Surgery Requiring General Anesthesia Causes Dramatic Mental Decline in the Elderly

October 28, 2004

A Duke University anesthesiologist studied 354 elderly patients approximately 70 years of age who were scheduled for surgery requiring general anesthesia. Most of the surgeries were for knee or hip replacement. The patients mental function was noted repeatedly throughout the study. The parameters of mental function tested were verbal learning, memory, concentraton, mental speed, and attention span among other mental processes. The surgery and general anesthesia caused an abrupt and long-lasting mental decline in many of the patients. This abrupt mental decline can lead to admission to a nursing home or even death. At hospital discharge 59% of the patients were mentally impaired. At 3 months after surgery 34% were sill mentally impaired. At two years post surgery 42% were impaired with all of the impaired patients at 3 months remaining impaired. The reseachers commented that giving medication to prevent inflammation before surgery may protect from mental decline along with optimal pain and infection treatment after surgery. They also state to use regional anesthesia rather than general if possible. The study was presented at the October 23rd to 27th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Las Vegas.

Quercetin Protects Us from Cardiovascular Disease

When Quercetin, an important dietary flavonoid-polyphenol, is absorbed from the intestines it is changed into various metabolites. One of these, a major metabolite known as Quercetin-3-Glucuronide has a strong ability to stabilize LDL-cholesterol, even at very low levels of the metabolite). It slows the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol by four fold. The study is published in the August 2004 issue of the journal Free Radical Research.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Quercetin is found in green tea, in apple skins, and in red wine. LDL-cholesterol goes bad easily and reacts with the blood vessel walls greatly contributing to cardiovascular disease. By slowing the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, Quercetin can help slow or prevent cardiovascular disease.

Hormone Levels Drop in Aging Men

In aging men levels of DHEA, DHEA-sulfate, Melatonin, Growth hormone, and IGF-1 all decrease. Estrogen levels however remain the same. The study is published in the September 2004 edition of the journal Urologe A.

New Hypothesis - Low Androgen Levels Allow the Growth of Dangerous Prostate Cancer

Androgen (male hormone) replacement therapy in aging men improves health and quality of life. There has been a question about a possible increased risk of prostate cancer with androgen replacement therapy not based n any existing evidence. However, recent experimemental data shows that androgen may act to prevent prostate cancer. Several studies of the effects of testosterone on prostate epithelial tissue shows that testosterone helps prostate cells differentiate normally (turn into normal-healthy prostate cells) - an important step in decreasing the risk of cancer, and also testosterone does not affect cell proliferation (the creation of new cells - a step associated with increased risk of cancer under certain circumstance). Moreover, clinical studies have shown that low levels of free testosterone is associated with aggressive prostate cancer. The suggestion by these data is that when the androgen pathway is disrupted by low levels of male hormone the cells of the prostate loose control and this allows increased risk of prostate cancer. When prostate cancer cannot be affected by androgens, an androgen independent prostate cancer, it is very hard to treat, it is more aggressive and is most often fatal. The new school of thought is that when male hormone levels drop with age and the man becomes deficient in these hormones the risk of developing dangerous prostate cancer increases. The question is raised as to whether normal replacement therapy with male hormone could prevent the onset of prostate cancer. A recent study is encouraging, elderly rats given DHEA were protected from prostate cancer. The study is published in the September 2004 issue of the journal European Urology.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

There is growing evidence that the culprit in the onset of prostate cancer is estrogen dysregulation. Note that we are talking about the risk of rpostate cancer in this study, and not prostate cancer treatment which is different.

Low Levels of Testosterone Tied to Poor Memory

Low levels of testosterone have been shown to trigger memory loss in older men. There are receptor sites in the brain for testosterone indicating the need for testosterone for normal mental function. Researchers tested 14 men undegoing testosterone deprevation therapy for prostate cancer and compared their mental function to 16 men with normal testosterone levels. The men with low testosterone could recognize and grasp new information, but they could not process it, store it as a memory, and retrieve it later. In short, they forgot information quicker than men with normal testosterone levels. The research was presented at the Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Otober 23rd to 27th, in San Diego.