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150 Year Old Proverb ‘An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away’ Still Appropriate

Update Date: Dec 18, 2013 10:42 AM EST

Adults aged 50 and over can prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths by consuming an apple every day, a new study finds. The vascular deaths that can be delayed are heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers took into account of people who were already taking statins to reduce their risk of vascular disease. They found that the fruit was able to match more widespread use of modern medicine with fewer side effects.

Change in lifestyle is the first recommended step for preventing heart diseases in United Kingdom.

A team of researchers at University of Oxford used a mathematical model to test the aptness of the 150 year old proverb. They compared it with the widespread use of statins in the UK population.

Estimates are that 5.2 million people are currently eligible for statin treatment in the UK. 17.6 million are such people who are not currently taking statins but would be recommended. After the calculation, they figured out that offering a daily statin to 17.6 million more adults will lower the number of vascular deaths by 9,400 annually. If an apple was given daily to 70% of UK population which aged above 50 years, it would avert 8,500 vascular deaths.

“This study shows that small dietary changes as well as increased use of statins at a population level may significantly reduce vascular mortality in the UK,” worte the authors.

“This research adds weight to calls for the increased use of drugs for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, as well as for persevering with policies aimed at improving the nutritional quality of UK diets,” they concluded in the study.

“The Victorians had it about right when they came up with their brilliantly clear and simple public health advice: ”An apple a day keeps the doctor away". It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke.

While no-one currently prescribed statins should replace them for apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit," said Dr Adam Briggs of the BHF Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University in the press release.

The study is published in the Christmas edition of The BMJ.

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