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Notes: HealthNews RoundUp - 4th Week of August, 2019


I’m Dr. Howard Smith, PENTA Medical Network, reporting from NYC with the Health News Roundup for the 4th week of AUGUST, 2019.   This is Health News You Should Use, the latest medical discoveries that you can use to keep yourself and your family healthy.


Here are this weeks stories :

Listening Equal To Reading For Comprehending Information

Dogs Help Your Heart

Smartphone Use Not Driving Our Teens Crazy After All

Polluted Air Kills You Faster

Any Physical Activity Cuts Risk of Early Death

A Your Partner IS An Excellent Pain Killer

Heavy Drinking Curbs Immunity To HIV

Don’t Sugar-coat Your Cancer Risk

Zinc Boosts Resistance To Bacterial Pneumonia

Women Do Have Typical Heart Attack Symptoms

Simpler Parental Speech Speeds Baby’s Language Development

Pomegranate Juice During Pregnancy Yields Healthier Neonate Brains

Cannabis Flower The Most Effective Pain Reliever

Green-space Drives Happiness

Even Nicotine-Free, Flavor-Free Vaping Is Toxic


#Reading #listening #comprehension #semanticmaps #Dogs #heartdisease #exercise #Smartphone #teen #mentalhealth #Airpollution #mortalityrates #Moving #exercise #prematuredeath #Pain #analgesic #lover #significantother #Immunity #HIV #alcohol #Sugar #cancer #diabetes #Zinc #immunity #pneumonia #Heartattack #women #underdiagnosis #Babbling #simplifiedlanguage #linguistics #parenting #IUGR #pomegranate #intrauterinegrowthrestriction #placentalinsufficiency #Cannabis #pain #THC #Releafapp #Greenspace #happiness #twitter #Christmas #Vaping #nicotine #lungdisease #ecigarettes

Here’s the news:

Listening Equal To Reading For Comprehending Information



You’ll absorb just as much information from listening to a book as reading it.  This is the conclusion from a UC-Berkeley in which researchers used MRI scans of participants to create so-called 3D semantic maps that represented the brain’s processing of word-based information.


When the captured data was decoded, the investigators were surprised to find that the semantic maps of those listening to stories were almost identical to the maps generated by the brains of those reading the same story.  Those of you who love audio books and podcasts will now have some scientific evidence to back up your intuition.


Semantic mapping techniques will soon be used to study those with dyslexia and auditory processing impairment.  Hopefully the data will lead to more effective therapy for these problems as well as for victims of stroke, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.


Ana F. Palenciano, Carlos González-García, Juan E. Arco, Luiz Pessoa and María Ruz. 

Representational organization of novel task sets during proactive encoding

Journal of Neuroscience 19 August 2019, 0725-19; DOI:


Reading, listening, comprehension, semanticmaps

#Reading #listening #comprehension #semanticmaps




Dogs Help Your Heart



Dog owners are more likely than owners of other pets or non-pet owners to have a healthy heart and to keep it that way.  This conclusion comes from a study just published by the Mayo Clinic’s Division Of Preventive Cardiology.


Looking at nearly 1800 subjects without a history of heart problems, the investigators tabulated their cardiac risk factors including physical activity, body mass index, diet, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking status.  Those with the best overall cardiovascular health profiles were dog owners though owners of other pets scored higher than non-pet owners.


Dog owners scored highest in large part due to their greater level of physical activity walking and playing with their pets.  The exercise tends to keep their weight and other factors in line.  Other studies have shown that dog ownership is associated with less social isolation and optimal mental health.


So, if you can, add a dog to your life.  That life may just be longer and more fulfilling if you do.


Andrea Maugeri, Jose R. Medina-Inojosa, Sarka Kunzova, Martina Barchitta, Antonella Agodi, Manlio Vinciguerra, Francisco Lopez-Jimenez. Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Results From the Kardiovize 2030 Project. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes, 2019; 3 (3): 268 DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.07.007


Dogs, heartdisease, exercise

#Dogs #heartdisease #exercise



Smartphone Use Not Driving Our Teens Crazy After All



A number of studies indict smartphone use for triggering an adolescent mental health decline.  Not so fast say a group of university psychologists in a study just published by the journal Clinical Psychological Science.


The investigators closely followed a group of 388 kids 10-15 years of age, both socioeconomically and racially diverse, who attended North Carolina public schools.  They collected data on mental health symptoms as well as personal tech usage at baseline and over a 2 week period.  Their data set included more than 13,000 total observations over nearly 5300 study days.


The tabulated results demonstrated no short-term correlation between intensity of smartphone use and feelings of isolation or depression.  Even those with a greater risk for mental health issues did not experience them on days of higher phone use.


