Health Buzz: Study Finds Ginkgo No Help in Protecting Aging Brain

Realistic resolutions for 2010; the year's top medical headlines

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Ginkgo No Help in Protecting Aging Brain, Study Says

A new study finds that taking the herbal supplement ginkgo biloba to prevent mental decline may be for naught, HealthDay reports. Researchers examined data collected over six years from 3,069 healthy participants between the ages of 72 and 96. Half the participants took 120 milligrams of ginkgo twice a day; the other half took a placebo. "We didn't see any effect of the drug on slowing down or delaying normal age-related changes of cognition," lead researcher Steven DeKosky told HealthDay. His team also found no evidence that ginkgo has any harmful side effects.

[Read Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly and Scientists Are Changing the Definition of 'Old Age'.] [Slide Show: How 5 Longevity Researchers Stave Off Aging.]

10 New Year's Resolutions That Can Improve Your Health in 2010

As we enter 2010, plenty of people are (once again) pledging to get fit, run a marathon, or lose 50 pounds. Those are all admirable goals. But aiming somewhat lower, at a closer and more specific target, may be the best way to get where you want to go, U.S. News's January Payne writes. She offers 10 more-achievable New Year's resolutions that could really improve your health in 2010.

Resolving to sleep well, for example, may help prevent weight gain in the coming years. Researchers have shown that obesity seems to be tied to sleeping less than seven hours per night and that insomnia is linked to a decreased quality of life nearly to the same extent that such chronic health problems as depression and congestive heart failure are.

Stress can also have a negative effect on the body, leading to headaches, back pain, chest pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, decreased immunity, and sleep problems, Payne writes. So as 2010 begins, it's a good time to incorporate stress relievers into your life. One choice can build strength and flexibility, too: yoga. The discipline, which involves controlled breathing and assuming a series of postures, can help you relax, research suggests. A study published in October found that a 16-week yoga program was effective in decreasing stress and improving well-being in medical students. A study published in May found that pregnant women who took part in a seven-week yoga program saw reduced stress levels, anxiety, and pain. You don't have to attempt every pose your instructor suggests, according to advice from the Mayo Clinic, and should stop if a position is too uncomfortable. Read more.

[Read 9 Safe Ways to Help Cure Insomnia and A New Year's Resolution From Susan Love and Alice Domar: Live a Little.]

HealthDay's Biggest Medical News in '09

Editors at HealthDay have rounded up the biggest health headlines in 2009. Their list includes healthcare reform and swine flu, of course, but also some stories that may have lately fallen from your radar. Still caught up in the controversy over mammograms, for example, you may have forgotten President Obama's move in March to lift a federal ban that limited embryonic stem cell research and his decision over the summer to grant the Food and Drug Administration power to regulate tobacco products. Read more.

[Read What We Know About How to Quit Smoking and Embryonic Stem Cells—and Other Stem Cells—Promise to Advance Treatments.]

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