Medical Notes this week…


Wearing a face mask may give people a sort of immunity to serious cases of COVID-19. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine theorizes that it’s not just exposure to the virus that matters—it’s also how much of the virus you’re exposed to. People who are exposed to a lot of the virus get much sicker than those who are exposed to just a little, according to the theory. Wearing a mask cuts exposure, so even if you get the virus, scientists say you’re much more likely to be asymptomatic, getting immunity without getting sick.

Here’s one more reason to save honeybees—their venom is a powerful chemotherapy agent against so-called “triple negative” breast cancer. An Australian study in the journal npj Precision Oncology finds that the compound in venom that makes bee stings hurt is just about 100 percent effective in killing triple negative as well as HER2-positive breast cancer tumors. Scientists believe they can synthesize the compound to make it widely available. 

And finally… thick thighs save lives. A new study presented to the American Heart Association Hypertension 2020 Scientific Sessions finds that having fatter thighs protects against high blood pressure.  Among both women and men, people with a higher level of fat in the thighs had more than a 60 percent lower risk of high blood pressure. Now doctors have to figure out why.

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