When it comes to cancer are you better off safe than sorry? Despite cancer screening’s potential risks, many Americans still want it. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology finds that more than a third of participants want to receive a hypothetical cancer screening, even when the possibility of serious harm is described in detail. Clinicians say screenings can produce false positives that could lead to unnecessary worry and follow up tests. They can also over-diagnose, resulting in costly and unnecessary treatment of cancers that will never spread.
Men who take low dose aspirin to ward off heart attacks have more reason to stay out of the sun. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology finds those who take aspirin have nearly double the risk of developing melanoma compared to men who don’t take it. However, scientists say that’s not reason to stop taking aspirin, which not only reduces heart attacks but also helps prevent a variety of cancers. Women taking aspirin showed no increased melanoma risk.
And finally, want to get more done at work? Scoot on over to a window. A study from Cornell University finds that natural light produces health benefits and increased productivity. Lack of daylight and access to views decrease the ability of the eye to relax and recover from fatigue, but natural light cuts eyestrain is by 51 percent and reduces computer vision syndrome which impacts 70 million workers worldwide.
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.
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.
Experts have proposed new guidelines for hypertension and if they go into effect, it’s much more likely your doctor would tell you you’ve got high blood pressure. The guidelines define high blood pressure as anything higher than 130-over-80 and a study in the journal JAMA Cardiology finds that nearly half of all adults are higher than that. More than 83 million americans would be recommended for high blood pressure treatment under the new system.
In youth league and high school baseball, most pitchers also play another position when they’re not on the mound. But a study in the Journal of Athletic Training argues that it shouldn’t be catcher. The study finds that pitchers who also play catcher are nearly three times more likely to get hurt than pitchers who play any other position on the field. Among position players catchers throw the ball more than anyone else and the throwing adds up to far more arm injuries.
And finally, if you want to have a good business meeting serve coffee. A study in the Journal of Psycho-Pharmacology shows that small groups who have coffee together before a meeting rate their own performance and the results of the discussion more highly than those who did not have coffee. Apparently, caffeine gets the credit. Re-running the experiment with decaf didn’t provide the same results.
Patients with asthma who haven’t responded well to treatment may be greatly helped by injections of a drug for eczema. Two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show that patients with moderate to severe asthma reduced flare-ups by half or more after getting an injection of dupilumab,, a drug approved by the FDA for eczema in 2017. Patients taking the drug cut their emergency room visits about in half and those taking steroids for asthma were also able to reduce their dose.
Scientists have developed a prototype early warning system for the four most common types of cancer that makes a dark mole appear on the skin when it’s activated. Researchers call it a “biomedical tattoo” and say it would be inserted under the skin, monitoring genetic changes in the body. Mutations associated with lung, colon, breast or prostate cancer would make the implant turn a dark color, which would be visible through the skin. researchers say in the journal Science Translational Medicine that the test is at least 10 years away.
Surviving a heart attack may be as simple as exercise. A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology tracked nearly 15,000 people for 40 years. It found that more than 10 percent of them eventually had a heart attack but those who had pursued a light exercise regimen were 32 percent less likely to die from it compared to people who had been sedentary. Those exercising at least moderately were nearly 50 percent less likely to die.
And finally, researchers say walking and chewing gum at the same time amounts to good exercise. A study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science shows that chewing gum while you walk raises heart rate over walking alone, and makes people walk faster and farther. For men over 40, that adds up to a significant additional calorie burn while for women it didn’t make as much difference.
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects up to 1 in 5 women yet the cause has been a mystery. Now researchers think they may have found it and it may all start before a woman is even born. A study on mice in the journal Nature Medicine finds that when female fetuses are exposed to too much of what’s called anti-mullerian hormone in the womb it sets up a cascade of events that occur after puberty. Researchers say the hormone triggers brain cells to overproduce testosterone, a hallmark of polycystic ovary syndrome. Researchers were able to reverse PCOS with an IVF hormone regulating drug.
Yet another study carries a strong implication that playing tackle football at a young age is especially dangerous for brain health. The study in the Annals of Neurology finds that people who began tackle football before age 12 experience cognitive, behavior, and mood symptoms an average of 13 years earlier than those who started playing at age 12 or later. Cognitive and mood problems came about 2 and a half years sooner for every year under age 12 a person started to play.
And finally, scientists may have finally come up with an antidote for hangovers. Researchers at UCLA say they’ve developed a combination of 3 enzymes normally found in the liver that cut the blood alcohol level of inebriated mice by 45 percent in four hours compared to mice that didn’t receive the enzymes. Scientists say the enzymes could also help prevent alcohol poisoning. Human tests could be as little as a year away.
Scientists have long sought the genetic connections to depression, and a major new study has found several dozen of them. The study in the journal Nature Genetics has identified 44 genomic variants associated with depression…30 of them totally new discoveries. Researchers say the more of these variants a person has, the more likely they are to have depression. Many of the genes are also linked to other disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obesity, and sleep disorders. Scientists call the study a “game changer.”
Every day when the sun sets, about 20 percent of Alzheimer’s patients suffer increased anxiety, disorientation, irritation and aggression. But now scientists have located the brain pathway causing “sundown syndrome,” at least in mice, and have developed a way to shut it down. They say the circadian rhythm disorder in humans is very similar and they hope to use the protein tool they’ve developed to stop the disorder in mice in the same way.
And finally, when someone loses a spouse, they’re more than 40 percent more likely to die in the next six months. And now researchers have figured out at least part of the reason. A study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology shows that in the first three months of becoming a widow or widower, levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines rise significantly in the bloodstream while heart rate variability goes down. Both are connected with cardiac events and could help explain why it really is possible to die of a broken heart.