The absence of visits from friends and family is associated with a higher mortality rate, according to an analysis of data from more than 450,000 people followed for more than a decade in the UK. The study, published in BMC Medicine, focussed on five indicators of loneliness, and concluded that having no visits from family or friends was associated with higher all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality. According to the authors, this kind of study helps to identify at-risk populations and measures of social connectedness that could provide the most benefit.
Spain and extreme weather events: the Health and Climate Change Observatory needs to be set up as a matter of urgency
On the eve of an episode of unusually high temperatures for this time of year, it is time to take stock of the summer we have experienced, characterised by a succession of extreme weather phenomena in the form of heat waves, drought and torrential rains. The seriousness and complexity of these problems and their repercussions in many areas, especially on health, make it urgent to set up the Health and Climate Change Observatory approved last July, with a stable and independent structure.
A review published in the journal Cell highlights the "urgent need" for more studies on the menopause - and at an international level, so that the results can be applied to all countries. The article, published by a research team in Australia, the US and Italy, summarises the available evidence on the biology of the menopause, its consequences for women and therapeutic options. It highlights the lack of studies in certain areas, for example on the efficacy of non-oral oestradiol, or on the efficacy and safety of hormone therapies during the perimenopause.
A research team in Belgium found perfluoroalkylated and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) in drinking straws. The research, published in the journal Food Additives & Contaminants, analysed the presence of these persistent and potentially harmful compounds in 39 types of straws purchased from different shops, supermarkets or fast food chains. These substances were most prevalent in paper and bamboo straws, followed by plastic and glass straws. They were not detected in stainless steel straws.
Counting deaths attributable to the effects of high temperatures is basic as a public health surveillance tool, but it should not become the only research objective. It is necessary to know why the population in some places adapts better than others to heat waves, what variables influence them, and to modify them when possible.
A US study measures the risk of breast cancer overdiagnosis in screening campaigns for women over 70. These are women who are misdiagnosed with cancer after a mammogram, leading to unnecessary treatments that can cause complications, anxiety and financial costs. The study includes more than 54,000 women over the age of 70 who have had a screening mammogram. The retrospective analysis compares the cumulative incidence of breast cancer between two groups: women who continued screening up to 15 years later, and women who did not. The research estimates that 31% of breast cancer cases in women aged 70-74 result from overdiagnosis: it finds 6.1 cases per 100 women who had continued screening, compared with 4.2 cases per 100 women in the second group. The percentage of overdiagnosis increases with the age of the women. The article is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, along with an editorial.
In 64 % of the cases, the temperature thresholds that define a heatwave according to the Ministry of Health are below the heatwave threshold established by AEMET. This implies that the population does not perceive situations of risk to their health when they do exist.
Living near green spaces over a long period of time is associated with better health, an association more marked in women and white people than in men and black people, according to a study conducted in four US cities. The analysis concludes that exposure to urban green space between 1985 and 2006 is associated with slower epigenetic ageing, and that this association is stronger in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The international team publishing this paper in Science Advances includes a researcher from ISGlobal in Barcelona.
Heat waves and other events accentuated by climate change affect health, especially for the most socially vulnerable people. To counteract these effects, mitigation and adaptation plans for cities are designed based on scientific evidence, the implementation of which belongs to the local political sphere. Two experts in urban health and climate governance analysed these problems and their possible solutions in a briefing organised by SMC Spain.
Research published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health has measured the relationship between restrictions in different settings - such as leisure and catering - taken in Spain between September 2020 and May 2021, with covid-19 transmission. The authors conclude that, overall, increased restrictions decreased disease transmission.