The psychologists conclude that parents should stop trying to limit smartphone or tablet use and instead support their teens online and offline lives by personally communicating with them more often.


Michaeline Jensen, Madeleine J. George, Michael R. Russell, Candice L. Odgers. Young Adolescents’ Digital Technology Use and Adolescents’ Mental Health Symptoms: Little Evidence of Longitudinal or Daily Linkages. Clinical Psychological Science, 2019; 216770261985933 DOI: 10.1177/2167702619859336


Smartphone, teen, mentalhealth

#Smartphone #teen #mentalhealth



Polluted Air Kills You Faster



In the largest study of its kind just published in The New England Journal of Medicine, multinational public health researchers prove that even short term exposures to inhaled pollutants is associated with higher mortality rates.


The study looked some 652 urban areas in 24 countries and regions evaluating their air quality data and 30 year death rates due to cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and all-causes.  The results conclusively prove that higher concentrations of air pollutants is associated with elevated death rates in all categories.  


How can you use this information?  When you look at the weather info on your phone, watch, or computer, focus on the air quality as well as the temperatures and rain probability.  On days where air quality is poor,  do avoid spending time outdoors.




Spending more time in clean country air won’t kill you either.



Cong Liu, Renjie Chen, Francesco Sera, Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera, etal. Ambient Particulate Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in 652 Cities. New England Journal of Medicine, 2019; 381 (8): 705 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1817364


Airpollution, mortalityrates 

#Airpollution #mortalityrates 



Any Physical Activity Blocks Early Death



Moving your body regularly, even slowly and casually, will double your chances of avoiding early death.  This good news comes from a Norwegian meta-analysis of 8 studies covering more than 36,000 subjects.


Compared with those who reported negligible extra physical activity, those with some, say routine walking enjoyed a mortality reduction of 52%,  those with more activity, say regular brisk walking, a reduction of 66%, and those following a more vigorous exercise routine a reduction of 73%.  In contrast, the confirmed sedentary couch potatoes more than doubled their risk of premature death.


Once again, we see proof that exercise is THE best medicine for your body.  It keeps your weight in line without starving yourself, it tones your muscles, it strengthens your bones, and it increases blood flow to your vital organs in turn improving your brain, heart, and digestive functions.


Ulf Ekelund, Jakob Tarp, Jostein Steene-Johannessen, Bjørge H Hansen, etal. Dose-response associations between accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary time and all cause mortality: systematic review and harmonised meta-analysis. BMJ, 2019; l4570 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l4570


Moving, exercise, prematuredeath

#Moving #exercise #prematuredeath



Your Partner IS An Excellent Pain Killer



In the search for pain control in light of the current opioid epidemic, you need look no further than your significant other.  A small study just published in the Scandinavian Journal of Pain shows that even the passive presence of your partner will help you better cope with pain.


The researchers studied 48 heterosexual couples and assessed the response of each partner to a painful pressure stimulus when alone or in the presence of the other.  The data reveals that both men and women demonstrated higher pain thresholds, better pain tolerance, and lower pain perception when in the presence of their partners than when alone.  This was true even in the absence of physical contact or verbal communication.


The next time you’re about to reach for that Tylenol, Advil, or aspirin, instead try reaching for your lover’s hand.


Stefan Duschek, Lena Nassauer, Casandra I. Montoro, Angela Bair, Pedro Montoya. Dispositional empathy is associated with experimental pain reduction during provision of social support by romantic partners. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 2019; 0 (0) DOI: 10.1515/sjpain-2019-0025


Pain, analgesic, lover, significantother

#Pain #analgesic #lover #significantother



Heavy Drinking Curbs HIV Immunity



Men and women infected with HIV should avoid drinking to excess.  This recommendation comes from immunologic studies completed at the Boston University School of Medicine.


The researchers there tested a group of HIV-positive subjects and determined their immune competence by assessing 3 individual processes: systemic inflammation, monocyte activation, and atypical coagulation..  Their levels of alcohol consumption were quantitated by a phosphatidyl-ethanol determination that quantitates alcohol consumption episodes for 21 days afterwards.


Those men and women with more alcohol in their blood showed more significantly altered immune function.  The drinking upper limit for women was 3/drinks a day and for men was 3-4 drinks a day.  Keep in mind also that a 2015 Yale study did show that HIV-infected men are more sensitive to the negative effects of alcohol than the uninflected.


These and other studies indicate the need for those with HIV to be ultra-careful about their drinking in order not to upset the delicate balance in their bodies that is keeping their HIV load low or undetectable.


Boston University School of Medicine. "Heavy drinking and HIV don't mix, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2019.


Immunity, HIV, alcohol

#Immunity #HIV #alcohol



Don’t Sugar-coat Your Cancer Risk



Gobbling sugar may trigger diabetes but also cancer.  A study from California’s City of Hope Medical Center, investigating the link between type 2 diabetes and cancer, discovered that the high blood sugar levels seen in diabetics can trigger DNA damage and prevent repair.


