The number of children’s flu deaths this past season has experts concerned. Between October and May, 172 children were killed by the flu in the United States, according to a new government report. About half of the deaths occurred in otherwise healthy children, but less than one fourth of them had been fully vaccinated. The alarming H3N2 strain takes the blame for the high toll. Experts say next year’s vaccine should protect better against that form of flu.
Feel free to hit snooze this weekend, it can prolong your life…because apparently, you can catch up on the sleep you lost during the week. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research tracked more than 38,000 people in Sweden over 13 years, focusing on their weekday vs. weekend sleeping habits. The study shows that people under the age of 65 who sleep for five hours or less every single night don’t live as long as those who consistently sleep seven hours at night. But weekend snoozers, who catch up on Saturday and Sunday? They live just as long as the well-slept.
And finally, even doctors have to dress to impress. A study in the journal BMJ Open shows that a doctor’s attire can impact how patients feel toward them. According to the survey performed in clinics and hospitals of 10 major medical centers, what a doctor wears influences a patient’s satisfaction with their care. Forty-four percent of patients surveyed say they prefer their doctor to wear a white coat and tie, while 26 percent prefer scrubs with a white coat.
Over the last 8,000 years, the human jaw has been getting smaller due to an increasingly soft diet and a lack of jaw exercise. The result is an epidemic of crooked teeth and serious health consequences, as two experts explain.
Many patients want certainty in diagnoses, especially when they’ve had expensive diagnostic tests. However, those tests are often less certain in their results than people think, making patients sometimes doubt doctors’ competence.
Military science involves more than developing bullets and bombs. In fact, some of the biggest adversaries that our soldiers face are everyday challenges, like exhaustion, heat, and noise, to which solutions must be as meticulously developed as with weaponry. Mary Roach, author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, explains more about her look into the unexpected side of military research.
Roach explored the multitude of products developed for military personnel, which seek to solve problems ranging from excessive sweat to hearing loss and everything in between. She found that military science is constantly developing, because as we make one improvement, the enemy adjusts, leading to yet another improvement, and so the cycle continues. Every uniform is tailored to the soldier’s needs, and everything they wear, carry, and even eat has been designed to be practical, as well as lightweight and comfortable. Many different technologies must work harmoniously and be weighed with the needs of the soldiers.
While her book covers several fascinating military developments, one of the most important is the technology military scientists have developed to prevent hearing loss — the number one expenditure for the Veteran Affairs Department when the soldiers return. While earplugs are effective in dampening noise, they also hinder communication. So, scientists have developed the Tactical Communication and Protection System, which quiets loud noise and amplifies quiet noise.
To learn more about military science or to purchase a copy of Roach’s book, visit the links below.
Mary Roach, author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War
In the midst of summer, many of us are eager to get outside and enjoy the sun. But without proper protection from UV rays, the sun can do more harm than good, especially to our eyesight. Dr. Rachel Bishop, ophthalmologist at the National Eye Institute, discusses the dangers of UV rays to the eyes and what we can do to preserve our eye health.
The most basic protective measure from UV radiation is a pair of sunglasses, which block both UVA and UVB rays. Most sunglasses already do this, so the important thing is to remember to put them on. Cloudy days are just as dangerous as sunny days, because UV light can penetrate through most obstructions in the atmosphere. Although some contacts and eyeglasses may block UV rays as well, they are not a substitute for sunglasses, Bishop says. Furthermore, people with light-colored eyes should be extra vigilant, because they are especially susceptible to UV light affecting their eyesight. Besides damaging the macula and retina, UV rays can also damage the lens of the eye, hastening the onset of cataracts.
In addition to protecting against UV rays, Bishop encourages people to take two other precautions concerning their eye health and safety. First, she says it is important to know your family medical history with eye disease, and, second, she encourages everyone to have an eye exam. Over 23 million Americans have never had an eye exam and may be unaware of an existing eye condition. Taking preemptive measures, like being aware of family history, having a regular eye exam, and consistently wearing sunglasses, will help your eyes stay protected and healthy for years to come.
