Medical Notes this week…


A few months ago, doctors had plenty of disagreement about whether people who’ve had COVID were safe from infection. Now they may have their answer. A study in the journal Nature shows that even a mild case of COVID produces antibodies that are still going strong 11 months later. Doctors speculate that antibody protection could be lifelong from those mild cases. However, it’s still unknown if severe cases produce the same protection. Too much inflammation, as occurs in severe COVID, can lead to defective immune response. 

Could flickering lights help treat Alzheimer’s disease? A small study in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions suggests it might be possible. Researchers gave 20 patients with mild Alzheimer’s impairment a set of specialized headphones and visors to wear an hour a day… and found that the flicker treatment stimulates gamma waves in the brain and prompts the brain’s immune system to clear pathogens. Pathogens such as amyloid beta are linked to Alzheimer’s… but researchers have not shown a reduction in those yet. 

And finally… a story about unintended consequences. When San Francisco banned flavored tobacco products such as flavored vape liquids in 2018, experts viewed it as positive for the health of teenagers. But a new study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics shows that the flavor ban may have pushed high schoolers to start smoking cigarettes instead. Since the ban, surrounding areas saw a continuing decline in cigarette smoking… but in San Francisco, smoking surged upwards again. 

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