HEALTH news in brief

Frequent flying bad for your health; young fathers may die early

Finnish study finds men who were dads by the time they were 22 had a 26 per cent higher risk of death in midlife than those who fathered their first child when they were 25 or 26

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 12:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 12:49am

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Middle age death more likely for young fathers

Becoming a dad before the age of 25 is linked to a heightened risk of dying early in middle age, according to a new study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The study used data from more than 30,500 Finnish men born between 1940 and 1950, who became fathers by age 45, and were tracked from age 45 until death or age 54. During the tracking period around one in 20 of the dads died, mainly of ischaemic heart disease (21 per cent) and diseases related to excess alcohol (16 per cent). Men who were dads by the time they were 22 had a 26 per cent higher risk of death in midlife than those who had fathered their first child when they were 25 or 26. Similarly, men who had their first child between the ages of 22 and 24 had a 14 per cent higher risk of dying in middle age. At the other end of the scale, those who became dads between the ages of 30 and 44 had a 25 per cent lower risk of death in middle age than those who fathered their first child at 25 or 26. Family environment, early socioeconomic circumstances and genes are thought to explain the association, the researchers say.

Frequent travel 'damaging to health and well-being'

A man in a sharp suit, reclining in a leather chair, laptop open in front of him, a smiling stewardess serving a scotch and soda. This image of travel, often portrayed in the media, ignores the "dark side to this 'glamorised' hypermobile lifestyle", according to a researcher at the University of Surrey's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. In his study published in the journal Environment and Planning A, lead author Dr Scott Cohen found that those with "hypermobile" lifestyles were often seen as having a higher social status. "The level of physiological, physical and societal stress that frequent travels places upon individuals has potentially serious and long-term negative effects that range from the breaking down of family relationships, to changes in our genes due to lack of sleep," says Cohen. "The reality is that most people who are required to engage in frequent travel suffer high levels of stress, loneliness and long-term health problems. There are also wider implications for the environment and sustainability. In this context, hypermobility seems far from glamorous."

Low scores on thinking skills test linked to heart attack risk

People with low scores on a test of executive function - the higher-level thinking skills used to reason, solve problems and plan - may be at higher risk of heart attack or stroke, according to a new study published in the online issue of Neurology. The study tracked, for an average of three years, nearly 4,000 people with an average age of 75 and without a history of heart attack or stroke. All were free of dementia and had either a history of heart disease, or an increased risk of heart disease from high blood pressure, diabetes or smoking. At the beginning of the study, the participants went through four tests to evaluate their executive thinking skills. People who scored the lowest were 85 per cent more likely to have a heart attack and 51 per cent more like to have a stroke than those who scored the highest. "Lower scores on thinking tests indicate worse brain functioning. Worse brain functioning, in particular in executive function, could reflect disease of the brain vascular supply, which in turn would predict, as it did, a higher likelihood of stroke. And, since blood vessel disease in the brain is closely related to blood vessel disease in the heart, that's why low test scores also predicted a greater risk of heart attacks," says study author Dr Behnam Sabayan of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.