Ciggies, booze, a cup of joe = and other news

by DavalosMcCormack on October 15, 2008

I’m too young to remember – honest I am – but there was a TV show in the 1950’s called “My Three Sons”. This latest issue of health news could paraphrase that as “My Three Sins” because it’s got something about three of the most popular sinful pleasures in America.
 First off, cigarettes. No surprise here but a new study says that men who never smoked not only live longer lives than men who do, they also live better lives.

The study is in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers in Finland followed more than 1,600 men for quarter of a century. All the men were born between 1919 and 1934 and were healthy at their first assessment. 

After a final follow-up in 2000 and crunching the numbers the researchers found that those who never smoked lived an average of ten years longer than those who smoked heavily (20 or more cigarettes a day).

Equally important is that the non-smokers also scored higher than smokers on all the health-related quality of life measures, such as being able to walk or exercise without discomfort, play with grandkids etc.

So, if you want to be able to pick up that grandkid, put down that ciggie.

Booze on the Brain
Now, as you know I have a fondness for my pint. Nothing too much you understand, but I find an occasional glass of beer is good for the digestion and even better for the soul.  

So it hurts me to have to tell you this, but, according to a study in the Archives of Neurology the more alcohol a person drinks the smaller his or her brain volume will be. 

The researchers studied the more than 1,800 people who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study. They underwent MRI exams and physical check-ups. 

They found that brain volume decreased with increased alcohol consumption. There was also an increase in white matter lesions. Both of these phenomena have been seen in people with dementia.
Now, I’m hoping that it just means people who like to drink in moderation are more efficient in packing the same amount of neurons and stuff into a smaller space, and the researchers did not actually examine whether that smaller brain volume impacted brain function. 

But I have to tell you, it doesn’t look good. To tell the truth, the findings could explain an awful lot about how my brain works!

Caffeine and Breast Cancer Risk
Finally some good news. Coffee is the most popular non-prescription drug in the world and according to a new study does not increase a person’s overall risk for breast cancer. 

The study, also in the latest Archives of Internal Medicine followed a pretty substantial number of women – almost 38,500 over the age of 45. They found that caffeine, either in coffee, tea, chocolate or any other form, was not linked to any statistically significant increase in the risk of breast cancer. 

However, caffeine consumption was associated with a slightly increased risk of problems for women with benign breast disease or who had tumors that are hormone-receptor negative, or larger than 2 centimeters. The researchers are not sure why that’s the case, but are hoping to find out in a follow-up study.

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