brain function

  1. Women need testosterone

    Testosterone improves memory in women

    Manly, yes -- but ladies, you need it, too!

    It's not Ivory Soap. It's testosterone, the so-called "manly" hormone -- and new research confirms it plays a critical role in healthy female aging.

    That's especially in true in the brain, where testosterone is essential to thought, memory and overall brain function. (Men, feel free to mention that next time you're trying to win an argument with your wife -- then duck.)

    Low levels of this hormone can lead to fuzzy thinking and even cognitive decline in men and women alike -- but in the new study, daily doses of a testosterone gel given to women were able to turn it around.

    It made them smarter and sharper, with real improvements in thought and memory -- especially verbal learning, which is the ability to remember what you hear, as well as short-term memory.

    Surprised? Don't be -- because women produce testosterone naturally in small amounts in the ovaries. When the ovaries stop broadcasting after menopause, those small amounts shrink to practically nothing.

    But that doesn't mean you no longer need it.

    You do, and you need it for more than just your memory -- because testosterone is so critical to cardiac function that low levels are a major-but-unadvertised cause of heart attack in women. (For more on the link between testosterone and heart health click here.)

    That's why I routinely tested women for testosterone as well as estrogen back when I was in practice.

    Other doctors thought I was nuts. Today, those tests are increasingly common.

    If your own doc isn't with the program yet, find one who is -- and along with testing yourself, get your husband checked too. If he's getting up there in years, odds are he could use a boost -- and your doc could create a his-and-her hormone treatment program for the both of you.

    Just make sure you don't mix the "his" with the "hers" as women need much lower doses -- and getting too much will give you a mustache, chest hair and a deep voice.

    On the other hand, you'll almost certainly win more of the arguments.

    I'm not done with hormones yet -- keep reading for the latest on men and estrogen!

  2. Common meds raise death risk

    Study finds new death risk for common meds

    It's the study every senior on the planet needs to see right now: Some of the world's most common drugs can dramatically boost your risk of an early death when taken together.

    Sleeping pills, blood thinners, antihistamines, antidepressants, painkillers -- you name it, there's a med on this list you're familiar with, and probably one or two you or someone you love has taken today.

    These drugs all block a key brain chemical -- bad enough when you take just one... but take two, three or more, and it's like a sucker punch inside your skull.

    Researchers analyzed 80 meds and gave each one a rating based on its "anticholinergic" effect: one point for mild effects, two for moderate and three for the most severe.

    I don't think there's any such thing as "mild" when it comes to brain-slowing meds... but I suppose a slow brain is better than a dead one.

    And that's what you could get if your "score" is four or more: Researchers say a look at data on 13,000 seniors found that 20 percent of those who took four points' worth of anticholinergic meds were dead within two years... versus just 7 percent of seniors who hadn't taken any of these drugs.

    But let's face it -- four points is nothing in the Big Pharma ballgame.

    Some seniors gobble these meds by the handful, and the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that every point above four caused the death risk to shoot up another 25 percent.

    That's not all these meds did -- patients with a score of five or more who managed to beat the death risk suffered a 4 percent plunge in brain function.

    That might sound small, but it's enough to push a senior teetering on the brink of dementia right over the edge.

    Now, let's figure out your score -- and my method involves no math at all. Take a look at this list of anticholinergic drugs.

    If you're taking ANY of them, your score is already too high (like I said, I don't believe in "mild" when it comes to these meds).

    Speak to your doctor about getting off them today -- and if he won't help, find a new doctor.

  3. Berkley nut claims poverty is rotting kids' brains

    A new "study" claiming that some brain functions of low-income children are nowhere near as developed as those of wealthy children.
  4. "Experts" think Americans should be popping more pills

    There's a group of scientists who are coming right out and saying that "healthy people" should "have the right" to start popping Ritalin, Adderall.

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