linked to higher risk of dementia
People with Type 2 diabetes may be at increased risk for developing dementia as they age, several studies have suggested. Now researchers say the higher odds may be linked to life-threatening drops in blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, usually caused by excess insulin. A long-term study of thousands of older patients with Type 2 diabetes in Northern California found that those who had experienced even one episode of hypoglycemia serious enough to send them to a hospital were at higher risk for developing dementia than diabetic patients who had not had such an episode. With each additional episode, the risk of dementia increased. The findings, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are significant given high rates of Type 2 diabetes, and the expectation that dementia rates will increase as the population ages. "This adds to the evidence that balance of glycemic control is important, and that trying to aim for a very low glycemic target might not be beneficial and might even be harmful," said Rachel A. Whitmer of the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente, one of the authors.
Epilepsy drug tied to lower IQs
Toddlers of moms who took the epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy had lower IQs than the children of women who used other antiseizure medicines, according to a new study. The valproate children had IQ scores six to nine points lower by age 3, said the study's lead author, Dr. Kimford Meador of Emory University. The drug, also sold in the U.S. under the brand name Depakote, had previously been linked to birth defects, particularly spina bifida. Women of childbearing age have long been advised to avoid it. The new study is the largest to show a connection between valproate and diminished IQ. Its publication in the New England Journal of Medicine should alert physicians who until now have ignored the drug's potential dangers to fetuses, said Dr. Lewis Holmes, director of the North American Antiepileptic Disease Pregnancy Registry.
Update on major health topics
The question: Might physically fit women be less likely to die from breast cancer?
This study involved 14,811 women who averaged 43 years old and had no history of breast cancer at the start of the study. Fitness was determined by treadmill testing. In the next 16 years, 68 women died from the disease. The least fit were three times as likely to have died of breast cancer as the most fit women.
Caveats: Nearly all women in the study were white. Any changes in fitness status over the course of the study were not considered.
Find it: April issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Learn more about breast cancer at www.cancer.gov and www.cancer.org.
New York Times, Washington Post