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Truth behind the headlines: Cancer, Sleep & Dementia

Monday 8th September

We bring you the explanations behind the latest health headlines on obesity links to cancer, struggling to sleep, and dementia. 

Being overweight or obese 'linked to 10 common cancers'

What’s the problem?

Research published in well-respected medical journal The Lancet has shown that being overweight or obese can increase the likelihood of developing 10 types of cancer.

What you need to know 

It’s been known for a while that being overweight can contribute to developing certain diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. What this study shows is that it also increases your chance of getting types of cancer - including cancers of the uterus, gallbladder and cervix. The study gathered data on 5 million people in the UK over seven years, and concluded that being overweight or obese is resulting in 12,000 extra cases of cancer each year in this country.

Carrying excess weight has become more common in recent years, with as many as two thirds of UK adults now being classed as overweight. If rates of obesity continue as they are now, by 2050 it is expected that it will cost the NHS £9.7 billion, with a wider social cost of almost £50 billion.

Adapting your lifestyle will help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Make sure you exercise regularly, have a healthy, balanced diet and, if you are struggling to lose weight, ask your GP about the risks and how you can get help.

Struggling to sleep at night? Blame your office

What’s the problem?

Sitting in a windowless office can make it harder for workers to get to sleep, with those sat far away from a window missing out on as much as 46 minutes a night.

What you need to know

Getting enough sleep is essential to your long term health - as well as your ability to focus and work well. Our sleep patterns are dictated by our circadian rhythm, which tells us when to feel tired and when to wake up. Exposure to daylight is important to regulate this rhythm, and this study found that those that didn’t spend time in natural light slept less than those that did. Furthermore, the sleep they did get was of poorer quality and they exercised less.

If you are struggling to sleep and aren’t sat near a natural light source, it could be a contributing factor. You may not have much control over where you sit at work. However, if you can get out at lunchtime, before or immediately after work to get some exposure to natural light it may help.

www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/11011043/Struggling-to-sleep-at-night-Blame-your-office.html 

Five lifestyle changes 'could reduce dementia risk'

What’s the problem?

This study from The Alzheimer's Society showed that changes to lifestyles could reduce the chances of getting dementia.

What you need to know

Dementia affects around 800,000 people in the UK, and it is expected that by 2021 over a million people will have the condition. This study suggests that there are five ways you can reduce your risk.

This research also showed that one in five thought you couldn’t reduce your chances of getting the disease - but you can, and the above are a good place to start. As well as helping protect you from developing dementia, they could also reduce your chances of developing other conditions including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

 

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