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Antioxidants don’t prevent stroke or dementia, study finds

Diets rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E may not reduce the risk of developing stroke or dementia, according to a study that counters earlier findings.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School looked at more than 5,000 people ages 55 and older who had no initial signs of dementia. At the beginning of the study, the participants completed a questionnaire about how often they ate 170 foods that were considered to have either low, moderate, or high levels of antioxidants. The participants were divided into three groups based on the amount of antioxidants they consumed and were followed for 14 years. The chance of developing stroke or dementia did not differ among any of the groups.

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Previous studies have suggested that those who consumed diets rich in antioxidants had a lower risk of stroke and dementia. However, the researchers wrote, the protective factor may come from other ingredients in fruits and vegetables, rather than the antioxidants. So keep eating these foods.

BOTTOM LINE: Diets rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E may not protect against stroke or dementia.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on the participants’ memory of how often they ate certain types of foods, so they may have overestimated or underestimated the amount of antioxidants actually consumed.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Neurology, Feb. 20

Bullied children can later suffer disorders

Some bullied children may be at risk of developing psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression as adults, according to a study that is considered one of the longest tracking the consequences of bullying.

Beginning in 1993, researchers at Duke University School of Medicine followed more than 1,400 children ages 9, 11, and 13, living in North Carolina. The researchers interviewed the children every year until they turned 16 about whether they considered themselves bullies or had been bullied. More than 1,200 children were then followed for nearly two decades.

Nearly 26 percent reported being bullied at least once. Those who were reportedly bullied were nearly three times more likely to develop anxiety disorders compared with those who were not bullied. Children who considered themselves both the aggressor and the victim were nearly five times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly 15 times more likely to suffer from a panic disorder as an adult than those who were never bullied. Bullies who were not considered victims had an added risk of antisocial personality disorder.

The findings suggest that in some cases, children do not outgrow the emotional effects of having been bullied.

BOTTOM LINE: Some bullied children may be at risk of developing psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression as adults.

CAUTIONS: The study included children from one state so the results may not represent a wider group of children.

WHERE TO FIND IT: JAMA Psychiatry, Feb. 20

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