Medical Notes this week…

Tens of millions of people in the U.S. are sickened every year by foodborne pathogens. But a new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives finds that organic meats are much less likely to be contaminated with those illness-causing bacteria. among nearly 40,000 samples of chicken, ground beef, turkey and pork surveyed, organic meats were 56 percent less likely to be contaminated with salmonella, campylobacter, enterococcus, or e-coli.

Fracking has been linked to higher heart attack rates in nearby communities. A study in the journal Environmental Research finds that heart attack rates were significantly higher in Pennsylvania towns where fracking occurs compared to towns in New York just a few miles away where fracking has been banned for more than 10 years. Researchers say air pollution that results from the fracking process is likely to blame. 

More people are working the graveyard shift… and that means more people suffering from what’s called “shift work sleep disorder.” That’s a chronic condition that disrupts the sleep of people who work overnights. A new study in the journal Safety Science finds that people with shift work sleep disorder are 300 percent more likely to be involved in a car crash than people who work during the day… While other disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia increase the crash risk by about 30 percent. 

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… can cannabis relieve chronic itch? Doctors reporting in the journal JAMA Dermatology think it’s possible. They relate the case of a woman in her 60’s with a 10-year history of chronic, unrelenting itching… which no treatment could help. Doctors finally tried using medical marijuana… and in either smoked or liquid form, it provided nearly instantaneous relief. On a one-to-10 scale of itching where 10 is the worst… the woman rated herself at a 10 before using cannabis… but within 10 minutes it had dropped to a four. With continued use… the patient’s itch disappeared altogether. Further studies are planned. 

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