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Several thousand lives could be saved each year in the UK if people had better heating and insulation in their homes, according to a study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Its report, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found a clear link between excess deaths in winter, often from cardiovascular conditions, and low indoor temperatures. The researchers estimated that up to 15,000 of the 50,000 excess deaths are coldrelated, with winter deaths most common in Victorian buildings.

Author Paul Wilkinson said that, despite the cold, there are few excess deaths in winter in Scandinavia because of well-built, well-heated homes. 'Ours are characteristically old and leaky, ' he added.

Cold Comfort , Paul Wilkinson et al , Marston Book Services,£10.95. direct. orders@marston. co. uk