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Stress as bad for you as smoking, ovarian cancer deaths down and the blood test that could predict lifespan

The stress of being unemployed may increase the risk of heart attack by a similar amount as smoking in people in their 50s and 60s, the BBC reports.

The study, which spanned almost 20 years, reported that there were more than 1,000 heart attacks among the 13,451 participants.

After taking account of the more common factors linked to heart attacks – such as smoking – researchers found that attacks were 27 per cent more common in people who were recently unemployed.

The study also found that the chances of having a heart attack went up by 63 per cent for people who had lost four or more jobs. The same was not seen in people who gave up work voluntarily.

Dr Donna Arnett, of the American Heart Association, said: ‘This confirms other work that shows life stressors can increase your risk of a heart attack.’

Early diagnosis and better treatment of ovarian cancer has seen a 20 per cent drop in the number of women dying from the disease, research suggests.

According to the Daily Mail, scientists from the National Cancer Intelligence Network compared mortality and survival figures from 1989 with the most recent data from 2009.

Researchers found that mortality rates had fallen from 11.9 per cent per 100,000 women in 1989 to 8.8 per cent in 2009.

Data also showed that almost three quarters of sufferers survived for at least a year with 44 per cent still alive five years later.

In 1989, just over half lived beyond a year and only one third survived for five years.

National awareness campaigns and improvements in care have been highlighted as the reasons for the improved survival rates.

Lead author Andy Nordin, a consultant gynaecologist at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘This drop in deaths may reflect improvements in detecting and treating the disease, such as improvements in scanning, surgery and chemotherapy treatments.

Finally, the Daily Telegraph is reporting on a blood test which could reveal a person’s biological age and may be used to predict someone’s lifespan.

The paper says that researchers have managed to successfully measure the speed of ageing in birds using the average length of tiny structures called telomeres.

The paper argues that the length of telomeres – which get shorter each time a cell divides during an organism’s lifetime – give an accurate picture of a person’s true biological age.

Some experts believe the telemore tests could be used on humans to estimate how long they have to live – assuming they die of natural causes.

David Richardson, University of East Anglia, said: ‘We saw that telomere length is a better indicator of life expectancy than chronological age.

‘So by measuring telomere length we have a way of estimating the biological age of an individual – how much of its life it has used up.’