New Links Between Lifestyle and Health

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Young, unvaccinated adults had most severe flu

Taking the time to get a $30 flu shot, could prevent serious influenza and hospital stays, particularly in young adults. An analysis of Duke University Hospital during this year’s flu season found that the majority of severe flu cases were unvaccinated adults with an average age of 28.5 years. Making the flu vaccine a yearly health priority could cut costly hospitalizations.

Loneliness can increase elderly risk for death

Seniors who are socially engaged may not just have an emotional advantage, but may live longer than seniors who feel extremely lonely. A recent study found that extreme loneliness can increase an elderly person’s risk of premature death by 14 percent, which is twice the impact as obesity has on early death. Loneliness can cause disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure, depression and stress.

People who wake more during the night remember dreams better

Research has found that people who remember dreams better have twice as many times of wakefulness during sleep than people who don’t remember dreams. Their brains are more reactive to auditory stimuli during sleep and wakefulness, which may promote awakenings during the night. And, these awakenings may be the reason the brain is able to process and remember dreams better.

Teens more likely to use sunscreen to preserve looks, not health

Teens are more inclined to use sunscreen when told about the effects of UV exposure on their appearance, such as wrinkles and premature aging, rather than as a concern about skin cancer.  Teens who viewed two health education videos on UV exposure, one on skin cancer risk, and the other on cosmetic changes, retained the same amount of knowledge from both videos, but changed their behavior only if they viewed the appearance-based video.

Slim, attractive men have less nasal bacteria than heavy men

There may be a link between body mass index (BMI) and the amount of bacteria colonizing the nose. A recent study looked at 103 healthy females and 90 healthy males. Measurements were taken along with nasal and throat swabs. Results showed that only in men, higher BMI was associated with more potentially harmful species of bacteria in the nose, compared with slimmer, more traditionally attractive men.

Prolonged sitting may increase risk for disability

Older adults who sit for long periods of time may have an increased risk for disability, regardless of how much they exercise. Researchers analyzed 2,200 adults age 60 and over and tracked their movements on a pedometer for at least four days. Participants spent about nine hours sitting.  Every extra hour spent sitting was linked to a 50 percent increase in disability risk.