Eye test that spots Alzheimer’s 20 years before symptoms: Middle-aged could be screened at routine optician’s visit

Sat, Jan 16, 2010 / DailyMail.com
Fiona Macrae



Will you live to 120?

Thanks to advances in healthcare and genetic research, 60 may be the new middle age for women. We all need to adapt

January 14, 2010
By Linda Duberley

Somewhere among us is a 60-year-old woman who has just started drawing her pension. She has also applied for her bus pass, and in all likelihood renewed several subscriptions to fashion magazines. She has at least two children and several grandchildren. And here’s the good news: she’s only halfway through her life, and she could be you.

News that scientists have discovered a gene that is known to treble your odds of living to 100 and may help you to ward off Alzheimer’s merely adds weight to a wealth of research that states that women especially have a high chance of living until they are well over 100 years old.

It is estimated that one in six women in the UK is now a pensioner. According to Nigel Barlow, head of research at the life assurance company Just Retirement, soon that number will increase to one in four and by the end of the decade one in three.

“If we think that the UK high street is likely to be swamped with women pushing their trolleys home for an early tea, we need to think again,” he says. “These women bear no relation to our preconceived idea of female pensioners. They are exceptional super-grandmothers. There are instances of women applying for motorcycle licences and participating in charity parachute jumps in their eighties.”

What we have not taken on board, Barlow continues, is that such women will become the norm. “We need to review what we regard as middle age,” he says. “The idea that 60 signals the start of a less active, less vibrant and less productive life is now nonsense.”

His view is shared by the author and futurist Patrick Dixon, who goes even farther. “Our knowledge about healthcare is doubling every year. In the five years between 2045 and 2050, there are likely to be more advances than we have seen in the past 25 years. It would be unthinkable that by the time a potential 120-year-old woman has lived another 30 years beyond her current age of 65, she won’t see extra life expectancy of at least five years.”

Advertisers, retailers and crucially the Government cannot afford to ignore this group, says Barlow: “After all, as someone said recently, they have the money. Correction, they have all the money.”

In an age when the film industry, television, the corporate world and even politicians are busy trying to pretend that the 50-year-old woman does not exist, plenty of women are happily going about their business, at 60, caring for their grandchildren and fitting in a Pilates session before buying a frock with their daughter at Comptoir des Cotonniers. Why not? They have may another five decades.

Ironically, the fashion industry — known for its love of youth — illustrates this trend best. Carine Roitfeld, 55, the legendary editor of French Vogue, is a muse for most of the UK’s high street brands. As is the American Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, 60, and her invaluable lieutenant, Grace Coddington, 67, who graced our screens last year in The September Issue, at the height of their powers.

Joan Burstein, the owner of Brown’s boutique, whose buying sense is unrivalled, is 85. And her niece Laurel Herman, 63, is one of our leading image consultants. “You cannot ignore the buying power or indeed the determination of so-called older women,” says Laurel. “We don’t want to go quietly into the night. If I feel like wearing Dolce & Gabbana to a cocktail party, then I will. So would my mother, and she is 87.”

But does everything look as good in the garden of longevity as it seems? It certainly looks a lot better than it did 30 years ago, when the worst figures for depression and related mental illnesses were for women entering their middle years.

Experts say that women will only make the most of this extra lease of life if they stay healthy enough to earn money for longer and they manage their savings with close attention. In part, this is because they can expect to be living on their own in their later years.

Many potentially fatal illnesses that largely affect women, such as breast cancer, can now be detected early by effective screening. According to Professor Thomas Kirkwood, director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, the overall reason why we are living longer is that the improved conditions of life mean that we reach old age with fewer accumulated faults in our cells.

“That women live longer than men appears to be deeply rooted in biology,” he says. “There is some evidence that female cells are better protected against this accumulation of faults than men. There are evolutionary reasons why this should be so, because the maintenance of the female body plays such a central role in our reproductive process.”

It is also thought that the male hormone testosterone gives rise to a raft of killer conditions — principally heart disease. According to medical experts, once men have suffered heart disease they are more predisposed to vascular dementia and a range of other diseases. The hormone that, in a different age, would have given men the instinct and drive to succeed may now be the one that will drive them to death.

