Mens sana in corpore sano

Lifestyles, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol were all taken into account in the initial observation of 680 men on Crete and 590 men on Corfu in 1961, who were also given electrocardiograms. «In the first 10 years,» said Toutouzas, «32 percent of the Greek subjects had cholesterol levels over 220, 29 percent had blood pressure above 16, while 75 percent smoked. In those days, physical exercise was the norm for 69 percent and body weight was a high normal. «Forty years later, those on Corfu aged 90 to 100 years continue to exercise and eat fruit, vegetables and olive oil. A large majority (80 percent) drink two glasses of wine a day on average. Three out of four (73 percent) eat red meat only once a week and dairy products two to four times a week. Nine out of 10 of the elderly subjects adhere to a Mediterranean diet. The equivalent figure among the general population is four in 10. «None are divorced and 58 percent are filled with feelings of optimism. Ninety percent of the aged have a regular afternoon nap.» Cardiologists Dimitris Panayiotakos and Christos Chrysochoos, who analyzed the data, found that 42 percent of the deaths in those 40 years were due to cardiovascular disease, 26 percent due to cancer and 32 percent to infections, accidents and other causes. «Smoking, obesity and a steep difference between diastolic and systolic blood pressure proved to be the highest risk factors,» Professor Toutouzas said. Exercise and not smoking kept the lungs in good shape. «As the seven-country study showed, the worse the condition of the lungs, the higher the death rate.»

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