Good Stuff to Know September 2014

Problem drinking in midlife doubles chance of memory problems in later life ** Effect of loud noises on brain revealed in study ** Recent use of some birth control pills may increase breast cancer risk, study suggests ** Chili peppers for a healthy gut: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors ** How we form habits, change existing ones ** Regular marijuana use bad for teens’ brains

 

Problem drinking in midlife doubles chance of memory problems in later life

Middle-aged adults with a history of problem drinking are more than twice as likely to suffer from severe memory impairment in later life, research shows. The study highlights the hitherto largely unknown link between harmful patterns of alcohol consumption and problems with memory later in life — problems which may place people at a high risk of developing dementia.

Effect of loud noises on brain revealed in study

Prolonged exposure to loud noise alters how the brain processes speech, potentially increasing the difficulty in distinguishing speech sounds, according to neuroscientists. Exposure to intensely loud sounds leads to permanent damage of the hair cells, which act as sound receivers in the ear. Once damaged, the hair cells do not grow back, leading to noise-induced hearing loss.

Recent use of some birth control pills may increase breast cancer risk, study suggests

Women who recently used birth control pills containing high-dose estrogen and a few other formulations had an increased risk for breast cancer, whereas women using some other formulations did not, according to new data.

Chili peppers for a healthy gut: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors

Researchers report that dietary capsaicin – the active ingredient in chili peppers – produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining the intestines of mice, triggering a reaction that ultimately reduces the risk of colorectal tumors.

Surgeons report significant migraine relief from cosmetic eyelid surgery technique

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons report a high success rate using a method to screen and select patients for a specific surgical migraine treatment technique. More than 90 percent of the patients who underwent this surgery to decompress the nerves that trigger migraines experienced relief and also got a bonus cosmetic eyelid surgery

Anti-cholinergic drugs impair physical function in elderly patients

Drugs widely prescribed to the elderly could be responsible for a decline in cognitive and physical function according to new research. A new report reveals that anti-cholinergic drugs – which are used to treat conditions including asthma, high blood pressure, insomnia, dizziness and diarrhea – could impact physical functions in elderly patients such as eating and getting dressed.

How we form habits, change existing ones

About 40 percent of people’s daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations, studies show. Habits emerge through associative learning. ‘We find patterns of behavior that allow us to reach goals. We repeat what works, and when actions are repeated in a stable context, we form associations between cues and response,’ a researcher explains.

Most misdiagnosed form of dementia leaves patients, doctors unprepared

Even though Lewy body dementia is second only to Alzheimer’s disease as the most common cause of progressive dementia, affecting 1.3 million Americans, the symptoms of LBD are not well recognized by many physicians, especially primary care physicians and other general practitioners. Unfortunately, then, most people are not diagnosed until they are at moderate or severe states, leaving their caregivers unprepared and the patient vulnerable to potentially deadly medication side effects.

Regular marijuana use bad for teens’ brains

Frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ, according to psychologists. “It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said one expert.

Does love make sex better for most women?

Love and commitment can make sex physically more satisfying for many women, according to a sociologist. The benefits of being in love with a sexual partner are more than just emotional. Most of the women in the study said that love made sex physically more pleasurable. Women who loved their sexual partners also said they felt less inhibited and more willing to explore their sexuality.

Bigger weddings, fewer partners, less ‘sliding’ linked to better marriages

The more people who attend your wedding and the fewer relationships you had prior to marriage, the more likely you are to report a high-quality marriage, a study concludes. The study challenges the idea that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” — the general notion that what happens in one’s younger years, before marriage, stays there and doesn’t impact the remainder of one’s life.

Neglected boys may turn into violent adolescents

Parents who physically neglect their boys may increase the risk that they will raise violent adolescents, according to sociologists. Examples of physical neglect include not taking a sick or injured child to the doctor, improperly clothing a child and not feeding a child, according to the researchers. While physical abuse is a significant contributor to violent behavior, physical neglect alone is an even stronger predictor of male adolescent violence than physical abuse, they noted.

Experts denounce clinical trials of unscientific, ‘alternative’ medicines

Experts call for an end to clinical trials of ‘highly implausible treatments’ such as homeopathy and reiki. Over the last two decades, such complementary and alternative medicine treatments have been embraced in medical academia despite budget constraints and the fact that they rest on dubious science, they say.

(What is needed, say Gorski and Novella, is science-based medicine rather than evidence-based medicine. Biologically plausible treatments should advance to randomized clinical trials only when there is sufficient preclinical evidence to justify the effort, time, and expense, as well as the use of human subjects.)

Reading ‘Fifty Shades’ linked to unhealthy behaviors

Young adult women who read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ are more likely than nonreaders to exhibit signs of eating disorders and have a verbally abusive partner, finds a new study. Further, women who read all three books in the blockbuster “Fifty Shades” erotic romance series are at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners.

Ibuprofen posing potential threat to fish, researchers say

Many rivers contain levels of ibuprofen that could be adversely affecting fish health, researchers report. In what is believed to be the first study to establish the level of risk posed by ibuprofen at the country scale, the researchers examined 3,112 stretches of river which together receive inputs from 21 million people.

Health benefits of vitamin D dependent on type taken

New research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has shown that vitamin D3 supplements could provide more benefit than the close relative vitamin D2. The findings published in the June edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition could potentially lead to changes in the food industry when it comes to fortification.

When it comes to raising vitamin D levels, anesthesiologists advise: Don’t be wimpy!

Enough observational studies -— it’s time for doctors to recommend steps to raise their patients’ vitamin D levels. That’s the message in a provocative editorial by anesthesiologists. There’s already enough evidence to justify increasing vitamin D levels to improve health, according to the opinion piece.

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