Gout, a form of arthritis, is extremely painful and associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular problems. But there is a bright side: It may be linked to a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers compared 59,204 British men and women with gout with 238,805 without the ailment, with an average age of 65. The study, in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, followed the patients for five years.

They found 309 cases of Alzheimer’s among those with gout and 1,942 among those without. Those with gout, whether they were being treated for the condition or not, had a 24 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The reason for the connection is unclear. But gout is caused by excessive levels of uric acid in the blood, and previous studies have suggested that uric acid protects against oxidative stress. This may play a role in limiting neuron degeneration.


Antibiotics in milk get tested

In an encouraging development for consumers worried about antibiotics in their milk, a Food and Drug Administration study showed little evidence of drug contamination after surveying almost 2,000 dairy farms.

In response to concerns, the agency in 2012 took samples of raw milk from the farms and tested them for 31 drugs, almost all of them antibiotics. Results released by the agency show that less than 1 percent of the total samples showed illegal drug residue.

“Overall this is very encouraging and reinforces the idea that the milk supply is safe,” said the FDA’s William Flynn, who led the study. He said the agency will use the findings to try and reduce the drug contamination even more.


A more effective HPV vaccine

A new vaccine has been shown to protect against nine different forms of the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, or HPV, compared with just four strains covered by the current Gardasil vaccine. But will people use it?

The vaccine, called Gardasil 9, was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in December, but the study that led to the approval was just published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine. The 9-HPV vaccine prevented cervical, vulvar and vaginal disease associated with HPV-31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 as well as the HPV types covered by the older version. “With this vaccine, almost all HPV-related tumors can be eliminated,” said the lead author, Dr. Elmar A. Joura of the Medical University of Vienna.

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