People in their 60s are ignoring signs of ill health because they fear being dismissed as hypochondriacs or believe medical problems are a by-product of ageing.
Department of Health figures show almost a third (31 per cent) of people in their 60s put off visiting their GP because they think problems will simply go away.
An average of nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) ignore health concerns as they believe these are inevitable and not worth reporting, with the figure higher (71 per cent) for men.
Professor Ken Fox, an expert in older people’s health at Bristol University, said: “We’re not saying your body won’t change as you get older, it will, but it is important to get any unusual twinges checked out by a GP.”
However, the study found one in 10 would prefer not to know if they have a serious health problem.