(CNN) Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.
(CNN) Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.
A 73-year-old man in the early stages of dementia was killed by a Bakersfield police officer after a neighbor called 911 and erroneously reported the man was carrying a revolver, authorities said Tuesday.
The officer fired seven rounds toward Francisco Serna, who died just feet from his home.
But when police searched Serna for a gun, they found only a dark, faux wood crucifix.
“My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life,” Serna’s son, Rogelio Serna, said. “He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets.”
The shooting early Monday has sparked anger and grief in the San Joaquin Valley and drawn questions about how police respond to the elderly and people with disabilities. It prompted Bakersfield’s newly named police chief, Lyle Martin, to address the criticism and reveal details about the incident.
“I cannot tell you enough that this community is affected by Mr. Serna losing his life,” Martin said. “This is a tragic incident.”
About 12:30 a.m., a woman arrived at her home in the 7900 block of Silver Birch Avenue, the same block as Serna’s home, and began removing items from a vehicle, Martin said. When Serna approached her, he was acting bizarrely and had one hand in his pocket, according to Martin. Police said she saw a black- or brown-handled object that she believed was a firearm.
The woman ran inside her home and told her husband to call police. The husband told a 911 dispatcher that a man outside had a revolver and had brandished the weapon.
Two police officers responded just after 12:40 a.m. As officers and the couple stood outside, the woman spotted Serna exiting his home across the street.
Martin said she pointed toward Serna, saying, “That’s him.”
The couple rushed inside their home and closed their doors. The officers took cover.
Serna kept both hands in his jacket and continued walking toward police, who ordered him to stop and show his hands. Serna ignored the officers’ commands, police said.
When Serna was about 20 feet away, after ignoring commands to stop, Officer Reagan Selman fired seven rounds at Serna, Martin said.
Serna was struck and fell in the driveway. He was pronounced dead, just across the street from his home.
Officials said that about 30 seconds had elapsed between the woman identifying Serna and the officer opening fire. By then, five more officers had responded and saw the shooting. None of the other officers fired any rounds, Martin said.
It was Selman’s first police shooting since joining the force in July 2015. He and the six other officers were placed on routine administrative leave.
The incident comes at a pivotal time for the Bakersfield Police Department, which was jolted by scandal when two detectives pleaded guilty this year to federal drug and corruption charges.
Martin, a 28-year department veteran, was tapped in December to become the new police chief and was scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday. He said his willingness to discuss a disputed police shooting so soon after the incident was a show of transparency.
“This is what the public can expect from their police chief. I’ll give you the facts as I know them,” Martin said. “When things are bad, I’ll be out front. When things are good, my employees will be out front.”
The shooting drew wide condemnation from Serna’s family and activists. The family scheduled a vigil late Tuesday where Serna was killed.
Rogelio Serna said his father had shown signs of dementia since 2015 and occasionally experienced delusions. His symptoms seemed more pronounced in the last month, his son said.
The elder Serna had worked at a cotton gin in McFarland, Calif., for years and retired in the early to mid-2000s, his son said. Rogelio Serna said his parents moved to Bakersfield about eight years ago, leaving the town of Wasco so they could be closer to their children. He lived with his wife and one of his daughters.
Bakersfield police had visited Francisco Serna’s home at least two times before because his father would become confused and activate a medical alarm, Rogelio Serna said.
A police spokesman confirmed officers had visited Francisco Serna’s home, but he could not provide any details.
About eight hours before the shooting, police said, there was a separate incident involving Serna in which a neighbor also believed the man may have been armed, Martin said.
Serna had reportedly banged on doors and windows and attempted to drag the neighbor outside for a fight. The neighbor said Serna also kept a hand in his pocket and acted as though he had a gun, police said. The neighbor did not report it to police.
Police officials said officers were trained to respond to a variety of situations, including a man in the early stages of dementia.
The Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for those with disabilities, said the shooting indicated police were ill-prepared.
“These tragedies are unnecessary and preventable,” said Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president.
A popular class of heartburn medications might raise a senior’s risk of dementia, a new study suggests.
Called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), this group of drugs includes Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid. They work by lowering the amount of acid produced by the stomach.
