Medical Notes 19-02

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Medical Notes this week…

It’s well known that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is rising… but the speed of the increase is stunning researchers. A study in the journal Lancet Neurology finds that the number of people with dementia around the world has more than doubled since 1990. Researchers estimate that within about 30 years… more than 100 million people will be affected with dementia.

Air pollution is bad for your health… but researchers haven’t been able to quantify just how bad until now. A Danish study in the journal Environment International used advanced models to simulate the effects of pollution on large populations. It shows that cutting city pollution to the level found in the country could increase the lifespan of the average urban dweller by one full year.

And finally… it doesn’t take long to believe your own lies. And the older you are, the less time it takes. A study in the journal Brain and Cognition used EEG’s to monitor brain activity of people purposely telling lies… then telling the truth to the same questions 45 minutes later. Researchers found that people over 60 are much more likely than young people to accept as the truth a lie they had told less than an hour earlier. Apparently, scientists say, telling a lie scrambles the memory so people ultimately accept it as what really happened.

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Medical Notes 18-49


Medical Notes this week…

Skin cancer death rates around the world have skyrocketed over the last 30 years… and almost all of the increase is among men. A study presented to the World Congress of Cancers of the Skin shows that among the world’s 18 richest nations, men’s skin cancer deaths have risen by at least 50 percent in eight of them. Among women, the increase is much more modest and in some countries, women’s skin cancer deaths are in decline. Researchers say it appears that men are much less likely to protect themselves against the sun.

People with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, systemic lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis have a higher heart attack risk than others… and now doctors believe they’ve found one reason. A study in the journal Cell Metabolism finds that the culprit is an overabundance of an immune molecule called IL-17. Researchers say the molecule prompts the walls of the blood vessels to store too much collagen… trapping cholesterol and making the blood vessels stiff. A number of drugs which target the immune molecule are already on the market.

And finally… if you’ve ever been to the emergency room in a lot of pain, you’ve probably had to choose your pain level based on the “smiley face” scale. But now doctors are working on a more objective measure of pain. A study presented to the Society for Neuroscience shows that using scalp electrodes and an EEG to measure specific brain waves is much more accurate, and could help people to more quickly get the pain medication they need.

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