Medical Notes 18-47


Medical Notes this week…

More than 31 million people are injured and require hospital care each year… and a new study has figured out that non-fatal injuries cost nearly two trillion dollars annually. Medical costs account for only about 170 billion of it… while permanent disability costs more than 200 billion. The biggest cost is in the loss of quality of life as a result of injuries–researchers put that total at nearly one and a half trillion dollars a year. Falls, being struck by an object, and car crashes account for about half the injuries…and experts say they’re almost all preventable.

About three million children are diagnosed with scoliosis or back curvature every year, and now researchers have found a possible cause. A study in the journal Nature Communications shows that children with severe scoliosis are twice as likely as children without the disease to carry a gene that makes it hard for their bodies to process manganese in the diet. Scientists say modifications in the diet may help, but they caution against manganese supplements for now, because too much manganese is also dangerous.

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… what kind of person swears the most? According to a study in the journal Language Sciences, it’s people who are highly intelligent. Researchers say people with a large vocabulary and who are fluent in language are good at creative swearing… and they’re not afraid to use it. Scientists also say people who swear a lot are honest with others… and more true to themselves.

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Medical Notes 18-46


Medical Notes this week…

Doctors used to think the appendix was useless… but now we know it’s important to the immune system. And it turns out it may also be important in the development of Parkinson’s disease. A study in the journal Science Translational Medicine tracked nearly two million people in Sweden—some for as long as 50 years. It shows that people who’ve had their appendix out are about 20 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s. The study also shows that protein clumps found in the brains of Parkinson’s patients are found in the appendix as well.

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. They’re also are more likely to over-respond to allergens in airway muscles… causing the airways to narrow. Researchers say the discoveries may improve asthma treatment.

And finally… makers of smoke alarms may be thinking of changing what they sound like. An alarm’s high-pitched squeals may wake up adults… but they don’t wake up kids. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics shows that more than half of children age five to eight sleep right through a standard smoke alarm for five minutes or more. But the sound of their mother’s voice wakes them up fast. When mom’s hollering to wake up, the average kid was sitting bolt upright, wide awake… in four seconds.

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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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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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