17-23 Segment 1: The Health Effects of Loneliness

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Loneliness affects far more than our mental health. Studies are now showing that loneliness and social isolation also have profound effects on our physical health, and increase the risk of death substantially.

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17-23 Segment 2: Rescuing Runaways

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More than two million youth may run away from home each year. More than 100,000 of them are forced into the sex trade each year to survive. One young woman who overcame such a life describes how she beat the odds and what runaways need to have a chance to succeed.

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Medical Notes 17-23

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Medical Notes this week…

Pot smoking is a preferred form of recreation for a large number of pregnant teenagers. A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that about 14% of pregnant 12-to-17-year-olds smoke marijuana, more than twice the proportion of those who are not pregnant. Marijuana use was much lower among pregnant women in their 20’s and older. Studies show that the babies of these teens may have long term problems with thinking and addiction.

About 20 million people, including a million law enforcement officers, practice target shooting, and a new study is warning of the danger of lead exposure at those shooting ranges. Firing lead bullets produces lead fragments and fumes. The result? The study in the journal Environmental Health finds that people who’ve been at the range may have a blood lead level that’s eight times what’s considered safe. Researchers advocate changing to copper bullets at shooting ranges.

A major study shows that about 5% to 6% of people who have surgery keep filling pain medication prescriptions long after they should be pain free. The study in the journal JAMA Surgery shows that the risk of chronic painkiller use is the same whether a person had major or minor surgery, but that the risk is higher among smokers, people with a drug or alcohol addiction history, or those who had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Opioid dependence can take hold in a matter of days.

And finally, about 40% of salaried workers telecommute at least some of the time. But a new study in the journal Social Forces finds that people who work at home end up doing more work for no more pay. Researchers say people who telecommute at least some of the week work an average of three hours more per week than their strictly-office colleagues, taking away from home and family time. Researchers say those who work at home may feel more pressure to demonstrate they’re productive.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.