“Women are naturally sociable,” adds Barlow. “They feel a sense of connection and it leaves them feeling happy and positive. This is undoubtedly a factor in their health and wellbeing as they get older. They are better able to manage the transition into the final stages of their lives. Men develop a social life too, but it is often through their work. Once their work stops, they stop too.”

Professor George Magnus, a senior economic adviser at UBS, believes that “the figure of 120 years is in the right kind of ball park. But although this sounds very positive, it raises all sorts of questions about what quality of life these women will have.

“We have to get more women to stay at work or go back to work after having families. There are two groups of people who are underemployed. They are women and the over-55s. Women over 55 are doubly disadvantaged. As they get older they are subject to living on their own. Women need to know that they can look after themselves. People have to keep learning new skills. Learning does not stop at 21.”

There is a warning, however, for the daughters of women living to a ripe old age. Although we have done a great deal to delay the appearance of ageing and to improve screening and preventive medicines, we have made few advances in extending fertility. Doctors have extended women’s lives, but not the lives of the eggs from which they are born.

In utero baby girls have close on one million eggs. By the time that baby has been born, they are numbered in the hundreds of thousands. By the time that baby girl is 15, there may be less than half left and by the time she is a grown woman of 30 there will be 100,000 left. As she hits her early forties, less than a third of the way through her life at current estimates, there may be less than 10,000. And at 50, it is game over.

“I would be the last person to want to scare women who want to have babies later in life,” says Dr Melanie Davies of the Institute for Women’s Health. “But every obstetric complication rises with age and there is no NHS funding for IVF over 35. Nor have we extended the age of the menopause, which in the UK is around 51. It is still lower in smokers, starting in the late forties.”

In the 1950s women had their children at the age of 20 or 21. This has been extended to 29 — we are nearly a decade older than our mothers were when we start families. To make the most of our increased life span, Dixon suggests that women should aim to conceive at a much earlier age and start their careers later on.

“Women are best equipped to have children at a younger age when they have the more energy to raise children and fewer health problems,” she comments. “We all want to see greater life expectancy, but the issue facing women now is that they look and feel younger than some parts of their bodies. They are out of step with their biological clocks. In the US there are 75,000 people aged over 100. That number will double to 150,000 in the next five to six years. The same will happen here.

“We want super-survivors, but we have to think about the next generation too.With life expectancy and energy levels increasing at a far faster rate than fertility, we will have to find a way of managing that gap.”


The Case of the Missing Assistant Surgeon

By Scott Haig Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 / Time.com

dr_surgery_1021Do you know how many people are at the table with gloves on, when you have an operation? There’s the surgeon and a scrub nurse, of course. A surgical tech may be there too, suctioning up those queasy fluids, holding the arm or leg we’re working on, cutting sutures and holding retractors. But you have seen enough medical shows to know there’s also always at least one other doctor present. We may not engage in the same kind of dramatic medical banter that fictional surgeons do (like flying a passenger jet, safe surgery should be a little bit boring), but that second doctor — the assistant surgeon — should be in the operating room for all major procedures.

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What does a 320 pound woman look like?

The tallest and best proportioned woman in the world lives in Holland .

She is 7’4″ and weighs 320


The Omega-3 Battle: Which Margarine Is Healthier?

By Tara Kelly / London Friday, Oct. 30, 2009 / Time Magazine

Little did I know when I had a steady diet of fish and raw fish (called  SASHIMI) in my youth that it was paving the way to good heart health..  ~ ZZ


Think of omega-3s as the oils that keep our brains and hearts from getting rusty. Hundreds of studies show that these essential fatty acids can help prevent cardiovascular disease and some scientists believe they are also beneficial for the brain and nervous system.

But not all omega-3s are created equal. The ones with the biggest health benefits are found in fish like salmon and mackerel, which have the two long chain fatty acids docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA). Plant-derived omega-3s — the fatty acids found in flax seeds, olive oil and some leafy greens — don’t contain these specific fatty acid chains. While they’re also thought to be good for the heart, they don’t have quite the same effect on the body as their fish-derived cousins.

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What Makes a Man Wash His Hands?

A British study of 250,000 people using public restrooms showed that men washed their hands half as often (32 percent of the time) as women (64 percent) did.


