Health Buzz: Speaking Two Languages May Delay Dementia

How HIV-positive Paige Rawl overcame bullying; how to enjoy the holidays without weight gain

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Study: Bilingual People May Develop Dementia Years After Those Who Speak One Language

New research shows you may want to dust off that French textbook. Speaking a second language delays the onset of dementia, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology. Researchers analyzed 648 people from India who were diagnosed with dementia and had an average age of 66. They found that the people who spoke two languages developed dementia about four and a half years later than folks who spoke just one language, even if the bilingual participants could not read. Specifically, Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia were delayed, according to an American Academy of Neurology press release. "Our study is the first to report an advantage of speaking two languages in people who are unable to read, suggesting that a person's level of education is not a sufficient explanation for this difference," said study author Suvarna Alladi, with Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India in the press release. "Speaking more than one language is thought to lead to better development of the areas of the brain that handle executive functions and attention tasks, which may help protect from the onset of dementia."

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  • How HIV-Positive Paige Rawl Overcame Bullying

    When Paige Rawl was in sixth grade, she told her best friend that she was HIV-positive. As tends to happen in middle school, Rawl's confidante told her older sister, and within days, the entire school knew. "I kind of thought I was telling her I had asthma, or something like that," says Rawl, now 19 and a freshman at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. "I didn't understand what the big deal was. So when people started treating me differently because of my status, that's when I realized: I have something people might not always accept me for."

    Rawl was born with HIV – she contracted the disease from her mother, Sandy, at birth, though Sandy didn't yet know they had the virus. When she was 2 years old, her parents divorced, and shortly after, Sandy Rawl learned she had HIV. On her third birthday, Paige was diagnosed, too, though Sandy kept the diagnosis from her for years. Rawl's father died of complications from AIDS in 2001; his family never knew how or when he became infected. Her mother is still alive.

    Fast forward to Rawl's middle school years in Indianapolis. When her classmates discovered her status, they gave her a new nickname: Paids. They put signs on her locker that said "No AIDS at this school." "My soccer coach joked that we could use it to our advantage – the players on the other team would be afraid to touch me, and I could score a goal," Rawl recalls. The school counselor's only advice was to deny having HIV. Perhaps it's unsurprising, then, that Rawl began suffering stress-induced seizures, landing in the hospital a half dozen times during seventh grade. [Read more: How HIV-Positive Paige Rawl Overcame Bullying]

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    • How to Enjoy the Holidays Without Weight Gain

      Believe it or not, it's that time again. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and then the holiday festivities continue until the new year. Each year, I remind people that a holiday is just a day not a period of six weeks, but this message always seems to fall on deaf ears. For some reason, my patients still come to my office during and after the holiday season complaining of weight gain with the same excuses I've heard before. However, being the optimistic person I am, I'm going to believe that this year will be different. My message will finally click with my patients; there will be no unwanted weight gain; and they will begin 2014 feeling really good about themselves.

      Below are 14 tips that can make this possible:

      1. Stick to a regular eating routine. Don't skip meals, even if there's a big event at the end of the day. Saving calories for later is basically saying that you will overeat later.