Medical Notes 18-44

Medical Notes this week…

Some people are more likely than others to become persistent opioid users after surgery, and a new report from “Choices Matter” finds that millennial women are at greatest risk. Researchers say the number of women age 18 to 34 who become persistent opioid users six months after surgery rose by 17 percent last year alone. Forty percent more women than men continue using opioid painkillers long after surgery, and while 12 percent of patients overall become addicted or dependent on them after surgery, that number is 18 percent among millennials.

Over the last decade or so, a number of studies have come out suggesting that a glass of wine per day is good for your heart. But a new study finds that the risks of drinking far outweigh the benefits. In fact, researchers say consuming just one drink per day, every day increases the risk of premature death by 20 percent. The study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research explains that daily drinking increases cancer risk so much that it overshadows any heart benefit.

A person’s mix of intestinal bacteria can mean the difference between being thin or obese. Now a new study shows that the bacteria in an infant’s mouth can predict obesity. The study in the journal Scientific Reports finds that a child’s oral bacteria at age two can predict obesity two years later. Researchers hope the finding may lead to preventive steps for children who are found to be at risk.

Lung cancer deaths in California are 28 percent lower than the rest of the country, and that gap is increasing by almost a percentage point per year. What are they doing right? A new study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research gives credit to the state’s aggressive anti-smoking campaign. Researchers say the campaign has resulted in a 39 percent lower rate of people who start smoking compared to the U.S. as a whole, a 30 percent lower consumption of cigarettes among those who do smoke, and a 24 percent higher early quit rate.

And finally… if you want to avoid getting sick this flu season, science has proven a way to increase the odds—turn on your tv. A study in the journal BMC Infectious Disease shows that people who watch more tv get sick with the flu less often. The reason is pretty obvious. Those people are staying home and have a lot less chance to catch a flu virus from someone else.

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18-43 Segment 1: Exploding Myths about the Flu and Flu Vaccines

RHJ 18-43A wordpress

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

Links for more information:

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Medical Notes 18-04


Medical Notes this week…

This flu season is officially “moderately severe,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it’s likely to get worse. It’s a result of this year’s predominant flu strain—an H2N3 virus that’s much stronger than the virus that dominated last year. Vaccines are also less effective against H2N3 viruses. Some experts estimate that this year’s vaccine is about 30 percent effective at best. That’s still markedly better than the vaccine did in Australia during winter there six months ago when officials said it was only 10 percent effective.

If you want to cut down on sugar and carbs get more sleep. A study in the “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” shows that when people increase their sleep time they don’t have as much of a sweet tooth. A group of study subjects received advice on how to sleep better and increased their sleep time by as much as 90 minutes a night. They ended up making better nutritional choices–cutting down the sugar in their diets by as much as 10 grams a day and also ate fewer carbs.

And finally, to increase strength and power in your workout, swear out loud. A study in the “Journal of Psychology of Sports and Exercise” finds that cursing increases power while riding a stationary bike by nearly five percent and increases hand grip strength by more than eight percent. Researchers can only speculate why it occurs, but they know that swearing is handled by brain regions that don’t normally process language.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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Medical Notes 17-51


Medical Notes this week…

This flu season is the second in a row where the federal government is recommending against use of the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine because of a drop in its effectiveness. But now scientists say in a study in the journal “Vaccine” that they’ve found a mutation in the flu-mist vaccine that might be exploited to boost its punch. Researchers have already tweaked the mutation experimentally and hope they can ramp it up to commercial scale.  

Scientists all over the world are looking for an effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease but a new study suggests that if they find such a treatment, the US health system is ill prepared to roll it out. The study finds that there are too few medical specialists to diagnose patients with early signs of Alzheimer’s and too few infusion centers to deliver treatments. Researchers estimate that as many as two million patients could be left waiting for therapy.

Fecal transplants have proven extremely useful in combating potentially fatal c-difficile infections. however, many patients are put off by the “ick factor” of getting a fecal infusion via colonoscopy. Now a study in the journal of the American Medical Association shows that pills containing frozen stool are just as effective at restoring healthy bacteria levels. Pills are also quicker and cheaper and leave patients much happier.

And finally, people have long reported sightings of the abominable snowman, and the “yeti” legend is important in the mythology of countries like Nepal and Tibet.  Now a study in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” has analyzed dna from purported snowman samples and determined it may be a myth after all. Of eight samples of hair, bone, teeth, and skin that were analyzed seven were from bears, and one was from a dog.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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