Exercise May Slow Alzheimer’s

July 25, 2008

     Getting a lot of exercise may help slow brain shrinkage in people with early Alzheimer's disease a preliminary study suggests. Analysis found that participants who were more physically fit had less brain shrinkage than their less-fit peers. However, they didn't do significantly better on tests for mental performance (note that this may change in the future because the participants were evaluated only once rather than repeatedly over time).
     While brains shrink with normal aging, the rate is doubled in people with Alzheimer's.  Dr. Burns, who directs the Alzheimer and Memory Program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, reports the work in Tuesday's issue of the journal Neurology.

Tobacco companies using menthol to trap young smokers

     Tobacco companies manipulate the amount of menthol in cigarettes to make those first few puffs more palatable to young smokers, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday in a finding that could fuel support for more tobacco regulation. "Menthol stimulates the cooling receptors in the lung and oral pharynx," said Dr. Gregory Connolly of the Harvard School of Public Health. "It makes smoking easier."
     According to the study, in 1987 R.J. Reynolds identified low menthol varieties as a new strategy to recruit new, young smokers. "First-time smoker reaction is generally negative," it said in a company document. "Initial negatives can be alleviated with a low level of menthol." Dr. Connolly said it was clear to him that tobacco companies "are using an ingredient here to make nicotine addiction easier."

     Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people each year. According to the American Lung Association, each day 4,000 children under 18 smoke their first cigarette and almost 1,100 of them will become regular smokers. The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.