Good Stuff To Know March 2017

 * * * Highlights * * * 

Study tallies extra calories Americans consume in their coffee, tea * * * Mental activities may protect against mild cognitive impairment * * * Wearable, low-cost sensor to measure skin hydration * * * Peroxide ingestion, promoted by alternative medicine, can be deadly * * * Personality traits ‘contagious’ among children * * * So-called ‘synthetic marijuana’ linked to serious health problems * * * Who is appropriately qualified to perform cosmetic surgery? ‘Confusing jargon’ contributes to misperceptions * * * Hard shell, healthy kernel: Nuts can inhibit the growth of cancer cells * * * Why are men overlooking the benefits of marriage? * * * Toxic metals found in e-cigarette liquids * * * Ground-breaking research on the side effects of therapy * * * vitamin D appears to increase erectile function

Study tallies extra calories Americans consume in their coffee, tea

More than 160 million people in the US drink coffee or tea on a regular basis, and many of them use sugar, cream, flavored syrups or other calorie-laden additives in their drinks of choice. A new analysis reveals just how much Americans are adding to their caloric intake by spicing up or sweetening their coffee or tea.

Mental activities may protect against mild cognitive impairment

Researchers have found that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, even late in life, may protect against new-onset mild cognitive impairment, which is the intermediate stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia. The study found that cognitively normal people 70 or older who engaged in computer use, craft activities, social activities and playing games had a decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.

Wearable, low-cost sensor to measure skin hydration

Researchers have developed a wearable, wireless sensor that can monitor a person’s skin hydration to detect dehydration before it poses a health problem. The device is lightweight, flexible and stretchable and has already been incorporated into prototype devices that can be worn on the wrist or as a chest patch.

Peroxide ingestion, promoted by alternative medicine, can be deadly

High-concentration peroxide, sometimes promoted in alternative medicine circles for cleanses or as a so-called ‘natural cure,’ can lead to numerous life-threatening ailments and death itself, according to a new report.

Personality traits ‘contagious’ among children

When preschoolers spend time around one another, they tend to take on each others’ personalities, indicates a new study.

So-called ‘synthetic marijuana’ linked to serious health problems

Synthetic marijuana compounds are marketed as safe, legal alternatives to marijuana that cannot be detected by standard drug testing, but these substances differ chemically from marijuana; are linked to dangerous side effects, including seizures, psychosis, dependence, and death; and are not safe substitutes, research shows.

Who is appropriately qualified to perform cosmetic surgery? ‘Confusing jargon’ contributes to misperceptions

Do you know what makes a ‘plastic surgeon’ different from a ‘cosmetic surgeon’? If you’re considering surgery to improve your appearance, the answer has important implications for choosing an appropriately qualified physician, according to a report.

Hard shell, healthy kernel: Nuts can inhibit the growth of cancer cells

Roasted and salted, ground as a baking ingredient or fresh from the shell – for all those who enjoy eating nuts, there is good news from nutritionists. Their latest research shows that nuts can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Why are men overlooking the benefits of marriage?

The marriage rate in the U.S. continues to decline and the view that marriage entails a “lack of freedom” is becoming more entrenched, particularly among younger men, according to researchers.

Toxic metals found in e-cigarette liquids

Five metals, toxic and potentially carcinogenic when inhaled, found in liquid of leading first generation e-cigarette brands. A study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found high levels of toxic metals in the liquid that creates the aerosol that e-cigarette users inhale when they vape.

Ground-breaking research on the side effects of therapy

While many people who suffer from depression and anxiety are helped by seeing a psychologist, others don’t get better or actually get worse. Psychological treatment can have negative side effects, like any medicine. This unexplored territory is the focus of a new dissertation out of Stockholm University.

vitamin D appears to increase erectile function

. . .  an open label prospective study administered monthly high dose vitamin D, 600,000 IU/month of ergocalciferol, to men with baseline 25(OH)D < 30 ng/ml. The authors wanted to determine if treatment was associated with levels of sexual hormones, diabetic markers, and erectile function [using the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF)-5 questionnaire]. A lower score on the IIEF questionnaire indicates a greater degree of erectile dysfunction.

Older adults embracing ‘living apart together’

Since 1990, the divorce rate among adults 50 years and older has doubled. This trend, along with longer life expectancy, has resulted in many adults forming new partnerships later in life. A new phenomenon called ‘Living Apart Together’ (LAT)–an intimate relationship without a shared residence–is gaining popularity as an alternative form of commitment. Researchers say that while the trend is well understood in Europe, it is lesser known in the U.S. This means that challenges, such as how LAT partners can engage in family caregiving or decision-making, could affect family needs.

Brain damage is not always damaging

Strokes are usually, but not always, debilitating. This case report documents the extraordinary resilience of a woman in Argentina who endured multiple strokes. Despite these traumas her daily functioning continued in many ways as though nothing had happened. In addition to being an inspiring individual story of resilience, this episode highlights how much we still have to learn about the way the adult brain functions.

