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Debate expected over healthcare worker proposal

Thursday, 16 January 2014 08:06 Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones plans to file legislation that would let health care workers refuse to participate in procedures that violate their ethical or religious beliefs.
The measure would apply to procedures such as those involving abortion-inducing drugs, artificial insemination and the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration. Religiously-affiliated hospitals would be shielded from liability for refusing medical procedures violating their religious beliefs.
Jones, a Republican from Eureka, sponsored a similar bill last year. The measure passed the House but not the Senate.
Critics in the House argued last year the legislation could inhibit access to health care for some Missourians. Jones has said the proposal protects workers' rights.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The constitutionality of Missouri's flag desecration law is on the docket for a federal appeals court panel in St. Louis.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday will hear the case of Cape Girardeau resident Frank Snider III.
Snider was arrested in 2009 for cutting up an American flag, throwing it into the street and trying to set it on fire. When that failed he used a knife to shred it.
Police arrested Snider, citing Missouri's flag desecration statute. Prosecutors dismissed the charge after learning of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed a similar law in Texas unconstitutional.
In 2012, a federal judge in St. Louis ruled Missouri's law was unconstitutional. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to the 8th Circuit.
   
 

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

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