Since the introduction of antibiotics in World War II, doctors have prescribed courses of treatment that typically ran longer than necessary. Bacterial resistance is forcing a reevaluation, shortening courses sometimes to just a few days and even prompting doctors to advise not using all pills if patients feel better.
Dr. Brad Spellberg, Chief Medical Officer, Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center
Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dr. Louis Rice, Chairman, Department of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University
Hormones were unknown until a little more than 100 years ago, and experts admit we still have a lot to learn. An expert author details the discovery of hormones and how our growing knowledge has shaped treatment of many diseases and conditions.
Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein, Yale University, Columbia University, and author, Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything
A drinkable cocktail of designer molecules is showing promise in stopping the development of dementia. A study in the journal Cell Reports finds that a cocktail based on an old antibiotic can keep amyloid beta peptides from binding to prion proteins—one of the first steps in Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say the cocktail has also repaired synapses in the brains of rats… restoring memories. Scientists will now start testing the cocktail for toxicity.
If you’re using sugar substitutes as part of a weight loss resolution, a new study says “don’t bother.” In fact, the study in the journal BMJ finds there’s no compelling evidence that sugar substitutes help regulate any important health variable. Blood sugar levels and the risk of heart disease or cancer did not benefit from the use of saccharin, aspartame, or other artificial sweeteners. People who used plain old sugar ended up pretty much in the same place health-wise.
And finally… shaming people for what they do isn’t right… even though new research suggests that it can get people who engage in dangerous activities to quit. A study in the Journal of Consumer Affairs shows that smokers are more likely to quit if they’re told that their peers disapprove of smoking. However, experts warn that shaming people leads others to think that the bad effects of a bad habit are all their fault… and they deserve what they get.
Surveys show that fewer Americans have a primary care doctor, especially among younger people. Experts discuss the ramifications of this trend both medically and economically, reasons behind it, and how primary care practitioners are changing the way they work to answer objections.
Dr. Ana Maria Lopez, President, American College of Physicians
Dr. John Cullen, President, American Academy of Family Physicians
Dupuytren disease (pronounced DOO-pah-tren) is the most common disorder crippling hands that most people have never heard of. It is a genetic condition of the fascia beneath the skin of the palms, and it stubbornly resists treatment. An expert and a patient discuss the disorder.
Tom Knapp, Dupuytren patient and board member, Dupuytren Foundation
Dr. Charles Eaton, hand surgeon and Executive Director, Dupuytren Foundation
Folate, or vitamin b-9, is an essential nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folic acid is often added to bread, flour, cereal, and pasta to help eliminate deficiencies. Now new research shows supplementation is more important than we thought, because once somebody is short on folate, the damage can’t be fixed. The study in the journal PNAS shows that folate deficiency triggers errors in chromosomes that are passed on as the cell divides. Once those changes occur, they’re permanent.
If you’ve ever fibbed to your doctor, you’re not alone. In fact, a study in the journal JAMA Network Open finds that between 60 and 80 percent of people are less than forthcoming to their doctors about things that could affect their health. People apparently want to avoid being judged or lectured by doctors… or sometimes, they’re simply too embarrassed to tell the truth.
Various forms of dementia are increasing… and now scientists have found that a single specific mutation in one gene can cause one of them. “Frontotemporal dementia” accounts for about 20 percent of all early-onset forms of the disease…. which can affect people as young as their 40’s. A study in the journal Translational Psychiatry has tracked down a single mutation as the cause… and researchers say the finding could be important for both treatment and in research on Alzheimer’s disease.
And finally… a new study shows that forcing kids to apologize usually backfires. The study in the journal Merrill-Palmer Quarterly finds that children who receive an insincere apology dislike the apologizing kid even more than they did before. Transgressors feel worse, too… and don’t learn to have empathy for their victim.
Experts have believed that autism affects four times as many boys as girls, but the ratio may not actually be quite that high. Doctors are learning that autism shows up differently in girls’ behavior as a result of brain differences. This leaves many girls with autism undiagnosed. Experts discuss how it appears in girls and the consequences of those differences.
Dr. Thomas Frazier, Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks
Dr. Rachel Loftin, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Northwestern University
Dr. Kevin Pelphrey, Jefferson Scholars Foundation, Professor of Neurology, University of Virginia