ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
CANCER
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
CAREGIVING
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
EYE CARE, VISION
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Olde Time Medicine Therapy May Prevent Alcoholic Relapse
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
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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