More than 100 million Americans have high cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease. Most people think of their diets as the main cause, but genetics also play a role in both good and bad ways. A noted expert discusses how scientists are harnessing cholesterol genes to lower the risk of heart attacks.
Dr. Kiran Musunuru, Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Genetics, University of Pennsylvania and author, The Crispr Generation: The Story of the World’s First Gene-Edited Babies
Grandchildren are one of the joys of life for many older people. But if a home is cross-generational and grandparents are raising the kids, those children have a much higher risk of becoming obese. A study in the journal Childhood Obesity shows that all over the world, grandparents influence children to eat more and exercise less leading to a 30 percent higher risk of obesity if a child is being raised by grandparents.
And finally, here’s another reason to eat your Brussels sprouts. According to a study in the journal Hepatology, researchers have learned that a natural compound called indole can control non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. And where can people get a lot of indole? Of course, vegetables like cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Coronavirus has sickened tens of thousands in China and killed hundreds, but few cases have reached the US. Experts explain exactly what this Coronavirus is and the relative danger it poses compared to more familiar diseases such as influenza.
Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dr. Jon Mark Hirshon, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland, and Chairman, American College of Emergency Physicians
Parents who have a mental illness known as factitious disorder may fake or induce illness in their children to get attention, sometimes taking kids to hundreds of medical visits and deceiving doctors into performing numerous procedures and surgeries. Experts and a parent who got his child out of an abusive situation discuss how the legal & medical system may fail kids, danger signs and the road to recovery.
Physical activity helps prevent obesity virtually from birth. A new study in the journal Obesity shows that infants who are less active in their first year of life accumulate more fat in their lower torso, a risk for obesity later in life. Researchers used accelerometers like Fitbits attached to infant’s ankles to accurately gauge activity. Scientists say the evidence suggests getting babies crawling and walking as soon as possible.
Low doses of lithium may show promise in treating dementia. A study on rats in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease shows that a certain formulation of lithium can reverse Alzheimer’s and even reverse some of its effects in early stages of the disease. Low doses may even avoid some of lithium’s side effects. Researchers are still years away from experiments on people.
About half of people who are recovering from a concussion have sleep problems, but they sleep better and heal faster when they’re exposed to blue light early in the morning. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Disease shows that half an hour of blue light early in the day helps to reset circadian rhythms, increasing daytime alertness and promoting better sleep at night. Sleep is when the brain repairs itself. Researchers say concussion patients did better on brain speed and efficiency tests after getting blue light therapy.
And finally, maybe the two genders are becoming more equal. A study in the Journal of Time Use Research finds that teenage boys and girls spend almost equal amounts of time doing housework—about a half hour per day. That’s a big change from about 20 years ago, when girls did twice the household chores that boys did. But that near equality hasn’t filtered up to their parents just yet. Married women still do housework twice as much as married men. But at least they don’t do four times as much, as they did 20 years ago.
Spouses of Alzheimer’s disease patients often struggle with depression while caregiving and are desperate for support. Some have started new relationships while their loved one is still alive but no longer recognizes them. Acceptance of such infidelity is highly individual. Experts and a woman involved in such a relationship discuss how it can benefit even the incapacitated spouse, as long as families find it acceptable.
Dr. William Uffner, board certified geriatric psychiatrist, Friends Hospital, Philadelphia and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Drexel University
Sharon B. Shaw, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Group Psychotherapist, New York
Tammi Reeves, author, Bleeding Hearts: A True Story of Alzheimer’s, Family, and the Other Woman
Untold millions of people are afraid of needles. Most manage by looking the other way when they’re facing an injection, but many may avoid the doctor as a result of their fear. The problem is increasingly dangerous for the rising number of people with diabetes, who must inject themselves with insulin to survive. A needle-phobic woman and doctor who’s squeamish himself discuss.
One of the objectives of the affordable care act, when it went into effect in 2014, was to reduce racial and ethnic differences in who can get insurance. Now an analysis by the Commonwealth Fund shows that the ACA has done just that. The report finds that among adults, the gap between Black and white uninsured rates has dropped by more than four percent. While the difference between white and Hispanic uninsured rates dropped by nearly nine-and-a-half percent. However, researchers say the reduction has stalled since 2016.
Naloxone, the rescue drug for reversing a drug overdose, is available to first responders, and also by prescription to people who are at high risk of an overdose. However, a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that only two percent of those high risk people have filled a prescription. That means that most of them won’t have it with them when they need it. national guidelines call for doctors to prescribe Naloxone to anyone who takes high doses of opioid painkillers, has a history of an overdose, or a diagnosed opioid use disorder.
