ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
EYE CARE, VISION
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
FITNESS
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
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Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Eat right, exercise and hope that your genes don't predispose you to dementia.

That's the recipe for preserving cognitive function as you age, according to four new studies that were presented this week at the Alzheimer's Association annual meeting, in Vienna.

The findings echo other research suggesting that clean living can safeguard mental sharpness. However, one of the studies did contain a surprise finding -- that strenuous exercise actually impaired cognitive skills later in life.

That should be viewed, for now, with some skepticism, said William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association.

"That's something I wouldn't take on faith from a single study," he stressed.

But the heart-healthy diet advice seemed sound, he said, and confirms other research. In that study, Heidi Wengreen, an assistant professor of nutrition at Utah State University, asked 3,831 adults, aged 65 and older, to complete a food survey. They then tested their cognitive skills over an 11-year period, beginning in 1995.

The researchers looked to see how well the participants followed the DASH diet, an eating regimen that protects against hypertension and heart trouble. Those who followed the DASH diet more closely had higher scores on the cognitive tests at the start of the study and over time, Wengreen found.

Although Wengreen said more study was needed, "I believe there is plenty of evidence to suggest that diet plays a role in delaying cognitive decline and perhaps preventing Alzheimer's disease among the elderly."

Two exercise studies found staying active can also help.

In one study, Deborah E. Barnes, of the University of California, San Francisco, followed more than 3,000 adults aged 70 to 79. Those who were sedentary had the lowest level of cognitive function at the start and higher rates of decline over the course of the seven-year study.

A third study found moderate long-term exercise helped cognitive skills later, but that strenuous long-term exercise might hamper them.

Mary Tierney, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto, evaluated 90 women, aged 50 to 63, taking into account their long-term activity, both moderate and strenuous. Each woman got a score for strenuous and moderate activity.

Strenuous activities included swimming laps, aerobics, calisthenics, jogging, running, basketball, biking on hills and racquetball. Moderate included brisk walking, golf, volleyball, cycling on level streets, tennis and softball.

"The average long-term strenuous activity was for 2.5 hours a week, and the average long-term moderate activity was 3.2 hours a week," Tierney said.

"The worst groups [on cognitive function tests] were the ones highest in strenuous and lowest in moderate," she said.

Exactly why the link showed up isn't known, she said. But it may be that the strenuous exercise is lowering estrogen levels and lowered estrogen lowers cognitive skills. "Estrogen is bad for breast cancer, but good for the brain," Tierney explained.

It's impossible to say how much exercise is too much, Tierney added.

Yet another study in which researchers followed nearly 1,800 men and women aged 60 and older found that physical activity boosts cognitive function, except in those who carried the so-called Alzheimer's gene, known as APOE-e4.

Thies said the study on the DASH diet may be especially valuable because the diet gives detailed information about what to eat and the plan is widely available.

The link found between strenuous exercise and lowered cognitive skills may be explained by something else in future research, he said. "You could propose that people who exercise perhaps are a little more tired when they take the test," Thies noted.

"I think the general recommendation that exercise is good [for cognitive skills] is still valid," he said.

SOURCES: William Thies, Ph.D., chief medical and scientific officer, Alzheimer's Association, Chicago; Mary Tierney, Ph.D., professor, family and community medicine, University of Toronto; Heidi Wengreen, R.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, nutrition, Utah State University, Logan; July 13-14, 2009, presentations, Alzheimer's Association annual meeting, Vienna