Today’s Headlines: Sex, Narcissism and the Mediterranean Diet

Having an active sex life may help your brain as you age. It turns out that sex more than just pleasurable according to a new study that’s found brain benefits for those still having sex in older life. “The study, conducted in the Netherlands, involved 1,747 men and women from a larger study of aging. The subjects were 71 years old, on average and about three-quarters had partners. Researchers assessed cognitive function with tests of memory, mental processing speed, general cognitive function and fluid intelligence, or the ability to reason and think abstractly. Subjects also responded to four questions about the importance of sexuality personally and to older people generally, and about their current sex life and need for intimacy and touching with aging. Older men and women who were satisfied with their sexual relationships and considered sexuality an essential component of aging performed better on tests of cognitive function than those who felt sexuality and intimacy were unimportant, the research showed.” The study didn’t include those with severe cognitive deficits, so there’s likely to be some bias in the results. But the findings emphasize that sex continues to be important well into old age. (Fox)

Men more likely to be narcissistic than women. While women might focus a lot on how they look before heading out the door, it’s men who are the more likely to be self-absorbed according to a new study. “Researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Management analyzed data from more than 475,000 participants taken over the course of 31 years and found that men consistently scored higher in tests for narcissism, regardless of age. The scientists studied gender differences in three features of narcissism: leadership and authority, exhibitionism and entitlement. Researchers found a large gap between the genders in the categories of leadership and entitlement, suggesting that men are more likely than women to believe they deserve privileges and pursue opportunities. But men and women were equally as exhibitionist.” The researchers think the findings more likely reflect ingrained gender norms learned as boys and girls grow up rather than being due to biology. Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations. In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.” (TIME)

Those on the Mediterranean diet dramatically drop heart disease risk. The Mediterranean diet is high in healthy oils, fish, nuts, beans, vegetables, fruit and whole grains and has been shown before to have health benefits. But a new study out this week has shown that the heart gains are dramatic. “The study examined 2,583 Greek adults aged 18 to 89 for 10 years. All were free of cardiovascular disease when enrolled in 2001-02. Those in the top third of subjects in terms of Mediterranean diet adherence were 47% less likely than those in the bottom third to be among those who developed cardiovascular disease. With each one-point increase in Mediterranean-diet-adherence score, a subject’s average risk of developing cardiovascular disease dropped by 3%. And the protective effects of eating like a traditional Greek were widely applicable too. After researchers took into account risk factors such as gender, age, family history of cardiovascular disease, smoking, body-mass index, education levels, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, the protective powers of the Mediterranean diet continued to show strongly.” Sounds like it’s time to head to the store and stock up on olive oil. (LA Times)