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.
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.
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.
Studies show that medical professionals are as biased as the rest of us against people who are overweight, resulting in lectures, misdiagnoses, and patients who start avoiding the doctor. Experts explain the problem, results, and what might be done about it.
Dr. Rebecca Puhl, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Connecticut and Deputy Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
Dr. David Katz, Director, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Yale University and Founder, True Health Initiative
Kathy Kater, psychotherapist specializing in body image, eating and weight issues
If you think your hands are germ-free after you use hand sanitizer…think again. A study in the journal Science Translational Medicine finds that a few kinds of germs are developing resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers…and people who don’t rub their hands with them long enough are helping them along. Researchers say using sanitizer is still a good idea, but you can’t expect sanitizers to make up for sloppy habits.
A new study advises surgeons to stay away from children’s tonsils. The study in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery finds that removing tonsils and adenoids in childhood triples the odds of respiratory infections and allergic diseases later on. Tonsil removal is one of the most common pediatric surgeries performed worldwide, with more than 500,000 done each year on children in the U.S. alone.
A person’s biological age is often different from their chronological age…and the number of pregnancies a woman’s had can be one reason. A study in the journal Scientific Reports shows that during pregnancy, the cells in a woman’s body appear younger. But after pregnancy, that all changes. Later on, each pregnancy a woman has in her life ages her cells by as much as two years.
And finally…your sparkling water may be calorie-free…but it may still sabotage your diet. A study in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice shows that carbonated water such as La Croix dramatically raises blood levels of ghrelin…the hormone that tells your brain that you’re hungry. Apparently, carbon dioxide bubbles are the culprit. Mice who drank carbonated water for a year ate significantly more than those who drank plain tap water…so they gained significantly more weight. A short study on people confirmed that ghrelin levels ended up six times higher in those drinking calorie-free carbonated water.
If you’ve ever wanted to find out more about your doctor and his license now there’s an app for that. The Medical Board of California is releasing an app called “Med Board CA” for users in the state who will have access to information on their doctors with a click of a button. The medical board says it wants to help California consumers make informed health care decisions and they’re hoping other states will follow suit.
The human body contains billions of bacteria so it may not be surprising to hear that surgical implants, such as knee replacements, can harbor bacteria of their own. A study in the journal APMIS finds that bacteria, fungi or both may colonize surgical implants, including hip replacements and the screws that fix broken bones but not to worry no patients with implants have shown ill effects from infection.
Doctors have long known that after menopause, obesity leads to a higher risk of breast cancer. But before menopause, it may be the opposite. new research in the journal Jama Oncology shows that younger women with a higher body mass index have a lower breast cancer risk than those who are thinner. Factors such as hormones, growth factors and breast density all play a role in the apparent link between higher BMI and lower cancer risk. So researchers say gaining weight is no way to prevent breast cancer.
Diabetics may soon be able to say goodbye to painful finger pricks, thanks to a new non-invasive blood glucose monitoring that combines radar and artificial intelligence. The device developed at Waterloo University uses high frequency radio waves to detect the amount of glucose in a liquid. Initial tests with volunteers show the device is about 85 percent as accurate as traditional invasive blood analysis.
And finally, if you’re thinking about what foods are good for you, how about a cup of coffee…or four. A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine followed a large group of people over 10 years and found that coffee drinkers are about 10 to 15 percent less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers. Researchers suspect coffee contains several bioactive compounds with potential beneficial properties. So go ahead, pour yourself another cup.
Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease explains that generally people believe that obesity is a calorie problem: people eat too much and exercise too little. But, he states that there is something else at play here–the enormous increase in the consumption of dietary sugar across the country.
However, it is hard to place the blame on a lack of self-responsibility. Dr. Lustig explains that evidence shows sugar is addictive and it is capable of exciting the brain in a similar way that other substances of abuse do, too. Dr. Lustig believes there are two reasons sugar has become so prevalent in the human diet: first, sugar became cheaper, and second, the food industry put an emphasis on “low-fat”and “fat-free” diets that encouraged people to eat these foods that are higher in sugar.
The negative effects of sugar are not only seen through the increase in obesity, but also in the rise of diabetes which is increasing at a far quicker pace. Dr. Lustig states that this growth in diabetes is not just affecting those who are obese, it is affecting all people who consume sugar at a high rate. He further explains that diabetes is not about obesity, but that it’s about how our bodies metabolize what enters it and the damages that these bad foods cause in the process. In order to decrease the number of people being affected by diabetes and obesity, sugar consumption must go down.
Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease