Caffeine a brain food for women over 65
CAFFEINE may protect thinking skills and memory in older women, according to new research in Neurology . The study found that women aged 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee (or more than six cups of tea) per day had less decline over time on tests of memory than women who drank one cup or less of coffee or tea per day. The findings held true even after adjusting for other factors that could affect brain function such as age, education, disability, depression, high blood pressure, medications and chronic illnesses. The study involved 4197 women and 2820 men whose brain function and caffeine consumption were recorded over four years. While caffeine had no protective effect on men’s brains, women with high rates of caffeine consumption were less likely to show as much decline in memory. And the benefits for women increased with age — compared to those with low intake, high caffeine consumers were 30 per cent less likely to have memory decline at age 65, rising to 70 per cent less likely over the age of 80. Neurology 2007;69:536-545 (Ritchie K, et al) RECENT fatal flu cases in Queensland and Victoria are a stark reminder of the dangers of the influenza virus, even in the age of vaccines and antiviral drugs. In the Journalofthe AmericanMedicalAssociation this week, scientists have studied the great flu pandemic of 1918 and found that two non-medical methods used together — school closure and cancellation of public gatherings — can significantly reduce the number of flu deaths. They argue that these methods should be part of our planning for future flu pandemics, to provide more time for the production and distribution of vaccines and drugs. Historical records from 43 American cities over a period of 24 weeks in 1918-1919 showed 115,340 deaths from influenza and pneumonia. Each city used at least one of the non-medical interventions — school closure, cancellation of public gatherings or isolation and quarantine. Thirty-four cities used a combination of school closure and public gathering bans, with an average duration of four weeks. Cities that implemented these measures earlier and enforced them for longer had fewer flu deaths. JAMA 2007;298:644-654 (Markel H, et al) BREAST implants triple the long-term risk of suicide, claims a new study in the Annalsof PlasticSurgery . The increased suicide risk from cosmetic breast enlargement — together with a similar increase in the risk of death from alcohol or drug dependence — suggests that women receiving breast implants should also have follow-up mental health checks, say the authors. They performed an extended follow-up study of 3527 Swedish women who underwent cosmetic breast implant surgery between 1965 and 1993. The average age at implant surgery was 32 years. Death certificates were used to compare causes of death between women with breast implants and the general female population. Over an average follow-up period of nearly 19 years, the suicide rate was three times higher for women with breast implants (based on 24 deaths among implant recipients). The risk was greatest — nearly seven times higher than in the general female population — for women who received their implants at age 45 or older. AnnPlasticSurg 2007;59:119-123 (Lipworth L, et al) HALF of all older adults suffer from a geriatric condition, such as incontinence, falling or vision impairment, that can affect their health as much as a chronic illness would, say the authors of a new study in the Annalsof InternalMedicine . Researchers surveyed 11,093 American adults aged 65 years or older living either in the community or in nursing homes. Information was gathered on geriatric conditions, including cognitive impairment, falls, incontinence, low body mass index, dizziness, vision impairment and hearing impairment, as well as the ability to perform basic daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating. Overall, 49.9 per cent of participants had one or more geriatric conditions. Sufferers of geriatric conditions were just as dependent on others to perform daily tasks as older patients with chronic diseases, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and cancer. AnnInternMed 2007;147:156-164 (Cigolle CT, et al) BACTERIA living in the intestine could be one of the causes of Crohn’s disease — an inflammatory disorder of the digestive tract that affects around one in 800 Australians — providing another clue to possible therapies. Research appearing in the International SocietyforMicrobialEcologyJournal this week has found an increased level of a particular type of E. coli ( Escherichiacoli ) in more inflamed areas of the small intestine, suggesting that it could contribute to the inflammation that leads to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea and weight loss. Scientists compared the bacteria in the small intestines of 21 patients with Crohn’s disease and seven healthy individuals. The bug that was more common in the Crohn’s patients was a previously unknown type of E. coli containing some of the same genes as salmonella, cholera and bubonic plague bacteria. ISMEJ 2007;doi:10.1038/ismej.2007.52 (Baumgart M, et al) HIV/AIDS prevention programs that only encourage abstinence from sex (without promoting safer sex behaviours) do not reduce the risk of HIV infection in developed countries, concludes a new study in the British MedicalJournal . According to the authors, their findings call into question the use of taxpayers’ money to fund ‘‘ abstinence-only’’ programs. The study combined the results of 13 separate trials involving 15,940 young Americans. Each trial used an education program aimed to prevent HIV infection or HIV and pregnancy, and information was gathered using surveys. Compared to either no education programme or a program teaching safer sex behaviours, none of the abstinence-only programs had any beneficial effect on the incidence of unprotected sex, number of partners, condom use, sexual initiation, incidence of pregnancy, or incidence of sexually transmitted infections. BMJ 2007;335:248-252 (Underhill K, 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.
Caffeine: Good for some