The week in health: 5 things you need to know

Shown is a cup of coffee. Caffeine may improve memory, a new study shows.

How well will you remember this week’s health news? It may depend, in part, on what you’ve been drinking. Here’s what you need to know:.

Caffeine is a memory booster.

Millions of coffee and tea lovers firmly believe that their brains work better on a little caffeine. A new study suggests they are right. It found that healthy young people who got a dose of caffeine right after looking at some pictures were better at remembering details from the pictures the next day.

Alcohol is a memory downer.

And it’s not just next-day memory that is affected. The latest research shows that midlife men who drink heavily suffer accelerated declines in memory and thinking skills a decade down the road. Results were less clear for women.

Brain training may work.

But not on memory skills, at least not in the long run, according to one study. Seniors who took several weeks of brain-training classes retained gains in reasoning and processing speed, but not in memory, a decade later, the Washington Post reports. But the cognitive gains, which could affect everything from driving to filling out forms, could make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, researchers say.

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Smoking is worse than you thought.

The latest surgeon general’s report on smoking, released 50 years after the first, says the list of diseases caused by smoking now includes diabetes, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, birth defects and erectile dysfunction. And don’t forget the classics: lung cancer and heart disease.

Porn happens in Vegas.

It used to happen more often in Los Angeles County, but then that jurisdiction started insisting that porn actors wear condoms – because HIV happens, too. So far, Las Vegas officials are cool with looser standards and increased revenues, but condom crusaders could soon crash the party. Those with long memories (coffee drinkers, perhaps) may recall that the industry shut down three times in 2013 over HIV infections.

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