Friday, October 14, 2011

Bachelors at double the risk of dying from the most common types of cancer

So: People in poor health are less likely to marry

Bachelors are twice as likely to die of cancer compared with married men, a study has found. Researchers who looked at cancer death rates over 40 years found that men and women who had never married were more likely to die from 13 of the most common types of cancer, including lung, breast and prostate.

But the increased death rate was most stark in unmarried men over the age of 70 – and it has been increasing every decade.

Norwegian scientists looked at the records of 440,000 men and women diagnosed with cancer from 1970 to 2007, and compared them with marital status.

Never being married when diagnosed – rather than being divorced or widowed – doubled the death rate in men from 18 to 35 per cent and in women more modestly from 17 to 22 per cent.

Previous studies have shown married people generally have better health and live longer than single people, as they tend not to smoke and drink as heavily, and have better mental health. The researchers at the University of Oslo say this is likely to be a factor in cancer death rates.

They also suggested that married people are probably diagnosed earlier as they tend to visit the doctor more and may comply better with treatment as they have a spouse to support them.

Mortality rates for unmarried men have gone up by 3.4 per cent every decade compared with those who are married.

For divorced and widowed men, the death rate is slightly higher than married men but not as high as bachelors.

Dr Safia Danovi, from Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Cancer survival is a complex issue and there may be many reasons for these findings.

‘Early diagnosis is still key to beating cancer so people should visit their doctor as soon as they notice a change that is unusual for them, whether they’re married or not.’


British government Minister tells us to eat less to tackle obesity but won't put pressure on the food giants

That heading is a non-sequitur if ever there was one. A more reasonable statement would be: "Minister tells us to eat less to tackle obesity but won't put pressure on us to do so". What are the food merchants supposed to do? Make their food too repulsive to eat?

The nation’s daily diet needs to be slashed by five billion calories to prevent an obesity epidemic, the Government warned yesterday. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that the country is collectively over-indulging in the equivalent of 17million cheeseburgers every day.

His latest plans rely on consumers being ‘more honest’ about what they eat and drink.

But doctors and campaigners, including TV chef Jamie Oliver, described them as ‘woefully inadequate’ and an ‘abdication of the Government’s responsibility to protect public health’.

They accused Mr Lansley of failing to take on the might of the junk food industry because he has refused to force firms to cut back on fat, sugar and salt levels. He has also resisted pressure to insist on calorie counts on labels.

And, bizarrely, on the same day the public was urged to eat less, a group of Government scientists announced an increase in the recommended daily calorie limit for those who are not overweight.

Britain has one of the worst obesity rates in Europe with some 60 per cent of adults and at least a quarter of primary school children considered overweight or obese.

They are at far higher risk of diabetes, forms of cancer and heart disease in later life, and women are more likely to suffer serious complications in pregnancy.

To address the problem, Mr Lansley has published a new strategy which encourages people to be ‘more honest with themselves’ about what they eat and drink. His ‘call for action’ includes:

* The food and drinks industry doing more to encourage healthier choices and cutting calories in products;

* Encouraging people to take more exercise, ditch public transport and walk to work;

* Town halls using new powers to ring-fence funds for public health work;

* Continued investment in the NHS’s Change4Life programme to persuade families to adopt healthier lifestyles.

But the ‘pointless’ proposals came under heavy attack by leading doctors, scientists and campaigners.

Charlie Powell of the Children’s Food Campaign said: ‘This is a deeply disappointing and utterly inadequate response which represents a squandered opportunity to address the UK’s obesity crisis.

‘It is nothing less than an abdication of the Government’s responsibility to protect public health.’

A spokesman for the British Medical Association said: ‘We do not feel the strategy has gone far enough. It will take more than industry self-regulation and personal responsibility to reduce the obesity crisis. ‘The Government needs to introduce legislation that will help people make healthy choices.’

Jamie Oliver, who launched a national campaign to make school dinners healthier, said: ‘I’m far from impressed with the Government’s empty, pointless obesity strategy. ‘Simply telling people what they already know – that they need to eat less and move more – is a complete cop-out.’

Professor Jack Winkler, who has previously advised the Government on nutrition policy, said: ‘It’s a lot of sound and fury but not much action. ‘The Government is desperately trying to sound like it is doing something without doing very much.’

Ministers claim that on average we eat 10 per cent more calories a day than we need. This works out at 250 calories for men and 200 for women – the equivalent of a chocolate bar or two glasses of wine. And collectively, for every person in Britain, it totals five billion extra calories a day.

If current trends continue, nearly half of men and 40 per cent of women will be obese by 2030. But the Government claims that if its strategy is a success, by 2020 obesity rates will be starting to fall.

Mr Lansley said: ‘Reducing the number of calories we consume is essential. It can happen if we continue action to reduce calories in everyday foods and drinks, and if all of us who are overweight take simple steps to reduce our calorie intake.’

Last year Mr Lansley announced that food and drinks firms would not face strict regulations to force them to make healthier products. Instead, they would be encouraged to sign up to voluntary promises.

He has also stripped the Food Standards Agency of its role to set targets for food firms to reduce saturated fat and salt.


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