Diet in­flu­ences life with Alzheimer’s dis­ease

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White

GREEK and Ital­ian food could help the 100,000 Aus­tralians liv­ing with Alzheimer’s dis­ease. A new study in the jour­nal Neu­rol­ogy this week shows that Alzheimer’s pa­tients who fol­low a Mediter­ranean diet — high in veg­eta­bles, legumes, fruits, ce­re­als, fish and mono un­sat­u­rated fats — live longer than those who eat a tra­di­tional West­ern diet higher in sat­u­rated fats, dairy prod­ucts and meat. The study fol­lowed 192 peo­ple with Alzheimer’s dis­ease in New York for an av­er­age of 41/ years. Dur­ing that time, 85

2 died. Those who most closely fol­lowed a Mediter­ranean diet, which also in­cludes a mild to mod­er­ate amount of al­co­hol, were 76 per cent less likely to die dur­ing the study pe­riod than those who fol­lowed the diet the least. Alzheimer’s pa­tients who fol­lowed the diet very strictly lived an av­er­age of four years longer than those who fol­lowed it the least. Neu­rol­ogy 2007;69:1084-1093 (Scarmeas N, et al) THE ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­ener as­par­tame has been de­clared safe fol­low­ing a thor­ough re­view of all pre­vi­ous stud­ies look­ing at its health ef­fects. Pub­lished in Crit­i­calRe­viewsin Tox­i­col­ogy this week, the re­view con­cludes that there is no ev­i­dence that the sweet­ener causes can­cer, neu­ro­log­i­cal dam­age or other health prob­lems in hu­mans. As­par­tame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, and can there­fore be added to food in much lower amounts, re­duc­ing the calo­rie con­tent. Look­ing at more than 500 re­ports dat­ing back to the 1970s, an in­ter­na­tional panel of ex­perts from 10 univer­si­ties and med­i­cal schools eval­u­ated the safety of as­par­tame for peo­ple of all ages and a range of health con­di­tions. They used re­cent data from the US Na­tional Health and Nu­tri­tion Ex­am­i­na­tion Sur­vey to es­ti­mate av­er­age lev­els of as­par­tame con­sump­tion, and found that even the high­est con­sumers are well be­low the ac­cept­able daily in­take. At th­ese lev­els, say the au­thors, as­par­tame ap­pears to have no ill health ef­fects. CritRevTox­i­col 2007;37:629-727 (Mag­nu­son BA, et al) BREAST­FEED­ING does not pro­tect chil­dren from de­vel­op­ing al­ler­gies or asthma, ac­cord­ing to new re­search in the Bri­tish Med­i­calJour­nal . Re­searchers re­cruited 17,046 breast­feed­ing women from 31 Be­larus­sian ma­ter­nity hos­pi­tals and di­vided them into two groups. In the ex­per­i­men­tal group, breast­feed­ing was pro­moted and sup­ported in the hos­pi­tals the women and chil­dren at­tended. In the con­trol group, the hos­pi­tals con­tin­ued with their nor­mal breast­feed­ing prac­tices and poli­cies. Com­pared to those in the con­trol group, women in the ex­per­i­men­tal group breast­fed for longer, and a greater pro­por­tion were breast­feed­ing ex­clu­sively at three months (44.3 per cent com­pared to 6.4 per cent). At 61/ years of age, 13,889 chil­dren from both

2 groups were tested for asthma, hay fever, eczema and al­ler­gies to house dust mites, cats, birch pollen, mould and grasses. Breast­feed­ing had no ef­fect on the like­li­hood of de­vel­op­ing any of th­ese con­di­tions. BMJ 2007;doi:10.1136/bmj.39304.464016.AE (Kramer MS, et al) VI­TA­MIN Dsup­ple­ments— of­ten used to strengthen bones — may also help you to live longer. New re­search in the Archivesof In­ter­nalMedicine has shown that peo­ple who take vi­ta­min D tablets have a lower risk of death over a six-year pe­riod than those who don’t. Low vi­ta­min D lev­els have been linked to a higher risk of death from can­cer, heart dis­ease and di­a­betes. Re­searchers an­a­lysed 18 pre­vi­ous stud­ies look­ing at the health ef­fects of vi­ta­min Din­clud­ing 57,311 par­tic­i­pants. The doses of vi­ta­min Dused in the stud­ies ranged from 300 to 2000 in­ter­na­tional units (IU), with an av­er­age dose of 528 IU. Most com­mer­cially avail­able sup­ple­ments con­tain be­tween 400 and 600 IU. Over an av­er­age fol­low-up pe­riod of 5.7 years, 4777 of the par­tic­i­pants died. Those who took vi­ta­min D had a 7 per cent lower risk of death than those who did not. ArchIn­ternMed 2007;167:1709-1710 (Au­tier P, et al) FRE­QUENT al­co­hol con­sump­tion in­creases the risk of en­dome­trial can­cer in older women, con­cludes a study in the cur­rent is­sue of the In­ter­na­tion­alJour­nalofCancer . The study found that post­menopausal women who have two or more al­co­holic drinks a day have twice the risk of de­vel­op­ing en­dome­trial can­cer as non-drinkers. There was no in­creased risk in women who drank fewer than two drinks per day. The study fol­lowed 41,574 post­menopausal women from Los An­ge­les and Hawaii for an av­er­age of eight years. Sur­veys were used to col­lect in­for­ma­tion on al­co­hol in­take and en­dome­trial can­cer risk fac­tors. Dur­ing the study pe­riod, there were 324 cases of en­dome­trial can­cer. The as­so­ci­a­tion with al­co­hol in­take was stronger among lean women than among over­weight or obese women. Al­co­hol con­sump­tion has been linked to higher lev­els of es­tro­gen in post­menopausal women, say the au­thors, which could ex­plain its ef­fect on en­dome­trial can­cer risk. In­tJCancer 2007;doi:10.1002/ijc.23072 (Se­ti­awan VW, et al) SMOK­ING cig­a­rettes is known to har­den the ar­ter­ies and in­crease the risk of heart dis­ease. Now new re­search in Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Tox­i­col­ogy has shown that hard­en­ing of the ar­ter­ies (ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis) is caused by nico­tine — not by tar, as pre­vi­ously thought. Sci­en­tists com­pared low-nico­tine cig­a­rettes con­tain­ing 0.05 to 0.2 mil­ligrams of nico­tine with reg­u­lar cig­a­rettes con­tain­ing 0.6 to 1 mil­ligram of nico­tine. All of the cig­a­rettes tested had the same tar con­tent. They found that mice ex­posed to smoke from low-nico­tine cig­a­rettes had sig­nif­i­cantly less ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis than those ex­posed to reg­u­lar cig­a­rettes, but still more than mice not ex­posed to cig­a­rette smoke at all. The ef­fects of smok­ing on the ar­ter­ies were seen within weeks of smoke ex­po­sure. Car­dio­vascTox­i­col 2007;7 (Catan­zaro DF, 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.

Mediter­ranean eat­ing: Health­ier than the typ­i­cal West­ern fare

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