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Health News Health News
This Week in Health
January 17, 2014


Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.

A study published this week suggests that, for diabetics anyway, there's no such thing as an "obesity paradox." Except for smokers, diabetics who were more overweight were also more likely to die. Smokers were most likely to die if they were thin. Another new study found that "brain training" may help people retain some types of mental skills as they get older. However, the effects of memory training did not last. Other research found that men who drink more than recommended amounts for many years may have a swifter mental decline.

Stay well.

This Issue:

Study: Heavier Diabetics Die Sooner
Training May Help Senior Thinking Skills
Heavy Drinking May Speed Men's Mental Decline


In the News:

Study: Heavier Diabetics Die Sooner
There's no "obesity paradox" related to death rates for people with diabetes, a study published this week concludes. Except for smokers, people who were heavier died earlier, the study found. Some small studies have suggested that people who are a little overweight might have a lower death risk. The new study included 11,000 adults with type 2 diabetes. Researchers kept track of them for about 16 years. A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal. In this study, the lowest BMI, 18.5 to 22.4, was linked with higher death rates than for all groups except the most obese (BMI of 35 or more). But people with a BMI on the higher side of "normal" (22.5 to 24.9) were less likely to die than all other groups. Then researchers looked at the numbers for people who had never smoked and for smokers and ex-smokers. Overweight and obese people who had never smoked were more likely to die as their BMI went up. But smokers were most likely to die if they were thin. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study. HealthDay News and The Associated Press wrote about it.


Training May Help Senior Thinking Skills
"Brain training" may help older adults think clearly, but may not help memory, a new study shows. The study included more than 2,800 people, average age 73. They were randomly divided into 4 groups. Three groups received brain training. The memory group learned strategies to remember words, lists and story details. The reasoning group learned how to solve problems that follow patterns. A third group used a computer program that trained them to find and process visual information quickly. The fourth got no training. People had improvements in these specific skills right after they were trained. Ten years later, researchers were able to track down about half of them and test them again. About 60% of the trained groups and 50% of the untrained group reported being at least as able to handle daily tasks as they were 10 years before. Tasks included taking medicines, cooking and managing finances. People who got training in reasoning and speed of processing retained their improvements. But memory had slipped for everyone. Those who had memory training were no better off than other groups. The Journal of the American Geriatric Society published the study online this week. HealthDay News and the Associated Press wrote about it.


Heavy Drinking May Speed Men's Mental Decline
Years of heavy drinking in middle age can lead to faster mental decline in later life for men, results of a long-term study suggest. The study included 5,054 men and 2,099 women. They were asked about their drinking habits 3 times in 10 years. Then, in their mid-50s, they took a mental-skills test. It assessed memory and executive function, which includes reasoning and planning abilities. They repeated the test twice in the next 10 years. Mental decline occurred about 1½ to 6 years faster in men who had at least 2½ drinks a day (36 grams of alcohol) than in men who drank less. No such differences were seen for women, however. Researchers said there were not enough heavy drinkers among women in the study to show any clear effects for them. The journal Neurology published the study this week. The Associated Press and HealthDay News wrote about it.


Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved.

The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.



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