Medical Notes 19-15


Medical Notes this week…

Millions of Americans take a low-dose aspirin every day in hopes of preventing a heart attack or stroke. But now the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association say to stop taking it if you have no history of heart attack or stroke. The new recommendation comes in the wake of a major study showing that a daily aspirin does nothing to prolong life and increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Experts say doctors should limit aspirin to people at high heart risk who also have a low risk of bleeding.

We’ve told you about the stroke risk connected to drinking lots of diet soda among post-menopausal women, now there’s another study showing that soda with sugar is also connected to heart death. The study in the journal Circulation finds that the risk of premature death goes up by 63 percent in women who drink more than two sodas per day and 29 percent among men. Sugary sodas increase cancer risk by 18 percent.

Nobody likes to get caught in traffic caused by road repairs but a new study in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation finds that preventive road maintenance saves a lot of money, time, and pollution. Researchers say performing maintenance when a road is in its early failure stage ends up saving 10 to 30 percent in cost and saves drivers two to five percent in fuel consumption, tire wear, and vehicle repairs. Keeping roads in good shape also cuts greenhouse gases by as much as two percent.

And finally, you have to be nuts to maintain your brain function as you age or, more correctly, you have to eat nuts. A study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging shows that eating at least two teaspoons of nuts each day can boost brain function by 60 percent, equivalent to putting off two years of brain aging.

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Medical Notes 17-52


Medical Notes this week…

A number of studies have found that people who drink diet soda end up gaining more weight than people who drink higher-calorie beverages. Now a study in the journal “Current Biology” explains why. Researchers say that a food’s sweet taste is just as important as its calorie count as far as your metabolism is concerned. In most foods, sweetness indicates high energy, but in artificially-sweetened foods there’s a mismatch, so the brain is confused. Diet foods trigger the metabolism to run as if the food contains many more calories.

Pregnant women who contract a fever in their first trimester have a risk of delivering a child with heart defects or facial deformities. Researchers have known of a connection for years, but didn’t know if fever itself was the cause or the virus or infection that caused it. Now a study in the journal “Science Signaling” concludes it’s the fever. Doctors say acetaminophen is safe for pregnant women so they  shouldn’t hesitate to consider taking it to reduce fever.  

And finally, science has come up with an answer as to whether cats or dogs are smarter, and the answer won’t please cat owners. A study in the journal “Frontiers in Neuroanatomy” finds that dogs have significantly more neurons in their brains, the “little gray cells” associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors. Dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, researchers say, while cats have about 250 million. that compares with about 16 billion in people.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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