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DRINKING LINKED TO FASTER MENTAL DECLINE IN MEN

Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:45 Published in Health & Fitness

NEW YORK (AP) -- Middle-aged men risk a faster mental decline as they age if they've been drinking heavily for years, new research suggests.

The study of about 5,000 British civil servants found that over a decade, the added decline was the equivalent of about two extra years of aging for a combined measure of mental abilities like reasoning, and about six years for memory. The heavy drinkers' abilities were compared to those of men who drank moderately or abstained.

It's no surprise that heavy alcohol consumption can affect the brain, but the study focuses on an age range that has received much less attention from alcohol researchers than the elderly and college students.

The work was published online Wednesday by the journal Neurology. Researchers found no such effect in women, but the study included too few female heavy drinkers to test the effect of drinking the same amount as in men, said Severine Sabia, a study author from University College London.

In an email, she said it was not possible to identify a specific minimum level of consumption at which the risk begins in men.

Her study used data from over 20 years. Using questionnaires, researchers calculated the men's average daily intake of alcohol for the decade up to when they were an average of 56 years old. Then, they tracked decline in mental abilities over the following decade from tests administered every five years.

Accelerated decline was seen for the heaviest-drinking group, which included 469 men with a wide range of alcohol intake. The minimum amount was the equivalent of about 13 ounces of wine a day or about 30 ounces of beer. The maximum was about three times that.

Men drinking that minimum amount are not necessarily at risk for accelerated mental decline, since the results pertain to the category overall, said Sara Jo Nixon, a substance abuse researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who did not participate in the work.

She also said that the study shows a link between drinking and faster mental decline but not proof that alcohol intake was responsible. And she said that because of the sensitive mental tests used in the study, the extra declines in performance may be too subtle to make a difference in daily life. Sabia said she believed the difference would eventually be noticeable.

Still, Nixon said, the study "does suggest that middle-aged to young-old individuals do need to pay attention to what their drinking habits have been, and are."

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Online:

Neurology: HTTP://WWW.NEUROLOGY.ORG/

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Malcolm Ritter can be followed at HTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/MALCOLMRITTER

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

 

 

Healthcare advocates want plan to reduce chemo cost

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 10:50 Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A group of Missouri lawmakers joined health care advocates to outline a plan aimed at reducing the cost of pill-form chemotherapy.
The proposed legislation would require insurance companies to levy the same out-of-pocket costs for oral chemotherapy as they do for the traditional intravenous treatment.
The American Cancer Society said Wednesday that insurance companies can charge higher co-payments and deductibles for chemotherapy pills.
The proposed measure would impact only health plans that provide coverage for both types of treatments.
Rep. Sheila Solon, a Republican from Blue Springs, says the legislation would not increase premiums for cancer patients.
Twenty-seven other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar measures seeking to reduce the cost of the chemotherapy pills.
   
 

E-Cigarettes under fire in Chicago

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 10:48 Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago's City Council is expected to vote on a proposal that would limit the use of electronic cigarettes.
The proposal that's set to be discussed Wednesday would expand the city's regulation of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, barring their use in offices, indoor public areas and within a certain distance of building entrances.
Electronic cigarettes are metal or plastic battery-powered devices resembling traditional cigarettes that heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. Users get nicotine without the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.
But their popularity among young people has raised the concern of public health officials.
WLS-TV reports the proposed rules would also require merchants who sell e-cigarettes to keep them behind store counters.

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