Coffee drinking, diet help and Parkinson's

February 16, 2009 3:16:40 PM PST
There are several interesting medical stories making news Monday, from the effects of a lifetime of coffee drinking to help losing weight. So let's start out with coffee drinking. It is something most of us do. But is it good for you? Is there long-term harm? There are many answers and opinions, but now there is scientific evidence that suggests a benefit for some women who drink coffee.

Researchers have been carefully tracking 83,000 female nurses for years. Every year, they all fill out a questionnaire, and some are seen by doctors. The new analysis showed a surprising association for coffee.

The results, in the journal "Circulation," showed that the women who'd been drinking four or more cups of coffee a day, over a 24 year period, had a 43 percent lower risk of stroke than those who drank less or none at all.

For women who smoked, there was no association at all.

Researchers caution that this is not proof of a benefit, but an association that warrants further investigation.

Next, how best can obese people who are making significant lifestyle changes be helped?

Researchers reporting in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared programs where participants were put on a diet drug and given eating and exercise plans. For added support, some of the patients got nutritional counseling. Others got none or some via e-mail. And others got a telephone call, a type of contact which the study showed is a good alternative.

"A simple telephone call would help monitor patients through a weight-loss program," study author Dr. Andres Digenio said.

Clinician Dr. Janine Kyrilos says support is crucial for people trying to make significant lifestyle changes.

"I think frequent counseling and support is essential for long-term modification," she said.

And a study by Harvard researchers has raised new questions about a link between melanoma skin cancer and Parkinson's disease.

The researchers found that people with a family history of melanoma may be twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as those without a family history.

It is possible that the two may share a genetic link. The researchers will present their findings at the meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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