Medical Notes this week…

Growing up on a farm leads to a more stress-resistant immune system and a lower risk of mental illness. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lends support to the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that growing up in “too clean” an environment can produce asthma and other health problems. The study compared people raised in the city with no pets against those who were raised with farm animals, surrounded by bacteria-laden dust. Researchers found that the bodies of people raised on farms responded better to a stressful situation…although they felt they were more stressed than the city dwellers.

Macular degeneration is the largest cause of blindness in older people and vigorous exercise may make it more likely in men. A study in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology tracked more than 200,000 people over more than 10 years and found that men who exercised vigorously five or more days per week were 54 percent more likely to develop macular degeneration within 10 years. Researchers say they’re surprised by the results. Exercise did not produce the same problems among women.

And finally, if you want to enjoy your job more, get your co-workers to complain about work with you. A study in the journal Organization Studies finds that complaining with colleagues in a joking way about common problems at work boosts morale and builds relationships. However, researchers caution that the joking has to be about work structure not people.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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