ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
CANCER
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Vitamin D Vital for the Heart
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
FITNESS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Add your Article

Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's

TUESDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Although commonly taken to improve memory, new research suggests that the herb ginkgo biloba won't help prevent dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

"We found that giving a standardized dose of ginkgo biloba over a period of time does not slow down the incidence rate of dementia or Alzheimer's disease," said the study's lead author, Dr. Steven DeKosky, who was chair of the department of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Medical Center at the time of the study.

The findings were published in the Nov. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, currently affects about 5 million people in the United States, according to background information in the article. Dementia is a significant cause of age-related disability and the need for long-term nursing home care, the study reported.

There are currently no medications that have been approved for the primary prevention of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. However, previous small, short-term clinical trials have suggested there might be a small benefit from ginkgo for people with dementia. Sales of ginkgo biloba are almost $250 million each year in the United States, according to the study.

The current study included almost 3,100 community-dwelling adults aged 75 or older. Most had normal cognition at the start of the study, while 482 had mild cognitive impairment when the study began.

The study volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either a twice-daily dose of 120 milligrams of ginkgo biloba extract or a twice-daily placebo. The study participants were assessed for signs of dementia every six months, and the average length of study participation was just over six years.

During the study period, 523 people developed dementia, and 92 percent of those cases were classified as possible or probable Alzheimer's disease.

Overall, the dementia rate for those taking ginkgo was 3.3 per 100 person-years of follow-up versus 2.9 per 100 person-years for the placebo group.

"If you're in your 70s or 80s, and you're contemplating taking ginkgo to prevent Alzheimer's or dementia, the idea that it can prevent these is not true," said DeKosky, who is vice president and dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville.

But, said DeKosky, the good news from this study is that there appear to be "no major problems for safety" where ginkgo is concerned.

One representative of the botanicals industry took issue with the findings.

"There is an significant body of scientific and clinical evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of ginkgo extract for both cognitive function and improved circulation," said Mark Blumenthal, the founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council.

He also cited what he considered shortcomings with the Pittsburgh study, including a relatively short follow-up period, and the lack of a comparison treatment (there is currently no treatment that prevents or curbs dementia). Blumenthal also noted that 60 percent of participants stopped taking gingko by the end of the study, potentially lending uncertainty to the results.

However, the author of an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. Lon Schneider, director of the State of California Alzheimer's Disease Research and Clinical Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, pointed out that for people with a history of cardiovascular disease, there was an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke in the group taking ginkgo, though the difference didn't reach statistical significance. Eight people in the placebo compared to 16 in the ginkgo group had a hemorrhagic stroke, Schneider noted.

He also pointed out that at least one smaller trial found an increased risk of the more common type of stroke, ischemic stroke, and transient ischemic attacks, in people taking ginkgo.

"In the absence of efficacy, people should be fairly careful about taking a drug anyway, and here, we've seen no evidence for potential gain, and there's some reason to be concerned about its use in the long term," said Schneider.

-Serena Gordon

More information

There's more on gingko biloba at the University of Maryland Medical Center.



SOURCES: Steven T. DeKosky, M.D., vice president and dean, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Va.; Lon S. Schneider, M.D., director, State of California Alzheimer's Disease Research and Clinical Center at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; news release, Nov. 18. 2008, American Botanical Council; Nov. 19, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association

Last Updated: Nov. 18, 2008

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