On the brain: Mental notes for Mom
May 5th, 2011
07:07 PM ET

On the brain: Mental notes for Mom

With Mother's Day coming up on Sunday, here are a few tidbits about the brain that you and your mom can both appreciate:

If your mom is middle-aged, she should know about new research connecting weight and dementia, the most common form of which is Alzheimer's. The Los Angeles Times reports on a study in the journal Neurology showing that being overweight in midlife increases dementia risk by 70% or more. It's not clear why researchers found this association, but inflammation from excess weight may lead to brain cell damage and dementia. Diabetes and vascular disease, which could contribute to dementia, are also linked to higher body mass index (BMI).

Speaking of dementia, consider that 60% of unpaid caregivers for Alzheimer's disease are women, according to the Shriver Report, a study by Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer's Foundation. Many of them have become primary caregivers for both their aging parents and their own children. The Huffington Post offers five nice things to do for a woman in this position.

If your mom happens to have a brain aneurysm or might be at risk for one, let her know about a new study suggesting that coffee, sex, and anger can all raise the chances of an aneurysm rupturing, HealthDay reports. The risk is small, but still significant, doctors say. People with aneurysms should avoid caffeine generally. Brain aneurysms happen when an artery in the brain bulges or balloons.

Finally, maybe your mom wants some motivation to exercise more, start that book she's always wanted to write, or join some other activity that she's never gotten around to. A book called "On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Brain's Hard-Wired Habits," as featured in Time's Healthland, offers tips to overcome your mind's own mental obstacles.

The author, Wray Herbert, addresses quirks of our minds that may inhibit us from accomplishing our goals, and practical advice for getting around them. For instance, our brains are wired to think that "rare is good," so we end up wanting things that are low in supply. So maybe you're at the gym and you don't particularly feel like pedaling more on the bike. Tell yourself that this is the only 45 minutes you're going to have to move around - framing it as a golden opportunity rather than a chore will get you going.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Dr Sam Girgis

    The link between obesity and dementia is well know. The recent study published in the journal Neurology is very interesting in that it link middle age weight to development of dementia. The study is noteworthy in that just being a few pounds overweight, but not necessarily obese can also raise your risk of developing dementia.

    Check out my blog post on the subject...

    Dr Sam Girgis

    May 5, 2011 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. nina786

    nice share.....:)


    May 6, 2011 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. angela

    Really. My father in law was skinny as a rail had dementia and eventually died!!!!

    May 9, 2011 at 05:34 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.