Topic: Health Issues
I heard a schoolgirl being interviewed on the BBC News last night. She said she expected to work until she was 65 years old and that she wanted to live to be one hundred! Apparently, more and more people are living longer in the 21st century and there are around 7,000 centenarians in Britain today. Of course, how long you are likely to live depends on your lifestyle, your diet and your weight. My BMI (body mass index) is way too high and, according to the BBC's Life Expectancy Calculator
, I shall probably make it to 89.8 years old! If I lose some weight, I might even live a bit longer!
Advances in medicine, good food and less of the backbreaking physical drudgery our great-great-grandparents took for granted has improved the quality of our lives. We have more time to relax, to play and to go on holidays - so on average we have been living much longer than our ancestors did. However, in recent years, it appears that this upward trend is being reversed
in certain areas with Glaswegians, for instance, having an average life expectancy of 72.9 years compared to Londoners with 82.4 years. This report, published in the British Medical Journal by the Universities of Bristol and Sheffield, blames discrepancies in health services and the gap between the poor and the wealthy.
I distrust statistics, they can be bent in any direction to prove whatever you think is the problem. Have the 'researchers' also analysed the differences in lifestyles before blaming the beleaguered Health Service? Have they compared the differences in life expectancy between Glasgow and the affluent south today from what existed a 100 years ago? Have they taken into account the much colder winters in Glasgow compared to those in Devon where the life expectancy is apparently 11 years longer? What about crowded and stressful living conditions? What about air quality and pollution? Being wealthy does not exonerate you from having health problems nor does it guarantee that you eat well-balanced fresh meals! Yes, if you are retired in Devon, you probably live in a roomy, beautiful cottage with a large peaceful garden, with no squabbling neighbours to add stress to your life. Nevertheless, whatever, our 'affluence', if we spend every evening stuck in an armchair watching television; if the only exercise we do is to extend an arm to pick up a can of beer or to press the remote; if we feed on 'takeaways' because we can no longer be bothered to cook fresh, healthy meals; then we will
Yes, I agree - poverty in Great Britain today is
a problem, particularly if you cannot keep warm enough in the winter, but it is a far cry from the poverty of the 18th and 19th centuries when it was not uncommon for people to starve to death in the street and many children were forced to go barefoot. In fact, Britain was far more healthy during the years of rationing
, during and after World War Two, when nearly everyone managed to grow some fresh fruit and vegetables in their gardens to supplement the food coupons that were so precious. So that says something about our modern lifestyles and the poor quality of the unhealthy processed foods most of us stuff into our mouths these days.
Whatever the gloom and doom, the statistics for the 1880's show that life expectancy a hundred and twenty-five years ago was shockingly low. I came across this short paragraph in "The Boy's Own Annual", a sadly tattered book my father passed on to me in my youth. It consists of issues of the "Boy's Own Paper" from October 1881 to September 1882 and this entry was originally printed in issue No. 144-Vol. IV for Saturday, October 15, 1881. It seems that, even then, a happy, healthy life was conducive to living longer!
|Duration of Human Life|
The average of human life is 33 years. One quarter die before the age of 7, one half before the age of 17. To every 1,000 persons, 1 only reaches 100 years. To every 100, only 6 reach 75 years; and not more than 1 in 500 will reach 80 years. There are on the earth 1,000,000,000 of inhabitants. Of these, 33,333,333 die every year; 91,824 die every day ; 7,780 every hour; and 60 per minute, or 1 every second. These losses are about balanced by an equal number of births. The married are longer lived than the single: and above all, those who observe a sober and industrious conduct.
Worldwide life expectancy
continues to rise but the continent with the lowest life expectancy is Africa with some Sub-Saharan countries actually experiencing a decline. The data tables
on the DEPweb (Development Education Program)show that in 1998 Sierra Leone had the lowest life expectancy of 37 years compared to 41 for Nigeria; 42 for Burundi, Malawi and Uganda; and 43 for Ethiopia. The highest life expectancy was 81 in Japan; 79 in Australia, Austria, Canada, Hong Kong, Sweden and Switzerland.
Updated Saturday, 7 May 2005 15:19 BST
Sex, Cryptic Crosswords and a Good Run!
Topic: Health Issues
What do you fear most as you get older? I can accept the usual minor aches and pains that come with age and having to wear glasses to read - although I'm not so happy with the extra weight which has settled round my tummy! However, one thing that I do worry about is Dementia. How terrible that affliction is! I saw it happen to my father and to my mother-in-law. My mother was as bright as a pin right to the last so perhaps there is hope for me. But everytime I forget something or do something daft, I shudder. Never mind that my son and my daughter also have mental lapses, it's mine
that I worry about.
I have always believed that one should keep one's mind active. I do crossword puzzles and, I often puzzle over the intricacies of HTML and cascading style sheets. I take vitamins and I pop one pill of Ginkgo Biloba
every day. It's supposed to increase the blood supply to the brain. I used to take more but I blamed it for causing boiling hot feet at night!
