Medical Notes this week…

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.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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