Medical Notes 19-09

19-09 notes


Medical Notes this week…

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.

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19-07 Segment 2: When Does Genetic Engineering Go Too Far?

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Advancements in genetic science are often clouded in ethical controversy. Often, scientists are accused of “playing God.” Experts discuss a new platform where scientists and public can debate it, and from which education can be disseminated.

Guest:

  • Dr. Ting Wu, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Links for more information:

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18-51 Segment 2: Little People, Disability and the Prospect of “Cure”

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Many people with dwarfism also face skeletal abnormalities which can lead to disability. Experts, and little people themselves, discuss major causes of dwarfism, the hurdles they create, the struggle for respect, and the prospect of treatments that could one day make little people much more rare.

Guests:

  • Dr. Jennifer Arnold, co-star, TLC’s The Little Couple and co-author, Think Big
  • Ericka Okenfuss, licensed genetic counselor, Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento, CA
  • Gary Arnold, President, Little People of America and Public Affairs Manager, Access Living, Chicago, IL

Links for more information:

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Medical Notes 18-48


Medical Notes this week…

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.

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Medical Notes 18-45


Medical Notes this week…

Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML is one of the deadliest cancers, with a five-year survival rate of about 25 percent… and even when a patient has a lasting remission, the disease almost always relapses. But a new study in the journal Nature Communications finds that the disease appears to be the fault of a single gene, which they’ve located. Researchers say the gene rewires the body’s entire set of blood-forming cells and tissues. They hope the breakthrough could eventually lead to a gene-targeted therapy and improve survival rates.

Scientists have discovered some of the reasons why people with obesity have a higher risk of asthma. A study in the Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology shows that inflammation in airways is greater in people with obesity. Those with obesity are also more likely to over-respond to allergens in airway muscles…causing the airways to narrow. Researchers say the discoveries may improve asthma treatment.

Teachers often contribute to a diagnosis of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder in children… but a new study concludes they may be mistaking immaturity for ADHD. The study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry shows that it’s most often the youngest kids in a classroom who are diagnosed with ADHD. Experts also say that in children who are diagnosed… it appears that some parts of the brain mature up to three years later than in kids who are not labeled.

And finally… one good way to get the vitamins you need in the future may be to chew some gum. A study in the Journal of Functional Foods shows that gum loaded with vitamins delivers enough of them to significantly raise levels in the blood. Both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins were effectively delivered in gum… and researchers say most people think it’s a pleasant way to get nutrition.

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18-38 Segment 2: Gene Research and Our Medical Future

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Gene research has made incredible leaps in the last decade. A physician/Pulitzer-prize winning author explains what our new knowledge means for our immediate medical future, given our struggles with genetic knowledge in the past.

Guests:

  • Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University and author, The Gene: An Intimate History

Links for more information:

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16-28 Segment 2: Our New Genetic Knowledge

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Gene research has made incredible leaps in the last decade. A physician/Pulitzer-prize winning author explains what our new knowledge means for our immediate medical future, given our struggles with genetic knowledge in the past.

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Click here for guest information and the transcript