According to recent research from the University of Michigan, people who take statins have a lower risk of developing open-angle glaucoma. Statins are commonly prescribed to help lower cholesterol but have also been found to have protective effects in diseases affecting the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis. The study, which examined data on 524,109 patients, found that the longer a person used statins, the lower their risk of developing glaucoma became. In fact, after a year of using statins, the risk dropped by 4.0 percent. Two years of statin use was associated with an 8.0 percent decrease. More here.
A study aimed at determining how many years of life were gained based on the level of exercise an individual engaged in after the age of 40 has found that leisure-time physical activity is linked to life expectancy. The research, led by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health, looked at data on more than 650,000 adults over the age of 40 and found that people who got the recommended level of physical activity lived 3.4 years longer than those that didn’t and individuals who reported getting twice the recommended level of exercise increased their lifespan by 4.2 years. Generally, the more activity a person reported, the longer their life expectancy. More here.
Surprisingly, research has shown that poor health isn’t a reliable indicator of a person’s level of happiness. And now, a new study from George Mason University adds to the evidence that even people with life-threatening diseases often report being as happy as people in good health. The study, which surveyed 383 older adults, found that other than individuals who suffer from chronic conditions that interrupt their daily lives, people generally adapt to their health problems, regardless of the severity. Research Erik Angner, PhD, says his is the first study to measure the amount of disruption associated with different health conditions. More here.
Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax, are routinely prescribed to seniors for help with insomnia or anxiety. Now, a new study published in the BMJ, says that seniors who take benzodiazepines may be at increased risk for developing memory loss and difficulty thinking. According to the research, seniors who took these drugs were nearly 60 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. Still, the results cannot definitely prove that benzodiazepines cause declining brain function and the researchers say that seniors who use them as a short-term solution are probably not at risk. More here.
A new study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine aimed at measuring the amount of money Medicare beneficiaries spend on healthcare in the last five years of their life discovered a stunning amount of out-of-pocket expenses. The research analyzed data from 3,209 individuals and found that, though Medicare provides nearly universal coverage, a quarter of participants paid an average of $101,791 on healthcare costs and the average for all participants was $38,688 in the final five years of life. More than 75 percent of people in the study spent at least $10,000. The amount of money spent on healthcare costs varied based on the type of illness, with dementia costing more than twice the average amount paid by someone dying with cancer. More here.
The cholesterol contained in just one egg yolk is more than the recommended daily amount. So it’s no surprise that people who eat three or more egg yolks per week have significantly increased plaque levels in their arteries compared to people who eat two or fewer yolks. New research from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, compiled data on more than 1,200 men and women and found that eating egg yolks regularly caused plaque levels to rise at about two-thirds the rate seen in smokers. Dr. David Spence, professor of neurology and lead author of the study, said people at risk of vascular disease should not eat egg yolks. More here.
Partners of heart attack victims are more likely to suffer from depression than husbands and wives of people with other major health issues. New research from Denmark’s Gentofte University Hospital found that, among people whose partner died of a heart attack, three times as many were taking antidepressants in the year after compared to the year before the heart attack. Even among spouses of people who survived a heart attack, prescriptions for antidepressants rose by 17 percent. The researchers suspect that the suddenness of a heart attack may be a factor in the elevated risk of depression. Previous research revealed that heart attack survivors also commonly suffer from depression following the event. More here.
A study of nearly 6,000 men with prostate cancer found that those taking aspirin regularly as part of their treatment had a lower risk of death than those who didn’t take any type of anticoagulants. The study, authored by Dr. Kevin Choe of UT Southwestern Medical Center, suggests men who have received surgery or radiation as a treatment for prostate cancer may benefit from taking aspirin. Aspirin, along with other anticoagulation medication, has been shown to inhibit cancer growth and metastasis but there has previously been little clinical data on the topic. Dr. Choe said the results of the study suggest aspirin prevents growth of tumor cells, though there needs to be more research before recommending it to all prostate cancer patients. More here.
According to a study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, eating vegetables may help protect the pancreas and prevent acute pancreatitis. The research followed 80,000 adults for 11 years in order to examine the link between antioxidant levels and acute pancreatitis. Participants ate, on average, 2.5 servings of vegetables a day, but those who ate more than four servings were 44 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate less than one serving each day. Researchers found no link between eating fruit and a lowered risk of acute pancreatitis. The study’s authors theorized that the antioxidants gained through eating vegetables helped prevent the disease, whereas the natural sugars contained in fruit weakened the protective effect. More here.
SuperAgers are people over the age of 80 whose brain and memory functions as well as someone 20 to 30 years younger than them. And though there are not a lot of them, a new study attempts to determine what helps preserve and protect their brains from the deterioration associated with normal aging. The study, from Northwestern Medicine researcher Emily Rogalski, compared the brains of 12 SuperAgers, 10 normally aging elderly participants, and 14 middle-aged volunteers. According to her research, not only do the brains of SuperAgers function as well as a middle-aged brain, they also look younger as viewed through MRI scans. Rogalski said examining a really healthy older brain can help deduce how SuperAgers are able to maintain their good memory. Rather than studying what’s wrong with the brain, Rogalski says she hopes to discover strategies for improving quality of life by studying what’s goes right in healthy brains. More here.