But German researchers found that people 75 or older who regularly take the medications had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia, compared with seniors not using the drugs. The study only found an association, however, and not a cause-and-effect link.
“To evaluate cause-and-effect relationships between long-term PPI use and possible effects on cognition in the elderly, randomized, prospective clinical trials are needed,” said corresponding author Britta Haenisch, from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn.
In the meantime, “Clinicians should follow guidelines for PPI prescription, to avoid overprescribing PPIs and inappropriate use,” Haenisch said.
The report was published Feb. 15 in the journal JAMA Neurology.
The results are surprising enough that at least one leading expert on aging, Dr. Malaz Boustani, plans to share the findings with older patients who are using PPIs.
Boustani said earlier studies have linked another type of antacid, H2 blockers, with an increased risk of dementia. Up to now, he’s recommended that patients use PPIs to treat acid reflux and steer clear of H2 blockers like Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac.
“I’m going to disclose the finding to my patients and then let them decide whether they will take the risk or not,” said Boustani, a professor of medicine with the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and a spokesman for the American Federation for Aging Research. “On Monday I have clinic, and if I have patients taking a PPI or an H2 blocker I will tell them exactly what I’m telling you, and then they can decide.”
More than 15 million Americans used prescription PPIs in 2013, at a total cost of more than $10 billion, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Several popular PPIs — Prilosec, Prevacid and Zegerid — also are available over-the counter, further boosting their use.
Concern has been increasing that Americans might be overusing PPIs to treat minor cases of heartburn or acid reflux.
As many as 70 percent of PPI prescriptions in the United States have been inappropriately handed out by doctors, and 25 percent of long-term users could stop taking the medication without suffering increased heartburn or acid reflux, according to a study published in January in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Overuse of PPIs could have drastic effects on health, that study found. For example, the medications have been linked to a 20 percent to 50 percent higherrisk of chronic kidney disease.
And now the German researchers report there also is some evidence that PPI use might affect a person’s ability to reason.
PPIs appear to effect levels of amyloid beta and tau, which are proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, the German authors said. PPI use can also lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which has been associated with cognitive decline.
To test the possible association between PPIs and dementia, the German researchers collected data from a large German health insurance firm on almost 74,000 seniors aged 75 or older. The data ran from 2004 to 2011, and included diagnoses and drug prescriptions.
About 2,950 patients regularly used PPIs, which for this study was defined as at least one PPI prescription in each quarter of an 18-month interval.
Regular users of PPIs had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those not receiving PPI medications.
However, the study doesn’t make clear whether PPIs are also available over the counter in Germany, as they are in the United States, said Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
If over-the-counter PPIs are available, then more people might have been taking them and the dementia risk described in this paper could be overestimated, Swaminath said.
“However, I think the point here is that for some patients, weaning off PPIs is reasonable and they should make this decision with their doctors,” he said.
People who want to ease off PPIs can take a number of steps to reduce excess acid or prevent acid reflux, Boustani said. They can eat smaller meals, lay off chocolate and caffeine, and stay upright for a few hours following each meal.
Boustani added that his group has received federal funding to design clinical trials in which people would be weaned off PPIs, to see how it affects their ability to remember and think.
Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein, director of geriatric education at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., added that even the researchers aren’t sure why PPIs would affect the aging brain.
“We don’t know what is causing the brain to deteriorate. Until we know this, there’s no reason for people who are taking PPIs to be too concerned about that and stop taking those agents if they are needed,” Wolf-Klein said.
Another expert agreed.
While the study is intriguing, it’s not enough for doctors to warn patients off PPI use, said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“It does not tell us anything that should change medical practice right now,” Fargo said. “I don’t think there’s going to be an uprising among doctors telling patients not to take their PPIs. This doesn’t rise anywhere near the level of evidence you would need for that.”
One of the paper’s main flaws is that researchers could not control for diet and body weight as risk factors, Fargo said.
“Both of those things, we know, are risk factors for developing cognitive decline and dementia in later life, and both of those are reasons why a person might need to take a proton pump inhibitor,” Fargo explained.
