As much as 10 percent of the population have restless leg syndrome, a nervous system disorder creating an irresistible urge to move the legs, often during sleep. It also creates an increased risk of heart disease death, according to a new study in the journal Neurology. The study is perhaps the first to weed out other heart disease risk factors common in people with RLS, such as high blood pressure. Researchers conclude that restless leg syndrome alone increases heart disease death risk in women by 43 percent.
When you’re sick with the flu or another upper respiratory infection, it pays to know if a virus or bacteria is responsible. For one thing, viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. now there’s an experimental test that can quickly and easily tell the difference. Scientists writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases say the test could be performed with a nasal swab and could be available in one to five years.
And finally, most cases of bad breath are linked to bacteria growing in the mouth but around three percent of people have chronic bad breath for no apparent reason. It turns out, it’s their genes, according to a study in the journal Nature Genetics. Researchers say these people have a mutation in a gene that normally enables the body to break down smelly sulfur compounds in the blood. But while scientists now know why those people have halitosis there’s nothing yet they can do about it.
About 80% of people undergoing cancer treatments suffer from chemo brain a mental fogginess and forgetfulness that can last at least 6 months after treatment is over. Now a pilot study confirms that inflammation in the blood plays a key role in chemo brain. The study in the Journal of Neuroimmunology tracked 22 breast cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and found that a specific marker for blood inflammation strongly correlated with chemo brain. The next step could be testing anti-inflammatory drugs for their ability to improve mental abilities during cancer treatment.
A new study shows that attempted suicides are way up among American girls over the last 15 years. Drug overdoses and other forms of self-harm, such as cutting, are also on the rise according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Among girls age 10 to 14 rates of attempted suicide and self-harm nearly tripled between 2009 and 2015. Other age groups increased more slowly among girls and rates among boys were nearly steady. Experts say bullying, especially cyberbullying, could be one cause for the increase.
If your neighbor swears that the diet she’s been on will help you take it with a grain of salt. A new study in the journal Genetics shows that one diet doesn’t fit all, depending on our genes. The study divided animals into four groups by gene type and gave them a variety of different diets. For example, one of those tested was an Atkins type diet, two of the four groups did well on Atkins but two other groups with slightly different genetics became obese with fatty livers and high cholesterol. Now doctors have to figure out what it means for people.
Experts say that walking is one of the best exercises you can do but a new study in the journal The Lancet shows that where you walk can almost completely reverse walking’s good effects. Researchers recruited two groups of people over age 60 and had them take two hours walks. Those walking in a city park showed substantial improvements in heart and lung health but those assigned to walk along high traffic city streets, exposed to car exhaust, benefitted far less.
And finally, a lot of people have trouble remembering to take their medication especially if they suffer from a mental illness. Now the FDA has approved a pill that lets the patient’s doctor know they took it. The notification sensor will be embedded in a pill with an antipsychotic drug. When ingested it transmits to a smartphone app and ultimately to your doctor.
A number of studies have found that people who drink diet soda end up gaining more weight than people who drink higher-calorie beverages. Now a study in the journal “Current Biology” explains why. Researchers say that a food’s sweet taste is just as important as its calorie count as far as your metabolism is concerned. In most foods, sweetness indicates high energy, but in artificially-sweetened foods there’s a mismatch, so the brain is confused. Diet foods trigger the metabolism to run as if the food contains many more calories.
Pregnant women who contract a fever in their first trimester have a risk of delivering a child with heart defects or facial deformities. Researchers have known of a connection for years, but didn’t know if fever itself was the cause or the virus or infection that caused it. Now a study in the journal “Science Signaling” concludes it’s the fever. Doctors say acetaminophen is safe for pregnant women so they shouldn’t hesitate to consider taking it to reduce fever.
And finally, science has come up with an answer as to whether cats or dogs are smarter, and the answer won’t please cat owners. A study in the journal “Frontiers in Neuroanatomy” finds that dogs have significantly more neurons in their brains, the “little gray cells” associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors. Dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, researchers say, while cats have about 250 million. that compares with about 16 billion in people.
This flu season is the second in a row where the federal government is recommending against use of the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine because of a drop in its effectiveness. But now scientists say in a study in the journal “Vaccine” that they’ve found a mutation in the flu-mist vaccine that might be exploited to boost its punch. Researchers have already tweaked the mutation experimentally and hope they can ramp it up to commercial scale.
Scientists all over the world are looking for an effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease but a new study suggests that if they find such a treatment, the US health system is ill prepared to roll it out. The study finds that there are too few medical specialists to diagnose patients with early signs of Alzheimer’s and too few infusion centers to deliver treatments. Researchers estimate that as many as two million patients could be left waiting for therapy.
Fecal transplants have proven extremely useful in combating potentially fatal c-difficile infections. however, many patients are put off by the “ick factor” of getting a fecal infusion via colonoscopy. Now a study in the journal of the American Medical Association shows that pills containing frozen stool are just as effective at restoring healthy bacteria levels. Pills are also quicker and cheaper and leave patients much happier.
And finally, people have long reported sightings of the abominable snowman, and the “yeti” legend is important in the mythology of countries like Nepal and Tibet. Now a study in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” has analyzed dna from purported snowman samples and determined it may be a myth after all. Of eight samples of hair, bone, teeth, and skin that were analyzed seven were from bears, and one was from a dog.
Neurologists are warning that Parkinson’s disease could soon become pandemic. A report in the journal JAMA Neurology finds that nearly seven million people have Parkinson’s worldwide, a number that’s likely to more than double by the year 2040. Researchers say that makes Parkinson’s the fastest growing neurological disorder, outpacing even Alzheimer’s disease. Neurological disorders have become the world’s leading cause of disability.
Too much stress is bad for our health, but a little bit turns out to be very good at keeping aging cells robust. A study on animals in the journal Cell Reports shows that when aging cells are mildly stressed, they emit signals that keep quality control machinery in the cell working. This may double the animal’s lifespan by preventing the accumulation of damaged proteins that otherwise would lead to a variety of degenerative diseases.
And finally, yet another use for Botox relieving migraines in children and adolescents. A study presented to the American Society of Anesthesiologists finds that migraines that didn’t respond to traditional treatments did much better after Botox injections. Headaches that previously lasted as long as 24 hours were cut down to seven hours after Botox and on the 1-10 pain scale, headaches that used to come in at an eight were reduced to a five.