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‘Warped’ sense of humour signals dementia, stronger legs equals fitter brain, and ‘spare tyre’ worse than obese-all-over

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines

The development of an increasingly ‘warped’ sense of humour can be an early warning signal for the development of dementia, according to research developed through interviews of dementia sufferers’ relatives.

The Telegraph reports that friends and close relatives of patients with frontotemporal dementia noticed their loved ones’ increasingly darker inappropriate sense of humour years before they received a dementia diagnosis.

Dr Camilla Clark, who lead the team at UCL said: ‘Not only should personality and behaviour changes ring alarm bells, but clinicians themselves need to be more aware of these symptoms as an early sign of dementia.’

On a related note, the BBC reports that having stronger legs equates to a ‘fitter brain’, as research in the journal Gerontology found leg strength was an effective marker for a more active lifestyle.

The study followed 150 pairs of twin sisters, aged between 43 and 73, cognitive age and leg power were tested at the start of the study and retested 10 years later with the sister with better leg strength having a younger brain age, even when other lifestyle factors were controlled.

And finally, people with a generally average weight who have a ‘spare tyre’ of excess fat around the middle are likely to die sooner than an individual who is ‘fat all over’, the Guardian reports.

Evaluation of 15 year survival rates for 15,184 American men and women – with an average age of 45 – found those with bulging middles had worse survival than patients officially classed as overweight or obese by BMI.

Men in this group were twice as likely to die, and women faced a 40% increased risk of mortality. Dr Francisco Lopez-Jiminez, from the Mayo Clinic, who led the research said: ‘Persons with normal-weight central obesity may represent an important target population for lifestyle modification.’

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