The risk of developing dementia is decreasing for people with at least a high school education, according to an important new study that suggests that changes in lifestyle and improvements in physical health can help prevent or delay cognitive decline.
The study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, provides the strongest evidence to date that a more educated population and better cardiovascular health are contributing to a decline in new dementia cases over time, or at least helping more people stave off dementia for longer.
The findings have implications for health policy and research funding, and they suggest that the long-term cost of dementia care may not be as devastatingly expensive as policy makers had predicted, because more people will be able to live independently longer.
There are wild cards that could dampen some of the optimism. The study participants were largely white and suburban, so results may not apply to all races and ethnicities. Still, a recent study showed a similar trend among African-Americans in Indianapolis, finding that new cases of dementia declined from 1992 to 2001. The 2001 participants had more education, and although they had more cardiovascular problems than the 1992 participants, those problems were receiving more medical treatment.
Another question mark is whether obesity and diabetes, which increase dementia risk, will cause a surge in dementia cases when the large number of overweight or diabetic 40- and 50-year-olds become old enough to develop dementia.
In any event, in the next few decades, the actual number of dementia patients will increase because baby boomers are aging and living longer.
“You don’t want to give the impression that the Alzheimer’s or dementia problem is disappearing — it’s not at all,” said Dallas Anderson, a program director on dementia at the National Institute on Aging, one of two agencies that financed the study. “The numbers are still going up because of the aging population.”
Still, he added, the new research shows that “what happens in a person’s life becomes important.”
“It’s not just, ‘Oh, it’s in your genes. You’re going to get it,’” he said. “You can take steps to postpone the disease.”
The decline reported in the new study was strongest in vascular dementia, which is most directly linked to cardiovascular problems. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, also declined, but the trend narrowly missed what researchers consider statistically significant.
Still, Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, an advocacy group, said “this tells me there absolutely is hope for Alzheimer’s” if a push for healthier lifestyles accompanies efforts to find dementia treatments.
Dementia experts and advocacy groups have long predicted that the number of Americans with dementia, now about five million, would triple by 2050. But a burst of fresh research in Europe, Canada and the United States has pointed to decreases in recent decades in more educated populations with better-controlled cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart and lung health.
“There’s more studies suggesting that the risk is going down and we might have to rethink some of the projections of how big a problem dementia will be 30 years from now,” said Dr. Kenneth Langa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. On Saturday, he will present at an international conference preliminary results from another large study, which found that the prevalence of dementia in a more nationally diverse population declined by about 21 percent from 2000 to 2010.
Results like this suggest, he said, “that even without a big breakthrough in medication or a vaccine that would stop the Alzheimer’s process, that we can do things that lower the risk of dementia long-term.”
The New England Journal research is considered especially strong because it looked at the emergence of new cases of dementia, or incidence, and is based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, a large collection of detailed health information that began in 1948 with participants from Framingham, Mass., and has continued to follow them and their children and grandchildren.
Researchers evaluated the cognitive status of 5,025 people age 60 and older in four time periods beginning in 1977, and found a steady decline of about 20 percent in new dementia cases each decade. They also found that on average, people were older when they were found to have dementia: 80 years old in the 1970s, compared with 85 in the group evaluated 40 years later.
Significantly, the decline in new dementia cases, or incidence, occurred only with people who had at least a high school diploma. High school graduates were also the only ones whose cardiovascular health, except for obesity and diabetes, improved steadily over the same 40 years.
“Whether education is beneficial in itself or whether education is a marker for other things like poverty and unhealthy lifestyle, we didn’t parse that out,” said Dr. Sudha Seshadri, a neurologist at Boston University Medical Center and a senior investigator with the Framingham Heart Study.
Dr. Seshadri said the study did not yield strong evidence that college-educated people had even lower dementia risk, but with small numbers of college graduates in the study’s early groups, it was hard to tell. The study led by Dr. Langa, which compared a nationally representative survey of about 10,000 Americans age 65 and over in 2000 to a similar group in 2010, found more college correlated with less dementia.
“We find the more education the better,” said Dr. Langa, whose study indicated that people in 2010 averaged almost a year more education than those in 2000, and that education explained about one-half the decline in dementia in that decade.
