Saturday, January 29, 2011

Marriage is good for men's bodies and women's minds

This is an old, old story with the usual speculative inferences. Do the findings show that marriage makes you healthier or do they show that healthy people are more likely to be married? There is no way of telling but I would be inclined to think that the latter generalization accounts for at least part of the findings.

That older ladies are more sane if married rather fits what I have seen. Single ladies over 50 are in my observation often "spiritual", in a way suggesting low-grade mental illness. They feel forces that are not there etc. That such females have relationship difficulties is rather to be expected. Lack of reality contact is generally destructive

Marriage keeps men fit but boosts women’s mental health, according to an academic article. A study published in the Student BMJ says that committed couples live longer than singletons, with the health benefits of companionship increasing over time.

Meanwhile having lots of sexual partners can shorten lifespan and divorce can have a devastating impact, the editorial claims.

But spouses benefit from marriage in different ways. Married men are kept physically fit because their wives ensure they lead a healthy lifestyle, while women’s emotional health benefits because they value being in a relationship.

David Gallacher, a trainee at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, and John Gallacher, a reader at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, write: “Love is a voyage of discovery from dopamine drenched romance to oxytocin induced attachment. Making this journey can be fraught with hazards and lead many to question the value of romance and commitment.

“Nevertheless, the impact of stable long term exclusive relationships on longevity is well established. In a study of one billion person years across seven European countries the married persons had age adjusted mortality rates that were 10-15 per cent lower than the population as a whole. So, on balance, it probably is worth making the effort.”

They cite evidence that romances among teenagers are linked to “increased depressive symptoms”, while relationships among young adults do not improve physical health. “So it seems that a degree of maturity is required before Cupid is likely to bring a net health benefit.”

The optimal time for women to establish a committed relationship in terms of health is said to be between 19 and 25, whereas for men it is after 25.

The students believe that being in a committed relationship leads to better social support - from one’s partner, their friends and family – which improves mental health and lifestyle choices. Marriage is thought to provide the largest benefits, because it involves “deeper commitment” than merely living together. Longer relationships are also said to lead to greater benefits to mental health and lower mortality rates.

On the different benefits received by brides and grooms, the authors write: “In terms of physical health, men benefit more from being in a relationship than women, but in terms of mental health women benefit more than men. “The physical health premium for men is likely to be caused by their partner’s positive influence on lifestyle. The mental health bonus for women may be due to a greater emphasis on the importance of the relationship in women.”

However they concede that “not all relationships are beneficial”, and it is better to be single than in a strained relationship.

Splitting up is distressing but less so for women, “because they have more supportive social networks”. However the authors conclude: “Although failure of a relationship can harm health, that is an argument for avoiding a bad relationship rather than not getting into a relationship at all.”


The £1-a-day red wine wonder pill to combat heart disease and cancer

This farce is getting a bit old now. There is evidence (see sidebar) that antioxidants SHORTEN your life. So if that doesn't put people off them, I don't know what would

A £1-a-day red wine wonder pill that claims to ward off heart ­disease, cancer and diabetes is to go on sale in Britain for the first time. Makers Biotivia claim the resveratrol supplement – derived from an anti­oxidant found in grape skins and ­naturally present in red wine – is as ­beneficial as exercise.

They say the drug can also protect against Alzheimer’s as well as delaying the ageing process and tackling ­obesity-related health problems.

But other experts warn that the benefits are unproven in humans and that it should not be used as a replacement for regular exercise and a healthy diet. Wine lovers, meanwhile, might argue that there is more enjoyment in cracking open a bottle of the real thing

Some studies have indicated that ­resveratrol could work by preventing the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries caused by high cholesterol. The pill goes on sale at Nutri Centre health stores next month. On Biotivia’s website it costs just over £30 for a month’s supply. It is already one of the most popular supplements in the U.S. but until now had been available in Britain only over the internet.

However, although some positive results have been found in animal studies, there has been no published research to show it works in humans. Even the animal studies used doses equivalent to 2,000mg a day, while doctors advise that humans should take a daily dose of no more than 50mg. And they warn that it can cause unpleasant side effects such as insomnia, joint pain, diarrhoea and acne.

Biotivia claims the pill can help prevent cancer by triggering the death of malignant cells. They say it effectively protects against a high-fat, high-calorie diet and even though people would still be overweight they would be less likely to suffer from related health risks.

Some studies have shown it can help reduce inflammation inside the ­arteries and prevent blood cells ­sticking together and forming a clot. Dr Alex Barber, a GP in Hampshire said: ‘The benefits are widespread and it effectively protects against a high-fat, high-calorie diet. It protects against cardiovascular disease by ­lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure. ‘If you can afford it, it’s got to be a good gamble.’

Other claims made by Biotivia are that it enables the body to function on less sleep and that animal studies have shown that it improves stamina. Studies on mice which were fed the pill have also shown that they didn’t gain weight despite eating fatty foods.

Scientists stumbled on the drug 20 years ago when trying to establish why France has low rates of heart ­disease. Some theories suggested that by drinking comparatively high quantities of red wine, the French were ­protected from the build-up of fatty deposits.

Research in 2009 showed the benefits of resveratrol, which is also found in raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and peanuts, extended to helping ­people to think clearer. Northumbria University researchers found adults given the supplement performed better in mental arithmetic tests.


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