Now more than ever, researchers have a treasure trove of health data to pore over. Observing how populations respond to different lifestyle habits is heartening because it shows the degree to which we are in control of our health. The findings can be surprising for some because chronic diseases such as cancer often thought of as indiscriminate killers.
One of the most encouraging studies, published in the journal PLoS One, analysed data from 266,844 people aged 45 and over, of whom 22 percent regularly took glucosamine.
They found that taking glucosamine was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of heart attack or angina, an 18 percent lower risk of other heart diseases and 15 percent lower risk of cancer than non-users.
Another study echoed these findings and was so significant, it was accepted for publication in the British Medical Journal, reports Dr Brewer.
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This study found that those taking glucosamine were consistently less likely to develop both fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease than non-users during a seven year follow-up period.
Habitual glucosamine use was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, an 18 percent lower risk of developing a stroke, and a 22 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death, when taking other risk factors into account such as sex, age, weight, level of physical activity, diet, alcohol intake, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
In fact, for smokers, the protective benefits of glucosamine use were increased – regular use of glucosamine was associated with a 12 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease in never smokers, an 18 percent lower risk in former smokers and a 37 percent lower risk in current smokers compared with those not taking glucosamine.
According to Dr Brewer, the protective effects of glucosamine are believed to relate to its anti-inflammatory effects.
It is also important to get the required amount of sleep each night, says Dr Brewer.
Getting insufficient sleep has been shown to raise your risk of chronic disease and directly shorten your life expectancy.
Evidence supports the health benefits of getting plenty of sleep.
Researchers following over 14,000 twins found those who slept for between seven and eight hours per night lived longer than those who habitually slept for shorter (6.5 hours or less) or longer (9.5 hours or more) periods.