Distress and anxiety are bad for the brain
DISTRESS and anxiety may not only ruin your day, they could also damage your brain. New research in Neurology this week shows that people who are easily distressed and have more negative emotions are more likely to suffer from memory loss than more relaxed people. Researchers combined the results of two large studies involving 1256 people with no brain damage at the start of the study. During up to 12 years of follow-up, 482 people (38 per cent) developed ‘‘ mild cognitive impairment’’ — the stage in between normal ageing and dementia. To judge their levels of negative emotions, participants were asked whether they agreed with a range of statements, including ‘‘ I amnot a worrier’’, ‘‘ I often feel tense and jittery’’, and ‘‘ I often get angry at the way people treat me’’. Those who most often experienced negative emotions were 40 per cent more likely to develop memory loss than those who were least prone to negative emotions. Neurology 2007;68:2085-2092 (Wilson RS, et al) ANTI-SMOKING ads at the movies reduce the appeal of smoking, but only among nonsmokers, according to an Australian study in TobaccoControl this week. The study, led by doctor Christine Edwards of Northern Sydney Central Coast Health, involved 3091 moviegoers aged 12 to 24 years, 18.6 per cent of whom were current smokers. They were surveyed after watching the same movie at cinemas in three Australian states during a three-week period. In the second and third weeks, an advertisement was shown before the movie warning the audience not to be ‘‘ sucked in’’ by the images of actors smoking. After seeing the ad, 47.8 per cent of nonsmokers said that the smoking scenes in the movie were not OK (up from 43.8 per cent among those who didn’t see the ad). But it had no significant effect on the opinions of smokers. In fact, the percentage of smokers who intended to continue smoking rose from 25.6 per cent to 38.6 per cent after seeing the advertisement. TobaccoControl 2007;16:177-181 (Edwards C, et al) CHILDREN given antibiotics before their first birthday are more likely to develop asthma by age 7, claims a study in the current issue of Chest . Using medical records, researchers looked at the use of antibiotics in 13,116 children born in 1995. Six per cent of these children had current asthma at age 7, while 65 per cent had taken at least one course of antibiotics during the first year of life. Ninetythree per cent of prescriptions were given for chest, sinus or ear infections, and 7 per cent for other infections. As chest, sinus and ear infections could be a sign of future asthma even without antibiotic treatment, researchers looked only at those children who were given antibiotics before the age of 1 for other kinds of illnesses. Asthma at age 7 was 86 per cent more likely in these children than in those who did not receive antibiotics in the first year of life. Chest 2007;doi:10.1378/chest.06-3008 (Kozyrskyj AL, et al) BREAST cancer patients can double their chances of survival by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, concludes new research in the JournalofClinicalOncology , and they must do both to be protected. The study found that even in overweight women, eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and walking briskly for 30 minutes, six days a week, reduces the risk of death from the disease by 50 per cent. The study included 1490 women aged 70 years and younger (average age 50 years) with earlystage breast cancer. Each woman had completed initial treatment for the disease before enrolling in the study. Diet and exercise patterns were assessed at the start of the study, and women were followed for between five and 11 years. Those who were both physically active and had a healthy diet had a 7 per cent chance of dying during the follow-up period, half that of those with less healthy habits. JClinOncol 2007;25:2345-2351 (Pierce JP, et al) FORMER soldiers are twice as likely to commit suicide as those who have never been to war, according to research in the Journalof EpidemiologyandCommunityHealth this week. The findings suggest that doctors should be on the alert for mental health problems in soldiers returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. American researchers followed 320,890 men over 18 years of age for 12 years. They found that those who had served any time in the armed forces between 1917 and 1994 were twice as likely to die from suicide compared to men in the general population. Suicide risk was highest in veterans with a health problem that prevented them from participating fully in home, work or leisure activities. Compared to men in the general population who committed suicide, former soldiers who killed themselves were more likely to be older, white and better educated, and less likely to have never been married. JEpidemiolCommunHealth 2007;61:619-624 (Kaplan MS, et al) DIABETICS have a shorter lifespan and fewer years free of heart disease compared to nondiabetics, finds a new study in the Archivesof InternalMedicine . The findings were based on information from the Framingham Heart Study, in which 5209 men and women aged 28 to 62 years were recruited between 1948 and 1951 and followed for more than 46 years. In those aged 50 years and older, diabetes increased the risk of heart disease by 2.5-fold in women and 2.4-fold in men. The chance of dying from existing heart disease was also higher in diabetics compared to non-diabetics (2.2-fold for women and 1.7-fold for men). The average lifespan of diabetic men and women was 7.5 and 8.2 years shorter, respectively, than that of non-diabetic men and women. And the number of years free from heart disease was 7.8 and 8.4 less in diabetic men and women compared to non-diabetics. ArchInternMed 2007;167:1145-1151 (Franco OH, et al) Want to know more? Items are referenced where possible. A reference such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source article was published on pages 18-25 in volume number 35 of the publication, in 2007. A doi number or website address is used for research published on a journal’s website.
Craving: Non-smokers are immune to the influence of smoking actors, but smokers see a role model