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Health briefs: Study finds men lose cognitive abilities sooner than women

Study: Men lose cognitive skills before women

Men develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor to Alzheimer's disease, earlier and at higher rates than women, according to a new study of almost 2,000 people in their 70s and 80s. The difference is surprising, since dementia and Alzheimer's are thought to affect more women than men, said the paper's lead author, Dr. Ronald C. Petersen, director of the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. People with mild cognitive impairment have forgetfulness beyond what occurs in normal aging. The study of 70- to 89-year-old residents of Olmsted County, Minn., found 19 percent of the men had mild cognitive impairment, compared with 14 percent of the women. (The percentages do not include those with full-blown dementia, which afflicts roughly 10 percent in this age group.) The study was published in the journal Neurology. Others found to be at higher risk included the never-married, those with less than nine years of schooling and carriers of the ApoE4 gene, a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's.

High-powered pointer problems

High-powered handheld laser pointers sold over the Internet can cause serious eye injuries, several physicians warn in a letter in The New England Journal of Medicine. In a recent case, they said, a 15-year-old boy played with a high-powered pointer in front of a mirror, causing the beam to hit his eyes. Dr. Martin K. Schmid, a physician at Lucerne Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland, said laser pointers sold to the public used to have a maximum power output of 5 milliwatts, but the one that injured the child had an output of 150 milliwatts. Even low-powered lasers, however, should never be pointed at the eyes.

Sex ed without birth control talk

Almost all U.S. teens have had formal sex education, but only about two-thirds have been taught about birth control methods, according to a new government report released Wednesday. Many teens apparently are not absorbing those lessons — after years of steady decline, the teen birth rate rose from 2005 to 2007, then dipped in 2008, to about 10 percent of all births. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based on face-to-face interviews with nearly 2,800 teenagers, in which teens said lessons about saying no to sex and preventing sexually transmitted diseases were more common than instruction on birth control. The study also found that younger teen girls were more likely than boys to have talked to their parents about sex, abstinence and birth control.

Back surgery, yet still in pain

The St. Petersburg Times is seeking people who have had back surgery for chronic pain but haven't seen improvement. Please contact health reporter Richard Martin at (727) 893-8330 or

Times wires, staff

Health briefs: Study finds men lose cognitive abilities sooner than women 09/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 4:25pm]
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