Senior News Line – Take headlines with a grain of salt

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It’s all over the news now that eating a salad every day may help reduce cognitive decline and dementia in seniors. What’s worrisome is the results of medical research sometimes are splashed in big headlines and too many people automatically will assume they are true. When it comes to understanding research, we need to dig deeper than just the headline.

For example, how long did the study go on? In this case, it was five years. That’s good.
The thinking skills of participants were tested every year. That’s also good.

But was the research done in a controlled environment that tracked how many salads a participant actually ate? In this case, the information was self-reported in a questionnaire. In other words, it might not be true.

And then there’s the bottom line. Did the researchers flatly state that eating salads helps? No, they did not. They said there was an “association,” but they couldn’t rule out other possible reasons. Color me confused because an article quoting the same study appeared back in 2015, and it stated the reasons for the reduction in cognitive decline and dementia were a mystery.

In this column, I frequently point your attention to the results of research, but each time I advise you to talk to your doctor before you make any changes in your exercise or diet. And I’m doing so again: Before you add extra greens to your diet, consult your doctor, especially if you’re going to add large amounts of kale, lettuce or broccoli, or anything with vitamin K. Vitamin K affects blood clotting, and could cause problems for people already on drugs to decrease the amount of clotting.

In short, beware. Just because you read it in the news doesn’t make it true … or good for you personally. Ask your doctor.

(c) 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.


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