Monthly Archives: July 2016

Women with Pets May Have Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Every pet owner likely understands the emotional benefits of caring for a domestic animal, but new research suggests that owning a pet may be good for your physical health, too.

A recent analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which polled nearly 4,000 adults age 50 or over, found that women in particular who owned a cat or dog may be less likely to die of stroke or heart disease.

Some 35% of the people surveyed owned a dog, representative of the 46.3 million American households today that have at least one dog. While the cardiovascular benefits of taking the dog for a walk have long been thought to correlate with positive health benefits, the researchers of the present study actually found a stronger correlation between cat owners and good heart health.

“Anecdotally, we believe that walking a dog is good for heart, reducing life pressure and blood pressure as well,” said senior author Jian Zhang of Georgia Southern University. “I strongly believe that putative benefits of keeping a dog have not yet fully translated into reality, and we found that pet owners did not walk pets, certainly, dogs, more often than others,” Zhang said. “This explains why owning a dog did not reduce CVD mortality among dog owners.”

The relationship between cats and human health may have more to do with the cat owner’s personality than the effects of the feline itself, Zhang noted.

“We are short of overall assessment of the associations of companion animals with human health, and our study should not be interpreted to encourage more people to own pets, either dog or cat,” Zhang said. “Pets are good, but have to be kept responsibly.”

Other researchers are skeptical of the results, and stress that such claims should be taken with a grain of salt.

“Data from NHANES are really inadequate to settle the question, since one can only determine there was a pet in the household, but not the number of pets or whether the study participant was the owner, cared for it or interacted with it,” said Dr. Richard F. Gillum of Howard University College of Medicine in Washington D.C., who was not a part of the study. “So we need to wait for better studies before making any firm conclusions about pets and survival among their owners.”

For now, however, there’s certainly no reason not to go on loving and caring for your pets.

Study Finds Long-Term Marijuana Use Linked to Periodontal Disease

A new study found that middle-aged people who have smoked marijuana for a long time could have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease.

According to Live Science, the study also shows there are no other links between long-term marijuana use and other health issues associated with cigarette smoking, only periodontal disease.

“What we’re seeing is that cannabis may be harmful in some respects,” said Avshalom Caspi, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and co-authoer of the study, “but possibly not in every way. We need to recognize that heavy recreational cannabis use does have some adverse consequences, but overall damage to physical health is not apparent in this study.”

Periodontal disease — which arises as a result of inflammation and infection of the gums and bone surrounding teeth — is already an issue in the U.S., as 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of the disease.

Medical News Today reports that co-authors, Caspi, Madeline H. Meier, Ph.D., of Arizona State University and, and other researchers analyzed the data from 1,037 adults who were born in New Zealand from 1972 to 1973. These subjects were followed and studied from birth until recently when they all turned 38 years old.

The researchers looked at the frequency of marijuana use among participants and determined if the drug impacted physical health in their late thirties.

The study found that persistent marijuana use for up to 20 years was, in fact, associated with a greater risk of periodontal disease at the age of 38. Wholly 55.6% of the participants who smoked marijuana for 15 to 20 years had some form of gum disease.

“Cigarette smoking has been associated with a higher risk of gum disease,” said Dr. Ronald P. Burakoff, chairman of dental medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. “So I am not surprised that marijuana use is also associated with periodontal disease.”

Retirees Do Not Fully Understand Social Security Benefits, Study Shows

MoneyAs an individual ages, it is only expected that they will come to rely on others for help doing everyday activities. In fact, across the nation there are 65.7 informal and family caregivers providing care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged. But according to a new study, retirees are not given the proper care and advice when it comes to financial matters such as Social Security.

The study, conducted by Nationwide Retirement Institute, shows that a large majority of retired Americans have misunderstandings about Social Security in terms of income received or payable taxes.

In fact, the poll showed 30% of people already retired are receiving less of a benefit than originally expected. This has increased 8% since 2015.

But it is not just retirees who have misconceptions about Social Security. Approximately 900 people over the age of 50 were polled during this survey, and they were placed into three groups.

Of the future retirees — who plan on retiring within 10 years — 86% failed to accurately identify the numerous factors that go into determining one’s Social Security rate.

According to financial experts, one of the biggest misconceptions has to do with the age many retirees claim their benefits. Many retirees start claiming Social Security as soon as they turn 62 — the minimum age to receive benefits — without thinking of the financial repercussions that come with claiming early.

The problem is, if a retiree claims their benefits as soon as they can, it will result in lower monthly checks. Many retirees don’t understand this, or just choose not to ask questions.

Willie Schuette, an investment advisor with the JL Smith Group, tells CNBC, “Some [prospective clients] know there’s a reduction in benefits before their full retirement age, but they don’t understand exactly how much of a reduction it will be or that it’s permanent.”

In addition, health care costs have claimed a good chunk of many retiree’s Social Security benefits. A full 80% say these health expenses arrived earlier than previously expected.

Combined with the lower amount of benefits, these high expenses keep retirees from being able to live the retirement they anticipated.