Follow the bouncing pill label Graying New York

| 11 Apr 2016 | 11:27

I have a cabinet full of over-the-counter supplements which I can’t seem to throw out, though I don’t think I’ll be taking them again. That is, unless the thinking changes back to when I first bought them. Meanwhile, they remain half empty, awaiting new information which refutes the old information which refuted the information before that.

Take Vitamin E, for example. Everyone thought Vitamin E was the magic elixir, until it wasn’t. As an antioxident, it was supposed to help prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer, among others. Then the studies began to show no benefit, and maybe harm. Then new studies showed maybe it helped, while other studies showed it might hasten your death. So into the cabinet it went.

I stopped taking calcium supplements when I read that there was little evidence it prevented fractures and might raise the chance of heart disease. The Mayo Clinic says it might or might not raise the risk of a cardiac event. Also in that “to be thrown out…maybe” cabinet are probiotics, which I took for years. A recent double-blind study showed that they were no more effective than placebos for diarrhea associated with antibiotic use or C. difficile infection, and no research that proves that they are effective for other gastrointestinal conditions, according to Sarah H. Yi, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Very helpful! I think I’ll go with a daily yogurt.

My doctor does recommend Vitamin D, and so I take it, just waiting for a study that shows it is ineffective or dangerous. I do take Prilosec, even though the latest is that it might increase the risk of fractures and hasten the onset of Alzheimer’s. Scary! But I can’t deal with the heartburn, so I trudge on with it. What’s a person to do? The news can change tomorrow, so why worry?

Old is in! Aging is sexy! Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, partnering with the Dana Foundation/Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives celebrated Global Brain Awareness Week 2016 in March by hosting Up with Aging, a brain health fair. The goal was to change attitudes about aging from dependence and decline to an understanding of the possibilities that come with a long life. The panel included information on aging brain function and how to maintain brain fitness. Afterwards, panelists were invited to explore the Expo, which featured ways to keep the aging brain healthy.

AARP is starting #DisruptAging, a new movement to challenge outdated beliefs about aging and present new solutions so that people can choose how to live and age well. You can follow this movement on social media and sign up for their monthly newsletter. You can go to the AARP website and type in Disrupt Aging for more information.

It’s nice to see that aging seems to be “in.” Jane Brody writes many wonderful articles for The New York Times on how to age healthily. Recently she wrote about how the music of Alzheimer’s patients’ childhoods awoke something in their brains that brought them out of their fog. It made them smile and sing or move their bodies. I happen to be someone who cannot dance, sing a note or draw a straight line, but I am a voracious reader and crossword puzzle doer. I do those things because I love them, but also hope they are helping to keep my brain healthy. Each to his or her own.

Finally, a pet peeve. Have you ever bought a newspaper or magazine and taken it onto the bus or subway, only to have ads fall out onto the floor, especially those card inserts that are so annoyingly prevalent. Does anyone actually read them, or do they just end up flying away towards some unsuspecting rider or under someone’s seat? The department store flyers are just as bad. The Kindle readers frown as these newspaper inserts drift off to the far corners of the bus. A small annoyance, but there you go. Life is full of them. Let all annoyances be small.