About 40 percent of eligible people have been vaccinated against the flu in recent years, but many more might do so were it not for persistent myths about the disease and its vaccine. For example, a new survey shows that more than half of parents believe the flu shot can cause the flu. Experts explain why those myths aren’t true and set the record straight.
Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Preventive Medicine & Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Dr. Jean Moorjani, pediatric hospitalist, Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, Orlando, FL
Dr. Michael Deem, Professor of Bioengineering, Physics & Astronomy, Rice University
Sleep disorders can be difficult to diagnose and treat. A science journalist discusses his efforts to overcome narcolepsy, which produces extreme daytime sleepiness, and cataplexy, which produces instant sleep-like paralysis, as well as the science behind sleep disorders.
Henry Nicholls, author, Sleepyhead: The Neuroscience of a Good Night’s Sleep
Nearly 25 million adults and children in the United States have been diagnosed with hay fever… and millions more probably have it without being diagnosed. But a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that a hay fever vaccine developed for mice not only works… it works quickly. Human vaccines for some forms of human allergy already exist, including hay fever, but they take three to five years to be effective. Scientists hope the new vaccine in development may change how people approach allergy season.
Egg freezing has become almost common among upwardly mobile young women, but a new study finds that holding off kids for work doesn’t have much to do with it. Rather, the study presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology shows that a much higher proportion of women are freezing their eggs because they haven’t found a man they want to have a family with.
And finally… here’s more evidence that there really may be such a thing as junk food addiction. A study in the journal Appetite shows that people who quit eating junk food suffer withdrawal symptoms that are remarkably like someone stopping drug use. Researchers say symptoms like sadness, irritability, and cravings peaked in the first two to five days after quitting junk food… and then tapered off.
Studies show that medical professionals are as biased as the rest of us against people who are overweight, resulting in lectures, misdiagnoses, and patients who start avoiding the doctor. Experts explain the problem, results, and what might be done about it.
Dr. Rebecca Puhl, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Connecticut and Deputy Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
Dr. David Katz, Director, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Yale University and Founder, True Health Initiative
Kathy Kater, psychotherapist specializing in body image, eating and weight issues
Surveys show that hospital gowns are one of the things that most makes a hospital stay unpleasant. Finally hospitals may be moving to get rid of the old style gowns toward a less revealing, more dignified design that is still functional for healthcare workers. Experts discuss.
Chat Razdan, co-founder and CEO, Care+Wear garment maker
Dr. Deborah Mullen, Associate Professor of Health Care Administration, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and consultant, Health Partners-Park Nicollet Health System
Doctors have known that periodontal disease is connected to heart disease…but now there’s evidence that gum disease may kickstart Alzheimer’s disease as well. A study in the journal PLOS One shows that long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria results in inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons, at least in mice. Scientists also found periodontal bacteria DNA in the brains of mice who were infected. Researchers admit the results surprised them.
Nearly half of Americans spend most of the workday sitting… and some people have installed treadmill desks to keep moving while they work. Treadmill desks usually have a pace of only one or two miles per hours, but a new study says “not so fast.” The study in the journal PLOS One finds that people using treadmill desks have a less efficient working memory… although other types of thinking are the same whether sitting, standing, or walking.
And finally… scientists in India have uncovered a major public health threat—taking selfies. A study in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care shows that worldwide, more than 250 people have died while taking selfies since 2012. The problem, researchers say, is that people go too far seeking a perfect shot… and end up drowning, falling off a cliff, or being hit by a train.
About two-thirds of people with dementia in the United States are women, and researchers are discovering it’s not just because they live longer. Reproductive history also plays a role. Scientists are focusing on the role of estrogen as a potential protective factor against Alzheimer’s disease. Several who are involved in this research explain.
Dr. Rachel Whitmer, Professor of Epidemiology, University of California-Davis
Dr. Heather Snyder, Senior Director, Medical and Scientific Operations, Alzheimer’s Association
Dr. Pauline Maki, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Illinois-Chicago