The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first at home test for the BRCA 1 and 2 genes that cause breast cancer but regulators warn that the test does not reveal a woman’s full risk. The saliva test from 23andMe tests for only three of the more than one thousand variants of the breast cancer genes affecting only one tenth of one percent of most populations. However those mutations account for more than ninety percent of genetic breast cancer in women with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry so for them the test may be a better idea.
Colicky babies are defined by crying more than three hours a day at least three days a week. It is a mystery why it occurs and the condition eventually goes away on its own. But frazzled parents looking for relief will be glad to hear there may finally be a treatment: a probiotic called lactobacillus reuteri. The study in the journal Pediatrics shows that the probiotic is twice as likely as a placebo to reduce crying in breast fed babies by fifty percent after three weeks. Researchers haven’t studied the remedy yet on colicky babies who are formula fed.
And finally, about a third of kids under twelve have been allowed by their parents to occasionally taste a sip of alcohol. But a study in the journal Addictive Behaviors finds that those kids are more likely to drink frequently in later adolescence and drink more when they do.
Antibiotic resistance has left some serious infections with only one defense and the development of new antibiotics has slowed to a crawl, but a study in the journal Nature Microbiology reveals that scientists have found an entire new family of antibiotics in soil. Researchers say the new antibiotics kill a variety of bacteria, including MRSA, that are mostly resistant to current antibiotics. However its likely to take years before the find can be turned into an effective treatment.
We’ve reported on sibling abuse in the past and now a study in the journal Psychological Medicine shows that it can lead to mental illness later. Researchers say people who were bullied by a brother or sister are up to three times more likely than other children to develop schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychotic disorders by age 18. Kids who are also bullied at school are four times more likely to develop mental illness.
And finally, babies crawling on the floor, especially on carpeting, kick up a lot of bacteria, dirt, pollen, and other biological bits and they breath a lot of that in. In fact, a new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology shows that crawling babies inhale four times what an adult would when they walk across the same floor. But scientists say its not necessarily a bad thing, exposure to allergens and microbes in infancy helps babies develop immunity and may reduce the chances they develop asthma and allergies later on.
Doctors may have a lot more time to respond to strokes than they thought. Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show that with quick brain scans to pinpoint stroke locations doctors may have as long as 24 hours after a stroke to administer clot busting drugs. Previously doctors believed they had only 6 hours to act. The results of the studies are reflected in new stroke treatment guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, and experts say they could save thousands of lives and disabilities per year.
Ever wonder why we have a gut feeling to trust some people and not others? It could have to do with how much they look like people we’ve known in the past. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that if someone even remotely resembles someone whose burned us in the past we’re unlikely to trust them. And if they resemble someone whose done well by us in the past we’re more likely to think they’re okay.
And finally, evidence that sugar comas are real. A study in the journal Physiology and Behavior finds that people’s cognitive performance and attention are impaired after they consume sugar, especially simple sugars like glucose. And the effect is especially bad if people haven’t eaten in a while.
The United States is in the middle of its worst flu season in nine years. And millions of us have gone to the doctor for a five day Tamiflu treatment after we’ve gotten sick. But a Japanese drug maker says its come up with a treatment that can make people better in just one day and one dose. The Wall Street Journal reports on clinical trials showing the drug is three times faster than any anti-flu drug now on the market. However, it won’t be available in the U.S. until at least next year.
Scientists have zeroed in on what causes many cases of colitis and chronic inflammatory bowel disease, what most people call the 24-hour stomach flu. In reality that’s usually a case of food poisoning, not the flu, and it happens more often than we think. A study in the journal Science shows that if a person keeps getting intestinal upsets often enough it can create a deficiency in an enzyme in the gut prompting severe, permanent problems.
And finally, people who are tall have a whole variety of advantages but in at least one respect being short is good for your health. A study in the journal Circulation Cardiovascular Genetics shows that short people are much less likely to develop blood clots in the veins-the third leading cause of heart attack and stroke. Scientists say that women who are 5 feet 1 or less are nearly 70 percent less likely to have a blood clot compared to women who are 6 feet or taller. Researchers aren’t sure why, it may simply be the affects of gravity on longer veins.
Melanoma carries a poor prognosis when it’s not caught early, but a common, inexpensive drug could boost the effectiveness of immunotherapy to treat it. Current immunotherapy treatments have a response rate of less than 35 percent but a study in the journal OncoImmunology finds that the addition of pan beta blockers increases it substantially. In the study, 70 percent of patients receiving pan beta blockers with immunotherapy were still alive after five years versus about 25 percent of those who did not receive them.
If you’re sick, other people can tell it with just a glance. Researchers writing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B injected half of a group of people with bacteria that produce flu-like symptoms, then photographed all of the subjects two hours later. The pictures were shown for no more than five seconds each to another group who were able to pick out who was well 70 percent of the time.
Going to religious services can be good for your health. A study in the journal PLOS One finds that people who attend religious services at least once a week receive a substantial amount of protection against mortality. Even those who attended less frequently suffered less mortality than those who didn’t attend at all. Religious affiliation made no difference. Scientists say health behaviors can explain some of it—those who attend services are less likely to smoke or drink, and more likely to exercise and get health screenings.
And finally, scientists may have discovered why some women stay away from particular college majors or career paths—the perception that you have to be brilliant to succeed in them. Researchers say girls begin to associate “smartness” with boys by the time they’re six years old, and their study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology finds that those stereotypes persist over time. so women are less likely to think they’ll fit in if it takes being really smart to succeed.
We recently reported on the age that parents should consider getting their kids a smartphone. Now comes a study in the journal Emotion finding that teens who spend more time on their phones are less happy than those who find other things to do. Researchers determined that teens who spend less than an hour a day on their smartphones are happiest. However, there’s one large caveat to the study. Scientists admit they don’t know if smartphone use makes kids unhappy or if unhappy kids use their phones more.
Experts are beginning to realize that one of the more serious public health threats of the modern world is loneliness. It’s a particular problem among older people with studies showing as many as half of those over age 60 are lonely. Other studies are showing that loneliness markedly increases heart disease risk, depression and cognitive decline. Now government is trying to do something about it. Great Britain has appointed a minister for loneliness.
And finally, if you’re tempted to stifle a sneeze – don’t. the British Medical Journal has published the extreme case of a 34-year old man who tried to bottle up his sneeze and ended up hospitalized for a week. The sneeze ruptured the man’s throat after he held his nose and clamped a hand over his mouth leaving the sneeze’s force no place to go.
The ozone layer is coming back. After many decades of depletion, NASA scientists say the protective ozone layer of the atmosphere is recovering and a hole in the ozone over Antarctica is filling in. Phasing out of chlorofluorocarbon chemicals is getting the credit, according to the study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The ozone layer absorbs more than 97 percent of the dangerous ultraviolet radiation reaching earth.
Eating a diet high in fresh tomatoes and apples may help slow the natural aging of your lungs, and may even restore some of the lung damage caused by smoking. The study in the European Respiratory Journal shows that lung function is strikingly better in ex-smokers who follow such a diet. However, tomato sauce and processed foods containing fruits and vegetables did not contribute a protective effect. Researchers say the lungs start to decline in most people around age 30.
And finally whether a person is a spendthrift or a tightwad may be set by age five. A study in the Journal of Behavioral Decision-Making shows that children form emotional reactions to spending and saving money between age five and 10, and they translate into the child’s eventual spending behaviors. Researchers say tightwads experience emotional pain connected to spending but spendthrifts don’t have those emotional brakes. Rhose attitudes develop independently of their parents’ spending habits.