Ten tips to save your life (or at least prolong it)

These days even the most diligent health enthusiasts must surely be struggling to keep up with the latest cure-all advice. Recently, for instance, we have been told to consume daily portions of Brazilian acai berries to avoid cancer, to eat salmon six times a week in order to stay wrinkle-free for ever and to consume celebrity- endorsed supermuesli at £12 a kilo to fight cancer and heart disease. Few of these fads have been subjected to rigorous scientific tests, so who knows whether they work? As an antidote, we asked 10 specialists from different medical fields to offer simple tips - beyond exercise, smoking and diet changes - to keep us healthier for longer.

Ellen Mason Cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation
If you are over 40 years old, go to your GP and ask for a heart disease risk assessment. This includes blood pressure measurement, cholesterol testing and identification of risk factors in your lifestyle. The results can advise you on changes to your lifestyle, and medical treatment which could prevent you from having a heart attack in the future.

Professor Ballard director of research at the Alzheimer's society
Take up a new hobby. A number of research studies have shown that what we do in our spare time can have an effect on our risk of developing dementia. Taking up a new challenge, meeting new people and keeping socially active are all excellent ways to keep your brain healthy.

Vivienne Michael Chief executive of Deafness Research UK
Turn down the volume. Loud noise, for example from nightclubs and personal stereos, can permanently damage your hearing. A good rule of thumb is the "60/60 rule": never listen to music louder than 60% of the maximum volume and don't listen for longer than 60 minutes at a time.

Karol Sikora Professor of cancer medicine at Hammersmith Hospital
Get to know your body: if something unusual lasts for more than two weeks get it sorted out. Any change in shape or function should have an explanation. Some symptoms drive people immediately to the doctor - passing blood in the urine or a lump in the breast, for example. But others which could equally herald the onset of cancer may be ignored for some months.

Dr Simon Till Consultant Physician in Sports Medicine & Rheumatology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield
Give up the equivalent of one hour's television a day. Use that time to do something else instead - this will lead to an increase in your activity levels and more social interaction, both of which have been shown to improve your chances of leading a longer, healthier, happier life.

Ann Robinson GP
Take a daily statin - available over the counter - to lower the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood and reduce your risk of stroke or heart disease.

Dr Lesley Walker director of cancer information, Cancer Research UK
Make sure your skin doesn't burn in the sun. Sunburn can double your risk of skin cancer. Every year, more people in the UK get skin cancer (the number of cases has more than doubled since the early 80s and more than 2,000 people now die from skin cancer each year in the UK). You are most at risk if you have fair skin, lots of moles or freckles or a family history of skin cancer.

Simon Atkins GP
Practice safe sex and use a condom - potentially they can have a massive impact on our health. Not only are they 98% effective when used as a contraceptive but they also protect against a whole bunch of sexually transmitted infections including HIV and the current bete noire chlamydia which now affects around 10% of young woman and can lead to severe pelvic infections as well as infertility.

Simon Coleridge consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Plymouth Hospital
Over the age of about 30, if you have any aches and pains, take glucosamine and chondroitin every day. Available over the counter, these molecules are in your cartilage. Osteoarthritis - more commonly known as "wear and tear" arthritis - is a degeneration of the cartilage as you get older. About 70% of us will have some form of osteoarthritis over the age of about 60, but studies show that glucosamine and chondroitin can help you maintain healthier cartilage.

Muriel Simmons spokesperson for Allergy UK
Go back to basics in the home. Ventilate by opening windows, turn down your central heating a couple of points in the winter, and when it comes to cleaning products use good old-fashioned bicarbonate of soda and vinegar instead of chemical sprays. Two allergens - chemical cleaning products and dust mites - are major contributors to the increasing number of people of all ages who are developing allergic rhinitis and asthma in the UK today.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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