89717135resizeWhen the Brits displayed messages outside lavatories encouraging people to wash up, they found that women responded to sensible and informative reminders such as “Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does.”

Women were also persuaded by information about risk. And the idea that they could have positive control.

Men were a harder sell.
They generally ignored hectoring such as “Don’t be a dope, wash with soap.” They were largely unmoved by peer pressure such as “Is the person next to you washing with soap?” What worked best with guys was disgust. “Soap it off or eat it later.”

Ick. Can you believe that women weren’t persuaded by that? I can’t. I plan to use that warning the next time I excuse myself at a restaurant to wash my hands. My plan may sound rude to those of you with finer sensibilities and less good sense. We don’t think that way in my family. We appreciate helpful vigilance.

I dined out for weeks on what I learned in driver’s safety class. Never carry a bowling ball inside the car. What it would do to your head when bouncing around the auto during an accident doesn’t bear thinking about. Ditto heavy books. And any glass object. Also, never drive behind any truck carrying lumber or pipes. A sudden stop and those pipes are spears crashing through the windshield, rearranging your face.

Just last month, I mesmerized an after-church luncheon with advice on proper tooth care. My comments on flossing were so compelling people put their forks down to listen.

The hand-washing study, which took place July through September, when everybody on earth was already thinking pandemic flu, was pretty scary. Only 62 percent of women washed their hands? Have women completely abandoned the role of exemplars?

But here’s the saddest part: Even the most effective messages persuaded fewer than 10 percent more people to wash up.

Clearly my family is among the few who heed timely warnings.
This study should serve as a rallying call for those of us who take hand-washing seriously. We must be extra careful about our own hygiene. Always at the ready, I will now share my favorite tips:

1. Anti-bacterial soaps are no better than regular soap. You ought to know that by now. And, please, remember your biology lessons: Anti-bacteria means “against bacteria.” Viruses are not bacteria. Flu is a virus.
2. Hand sanitizers do work, but keep them away from small children, gluttons or any other humans who frequently put fingers in their mouths. The alcohol is toxic. Washing is always better. You could also try rubbing in some vinegar or lemon if you’ve got nothing better. Bleach would also do the trick, but that’s perhaps a bit more desperate than we need to be at this point.
3. If there’s no soap, give your skin a rest. Splashing about won’t impress anybody and it won’t kill the creepies.
4. Suit yourself on water temperature. Hot water isn’t any better than cold, according to a recent study. Mildness is the least irritating choice in so many areas of life and, now we are happy to realize, in cleanliness as well.
5. Don’t neglect the backs of your hands and between your fingers. The dank shelter underneath fingernails has received little attention from health officials. I wonder if that’s wise. But since carrying a nail brush might seem onerous to the general public, I’d advise a good soaping of finger tips.
6. How much washing does it take? Sing “Happy Birthday” twice as you scrub. (Under your breath will do fine.)
7. Dry with paper towels instead of cloth that is being re-used. A good idea even at home. Think damp, warm towels incubating in the darkness.
8. In a public restroom, I’m sure you already use a paper towel to open the door as you leave. But have you thought about germs lurking on a faucet handle? One germ-counting study showed that faucet handles had more noxious micro-organisms than any other surface in the lavatory. Toilet seats came out surprisingly clean, if I’m remembering correctly. Not that you’d want to lick them or anything.

That’s it for the tips. Feel free to share at your next dinner party.

Meanwhile, writing this has me feeling slightly OCD. I’m going to get out the alcohol to swab down the phones, keyboards and door handles in my house. You might want to do the same.



Does penis size matter?

By Vanessa Burton / Tue, Oct 13, 2009

In a world of supersize cars, jobs, meals, and just about everything else, it’s hard to stop thinking about whether bigger is actually better for everything. Men are competitive when it comes to their ability to satisfy women, and unfortunately after years of locker-room comparisons, the go-to source of pride or shame is the size of that with which they’re working. So, does penis size really matter? Well, yes, but you’ll be shocked to find out for whom it really matters.

Striving to be the best is par for the course; while your date-night  antics don’t necessarily qualify as a sport, and you won’t be in the running for an Olympic medal this year, peak performance is always on  your mind, especially when it comes to sex. As we all know, it takes more than height to make a great basketball player, and more than biceps to make a standout football star. The same can be said for savvy lovers who have better sex — physical equipment isn’t everything when it comes to knocking it out of the park, and women aren’t shy about singing the praise of skill over size.