There are many theories about why education may help stave off dementia, including that it leads to better economic opportunity, which can propel healthier habits and better access to medical care. Another theory is that learning generates more neural connections, allowing brains to compensate longer when memory and cognitive functions falter.
“ That’s a major puzzle, what is the causal effect of education on dementia and cognitive function later in life,” said Michael D. Hurd, the director of the RAND Center for the Study of Aging.
Dr. Hurd, who led a study in 2013 estimating that the cost of dementia care would more than double by 2040, said it was too early to say if that estimate should now be lower. Some people will be living longer with dementia, needing, say, 10 years of nursing home care, instead of three, he said, adding that “Framingham is not the U.S. population.”
Indeed, another study published Wednesday found significant racial disparities, with African-Americans the most likely group to develop dementia, Asian-Americans the least likely, and whites and Latinos somewhere in between.
Not all of the Framingham results could be explained by education or cardiovascular health, Dr. Seshadri said, a reflection of the complexity of dementia.
Marie and Joe Porcello, study participants, are 86-year-old high school graduates with no significant cardiovascular problems or family history of dementia. But Mr. Porcello remains healthy, while his wife, a retired secretary, developed dementia about 10 years ago and is in an assisted-living facility.
“I took care of her as long as I can, and then she fell one day when she was getting out of the bathtub,” Mr. Porcello said. He said his wife usually recognized him, but “the other day when I went up there, she said, ‘Who are you?’ and I said ‘I’m your husband.’ Then right away she knew who I was and she puckered up like she wanted to give me a kiss.”
Mr. Porcello, a retired phone company foreman, did attend night school for postsecondary algebra classes, but “in my lifetime, you didn’t really have to go to college,” he said.
“Today, everybody has to go to college, or you end up pushing carts in supermarkets.”
Their daughter Cynthia Johnson, 54, who received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and worked as a software engineer, belongs to a generation that researchers would now predict to have less dementia.
But David Jones, a professor of the culture of medicine at Harvard, said history showed disease trends were rarely straightforward. Dementia, he said in an email, “won’t be as bad as it would have been had incidence not begun to fall, but it will still be a very difficult problem.”
(NaturalNews) Dementia and other neurological brain diseases are striking people younger and younger, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Bournemouth University in England and published in the journal Surgical Neurology International. These diseases have reached levels that are “almost epidemic,” the researchers said, and they reached them so quickly that environmental factors must be largely to blame.
“The rate of increase in such a short time suggests a silent or even a ‘hidden’ epidemic, in which environmental factors must play a major part, not just ageing,” lead researcher Colin Pritchard said. “Modern living produces multi-interactional environmental pollution but the changes in human morbidity, including neurological disease is remarkable and points to environmental influences.”
The researchers compared the rates of neurological brain diseases in 21 Western countries from 1989 to 2010. They found that as of 2010, the average rate of onset for dementia was 10 years earlier than it was in 1989. In addition, deaths from neurological disease had increased significantly in people aged 55 to 74 and had nearly doubled in people aged 75 and older.
These changes were seen in all 21 countries, but the United States fared the worst by far. In the United States, neurological deaths in men older than 74 tripled from 1989 to 2010, and they increased nearly fivefold in women of the same age. More elderly U.S. women are now dying from brain diseases than from cancer for the first time in recorded history.
The researchers’ analysis showed that the findings could not simply be explained by improved treatment of other diseases.
“Crucially it is not just because people are living longer to get diseases they previously would not have lived long enough to develop but older people are developing neurological disease more than ever before,” Pritchard said.
Instead, a large part of the cause must be environmental changes that have taken place over the past two decades.
“The environmental changes in the last 20 years have seen increases in the human environment of petro-chemicals – air transport- quadrupling of motor vehicles, insecticides and rises in background electro-magnetic-field, and so on.
“These results will not be welcome news as there are many with short-term vested interests that will want to ignore them,” he said.
Could mercury exposure from vaccines play a role in the rising rates of early onset dementia? Until 2001, mercury-containing thimerosal was used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines. Even today, the substance is still used in adult vaccines as well as in flu shots given to children and adults.
