Medical Notes this week…


The stress of the pandemic on healthcare workers has been enormous… but a study by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center shows critical care nurses were already burning out in large numbers even before it hit. Forty percent of nurses admitted to symptoms of depression…

More than 60 percent rated their physical health at five or lower on a scale of one to 10… and more than half rated their mental health at five or worse. Nearly two-thirds of nurses admitted making medical errors in the past five years… and they were much more likely among those who rated their physical and mental health as low.

More than half of all cases of cervical cancer in the United States occur in women who’ve never had a pap smear or HPV test… and doctors have been trying to figure out ways to increase testing. Now a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology finds that low income women avoid those tests for very simple, practical reasons—they’re more focused on making sure they have a roof over their heads and food on the table. Making it to the next day is more important.

Cocoa powder seems like an indulgence… but it’s a heart-healthy one. And now a study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry finds that it may also reduce liver disease, at least in mice. Scientists put a group of obese mice with fatty liver disease on a diet with the human equivalent of five cups of hot cocoa per day… And found that they gained 21 percent less weight than a control group, and had 28 percent less fat in their livers. The cocoa-eating mice also had 56 percent less oxidative stress and 75 percent less DNA damage in their livers. Researchers say cocoa is a good substitute for high calorie snack foods. 

And finally…moms who’ve been working at home during the pandemic won’t be surprised to hear this—they’re shouldering a lot more of the household chores and childcare than dads who are also working at home. A study in the journal Gender and Society also shows that when moms are working remotely and dads aren’t, moms take on a huge amount of responsibility for kids’ schooling and housework. But when dad’s the only one working at home… he’s not likely to take on nearly as much. 

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