Today’s Headlines: Garlic, Neighbors and Neuroticism

There’s no good evidence for garlic when it comes to blood pressure. You’ve probably heard that garlic is a good home remedy for elevated blood pressure. A new study out this week has found that while there’s good data on the short-term pressure-lowering effects of garlic, there’s very little long-term evidence that garlic can lower a person’s blood pressure in the long run. “The new analysis of past clinical trials using garlic supplements against high blood pressure finds a modest benefit, but researchers urge longer, more rigorous studies to assess the popular alternative ‘treatment.’” Hoping to get off of some of their medications, some individuals may try garlic as a way to lower their blood pressure. According to the authors, “it’s very important for people to know they should not replace proven therapies for high blood pressure with garlic based on this study.” (Reuters)

The company you keep can be good for your health. Close communities look after each other, but close ties may have real health implications. A study out recently has found that feeling connected to your community can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack. The researchers “worked with 5,276 men and women over the age of 50 with no history of heart problems. The subjects were asked how much they felt a part of the area, if they felt their neighbors would help them if they were in trouble, if those in the community could be trusted and if they thought most people in the area were friendly. “Those who agreed the most with the statements had a 67 percent decrease in heart-attack risk. The difference is approximately comparable to the reduced heart-attack risk of a smoker versus a non-smoker.” The authors say this should encourage people to get to get out and bond with their community. (Fox)

Neurotic personalities may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. It’s natural to worry, but it seems like too much may not be such a good thing for your brain. A study in Swedish women has found that those with neurotic personalities are predisposed to Alzheimer’s. “The study suggested that women who were the most easily upset by stress—as determined by a commonly used personality test—were two times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than women who were least prone to neuroticism.” The authors note that while a lot of attention has been paid to chronic diseases, genetics and the environment, little has been done on how personality can play a role. “Personality may influence the individual’s risk for dementia through its effect on behavior, lifestyle or reactions to stress.” (Washington Post)