In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010, researchers reviewed 100 prior experimental and clinical studies looking at the effects of mercury on cells, animals and humans. They found that long-term mercury exposure produced many of the same changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease, including confusion and impairments to memory and cognitive function.
“Mercury is clearly contributing to neurological problems, whose rate is increasing in parallel with rising levels of mercury,” researcher Richard Deth said. “It seems that the two are tied together.”
Aluminum, another common vaccine ingredient, has also been linked to dementia. For example, a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people with the highest aluminum content in their drinking water also had the highest risk of dementia. Clinical studies have also directly linked aluminum to brain damage.
Both aluminum and mercury are also widely found in the environment due to contamination from other sources. Coal-burning power plants are the world’s foremost source of mercury pollution and a major contributor to mercury contamination of fish. Dental fillings are also a major source of human mercury exposure.
One in every three American adults from 65 to 75 has hearing loss to some extent whereas individuals older than them frequency increases to one in every two people, according to Mayo Clinic.
New study says that hearing less or loss goes under-treated regardless of the evidence that says latest generation of hearing aids may assist in lessening depression and anxiety while it improving mental function.
David Myers, a psychology professor at Hope College in Michigan, stated that, “Anger, frustration, depression and anxiety are all common among people who find themselves hard of hearing. Getting people to use the latest in hearing aid technology can help them regain control of their life and achieve emotional stability and even better cognitive functioning.”
Scientists say that heredity and chronic exposure to loud music are the major factors that contribute to hearing loss and while people commonly are fearful of excessive earwax, it might contribute to their hearing loss and it usually does that temporarily.
A study in 2011 investigated the hearing loss and its relationship to dementia and found that the risk of all-cause dementia heightened with hearing loss severity as social isolation has already been associated with dementia and other cognitive disorders in the past.
Researchers wrote, “Whether hearing loss is a marker for early stage dementia or is actually a modifiable risk factor for dementia deserves further study.”
Previous research also indicated that people with hearing loss who didn’t use hearing aids had been 50% more likely to suffer from sadness and depression compared to the ones who did use them. It was found that hearing aid wearers were more like to participate in social activities and only 20% of the people who might benefit from the treatment actually seek help. People wait an average of 10 years following diagnosis before they start getting hearing aids.
Myers said that lack of awareness about what they are missing in also causing the delays. The newest generation hearing aids, some of which work with the smartphone and hearing loop technology could be of great assistance to the ones who wear hearing loss or become more social and involved.
Loop technology acts like Wi-Fi for hearing aids by transmitting sound signals directly into an aid (or cochlear implant), where it is received by a device called a telecoil. At present, the Hearing Loss Association of America is promoting the hearing loop system to the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Supreme Court.
“Many hard of hearing people battle silently with their invisible hearing difficulties, straining to stay connected to the world around them, reluctant to seek help,” said Myers.
In previous studies, researchers have found that women are more apt to be diagnosed with one type of dementia. However, until now, most experts suspected it was partially due to women living longer than men. However, researchers in this just published study said that women suffer mental decline at a rate that is twice as fast as men. The memory function of women, attention span and abilities of problem solving all deteriorate faster, which suggests that gender might have an impact on how brains age.
According to the new research, women diagnosed with MCI or mild cognitive impairment commonly dementia’s first signs, display a mental ability decline that is twice as quick as men.
A Duke University research team tracked 400 participants who were all between 70 and 79 years of age. They were tracked for eight years after being diagnosed with MCI. That diagnosis is usually due to lapses of concentration and memory.
Though they were not able to determine why the decline in women is much quicker, researchers said that the finding suggests males and females at a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s might have two different experiences.
Another separate study was published that suggested women have levels of the protein amyloid that is higher than levels men have in their brains. Amyloid clumps in areas of the brain and it is thought to be a very key contributor to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Another study determined that women were at more of a risk than were men of long-term functional and cognitive problems following surgery.
Over 800,000 people across Britain suffer from dementia, with 61% of the total being women.
Doctors said that women are affected disproportionately by Alzheimer’s and there is an urgency to understand the differences in disease progression, biological characteristic and brain structure that contribute to the higher prevalence and cognitive decline in women.