If you’re heading outside here’s more reason to use insect repellant. A new report from the CDC shows that illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flee bites have more than tripled in the U.S. since 2004. Reported cases of diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile, Zika, and Lyme disease increased to nearly 100,000 cases in 2016, and those are just the cases that officials know about. Many people get sick who are never reported. Experts say a warmer client means that ticks and mosquitoes are moving into areas where they couldn’t live before.
Chemicals used in fracking are often found in ground water supplies nearby. And now a study shows those chemicals could harm the immune systems of children exposed in utero. A study on mice in the journal Toxicological Sciences exposed pregnant mice to 23 fracking chemicals at levels similar to those found in ground water near fracking sites. Offspring grew up with abnormal immune systems and an inability in females to fend off diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
And finally, a few years in the future people with food poisoning may be able to drink a cocktail of viruses to get better. Researchers using a simulated small intestine have demonstrated that viruses can attack and kill E. coli without harming nearby beneficial bacteria. The study in the journal Gut Microbes predicts that when the technique is perfected viral cocktails could replace antibiotics for the treatment of some bacterial infections.
Osteoarthritis, sometimes called “wear and tear arthritis,” is the biggest cause of disability in the United States. Now a new study suggests that wear and tear may not be the cause. It might be a bad balance of bacteria in the intestines. The study in the journal JCI Insight shows that mice fed a high fat diet developed bacteria in the gut that were dominated by pro-inflammatory types. The mice developed inflammation all over their bodies and rapid deterioration of joints. But when they were given a prebiotic to balance the intestinal bacteria, it reversed the symptoms.
Some experts have suggested drinking coffee to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But a new study shows that once Alzheimer’s has taken hold…coffee or other caffeinated drinks only make the symptoms worse. The animal study in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology shows that caffeine increases anxiety and fear of new things two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s that are considered strong sources of distress for patients. It took the equivalent of about three cups of coffee per day to produce the effects.
And finally, if you work the night shift, or if your work changes hours often, watch out for that cheeseburger on the way home. a study in the FASEBJ Journal shows that constantly changing schedules make it tough for the body to process fats without producing much higher than normal levels of inflammation.
This year’s flu season is barely over but a new analysis predicts that next fall’s flu vaccine is likely to be just as ineffective as this year’s. The study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases estimates that next fall’s flu vaccine will be only 20 percent effective against the dominant strain of influenza A. However, that’s better than nothing, so health officials are likely to say a flu shot is still worth it. Researchers say mass production of the vaccine produces mutations cutting its effectiveness by nearly 30 percent.
A lot of people take calcium supplements for bone health. But a new study finds that calcium may increase the risk of one kind of colon polyps that can later turn cancerous. The study in the journal Gut shows that calcium supplements raise the risk of sessile serrated polyps in the colon. Researchers say the increased risk is greatest in smokers and those with a previous history of polyps in the colon.
And finally, researchers say that the world’s supply of chocolate is in danger. It’s all because of a group of viruses in the six West African countries that produce 70 percent of the world’s cocoa. A study in the Virology Journal finds that the mysterious viruses can kill trees in less than a year. However, farmers are reluctant to take down diseased trees if they’re still bearing pods and that spreads the disease quickly. scientists hope to use gene editing to develop virus-resistant plants.
Ten to 15 percent of parents don’t follow the recommended vaccination schedule for their kids under age two. But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that one of the reasons parents give doesn’t hold water. The study finds that it’s not true that vaccines overload the immune system and make kids more likely to contract other diseases later. Researchers say they can find no reason to deviate from the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.
If you work for a company dealing face-to-face with customers, a new study finds that you’re likely to be happier than people who work for firms that don’t interact with people. For example, if you work for a retailer, you’re likely happier than those in manufacturing. And you’re likely to be happy even if you yourself don’t deal with customers at all. The study in the Academy of Management Journal upends conventional wisdom that says dealing with customers is aggravating.
And finally, pasta has gotten a bad rap among weight watchers, but it’s apparently undeserved. A study in the journal BMJ Open finds that pasta is unlike other carbs because it has a low glycemic index so it doesn’t contribute to weight gain. In fact, members of a study group that ate pasta in place of bread and other carbs for 12 weeks lost weight rather than gaining.
Opioid drugs are a major public health threat but two new studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that legalizing pot may be a way to reduce their impact. The studies show that in states that have legalized marijuana the number of opioid prescriptions have fallen dramatically. Researchers can’t say for sure that people are replacing opioids with marijuana or whether it’s patients or doctors that are the driving force.
Therapy dogs are a welcome sight in some hospital wards but an editorial in the journal Critical Care says they’d do a world of good in the one place you wouldn’t expect them—intensive care. Doctors say trained therapy dogs can substantially ease physical and emotional suffering of the most seriously ill patients. Therapy dogs also do a good job getting patients engaged one of the more difficult tasks in the ICU.
And finally, if you lose your life savings, you’re at a much greater risk of early death. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that losing at least 75 percent of your net worth increases the odds of death by about 50 percent over the next 20 years. And if you lose your home, the risk of death is even worse. Researchers say a personal financial crash makes people put off expensive doctor’s appointments and creates intense stress that’s harmful to your health.
How safe is vaping? A new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives says it’s not. Researchers say people using e-cigarettes are likely to inhale significant amounts of lead, chromium, manganese and other toxic metals. The problem apparently isn’t in the e-liquids the devices use. It’s the heating coils that leak heavy metals. Scientists say that nearly half of the aerosol vapers tested had lead concentrations higher than health limits defined by the epa.
A lot of people, including doctors, mistakenly judge a person’s health by their weight. But a new study in the journal BMC Obesity finds that it’s very possible to be healthy and fit even if you’re obese. Scientists tested more than 800 people and found that more than 40 percent of those with mild obesity still had high fitness levels. Twenty-five percent of those with moderate obesity had high fitness and 11 percent of those with severe obesity still had high fitness. Researchers say it takes a lot less physical activity to improve health than to lose weight.
And finally, scientists have determined that money can, indeed, buy happiness but it takes the right amount of cash. Too much can be as bad as too little. A global study in the journal Nature Human Behavior finds that 60-to-95 thousand dollars per year is the ideal income for a single person. Researchers say income greater than that is likely to prompt the pursuit of more material gains and social comparisons, which make people less happy.
Chemicals called PFC’s are used to make non-stick pans, stain-resistant carpets and water-repellent jackets. They’re already linked to a variety of diseases. Now a new study finds that PFC’s may also make it much easier for people to regain weight after a diet. The study in the journal PLOS Medicine followed more than 600 people during and after being on a diet. The average subject gained back about half what they’d lost but those with the highest blood PFC levels regained an average of five pounds more. Researchers say resting metabolism rates were much slower in those with high PFC levels leading to easier weight gain.
We’ve reported on bullying and incivility in America’s offices recently and we noted that women report more incivility against them than men. But the source of most of that incivility may surprise you—other women. A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that the queen bee syndrome is alive. Women reported that other women were more likely than men to put them down, make demeaning remarks or ignore them in a meeting.
And finally, when it comes to living past age 90, which is more important to partake in—exercise or alcohol? The answer–drink up. A study presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science shows that 15 to 45 minutes of exercise per days cuts your risk of premature death by 11 percent. But two glasses of beer or wine per day cuts that risk by 18 percent.