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Health News Archive 612 - Longevity
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Ginkgo Biloba Reduces Risk of Dying by 24%

A French study found that older people who take Ginkgo biloba live longer. However, this same study did not find that ginkgo biloba reduced the risk of cognitive decline.

Dr. Jean-Francois Dartigues at the University of Bordeaux, France followed a group of 3,500 men and women 65 and older for a period of over 13 years. It showed that those who used the herb were 24 percent less likely to die over a 13-year period.

Over the course of the study, about 46 percent of those taking Gingko biloba died, compared with about 62 percent of those taking another type of memory-boosting drug. Those who used ginkgo reduced their risk of dying by 24%, thus they lived longer than those who did not take the supplement. Ginkgo biloba extract has been sold in France for more than three decades. At the start of the study, 6 percent of the participants were taking Ginkgo biloba extract.


OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of treatment for memory impairment and the Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) on dementia, mortality, and survival without dementia.

DESIGN: Prospective community-based cohort study.

SETTING: France.

PARTICIPANTS: Three thousand five hundred thirty-four subjects aged 65 and older.

MEASUREMENTS: Information on drug consumption was obtained by interview and visual assessment of patients' medicine chests. Active screening of dementia was performed every 2 years over a 13-year period. The independent effects of treatment for memory impairment and the Ginkgo biloba extract on the risks of dementia and death were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for potentially confounding factors (including comorbidities).

RESULTS: The initial consumption of Ginkgo biloba did not modify the risk of dementia (relative risk (RR)=1.16, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.84-1.60), whereas the consumption of other treatments for memory impairment was associated with a higher risk of dementia (RR=1.35, 95% CI=1.11-1.63). Subjects who took Ginkgo biloba had a significantly lower risk of mortality in the long term (RR=0.76, 95% CI=0.62-0.93), even after adjustment for potentially confounding factors. The initial consumption of treatment for memory impairment other than Ginkgo biloba did not modify the risk of mortality.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that treatment with EGb 761 may increase the probability of survival in the elderly population. These findings need to be corroborated and further assessed using randomized, controlled trials.

Source: Dartigues JF, Carcaillon L, Helmer C, Lechevallier N, Lafuma A, Khoshnood B. Vasodilators and nootropics as predictors of dementia and mortality in the PAQUID cohort.  J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Mar;55(3):395-9.

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