Seniors: Sex & Intimacy Boost Brain Health

seniorsAs it turns out, sex may be just as important in your 70s and 80s as it is in your 20s and 30s, especially when it comes to a sharper brain and memory. And not just the act of sex, but your perception of sex—that is, how important you think it is to a healthy lifestyle.

Researchers from Manchester University in the UK recently examined the results of a study involving more than 1,700 seniors, and what they found was worth noting. After answering a series of questions about their sexual activity and whether or not they thought sex and intimacy were important at their age, participants completed a different kind of test: one that measured cognitive function and something called “fluid intelligence,” which refers to the ability to solve problems using logic and reasoning.

From the data collected, the research team was able to determine that the participants who scored highest on the tests were the ones who placed a higher value on sex and intimacy in their lives. Those men and women said sex was both pleasant and important, and they believed closeness and intimacy (such as touching and holding hands) were equally important. Overall, they demonstrated higher fluid intelligence and better memory recall.

The takeaway, experts say, is that it’s important for healthcare practitioners to keep an open dialogue with seniors on the topic of sexuality because it may have far-reaching benefits for both physical and mental health.

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New Studies Reveal the Truth about E-cigs

e-cigElectronic cigarette users seem to be everywhere you look these days—in restaurants, at sporting events, even beside you in the grocery store aisle. Yet, despite a growing number of studies pointing to the potential dangers of vaping, e-cigarette use continues to go unregulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Here are three new studies that may soon encourage the FDA to change its tune.

In 2014 More Teens Used E-cigs Over Tobacco
According to the government-sponsored Monitoring the Future survey, which looks at substance abuse among U.S. teenagers, 2014 marked the first year that e-cigarette use surpassed the use of regular cigarettes among 8th graders (8.7 percent vs. 4 percent), 10th graders (16.2 percent vs. 7.2 percent), and 12th graders (17.1 percent vs. 13.6) percent—prompting organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to stress the need for regulation. Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that nicotine use in any form is unsafe for children and teens and can affect healthy brain development.

E-cigarettes Harmful to Lung Health & Immune Function
In a recent study involving mice, researchers from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins University determined that e-cig vapor triggered inflammation and caused damage to healthy lung tissue, making the mice more likely to develop respiratory infections. And, those that did develop an infection had a more difficult time recovering; some of the mice experienced significant weight loss and even death. Small amounts of free radicals, which can attack and damage healthy cells, were also noted.

Flavor Chemicals in E-cigs May Be Toxic
Similar to the Johns Hopkins study, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found that the inhalation of flavored liquids called “e-juices” (used to enhance the vaping experience) may cause significant damage to healthy lung tissue. The URMC study also involved mice and revealed that the vapors are especially toxic when applied directly to the heating element of the electronic cigarette. “We were the first to discover that ‘dripping’ of e-juices onto the heating element generates free radicals and oxidative stress that leads to lung damage,” said lead author Dr. Irfan Rahman.

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