Cuddle up and feel happier

January 26, 2012

As a health reporter, I have to follow many studies so I can stay on top of the latest research. The best part of this self-education is reading some of the weird stuff going on in academia. From time to time, I do a column on research about “Silly Science.” Here's another...

Cuddling makes you happy
The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University reports that older couples are more satisfied with their long-term relationships if they cuddle and pet.

Men ages 40 to 70 and their female partners were studied. The couples had been together for an average of 25 years. The study included more than 1,000 couples from the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Both women and men were happier if they had higher levels of sexual functioning and frequent sex.

Women who had been with their partner for more than 15 years were more likely to be sexually satisfied. It was theorized that women become more satisfied over time because their expectations about sex change.

(No information was provided about the effect of May-December hookups.)

Seniors don't drive like juniors
An Australian study found that seniors tend to drive more dangerously than younger drivers.

Researchers examined the driving habits of 266 drivers between the ages of 70 and 88. During 12-mile road tests, a professional instructor was in the front seat; an occupational therapist was in the back seat.

Seventeen percent of the drivers made the instructor grab the steering wheel or apply the brake to avoid a serious error. The most common error was a failure to check the blind spots for cars beside them.

Drivers between ages of 85 and 89 were four times more likely to make a driving error than those 70 to 74 years old. There was no difference between the way men and women drove.

There are more than 30 million drivers 65 or older. About 500 seniors are injured daily in car accidents.

(Anyone who has driven in a Florida parking lot could have told the researchers everything they needed to know.)

Human skin fights pollution
Danish researchers report that squalene oil, an antioxidant on human skin, reduces indoor ozone, which is a pollutant that irritates the eyes and mucous membranes.

Humans shed their entire outer layer of skin every two to four weeks. Flakes of skin, which contain squalene, are a major component of dust.

The researchers examined how squalene from dust in 500 bedrooms affected indoor air pollution. They found that squalene in settled dust reduced ozone levels about 2 to 15 percent.

Previous studies also revealed that squalene from human skin helped lower levels of ozone from the air in airplane cabins. More than half of the ozone removal measured in a simulated aircraft cabin was attributed to ozone reacting with skin, hair and clothing of passengers.

(Hold onto those used Swiffers; they may be valuable someday.)