To learn more about eye safety or about our guest, see the links below.
Dr. Rachel Bishop, ophthalmologist at the National Eye Institute
Colorectal cancer rates have increased among people under the age of 50 and that’s why the American Cancer Society is now recommending adults undergo screening starting at age 45, rather than 50. The rate of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 has risen 51 percent since 1994 yet doctors are struggling to pinpoint the reason. Colorectal cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer among adults, and about 50,000 americans are expected to die of the disease in 2018.
For years, public health experts have been encouraging women to take folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects but a study in the American Journal of Public Health shows many women still don’t take them. The study shows fewer than five percent of low-income urban mothers take daily folic acid supplements before getting pregnant. Previous studies prove that use of these prenatal vitamins can prevent 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects in newborns. Experts suggest all women of reproductive age take folic acid since many pregnancies are unintended.
The belief that exercise can slow cognitive decline in older people with dementia has gained popularity. Yet new research shows that’s not true. A study in the journal BMJ says moderate to high intensity exercise can improve physical fitness but experts say it does not improve cognitive impairment, daily activities, behavior, or health-related quality of life.
And finally, everyone knows soda isn’t good for you. But it may be even worse than you think. A study in the journal Obesity Reviews shows that “a calorie isn’t just a calorie” but that some are worse than others, and soda may be one of the worst. Even if soda doesn’t make you gain weight, it can markedly increase the risk of other health-related issues.
Most people think of military science in terms of defeating the other side. But it also involves keeping our troops sheltered, clothed, fed, and protected from adversaries like exhaustion, infection, heat and noise. A noted investigative journalist explains the less well known side of military research.
Summer Eye Protection
Summer is when people want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Skin protection and sunscreen are something most of us consider, but overexposure to UV rays is extremely dangerous to the eyes as well. An expert discusses.
Just a few decades ago, a large majority of adolescents experienced certain rites of passage before going off to college, such as getting a driver’s license, having a paid job, going out on dates, having sex, or drinking alcohol. But in the late 1990s, that began to change. A new generation is arising that is growing up slower than previous generations. Three experts discuss these new trends and what could be causing them.
While earlier generations jumped quickly into independence by their senior year of high school, research is now showing a decline in risk-taking for teens, says Dr. Jean Tweenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and author of I-Gen: Why Today’s Superconnected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. With parents who are becoming more overprotective, many adolescents are now overly concerned about safety and end up postponing adult actions, such as starting a career or getting married, which in turn can lead to them being unprepared when they do reach those important milestones.
Rachel Simmons, Leadership Development Specialist at Smith College and author of Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Happy, Healthy and Fulfilling Lives, also weighs in on this issue, saying that a delay in pursuing independence leads to a decline in resilience in difficult situations. Along with this, both Simmons and Tweenge comment on the role of smartphones and social media in these changing trends. While Tweenge says that smartphones make it easier for teens to stay at home for their social needs, Simmons says that social media itself isn’t bad Rather, the effect social media has on kids depends on how they choose to use it.
Parents’ natural desire to protect their children may be partially responsible for keeping kids from becoming “streetwise,” says Dr. Dan Siegel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, Executive Director at the Mindsight Institute, and author of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. Not learning to handle independent experiences while in the safety of the home, can result in teens going overboard when they are given that freedom. Overall, he says, if our culture doesn’t expect teens to rise to adult responsibilities, then, as the trends are showing, they likely won’t.
For more information about adolescent trends or about our guests, visit the links below.
Dr. Jean Tweenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and author of I-Gen: Why Today’s Superconnected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood
Rachel Simmons, Leadership Development Specialist at Smith College and author of Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Happy, Healthy and Fulfilling Lives
Dr. Dan Siegel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, Executive Director at the Mindsight Institute and author of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain