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 TheNew 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.
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.
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.