We’ve reported on how dogs can sniff out a variety of diseases in people with scientists trying to create a mechanical nose to do the same thing. Now a study presented to the American Chemical Society shows they’re making progress. Researchers have identified a signature odor in 90% of cases of prostate cancer and have developed a chemical test to detect it. Doctors are looking for an alternative to the PSA test to detect prostate cancer because of the high proportion of false positives.
People who are depressed have a surprisingly high risk for heart disease. A new study in the journal Atherosclerosis shows that depression is just as much of a cardiovascular risk as obesity and high cholesterol. The 10-year study finds that depression is to blame for about 15% of all heart disease deaths, a rate exceeded only by smoking and high blood pressure. About 350 million people around the world suffer from depression.
It might be easier to get into an argument when you’re tired because you’re misreading the emotions of other people. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms shows that sleepy people have trouble interpreting some emotions in the faces of others compared to those who are well rested. Tired people can read fear and anger in others’ faces but more subtle emotions are misinterpreted far more often.
And finally, slightly more than half of parents give sports the green light for their kids but about one in every six completely rule them out. The reason? Concussions. The rest of parents, about a third of them, allow participation on a sport by sport basis, according to a Harris survey for the American Osteopathic Association. About two thirds of parents say basketball and baseball are ok for kids. But less than 20% approve of their children playing football.
Most of the attention on concussions in sports has centered on football, but a new study presented to the American Academy of Neurology shows that female athletes are more likely than men to suffer a concussion, even when football is considered. A study of 228 college athletes shows that 23% of women and 17% of men suffered concussions during their careers. Symptoms were similar except that men suffered more amnesia and women suffered more insomnia.
People who live extremely healthy lifestyles and have no family history, yet still develop cancer may wonder, “why me?” The answer? It’s a typo. A study in the journal Science finds that DNA typos are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the genetic changes that cause cancer, far more than those triggered by heredity or the environment. Researchers say overall, 66% of cancer mutations result from copying errors, 29% are due to lifestyle or the environment, and 5% are inherited.
And finally, firstborn children get all of their parents’ attention, at least for awhile, and don’t have to wear hand-me-downs. Now a study in the Journal of Human Resources finds that firstborns are also typically smarter than their younger siblings. Researchers say the results show up as early as age 1 and result from more parental engagement with the first-born child.
A blood test to diagnose cancer is a little bit closer. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has identified certain proteins in blood plasma, which if elevated indicate the patient has cancer. Scientists have found that nearly 2,400 so called phosphoproteins in plasma and have identified 144 that are significantly greater in people with cancer compared to healthy controls. Researchers hope that eventually blood tests can replace biopsies in cancer diagnosis and in monitoring patients after treatment.
With the arrival of baseball come pitching injuries, but an osteopathic manipulation may help prevent some of them. A study in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association studied college players whose range of shoulder motion was decreased as a result of pitching. Researchers say a single administration of a manipulative treatment called the Spencer technique restored 85% of their rotation.
And finally a good sex life makes you much more productive at work. A study in the Journal of Management shows that employees have much more job satisfaction and engagement in their work the day after having sex. Researchers say the effect is just as strong for both men and women, and lasts for at least 24 hours. And that’s Medical Notes this week.
Synopsis: Scientists have learned that emotional trauma suffered as a child or adolescent has profound effects on a person’s physical health years later. Children who suffer multiple traumas such as loss of a parent and physical abuse are much more likely to experience cancer, heart disease and autoimmune diseases as adults. A noted science writer explains.
Host: Nancy Benson. Guest: Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author, Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal
Synopsis: Cancer biopsies traditionally require surgery to remove a piece of tumor. But doctors are increasingly able to find evidence of cancer in the blood, eliminating the need for surgery. Researchers hope to eventually be able to use these liquid biopsies for cancer screening and early diagnosis. Experts discuss.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Dr. Nicholas Papadopoulos, Professor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Scott Kopetz, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Dr. Terry Friedlander, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco
Synopsis: Doctors can cure cancer in children better than ever, but decades later, many survivors suffer from serious, chronic disease as a result of powerful cancer treatments. Often those survivors don’t get screening and treatment for late effects. Experts and survivors discuss how treatments influence life decades later, how survivors can get treatment they need, and new ways of treatment can lessen late effects.
Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Matthew Zachary, cancer survivor, founder & CEO, Stupid Cancer; Dr. Lisa Diller, Chief Medical Officer, Dana Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Center and Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Dr. Les Robison, Chair of Epidemiology and Cancer Control, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Associate Director, St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center; Keenan Green, cancer survivor