Now I see that, according to a report from the University of Queensland's Brain Institute, sex, cryptic crosswords and a good run could help fend off dementia
and other degenerative conditions by stimulating the creation of new brain cells! So, I was right about crosswords but I'm not very good at the cryptic ones! I'm too plump to run (anyway, I think cycling is better) and propriety prevents me from mentioning the other recommendation!
Of course, there are other ways to stimulate the brain such as music and good food. So called 'Junk Food
' can provide a boost of calories which can help children taking examinations. However, a good diet which includes foods rich in iron and exercise (that word again) can boost children's brainpower dramatically. Breakfast is essential and porridge is a good way to start the day but a good old-fashioned English breakfast of bacon and eggs has an even more positive effect.
So, we must feed our children properly - never send a child to school without breakfast. Make sure they exercise regularly - if necessary, switch off the television or the Play Station - walk with them to school instead of using the car, get them out cycling (there are plenty of safe routes). Healthy children grow up into healthy adults. Healthy, active adults who continue to eat sensibly and to exercise are less likely to end their lives suffering from dementia.
Topic: Health Issues
This week, 21st to 27th March 2005, is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week
in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in this country. However, many men do not know where their prostate gland is or what it does. For those who don't, the gland is located at the base of the bladder surrounding the urethra and it produces some of the fluid that makes up semen. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age and increases further if your father, uncle or brother has the disease. Nearly 10,000 men die from this disease every year so, if you experience any problems with urinating or find blood in your urine (like my husband did), you should see your doctor immediately.
It is a fact that ALL men, if they live long enough, will get prostate cancer. Many do not know they have it and many never have any serious symptoms. So, if you are in your eighties or nineties, the odds are that it will not kill you. However, if you get problems in your forties or fifties, DON'T IGNORE IT, it will not go away.
My husband first found blood in his urine in November 2003. The doctor found his prostate to be slightly enlarged (normal for his age) and sent him for a routine blood test to measure his PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). This measured 13, so the next stage was x-rays, ultra-sound and a cystoscopy at the end of February 2004 (which showed some small kidney stones) and also a CT scan in March to investigate a possible lump on the liver, which turned out to be fat! The cystoscopy (when they pass a little tube with a light through the urethra) is a little unpleasant! Apart from feeling embarrassed, it is a bit uncomfortable and burns when you have to go to the loo for a few hours afterwards. However, my husband said that he could see the inside of his bladder on the monitor, which was very interesting! And it confirmed that his bladder was healthy. The next stage was a biopsy (more discomfort) of the prostate gland and that confirmed that he did have prostate cancer.
Last September, his PSA count had risen one to 14, last month it was 17. If it stays around this level, he will continue with his "watchful waiting". As he is in his seventies, the consultants in this country do not recommend having a prostatectomy (removal of the protate). His options are conformal radiotherapy or wait and see. Unfortunately, radiotherapy can have some potentially very unpleasant side effects. So he chose not to have it done, unless it becomes absolutely necessary, especially as he is not experiencing any real problems at the moment. He gets up two or three times a night, has to go to the loo twice within ten minutes as a precaution if we are going out - nothing he can't live with. In the meantime, medical research is advancing, hopefully, at a much faster rate than his cancer.
Topic: Health Issues
Still Catching Up with Last Week
Tuesday, 19th October, I saw the doctor again. She had the result of my blood pressure readings. Explained to her that I had been up in the middle of the night for well over an hour, which probably was the reason for the readings not going down. I had been advised to put the machine under the pillow when I went to bed but, of course, I was waiting for it to take a reading. Perhaps I dozed off and missed one but eventually I started to think I had disconnected something. Put the torch on, which slightly disturbed hubby who turned over and started to snore! So, I went downstairs to have a look. Made a coffee. Switched on the computer and went on line searching for information on ambulatory blood pressure moniters. Eventually, I pressed something on the top of the machine and it took a reading at 3 am. Had a sandwich! It finally took another reading at 4 am so I went back to bed thinking that perhaps it was programmed to take readings less often during the night. Anyway, the doctor has put me on tablets. One diuretic in the morning and one Ramipril at night. From tomorrow, two Ramipril for another week, then three for a week, then four. The list of possible side effects is frightening. Still, I suppose it is better than a heart attack or a stroke.
Topic: Health Issues
Saw the Doctor today after an uncomfortable weekend - driving up to my sister's on Saturday for a family get-together in honour of Baby Andrew probably didn't help. It was last Wednesday when I hurt my back again trying to force the Whirligig Clothes Line up when it was stuck. Anyway, it appears that I have snapped or torn a tendon on one of my thoracic vertebrae (I heard something go 'pop' at the time!). Probably weakened it when I hurt my back last December. A real nuisance. It seems to be affecting my ribs and intercostal muscles on the right side which are very sore. Sigh...