The Health In Men Study (HIMS)

Background: The Health In Men Study (HIMS) is a large population-based study that was originally set up to investigate whether a screening program for potentially fatal abdominal aortic aneurysms was viable.  The study found that the answer was, no. This finding was an important finding from an Australian public health perspective. The original study began in 1996 and involved screening over 12,000 men between the ages of 65 and 83 years. Since then other data was also collected, such as height, weight, diet, physical activity, alcohol and tobacco use, and other lifestyle information and the study evolved into The Health In Men Study (HIMS). 

HIMS uses the WA Data Linkage System. This database is a comprehensive electronic health records systems, it brings together records for all inpatient hospital admissions, all births, all registered cancers, all deaths, and all public sector mental health service contacts in the State since 1982. The HIMS project data is a valuable resource that has generated many important findings.  The project is currently looking at how these men are ageing successfully and will look at the best way to ward off frailty. This project is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC).

Our key findings

*New evidence for the revision of the body mass index (BMI) classification system for older people - based on the finding that older men who are overweight, not obese,  are less likely to die over a 10 year period than their normal weight peers.

*The study found an increased rate of frailty in men with low vitamin D levels.

*A 5-year risk of cognitive impairment in older men is associated with increasing age, diabetes, and regular use of full-cream milk.

*Mild alcohol consumption and physical activity appear to have a protective effect on cognitive decline.

*The risk of poor mental health outcomes after the age of 80 years appears to decrease with education, physical activity and a diet low in saturated fats.

*Low levels of free testosterone appear to be associated with a higher prevalence of depression and poorer cognition.

*Older men with higher levels of testosterone are at an increased risk of lung cancer.

*The research has confirmed that people with severe mental disorders who reach older age have lower life expectancy compared with their peers. The study found that hazardous lifestyle choices, suboptimal access to health care, poor compliance with treatments, and greater severity of medical co-morbidities all contributed to increased mortality.

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