Unfortunately, not all guys seem to believe those women so we’re going to rely on science to reassure you that the size of the package isn’t more important than the method of  delivery.

It’s all in your head

OK, it’s time for some scientific facts and figures to put to rest some of the outlandish claims and myths circulating about whether or not penis size matters and what’s normal for the vast majority of men out there. A comprehensive worldwide study of more than 40 independent penis size research projects, undertaken since 1942, has come up with a general penis size guideline. With over 11,000 participants, the survey puts the average erect size of the adult penis between 5.5 inches and 6.2 inches in length and 4.7 inches and 5.1 inches in girth.

If the science doesn’t do it for you, and you’re still wondering “does penis size matter,” then the study also took a look at perceptions of size and asked more than 50,000 heterosexual men and women how they rated their own size or the size of their partner. They found that 85% of women were satisfied with their partner’s penile size, but only 55% of men were satisfied. Notice anything? The women were much more forgiving and didn’t feel like they were dealing with inferior goods if they weren’t being bludgeoned with porn-star worthy penises. Chances are that women within measuring distance usually have better things on their minds than finding a ruler, and if they don’t, penis size probably shouldn’t be your first concern.

What she’s thinking

Do you think you could accurately identify what 5.0 inches looks like within ¼ inch? Yeah, we didn’t think so. And guess what, most women couldn’t do it either. The variances in the middle ranges of penis sizes only offer up about ¾ of an inch from the low-end to the high-end of the scale, including racial variances that have seeped into popular culture, but remain largely unsubstantiated in the scientific community. So, unless you are the proud owner of a significantly smaller (under 4.0 inches erect) or significantly larger (over 7.5 inches), your partner’s ability to identify your exact size and judge you on it are pretty slim.

Every penis is different and just like women’s breasts, each has its own set of characteristics and there isn’t much consensus on what makes an ideal member. Even so, women seem to be in agreement on a few things in this department: If given the choice between larger-than-average size with below-average skills and average size with above-average skills, there is no contest, skill beats size every time. However, if it makes you feel better, keep her perspective in mind. When you look down and catch a glimpse of yourself, the vantage point won’t be as kind as when she’s seeing it up close and personal. If you’ve ever employed your fingers to help a woman with an itch, you’ll know that they are much smaller than a penis and that she seems to like them just fine.

Logistical notes on penis size

Now that you have a handle on your size and what she thinks of it, it’s time to put her under the microscope. The vagina is a pretty adaptable thing and can comfortably accommodate both large and small penises with the same relative degree of comfort. Translation: There’s no physiological reason for a large penis being inherently preferred over a more modest one. In fact, the vagina of a woman who hasn’t had a child is only 3.0 inches long when she’s not sexually excited, and even when she’s aroused the average increase in size is only about another inch.

Even if you happened to be packing an impressively long-barreled pistol, anything over the average is going to waste anyway — there wouldn’t be anywhere for those inches to go. Couple that with the fact that the first third of her vagina (the third closest to the opening) is the area that houses all of the nerve endings and is, therefore, the only area that actually registers sensation. The end result: According to a recent survey, 90% of women prefer a wide penis to a long one because increases in length do little to enhance her physical pleasure.

Get in the game

Worrying about your penis size or lamenting your lack of it won’t do you much good in the long run, if anything it will hurt you — and your chances for better sex. Being self-conscious will put a kink in your confidence and will probably prevent your next sexy encounter from having any kink in it. While studies report higher numbers of sexual conquests for men with larger than average penis sizes, that statistic can be a bit misleading. Since it’s doubtful that the women were aware of the size prior to getting into bed, it can be argued that the increased number of sexual partners was a result of confidence and comfort rather than size itself. Fortunately for you, confidence is a much easier thing to come by than a few extra inches.

penile pressures

If you are truly concerned with your ability to fulfill your woman, try to learn all you can about satisfying her all round, and learning tips, techniques and positions that can maximize what you’ve got. If that doesn’t work, a quick trim of the hedges can give you an extra visual inch to impress her with — not that you should really care about penis size that much in the first place.

AskMen.com www.physorg.com