Taking NSAIDs May Not Slow Mental Decline in Older People
Taking the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines Celebrex and naproxen does not appear to slow mental decline in people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease, a new study reports. With some experts believing that inflammatory processes play a role in mental decline, there was hope these medicines could help ward it off cognitive decline. The study is scheduled to be published in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology.
The 2,117 study participants were assigned to take naproxen, Celebrex, or a placebo twice daily, and their cognitive function was tested annually. All were over age 70 and had a family history of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers said that future studies should also include younger adults to see if the medications offer a protective effect not seen at an older age.
A previous study of another NSAID type found that those who take ibuprofen on a regular basis for five years may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as they age. U.S. News explains how to reduce your risk for dementia by shedding excess belly fat, and describes the difference between Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.
Court Hears Continued Debate on Autism-Vaccine Link
Government lawyers argued yesterday that parents who claim that childhood vaccines caused autism in their children shouldn't be rewarded by the courts because the scientific community has already rejected a link between the two, the Associated Press reports. Nearly 4,900 families have filed claims so far, saying that vaccinations caused autism or other types of neurological problems in their children. All major studies and scientific organizations that have looked into the vaccine-autism link have failed to find a connection, but parents and advocates continue to pursue the issue, according to the New York Times.
At issue yesterday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims was whether vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal caused autism. The preservative is no longer a part of most standard childhood vaccines, except for flu vaccines not packaged in single doses.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims provides background on the trial. U.S. News's Nancy Shute reported on evidence dismissing the link between vaccines and autism in January. And Health Editor Bernadine Healy recently looked into the autism-vaccine link.
Medicines Alone Don't Cut Risk of Heart Disease
Taking statins and blood pressure medications alone doesn't prevent heart disease in overweight and obese baby boomers, a new study reports. It's that's essential. "My ultimate worry is that we've seen a 50-year decline in cardiovascular disease mortality, but if you begin to look at recent trends, it's beginning to plateau," Gregory L. Burke, study author and director of the division of public health sciences at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, told HealthDay. "And my fear is that because of the increase in obesity we're going to begin to see a reversal of that trend where heart disease rates begin to go up."
The findings show that many obese people were being treated with medications, yet their risk of heart disease was not affected. The results underscore the importance of food, exercise, and lifestyle changes to accomplish a healthier weight.
Particulate Air Pollution Damages Veins, Too
A study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that even modest increases in exposure to particulate air pollution significantly increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis, which are dangerous blood clots in the veins of the legs. The researchers found, for example, that each 10-micrometer-per-cubic-meter increase in particulates—approximately the difference between Pittsburgh and cleaner Anchorage—is associated with a 70 percent increase in risk. "That's a surprisingly high figure," says Joel Schwartz, the senior author of the study and a Harvard University environmental epidemiologist. However, he noted that additional studies are needed to confirm the finding.
There's only so much that an individual person can do to cut his exposure to particulate matter, but people can take certain steps. The most important, experts say, is to avoid exercising outdoors during high-pollution days and near major roadways. Roadways are major sources of fine and ultrafine particulate pollution, which scientists are beginning to recognize as particularly dangerous.
—January W. Payne