Women stay mentally sharp farther into old age than men typically do, and scientists now think they know why. It all has to do with how the brain burns energy. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that women’s brains burn energy in a much more youthful way throughout adulthood. Women’s brains appear to be about three years younger than men’s of the same chronological age, even in their 20’s, and that difference holds for the rest of their lives.
Binge drinking and prolonged heavy drinking may trigger a permanent change in a person’s DNA, which results in an even greater desire for alcohol. A study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows that among binge and heavy drinkers, two genes are modified that influence drinking behavior—one that influences the body clock and another regulating the stress-response system. Scientists hope the findings may eventually help identify biomarkers for people at risk for alcoholic changes.
And finally, more than half of all American workers say they’ve suffered from job burnout, but most of them won’t take a “mental health day” away from the job to deal with it. The University of Phoenix survey shows only a third of workers have taken time off for mental health, mostly because they say their companies don’t view it as an acceptable reason to be off work.
After serious injury, the leading cause of death is blood loss. But a new study shows that if a person needs massive transfusions, the fresher the blood, the better. The study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine finds that people receiving large transfusions of packed blood more than about three weeks old have about a five percent higher death risk… and the more blood transfused, the higher the risk. Experts say more blood and plasma donors are needed to overcome shortages… and shelf life limits.
If you didn’t sleep well last night, you’re more likely to be angry today. That sounds intuitive, but a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology proves it– losing just a couple hours of sleep makes you much more likely to react with anger to a frustrating situation. Researchers used annoying noises in the lab to measure anger responses… and found that anger was substantially higher in people who were sleep-deprived. The next step is to see if sleep loss makes people act more aggressively toward others.
And finally… people who grow up in an abusive home are more likely to repeat the behavior themselves. But a new study shows that it’s the opposite in the workplace. The study in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that people who’ve been abused and mistreated by their bosses are much more likely to become good bosses themselves. Apparently, abused employees learn what not to do when they’re running things.
Millions of people take low dose aspirin in hopes of warding off a heart attack. Millions more take omega-3 fish oil supplements in part for the same reason. But a pair of studies in the Lancet and TheNew England Journal of Medicine show that if you’re healthy and haven’t had a heart attack already… neither one will do you much good. In both studies, heart events were virtually the same as for people taking a placebo. And those taking aspirin had nearly twice the stomach bleeding… and a lot more indigestion.
People who’ve suffered a terrible loss often suffer worse health afterward. Now scientists have tracked one reason. A study at Rice University shows that people suffering from severe grief experience as much as 53 percent higher levels of inflammation throughout the body compared to normal people, and that outward signs of depression are no guide to the inflammation going on inside. Researchers say inflammation contributes to almost every disease in older people… especially heart attack and stroke.
And finally… some people consider attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder to be a disability. But a study in The Journal of Creative Behavior finds that in some fields, like marketing, product design, and technology, having ADHD is an asset to employment. Researchers find that people with ADHD resist conformity and ignore typical information. In short, they much more easily think outside the box.
Millions of American kids are allergic to peanuts… and for some, being exposed to peanuts can be fatal. But a study in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that gradually ramping up exposure to tiny amounts of peanut protein every day for a year can make it safer. At the start of the study, none of the nearly 500 four-to-17 year old subjects could tolerate eating even one-tenth of a peanut. After a year of treatment, two-thirds of them could eat at least two whole peanuts… so an accidental exposure was no longer life threatening.
More American children are living in three-generation households than ever before. A study in the journal Demography shows that nearly 10 percent of children, or about seven million kids, are living with both a parent and grandparent. That’s nearly double the figures from roughly 20 years ago. Multi-generational homes are more common among the economically disadvantaged… but researchers say the fastest growing group now includes moms who are older, wealthier, more educated. And single.
If you thought volunteering to help out a co-worker is a good thing… think again. A study in The Journal of Applied Psychology shows that it’s better to wait to be asked before you help. Scientists say helpers who jump in without being asked often don’t have a good handle on what they’re doing, so they don’t get much gratitude for it… and the person being helped starts feeling incompetent. Better to stick to your own business, researchers say… until you’re asked.
And finally… if you can’t get enough coffee, it may be all in your genes. A study in the journal Scientific Reports finds that people who are genetic super-tasters for the bitter taste of caffeine are 20 percent more likely than average to drink at least four cups of coffee per day.
Synopsis: The US once led the world in proportion of women in the workplace, but that number has declined the last 15 years. Experts explain the social, economic, and governmental factors that are leading women to quit their jobs–often unwillingly–and stay home.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Dr. Pamela Stone, Visiting Scholar, Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Professor of Sociology, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and author, Opting Out: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home; Dr. Claudia Goldin, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Synopsis: Studies estimate that at some point in their careers, 35 percent of workers will be bullied badly enough to affect their health. Experts discuss the reasons for workplace bullying, the outcomes, and some of the few ways to prevent it.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Dr. Gary Namie, Director, Workplace Bullying Institute; Meredith Fuller, psychologist and author, Working With Bitches: Identifying Eight Types of Office Mean Girls and How to Deal With Them