Experts at Cleveland Clinic set the record straight on statins and memory, weight-loss saboteurs and more.
Q: Can statins cause dementia?
A: On the contrary, recent studies suggest that the cholesterol- lowering drugs called statins create a protective effect from cognitive dysfunction or dementia with long-term use. But in 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed the drug label for statins to include a warning that memory loss and confusion have been reported with statin use. These reported events were generally not serious, and went away once the drug was no longer being taken. However, lingering confusion regarding statin effects on memory and cognition remained. More recent studies have looked at dementia and cognitive changes in controlled randomized clinical trials. These studies demonstrate that there is no short-term cognitive impairment with statin therapy, and actually found that statins may be beneficial and can prevent dementia—especially with long-term use. These findings can reassure patients and physicians regarding concerns of possible cognitive effects with statin drugs, and reaffirm the relative safety of statin therapy when weighed against the proven benefit of these drugs in reducing heart attack and stroke.
—Michael Rocco, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic
Q: What is “alkaline water,” and can it give me more energy?
A: Alkaline water is commonly produced by an “ionizer,” a device that changes the chemical composition of water. The idea
is that an ionizer changes the pH level of water, making the water more alkaline and less acidic. Marketers claim that alkaline water works as an antioxidant to prevent cell damage that leads to disease, as well as increase your energy, hydrate you better than regular water, prevent digestive issues and even slow aging. But such claims have not been properly tested in controlled scientific studies, and some even run counter to what science tells us about the body. Plus, unless you have certain conditions such as kidney or respiratory disease, your body maintains a healthy pH balance on its own. Hydration is crucial for health, of course. But because credible research backing the benefits of alkaline water is lacking, I recommend sticking with plain water.
—Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, registered dietitian
Q: How can I stick to my weight loss plan when people push food on me?
A: Many people take pride in their cooking, and when you reject their food, they may feel rejected. Typically they will learn that you are serious about your efforts and act differently the next time. Other times, someone may want to sabotage your efforts, either consciously or unconsciously; they may be jealous of you and of your ability to succeed. Stay focused on your goal and what you need. Consider possible responses ahead of time, such as: “I’m following a particular eating plan for my health” instead of saying “I’m on a diet.” Or, “It looks delicious, but I just ate. Could I take a piece home to enjoy later?”Remember that you are giving yourself a gift of weight loss (and all the benefits associated with it) and no one can take that away from you.
—Maxine Smith, RD, registered dietitian specializing in weight, lipid and diabetes management