Medical Notes this week…

You might expect that with all of today’s medical advances, people would be having less pain than they used to. But a large new study shows people are in more pain than ever before. The study in the journal Demography finds that for virtually every age, gender, racial and ethnic group,  and for virtually every part of the body, people are experiencing more pain than ever. Researchers say pain is the nation’s leading cause of disability, with a cost higher than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. The study didn’t look at why we’re in more pain… but scientists suspect stress is part of the reason.

One of the hallmarks of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS is a misfolding of proteins. Now researchers writing in the journal PLOS Pathogens say those folded proteins may be linked to gut bacteria. Scientists were able to prompt a species of worm to produce misfolded, clumped proteins by exposing them to what they call “bad” gut bacteria… and prevent the clumps by exposing them to “good” bacteria. Doctors already know that people with degenerative brain diseases are deficient in some gut bacteria.. but didn’t know until now how they acted.

Here’s another way to cut your cancer risk—eat more mushrooms. A study in the journal Advances In Nutrition finds that people who eat 18 grams of mushrooms every day have a 45 percent lower risk of cancer compared to people who don’t eat mushrooms at all. Scientists say mushrooms are especially high in ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant.

And finally… about a month ago, we told you how palm trees are contributing to pollution in Southern California. Now comes a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that air pollution from farms contributes to nearly 18,000 deaths per year. Researchers say gases from manure and animal feed are the big culprits… as they can be carried on the wind for hundreds of miles.

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