Medical Notes 19-10

19-10 notes


Medical Notes this week…

Antibacterial soaps are common today, as are antibacterial toothpaste, mouthwash, cosmetics, and even clothing and baby toys. But a new study finds that the active ingredient in most of those things could actually be making bacteria more able to withstand medications. The study in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy shows that the chemical triclosan (trick-lo-san) does kill some microbes, but those that are left are substantially more resistant to antibiotics.

Men who have enlarged prostates may worry about prostate cancer, too. But a new study suggests that enlarged prostates actually protect against prostate cancer. The key is that the prostate sits in a confined space. Scientists believe that as the prostate becomes enlarged, it’s squeezed tightly, impeding the growth of cancer cells inside. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And finally… over the last decade, many laws have locked up most of your sensitive medical data. But a new study shows that “shadow” health records generated just by living your life can tip off a lot about your health, and those records are wide open. The study in the journal Science Translational Medicine finds that using a fitness tracker, smartphone health app, or DNA ancestry test leave a health information trail. Shopping for a health-related item online or even searching the internet for health information leaves clues for savvy data gatherers.

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Medical Notes 19-09

19-09 notes


Medical Notes this week…

Women stay mentally sharp farther into old age than men typically do, and scientists now think they know why. It all has to do with how the brain burns energy. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that women’s brains burn energy in a much more youthful way throughout adulthood. Women’s brains appear to be about three years younger than men’s of the same chronological age, even in their 20’s, and that difference holds for the rest of their lives.

Binge drinking and prolonged heavy drinking may trigger a permanent change in a person’s DNA, which results in an even greater desire for alcohol. A study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows that among binge and heavy drinkers, two genes are modified that influence drinking behavior—one that influences the body clock and another regulating the stress-response system. Scientists hope the findings may eventually help identify biomarkers for people at risk for alcoholic changes.

And finally, more than half of all American workers say they’ve suffered from job burnout, but most of them won’t take a “mental health day” away from the job to deal with it. The University of Phoenix survey shows only a third of workers have taken time off for mental health, mostly because they say their companies don’t view it as an acceptable reason to be off work.

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Medical Notes 19-08

19-08 notes


Medical Notes this week…

Explorers and scientists have been looking for the fountain of youth for thousands of years. Now there’s speculation they may have found an aging inhibitor in a generic HIV drug called Lamivudine. A study in the journal Nature shows that mice who are equivalent to 75 years old in human terms experienced dramatically reduced inflammation and other signs of aging when they received the drug. Lamivudine was approved for treating HIV in 1995. Scientists say they’re anxious to start human anti-aging trials.

Speed limits on highways are usually set as a result of engineering studies. But some local governments override those recommendations, believing that the lower the limit is, the safer the road will be. A new study in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention shows that’s only partially true. Crashes are reduced when a speed limit is set five miles per hour lower than recommendations… but setting the speed limit 10, 15, or 25 miles per hour lower actually increases both total crashes and fatal crashes because so many drivers completely ignore the limit.

And finally… educators have long sought ways to get girls more interested in science. Now a study in the journal Psychological Science has some tips. The study shows that suggesting “let’s do science” is much more effective at getting girls engaged than suggesting “let’s be scientists.” Researchers say pervasive stereotypes, even among the young, torpedo the idea that very many girls ever do become scientists.

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