Medical Notes 19-02

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Medical Notes this week…

It’s well known that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is rising… but the speed of the increase is stunning researchers. A study in the journal Lancet Neurology finds that the number of people with dementia around the world has more than doubled since 1990. Researchers estimate that within about 30 years… more than 100 million people will be affected with dementia.

Air pollution is bad for your health… but researchers haven’t been able to quantify just how bad until now. A Danish study in the journal Environment International used advanced models to simulate the effects of pollution on large populations. It shows that cutting city pollution to the level found in the country could increase the lifespan of the average urban dweller by one full year.

And finally… it doesn’t take long to believe your own lies. And the older you are, the less time it takes. A study in the journal Brain and Cognition used EEG’s to monitor brain activity of people purposely telling lies… then telling the truth to the same questions 45 minutes later. Researchers found that people over 60 are much more likely than young people to accept as the truth a lie they had told less than an hour earlier. Apparently, scientists say, telling a lie scrambles the memory so people ultimately accept it as what really happened.

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Medical Notes 18-50


Medical Notes this week…

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 The New 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.

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18-49 Segment 2: Party Food Safety

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During the holidays, party foods are a prime source of food-borne illness. Two food scientists discuss common ways foods become contaminated, some of the myths of food contamination, and ways to keep foods safe when you have guests to protect.

Guests:

  • Dr. Brian Sheldon, Professor Emeritus of Food Microbiology, North Carolina State University and co-author, Did You Just Eat That?
  • Dr. Paul Dawson, Professor of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University and co-author, Did You Just Eat That?

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 18-47


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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18-45 Segment 1: MDMA for PTSD

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People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder often can’t face their trauma, which is necessary for psychotherapy to work. It is a big reason PTSD is so difficult to treat. Scientists are leading clinical trials into the use of the banned drug MDMA in connection with therapy to help break this hurdle, and the results so far have been outstanding in curing PTSD.

Guests:

  • Dr. Michael Mithoefer, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina and Medical Director, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation clinical trials
  • Charlotte Harrison, Senior Clinical Research Associate, MAPS Public Benefit Corporation

Links for more information:

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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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