Cats, dogs, and biomarkers of ageing.

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The notion that animal companionship might be linked to human health can be traced to ancient writings and, with the first population based study conducted at least four decades ago. Although some empirical evidence links animal companionship with apparent protection against a series of important health outcomes in middle aged populations, including premature mortality, obesity, hypertension, and hyperlipidaemia, systematic reviews and position statements suggest that these associations are not universal. To investigate this further, the authors of this observational study, looked at the prospective link between pet ownership and a selected range of objective biomarkers of ageing proposed for use in large scale population based studies of older people. Richard Watt, professor of dental public health at University College London joins us to discuss their results. http://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5558

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