Want to help your mate beat the blues? Show them the love

Easing your partner’s stress as they deal with depression can boost their mental health later, study shows. The more depressed your romantic partner may be, the more love you should give them, according to new research.

Depression linked to e-cigarette use among college students

The emergence of e-cigarettes as a nicotine product has left scientists with many questions about their impact on health, including how the product interacts with depression. A new study has found a connection between depression and initiation of e-cigarette use among college students.

Use of multiple brain-affecting drugs is rising among seniors, despite risks, research finds

The number of older Americans who take three or more medicines that affect their brains has more than doubled in just a decade, a new study finds. The sharpest rise occurred in seniors living in rural areas.

Role for Cannabis in Treatment for Opioid Addiction?

The ever-increasing severity of the opioid addiction epidemic provides more justification than ever to pursue the largely overlooked potential of cannabis in the treatment of addiction, and the spread of medical marijuana laws around the country may help give those efforts a needed boost, experts say.

Technology puts ‘touch’ into long-distance relationships

Long-distance couples can share a walk, watch movies together, and even give each other a massage, using new technologies.

Evidence of brain damage found in former soccer players

Evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a potential cause of dementia caused by repeated blows to the head, has been found in the brains of former association football (soccer) players.

Weight loss actually possible after menopause

Talk to a woman in menopause and you’re likely to hear complaints about hot flashes and an inability to lose weight, especially belly fat. A new study shows how regular exercise can help reduce weight and control bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes, even in women who previously led sedentary lifestyles.

Pizza, burgers and the like: A single high-fat meal can damage the metabolism

The global proliferation of overweight and obese people and people with type 2 diabetes is often associated with the consumption of saturated fats. Scientists have found that even the one-off consumption of a greater amount of palm oil reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin and causes increased fat deposits as well as changes in the energy metabolism of the liver.

Postmenopausal hormone therapy exceeding ten years may protect from dementia

Postmenopausal estrogen-based hormone therapy lasting longer than ten years was associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in a large study. The study explored the association between postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and cognition in two nation-wide case-control studies and two longitudinal cohort studies. The largest study comprised approximately 230,000 Finnish women and the follow-up time in different studies was up to 20 years.

Fat grafting technique improves results of breast augmentation

In women undergoing breast augmentation, a technique using transplantation of a small amount of the patient’s own fat cells can produce better cosmetic outcomes, reports a study. In particular, the fat grafting technique can achieve a more natural-appearing cleavage — avoiding the “separated breasts” appearance that can occur after breast augmentation.

More extremely preterm babies survive, live without neurological impairment

Babies born at just 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy continue to have sobering outlooks — only about 1 in 3 survive. But according to a new study, those rates are showing small but measurable improvement. Compared to extremely preterm babies born a decade earlier, the study found a larger percentage are developing into toddlers without signs of moderate or severe cognitive and motor delay.

Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, finds major global study

Vitamin D supplements protect against acute respiratory infections including colds and flu, according to a study. The study provides the most robust evidence yet that vitamin D has benefits beyond bone and muscle health.

Food additive found in candy, gum could alter digestive cell structure and function

The ability of small intestine cells to absorb nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens is ‘significantly decreased’ after chronic exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, a common food additive found in everything from chewing gum to bread, according to new research.

Estrogen therapy shown effective in reducing tooth and gum diseases in postmenopausal women

Estrogen therapy has already been credited with helping women manage an array of menopause-related issues, including reducing hot flashes, improving heart health and bone density, and maintaining levels of sexual satisfaction. Now a new study suggests that the same estrogen therapy used to treat osteoporosis can actually lead to healthier teeth and gums.

Popular heartburn drugs linked to gradual yet ‘silent’ kidney damage

The sudden onset of kidney problems often serves as a warning for doctors to discontinue patients’ use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), sold under brand names Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium and Protonix, among others. But a new study indicates that more than half of patients who develop chronic kidney damage while taking the drugs don’t experience acute kidney problems beforehand, according to researchers.

Regular aerobic exercise beginning in middle age may lessen severity of stroke in old age

Regular aerobic exercise may protect the collateral circulation and lessen the severity of strokes later in life.

Heart risks in middle age boost dementia risk later in life

Heart disease risk factors in middle age were associated with an increased risk of dementia in later years. Smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes were all dementia risks, with diabetes in middle age raising the risk almost as much as a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Some risk factors had a different impact in black and white participants, while genetics and smoking had a greater impact in whites.

Exercise can significantly improve brain function after stroke

Structured physical activity training after a stroke effectively improves brain function. Training that lasts as little as 12 weeks can be an effective treatment to limit cognitive decline following a stroke. Exercise can improve brain function in chronic stroke patients.