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Tue., March 26, 2013, 11:14 a.m.

One more damn thing to worry about

We get a lot of cold sores in my extended family. In old family photos, there's usually one of us kids with an ugly sore on his or her lip. When we get colds, we break out with them.

In recent years, prescription creams have helped prevent the cold sores. But you have to apply the cream upon the first tingle on your lip. (The tingle is the warning sign that a cold sore is in the making.) We share the cream like it's an illicit drug because it's done such a good job preventing the family lip "curse."

Now comes a report, from HealthDay News, that older people prone to cold sores might also be at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease.

"Researchers found that of more than 1,600 older adults, those with signs of chronic infection with herpes simplex and certain other viruses and bacteria scored lower on standard tests of mental skills. But the findings, published in the March 26 issue of Neurology, do not prove the infections are to blame. 'They could just be bystanders,' said lead researcher Dr. Mira Katan, a neurologist with Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City."

The report offers one note of hope for cold-sore sufferers worried about later Alzheimer's.

"The study hinted that exercise might play a protective role. The research team found that infection 'burden' was related to mental impairment only among sedentary people -- and not those who said they got some exercise."

One more excuse for me to nag my non-exercising siblings. Get moving!


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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.