Do You Know Dr. Dean Ornish? (you should)

Medical News: Ornish, Pritikin Cleared for Medicare Payment – in Cardiovascular, Prevention from MedPage Today

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Ornish for a long time.  His lifestyle focus to prevent and/or reverse atherosclerosis with diet, exercise, and stress reduction was clearly ahead of its time.  Medicare will now pay for the Ornish and Pritikin programs.  But am I the only one to realize that Medicare usually doesn’t start until age 65?  Time for private health insurance companies to step up to the plate on this issue.

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Low Vitamin D = Higher Parkinson’s Risk

Medical News: Low Vitamin D Increases Parkinson’s Risk – in Neurology, Parkinson’s Disease from MedPage Today

In the first longitudinal study to explore this possible connection, Knekt and colleagues analyzed data from the Mini-Finland Health Survey, which was carried out between 1978 and 1980.

Participants provided information on socioeconomic background, medical history, and lifestyle; serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were determined by radioimmunoassay.

Among the 3,173 participants included in the analysis, there were 50 incident cases of Parkinson’s disease during a 29-year follow-up.

A significant inverse association was seen between age- and sex-adjusted levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and Parkinson’s disease, with the relative risk between the highest and lowest quartiles of serum concentration of the vitamin being 0.35 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.81, P for trend=0.006).

The association persisted after adjustment for body mass index, leisure-time physical activity, month of blood draw, education, marital status, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Participants whose serum concentration of the vitamin was at least 50 nmol/L had a 65% lower risk than those whose levels were below 25 nmol/L.

Low Vitamin D = Cognitive Decline

Medical News: Vitamin D Deficiency May Be Linked to Cognitive Decline – in Neurology, General Neurology from MedPage Today

Low levels of vitamin D appear to be associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline among older people, according to researchers.

In an observational study conducted among more than 800 Italians ages 65 and older, severe vitamin D deficiency was associated with a 60% increase in the risk of substantial cognitive decline (by a standard measure), according to David Llewellyn, PhD, of the University of Exeter in Exeter, England, and colleagues.

The findings — if confirmed by further studies and randomized clinical trials — “open up important new possibilities for treatment and prevention,” Llewellyn and colleagues wrote in the July 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.