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Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A05

Happy People May Be Less Prone to Disease

People who are happy may be better able to avoid debilitating health problems, a study by British researchers shows.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people who experience high levels of happiness on a daily basis have healthier fibrinogen and cortisol levels. Such levels mean people would be less susceptible to neuroendocrine, cardiovascular and inflammatory ailments, researchers said.

The study by Jane Wardle, a cancer research psychologist at University College London, and colleagues involved 227 men and women in Britain who recorded their feelings an average of 33 times daily for a day at work and a day off, Wardle said.

The participants, taken from an earlier study in which their health history was tracked, were tested in the new study for health factors that included blood pressure, heart-rate monitoring, and fibrinogen and cortisol levels, she said.

The researchers found that higher levels of happiness were related to healthier levels on the medical diagnostic tests, Wardle said. The study size was small, and further testing is needed to draw more conclusive results, she said.

Moderate Drinking May Not Cut Risk of Heart Disease

The government warned today that a few drinks a day may not protect against strokes and heart attacks after all.

Some studies in recent years have touted the health benefits of moderate drinking. Some have even said that as many as four drinks a day can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease in people 40 and older.

But researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from 250,000 Americans who participated in a 2003 telephone survey. They found that the nondrinkers had many more risks for heart disease -- such as being overweight and inactive and having high blood pressure and diabetes -- than the moderate drinkers.

Based on those results, the agency could not say that moderate drinking actually is a factor in reducing the risk of heart disease. The findings were published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The agency said that Americans should limit daily consumption to two drinks for men and a single drink for women.

Body Fat a Key to Reducing Risk Factors in Obese Men

Overweight or obese men must decrease their body fat, no matter how physically fit they are, to avoid having elevated risk factors of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study in the journal Circulation.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that, in healthy men, the amount of body fat is a better predictor of cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and the formation of clots, than aerobic fitness.

Demetra Christou and colleagues studied 135 men ages 20 to 79 with normal blood pressure, no overt coronary disease and varying degrees of physical fitness. The subjects were tested for 18 risk factors, including high blood pressure, blood lipids and insulin levels.

Men should focus on managing their weight and preventing excess fat accumulation, Christou said. Men who are sedentary, or don't exercise at all, should increase their physical activity no matter how thin they are, she said.

-- From News Services

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