the various drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It is a retrospective study and there is nothing particularly new revealed here. “We have to treat the results and the interpretation of them with some caution. “Diabetes UK would not advise people with Type 2 diabetes to stop taking sulphonylureas based on the results of this research. "If you are concerned about taking this medication you should contact your GP or diabetes healthcare team.”


Vegetables to die for help Montacute’s men to reach ripe old age

This is rubbish. By chance alone there will always be some places that fare better than others

A little village in Somerset has been identified as Britain’s safest place for old men to grow even older. Men of retirement age living in Montacute (pop 640) have a longer life expectancy than their contemporaries anywhere else in Britain. Montacute, near Yeovil, was identified as the longevity hotspot of the country by an analysis of more than three million pension records. Sixty-five-year-olds living in Montecute can expect an average of 25 more years of life, taking them up to 90. In contrast, 65-year-old men living in Bootle on Merseyside can expect an average of only 17 more years.

The life expectancy figures were worked out by actuaries, based on the number of men over 65 expected to die in the next 12 months. The figures were calculated for every postcode. The national average, expressed as mortality per thousand, is ten, but in Montacute the figure is just 6.4. This contrasts with Bootle, which scored the highest with 15.3. The actuaries then used a formula to turn the mortality figures into average life expectancy by postcode.

Matthew Edwards, of Watson Wyatt, the international business consultancy, and lead actuary on the study, said it showed that variations in longevity were directly affected by where people live. He said: “These findings show vividly that postcodes can explain substantial variations in mortality, with the longevity varying from 17 to 25 years according to their postcode band; a difference in expected future life time of eight years.”

A parallel study of women found that differences in longevity by postcode were far smaller than for men, with a variation of just four years. The figures for women have yet to be released.

“The variations in life expectancy are due to substantial differences in general health and lifestyle patterns between different parts of the UK. The North-South divide in particular is very striking, and the variation in life expectancy by postcode band for female occupational pension scheme holders is about half of the above range.”

In Montacute there is little doubt about the reason that its residents live such long lives. Many of them have vegetable patches and grow much of their food. Not only is the fresh produce healthier to eat, but the hard work involved in digging and harvesting it also keeps them fit.

Shirley Hann, who has lived in the village all her life, still grows her own vegetables at the age of 74. A great-grandmother of three, she said: “It seems that growing our own vegetables does have a bearing on how fit we are and how long we live. People here all have allotments or a little vegetable patch in their back garden. “I’ve been eating homegrown veg my whole life. I’ve never regarded it as amazing, but I’m fit enough to do it. Plus if you’ve got something to do and you’ve got an interest, it keeps you healthy.”

Her cousin, Keith Hann, 72, has grown 95 per cent of his fruit and veg for half a century. The great-grandfather, who worked as a financial consultant, said: “When you grow your own food, or the majority of it, you’re having pure food not full of chemicals, which I’m afraid seems to be in most foods you buy from supermarkets. “We have a lot of older people in the village who seem healthy, agile and determined. “I think the younger generation could learn a lot about living from older people who appreciate their health and whatever they may have.”

Charlie Northam, 89, has only recently given up growing vegetables for himself and his wife, Mabel, 90. He put their good health down to his homegrown onions and said: “I wouldn’t live anywhere else for all the tea in China.”


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Err, where to start. They all have houses with gardens, not on the poverty line then. They live in a rural area, low stress, low crime, little traffic, low pollution. They are and have been physically active, have no mobility problems, are not at risk from infectious diseases and probably come from the same genetic stock. Of course, the life expectancy is down to the home grown veg, no other influences at work. Curiously no one has asked them if they smoke and drink. Pah, tosh, garbage maskerading as research. Please stop these people someone please stop this avalanche of crap.