Beer may be good for your brain

Posted at 11:22 AM, Sep 26, 2014

(CNN) — Here’s a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health. Remember, correlation is not causation — so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.

Beer may be good for your brain

You may not guess it stopping by your average neighborhood fraternity party, but an element in beer may be good for your brain.

Scientists discovered that xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid found in beer, seems to help cognitive function, at least in young mice. They tested this hypothesis in a study that ran in Behavioral Brain Research this week. Xanthohumol did not have the same impact on older mice.

The dose they gave the mice was quite high — so high that if you were in this study, you’d actually have to drink 2,000 liters of beer a day to equal what the mice consumed. So scientists don’t suggest you run out and buy a six-pack before work.

The research does suggest that this flavonoid and others should be studied closer. The researchers believe it and others, like the ones found in red wine, blueberries and dark chocolate, may play a role in helping you form memories.

Switching to e-cigarettes may not be the answer

There’s a big debate over whether doctors should recommend that people try e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, but they don’t have all the cancer-causing additives that a regular cigarette has. Studies earlier this year showed they are more effective than the patch or gum in helping quit.

A new study, published in the journal Cancer, disagrees. Researchers concluded that e-cigarette users were no more likely to quit smoking successfully than regular cigarette smokers.

Of regular cigarette smokers enrolled in the study, 44.4% resisted the temptation to smoke for seven days, compared to 43.1% of e-cigarette users.

The study looked at 1,074 patients who had cancer and who were enrolled in a smoking cessation program in a cancer treatment center. Mirroring their growing popularity, there was a threefold increase in the number of participants who switched to e-cigarettes between 2012 and 2013.

The study found that the e-cigarette users actually were more dependent on nicotine than regular smokers. The e-cigarette users tried to quit more times than the regular smokers.

The scientists who did the study said they would like to try it with the general population to see if they found the same results.

Peanut allergies made worse by dry roasting

Scientists trying to understand what makes people so highly allergic to peanuts may now have an idea.

The research is in early stages, but a study that ran in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology this week found that dry-roasted peanuts caused a stronger allergic reaction in mice than raw peanuts.

Scientists theorize that the dry roasting causes chemical changes in the nuts. If a person’s immune system is picking up on that change, it may be getting the body ready for an allergic response.

Scientists suggest this may explain why so many people in the West, where peanuts are often dry roasted, show signs for peanut allergies when people who live in Asia don’t. In Asian countries, peanuts are often served raw or boiled.

Next researchers will try to figure out what chemical changes are happening in the dry roasting process that trigger the attacks, particularly in humans.

You drink more alcohol on days you exercise

Scientists say you are lifting more than weights on the days you hit the gym — you’re throwing back a few cocktails, too.

In a study that ran in the latest edition of Health Psychology, the American Psychologial Association’s journal, researchers found that people typically exercise more on Thursdays and Sundays, when they’re also drinking more.

The study looked at 150 people between the age of 18 and 89. Participants recorded their fitness activities, as well as their alcohol use at the end of the day using their smartphones. They did this for a period of 21 days at a time, at three different times of the year.

Scientists next want to study what the link is between exercise and drinking. Maybe they should focus on the link between drinking and the weekend…

Most heart attacks in men are avoidable

Most heart attacks in men are preventable. A new study suggests there are five behaviors that can help you lower your risk: Eat a better diet, exercise more, stay fit, avoid smoking and drink moderately.

The study ran in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

For the study, scientists monitored 20,000 healthy men in Sweden who were between the ages of 45 and 79 in 1997. They followed the men’s health through 2009. Only 1% of the men followed all five recommended healthy behaviors. Of those 1%, only three had heart attacks. Some 8% didn’t do any of the five, and 166 had heart attacks.

Scientists concluded that clean living can prevent 80% of heart attacks.