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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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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Medical Notes 18-43


Medical Notes this week…

Nearly 25 million adults and children in the United States have been diagnosed with hay fever… and millions more probably have it without being diagnosed. But a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that a hay fever vaccine developed for mice not only works… it works quickly. Human vaccines for some forms of human allergy already exist, including hay fever, but they take three to five years to be effective. Scientists hope the new vaccine in development may change how people approach allergy season.

Egg freezing has become almost common among upwardly mobile young women, but a new study finds that holding off kids for work doesn’t have much to do with it. Rather, the study presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology shows that a much higher proportion of women are freezing their eggs because they haven’t found a man they want to have a family with.

And finally… here’s more evidence that there really may be such a thing as junk food addiction. A study in the journal Appetite shows that people who quit eating junk food suffer withdrawal symptoms that are remarkably like someone stopping drug use. Researchers say symptoms like sadness, irritability, and cravings peaked in the first two to five days after quitting junk food… and then tapered off.

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Medical Notes 18-42


Medical Notes this week…

Doctors have known that periodontal disease is connected to heart disease…but now there’s evidence that gum disease may kickstart Alzheimer’s disease as well. A study in the journal PLOS One shows that long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria results in inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons, at least in mice. Scientists also found periodontal bacteria DNA in the brains of mice who were infected. Researchers admit the results surprised them.

Nearly half of Americans spend most of the workday sitting… and some people have installed treadmill desks to keep moving while they work. Treadmill desks usually have a pace of only one or two miles per hours, but a new study says “not so fast.” The study in the journal PLOS One finds that people using treadmill desks have a less efficient working memory… although other types of thinking are the same whether sitting, standing, or walking.

And finally… scientists in India have uncovered a major public health threat—taking selfies. A study in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care shows that worldwide, more than 250 people have died while taking selfies since 2012. The problem, researchers say, is that people go too far seeking a perfect shot… and end up drowning, falling off a cliff, or being hit by a train.

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Medical Notes 18-41


Medical Notes this week…

Between 10 and 20 percent of new moms experience postpartum depression, and it can be difficult to treat because most antidepressants take a month or more to work. But a new injectable drug could change that if it’s approved by the FDA. The drug, called Brexanolone, is the first new class of antidepressants in decades and is being developed specifically for postpartum depression. A study in The Lancet shows that it works quickly… and researchers say it could be a “game changer” for women.

Multiple sclerosis results when the body’s own immune system attacks myelin, the tissue insulating nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. The relapsing-remitting form of the disease is especially hard to treat… but a study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that an asthma drug already available in Japan could help. Researchers say the drug Ibudilast (i-byoo-dih-last) slows brain shrinkage associated with progressive MS by 48 percent compared to patients taking a placebo.

And finally… a new study shows that angry people are most likely to think they’re a lot smarter than they really are. The study in the journal Intelligence finds that anger is related to narcissism… and inflates a person’s self-perception. Researchers say angry people are no more intelligent than others… but they’re more likely to think they are.

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Medical Notes 18-40


Medical Notes this week…

Researchers have found another way they might be able to identify Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage. A study in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology shows that an eye exam using already-available technology can reveal thinning in the retina of the eye… which is strongly correlated with early Alzheimer’s. Scientists used the technique to study 30 patients in their mid 70’s, none of whom had Alzheimer’s symptoms. Seventeen of them had thinning in the retina, indicating they may have early Alzheimer’s. Pet scans and other tests then indicated the eye test was right.

About 10 percent of people in the U.S. experience sleepless nights as a result of restless legs syndrome at one time or another. But now researchers say they’ve identified how the painful syndrome is triggered. A study in the journal Sleep Medicine shows that the area of the brain controlling leg movement seems to be in a constant state of readiness… as if the conscious brain is asking for the legs to move. Scientists hope the finding may lead to better ways to treat the condition.

And finally… wrinkles are usually a telltale sign of aging, but they might be a sign of something else as well–heart disease risk. A new study from French researchers suggests that deep forehead wrinkles—more than are typical for a person’s age—could be an easy, low-cost way to identify people with atherosclerosis. The study finds that over a 20-year period, people with deep wrinkles were nearly 10 times more likely to die of heart disease than people with a smooth forehead.

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Medical Notes 18-39


Medical Notes this week…

More than 80 percent of teenagers and millions more adults have acne… and not all of them respond to treatments that are available. But an acne vaccine could end all of that within a few years. A study in the “Journal of Investigative Dermatology” finds that, at least in mice and human cell samples… a newly developed vaccine can markedly reduce inflammatory response to skin bacteria, the process that causes acne. However, researchers say not all acne is caused by the same thing.

Doctors have believed for many years that high levels of so-called “good cholesterol” help protect against heart attacks. But a study presented to the European Society of Cardiology shows you can have too much good cholesterol. In fact, people with very, very high levels have a risk of heart attack that’s just as bad as for people with very, very low levels. Extremely high levels of good cholesterol affect only about one percent of people… while about half of us have low levels. Researchers aren’t sure why high levels are so bad for the heart.

If you’ve got persistent pain in your neck and upper shoulders, you might be suffering from “iPad neck.” A study in the “Journal of Physical Therapy Science” shows iPad neck results from sitting without back support while using devices such as an iPad or tablet. Researchers say the condition is more prevalent among young adults and women. Not ready to say goodbye to your device? Experts suggest sitting in a chair with back support, using a posture reminder device and exercise to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles.

And finally… it’s a good thing to designate a driver for a night out drinking. But a new study suggests it might be a good idea the morning after, too. The study in the journal “Addiction” shows that when you’re hungover, your memory, attention, coordination, and driving skills are all still below normal. Researchers admit more work is needed to show just how much erosion drivers suffer the morning after.

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