Cancer patients often receive radiation therapy over several months, but a new study shows how it could all be done in less than one second using high energy flash therapy. The study in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics finds that the key is using proton therapy rather than the standard electrons. Protons can be precisely targeted and delivered in one massive dose. The procedure still requires clinical tests before it can be more widely used.
And finally… people who have sleep apnea often find that losing weight helps alleviate the problem. Now scientists have discovered why. A study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine shows that when we lose weight, we lose it everywhere, even in the tongue. And it’s the reduction of tongue fat that’s key in cutting sleep apnea.
Pre-medical students have typically majored in science, but some medical schools are finding that liberal arts and even music majors with no science background can do well. Some admissions officers and doctors believe they may even have advantages, given the importance of communications in the doctor-patient relationship. A musician-turned-med student, an admissions officer and a musical doctor explain.
Hanna Boone, Medical student, Memorial Univ. of Newfoundland
Super Bowl party snacks are prime territory for contamination via cross contamination and being dropped on the floor. A scientist who has studied both phenomena discusses the truth (or lack of truth) in two old myths.
A vaccine against dementia could be in human trials within a couple of years. A study on mice in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy shows that a treatment combining two experimental vaccines can successfully prevent the aggregation of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain.
A vaccine against dementia could be in human trials within a couple of years. A study on mice in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy shows that a treatment combining two experimental vaccines can successfully prevent the aggregation of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain. Those proteins are believed to be behind Alzheimer’s. Researchers say the vaccine also cleaned out protein aggregations in mice that already had them.
Computers are taking over a lot of functions… and reading mammograms may someday be one of them. A study in the journal Nature shows that specially trained artificial intelligence is more accurate than a doctor at reading mammograms to diagnose breast cancer… and just as accurate as two doctors working together. A-I reduced false negatives, where a cancer is missed, by nearly three percent… and cut false positives by more than one percent. Computers also never get tired.
And finally… just about everybody knows that the normal temperature of the human body is 98-point-six. except it’s not any more. According to a new study in the journal E-life, our average body temperature has been dropping for at least 150 years, probably because people expend less energy than they used to. This study doesn’t propose a “normal” temperature today… but another one a few years ago pegged it at 97.9.
New research shows that most people with ADHD have a disordered body clock, prompting disturbed sleep, sleep deprivation, and a worsening of ADHD symptoms. Experts discuss how fixing the body clock could lessen the impact of both ADHD and physical diseases that result from poor sleep.
Dr. Sandra Koooij, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Free University Amsterdam Medical Center.
Dr. Vatsal Thakkar, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine and CEO, Reimbursify
Surveys show the vast majority of employees go to work when they’re sick, risking fellow workers and slowing their own healing. Experts discuss the maladjusted workplace culture that promotes this, how to know when you really should stay home, and ways to protect yourself from illness at the office.
Richard Deosingh, District President, Robert Half International
Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Assoc. Prof. of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA
It’s every couch potato’s dream to have a pill that can deliver the benefits of exercise without moving a muscle. That’s a long way off… but a study in the journal Nature Communications shows that a class of naturally occuring proteins called Sestrin can do just that in flies and mice. Scientists hope they can find out how it works to help combat muscle wasting due to aging and other causes.
Cancer death rates have made the biggest one-year drop ever recorded. A new report from the American Cancer Society finds that in 2017, the overall cancer death rate dropped more than two percent—thanks in large part to a decline in lung cancer deaths. Since they peaked in 1991, lung cancer death rates have dropped by 29 percent. Cancer remains the number two killer in the United States, claiming more than 600,000 lives annually. Among those under age 80, it’s the number one cause of death.
Colonoscopy is currently the best way to find colon cancer, but it has its drawbacks. Very small lesions are hard to see, and even then, only the surface of the colon wall is examined. Now a new experimental technique using a special kind of imaging and machine learning has been developed, which can look up to two centimeters deep into the tissue. Combined with regular colonoscopy, researchers say it’s 100 percent accurate.
About 8,000 liver transplants were done last year in the United States, but far more could be performed. One factor holding the number back is that livers can be safely stored outside the body for just a few hours. Now a study in the journal Nature Biotechnology demonstrates a new machine that can keep livers alive for a week. as part of the study, researchers also put livers that were too damaged for transplant on the machine, and saw them return to full function within seven days. The next step will be to use those repaired organs for transplant.
And finally… it’s every couch potato’s dream to have a pill that can deliver the benefits of exercise without moving a muscle. That’s a long way off, but a study in the journal Nature Communications shows that a class of naturally occuring proteins called Sestrin can do just that in flies and mice. Scientists hope they can find out how it works to help combat muscle wasting due to aging and other causes.