Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 21st 2015 Contents A28
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Whether you want to lose weight,
quit smoking or exercise more, you
have a better chance of success if your
partner shares your goal, research
The British study looked at data from
more than 3,700 married or cohabiting
couples aged 50 and older.
Men and women were three times
or more likely to achieve their resolution
when their partner joined in the chal-
Experts say campaigns could capi-
talise on this "rubbing off" effect.
Many studies suggest that our part-
ners can have a big influence on our
behaviour and our health.
Happily married or cohabiting people
appear to have a lower risk of heart
disease and better cancer outcomes,
But it is not clear whether this is
because people mirror their partners
good behaviour or because we tend to
pair off with people who are similarly
healthy or unhealthy to us.
The latest study in Jama Internal
Medicine set out to investigate this.
The University College London team
selected men and women who were in
a cohabiting relationship and who had
unhealthy behaviours---either being a
smoker, being overweight or doing too
little exercise---at the start of the study.
The researchers tracked the behav-
iours of these individuals and their
partners over four years, noting if any
of them quit smoking, lost weight or
became more active.
They found that when one half of
the couple changed to a healthier
lifestyle, the other person was more
likely to make a similar lifestyle change.
Seeing an unhealthy partner make
a change provided the biggest impetus
for an individual to do the same, but
living with someone already healthier
than themselves also appeared to act
as an encouragement.
For example, a smoker was twice as
likely to quit if their partner was a non-
smoker but ten times more likely to
quit if their partner smoked but decided
to quit too.
Similarly, living with a sporty partner
prompted individuals to get active, but
not as much as seeing a loved one
change from a couch potato to an active
Researcher Dr Sarah Jackson said the
findings could help inform public health
"This is important because it shows
that if you can target couples or encour-
age people to involve their partners
they may be more likely to succeed.
Having the support of someone close
seems to help."
The government s Change4Life cam-
paign focuses on getting whole families
to be more active and eat healthily, but
other campaigns have focused on the
Dr Mike Knapton, from the British
Heart Foundation which part-funded
Dr Jackson s work, said: "This is an
interesting study and reinforces the
notion that your relationships play a
key role in your health."
The genetics underpinning resistance
to a frontline malaria drug, artemisinin,
have been revealed, scientists say.
In South East Asia, malaria parasites
have developed tolerance to the treat-
ment, and there are fears that this will
Now, in the largest genetic study to
date, scientists have identified mutations
in the parasite genome that are linked
The study is published in Nature
The researchers say the findings will
help them to identify areas where
artemisinin resistance could spread.
Lead author Dr Olivo Miotto from the
Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Research Unit
(MORU), in Thailand, said: "Artemisinin
is the best drug we have had for a very
long time, and we want to continue this
"And for that its effectiveness has to
be protected and sustained."
When the first malaria drug, chloro-
quine, was developed, researchers
thought that the disease would be erad-
icated within years.
But the malaria parasite has proved
far tougher than they ever imagined.
Drug after drug has been rendered useless
as the parasite has evolved to evade treat-
Mysteriously, each time resistance has
emerged, it has started in the same
place---on the Cambodia-Thai border---
before spreading across Asia and into
Now this appears to be happening
again with artemisinin, a drug that has
transformed malaria treatment.
Cases have been confirmed in Thai-
land, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and
Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Now an international team of scientists
have identified several mutations on
genes in the malaria parasite that are
linked to resistance.
After analysing 1,612 samples from 15
locations in Asia and Africa, scientists
confirmed that mutations on a gene
called kelch13 are strongly associated
with malaria resistance.
"If you don t have this mutation of
kelch13, you don t have resistance," Dr
Miotto told the BBC. (BBC)
Genetics of malaria drug
Men and women are more successful when they adopt healthy behaviours as a couple.
Fitness 'rubs off on your partner'
This is important because it
shows that if you can target
couples or encourage people to
involve their partners they may
be more likely to succeed.
Researcher Dr Sarah Jackson
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
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