Loneliness, Not Living Alone, Linked to Dementia

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December 12th, 2012

Yes, there is a difference. Why one is more likely to trigger serious memory problems?

In a study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, Tjalling Jan Holwerda of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam found that participants who reported feeling lonely — regardless of how many friends and family surrounded them — were more likely to experience dementia than those who lived on their own. The scientists focused on nearly 2,200 older adults living in Amsterdam, ages 65 to 86, who did not show signs of dementia and were not living in institutions like nursing homes, and visited them twice over three years. About half of the participants lived alone and 20% reported feelings of loneliness. Almost two-thirds of the elderly in the study were women.

Prior research suggested that having a supportive social network is linked with positive health outcomes, from psychological health to physical health, while lacking such support can be harmful. Indeed, a growing body of studies find that loneliness itself can kill, typically by raising blood pressure and increasing risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for dementia.

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What Does Gum Disease Have to Do With Erectile Dysfunction?

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December 10th, 2012

How can men avoid gumming up a relationship? They might start by brushing their teeth every day.

According to a new study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, men with erectile dysfunction (ED) are three times more likely to have gum disease than men who do not have ED.

Turkish researchers found that 53% of the male patients with ED had severe gum disease (chronic periodontitis) compared with 23% who did not have ED. The study included 80 male patients with ED and 82 male patients without the condition; none were smokers since lighting up is considered a risk factor for both ED and gum disease. The study was also limited to those 30 years to 40 years old in an effort to rule out age as a risk factor. Even after accounting for age, body mass index (BMI), household income, and education status, the association between poor dental health and ED held.

“We think that it will be of benefit to consider periodontal disease as a causative clinical condition of ED in such patients,” the authors write.

What connects the two vastly different conditions? In a word, inflammation. Inflammation, which is the body’s immune response in action, may spread from the gums and harm other parts of the body. Gum disease is marked by bleeding of the gums and bone structure of teeth, and if left untreated, can cause tooth decay and tooth loss as immune cells launch an all-out attack on pathogens in the mouth. These bacteria can also seep into the bloodstream and damage blood vessels, and because erectile problems can be caused by impaired blood flow in the penis, poor dental hygiene can be associated with ED. About 150 million men worldwide suffer from erectile dysfunction, and nearly half of American adults over 30 (64 million) have periodontal disease — 56 percent of whom are men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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