Minerva

The benefits of central heating and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6260 (Published 22 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6260

Sixty years ago, October would have marked the beginning of the British coal fire season. Homes for the next five months would be cold, damp, and smoky. Now, household air pollution has become a problem mostly in lower income countries: a third of the world’s population uses solid fuel derived from plant material (biomass) or coal for cooking, heating, or lighting (Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2014;2:823-60, doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70168-7). This is associated with susceptibility to respiratory infections, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and may account for 3.5-4 million deaths every year. Central heating has helped Britons to have longer and warmer lives.

Sarcopenia literally means “lack of body.” EWGSOP, the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People, defines it as a syndrome characterised by progressive and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength with a risk of adverse outcomes. In an international survey (Age Ageing 2014, doi:10.1093/ageing/afu115), its prevalence in people over 50 was 1-29% in the …

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