Loneliness can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s according to the Independent today. Researchers from The Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (Amstel) found that those who felt lonely were twice as likely to develop dementia compared with those who didn’t. The study looked at a number of risk factors for depression, dementia and high death rate among 2,000 men and women aged over 65. Other social isolation factors such as living alone or being widowed did not increase the risk of dementia. This means that it is the perception of loneliness is the potential risk factor rather than being alone.
Researchers speculated that loneliness may be caused by Alzheimer’s rather than be the cause of Alzheimer’s. It may be that the feeling of loneliness occurs due to the deterioration of social skills that occurs during the onset of dementia. Another possibility was that loneliness may demonstrate sensitivity to distress, which is a known risk factor.
Elsewhere the BBC report that the age of cervical cancer screenings is going to be raised in Scotland. The UK National Screening Committee (NCS) reviewed the screening programmes and reported that the first cervical screening test should be at 25 rather than 20. They also said that the tests should be extended to 64 and that over 50s should be tested every five years rather than every three.
The move will bring cervical cancer screening in Scotland in line with England who rose the age to 25 in 2004. The age change will occur in 2015 when the first group of girls who received the HPV vaccination will reach screening age.
Finally the Daily Mail reports on studies that suggest that doctors shouldn’t prescribe PPIs to infants with reflux. Some experts say that stomach acid is important for infants as it protects from infection while their immune system is maturing. Others say that there are a number of other steps, such as giving smaller feeds more often, which can be done before using PPIs, but these are often skipped over.