The studies of both diabetic mice and human type 2 diabetics showed not only markers of DNA damage but also lower than normal levels of reparative proteins that can eliminate the cancer-triggering DNA damage.   


Diabetics, as a matter of course, try to maintain normal blood sugar levels.   The drug metformin, used by type 2 diabetics to lower blood sugar, has the added benefit of restoring those DNA reparative proteins.


This study suggests yet another reason why all of us should put a damper on our own sugar intakes by soft-peddling those desserts and candy bars.


American Chemical Society. "How diabetes can increase cancer risk: DNA damaged by high blood sugar." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2019.


Sugar, cancer, diabetes

#Sugar #cancer #diabetes



Zinc Boosts Resistance To Bacterial Pneumonia



Zinc boosts the body’s immune response to Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacterium that causes  most community-acquired pneumonia.  A just-published Australian study used a mouse model to find out just how zinc works its magic.


Finding that zinc-deficient animals fell victim to Pneumococcal pneumonia 3 times faster than normal mice, the researchers were able to show that serum zinc stresses the bacteria permitting the body’s immune cells to kill them effectively.


Nearly 2 billion people around the world suffer from a zinc deficiency.  Although we now have very effective vaccines against the pneumococcus, Prevnar 13 and 23, zinc also plays a role in our immunity to other bacteria.  You can boost your own zinc by eating beans, mushrooms, dark chocolate, nuts, oysters, beef, lamb, shrimp and scallops.


Bart A. Eijkelkamp, Jacqueline R. Morey, Stephanie L. Neville, etal. Dietary zinc and the control of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection. PLOS Pathogens, 2019; 15 (8): e1007957 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007957


Zinc, immunity, pneumonia

#Zinc #immunity #pneumonia



Women DO HAVE Typical Heart Attack Symptoms



I learned in med school and then read over and over again that women have different and more subtle heart attack symptoms compared with men.  Cardiologists often warn not to expect the crushing left-sided chest and arm pains if you want to make a clinical diagnosis in women.


A Scottish study, just published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, now labels this medical orthodoxy a medical myth.  Researchers at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary studied the presenting symptoms of 274 heart attack victims diagnosed by the gold standard cardiac muscle protein troponin test.  Ninety-three percent of both men and women had chest pain and 48-49 percent of each gender had pain radiating to the left.  Women did have more pain traveling to the jaw and back as well as nausea, but men also had the gastrointestinal symptom heartburn and also reported back pain.


The assumption that women only have atypical heart attack symptoms has led to delayed diagnoses and over 8,000 avoidable deaths during the last decade in the UK and Wales.  The same is likely true for the US. 


Knowing this latest finding should drive us to demand an EKG and a troponin test for any woman with chest, arm, jaw, or back pain.  Doing so could be lifesaving.


Amy V. Ferry, Atul Anand, Fiona E. Strachan, Leanne Mooney, Stacey D. Stewart, Lucy Marshall, Andrew R. Chapman, Kuan Ken Lee, Simon Jones, Katherine Orme, Anoop S. V. Shah, Nicholas L. Mills. Presenting Symptoms in Men and Women Diagnosed With Myocardial Infarction Using Sex‐Specific Criteria. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2019; 8 (17) DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.119.012307


Heartattack, women, underdiagnosis

#Heartattack #women #underdiagnosis



Simpler Parental Speech Speeds Baby’s Language Development



When parents simply their speech by using single word replies, shorter sentences, and fewer new words, infants develop language faster.  This observation comes from a Cornell University study just published in the Journal of Child Language.


Pediatric behavioral specialists there studied the vocalizations of 30 infant-mother pairs on two consecutive days.  They discovered that when many parents responded to their baby’s babbling, they tended to simply their language output.  Those infants whose parents did streamline their speech showed accelerated vocal maturation even in the short run.


The study shows that babies actually cue their parents to present language to them in a form they can easily digest.  If you want your own infant’s language skills to soar, follow their lead by responding to their babbling and consistently serving up bite sized language “snacks.”


Steven L. Elmlinger, Jennifer A. Schwade, Michael H. Goldstein. The ecology of prelinguistic vocal learning: parents simplify the structure of their speech in response to babbling. Journal of Child Language, 2019; 46 (05): 998 DOI: 10.1017/S0305000919000291


Babbling, simplifiedlanguage, linguistics, parenting

#Babbling #simplifiedlanguage #linguistics #parenting



Pomegranate Juice During Pregnancy Yields Healthier Neonate Brains



Babies at risk for abnormal brain development showed improved tissue microstructure and better functional connectivity when their pregnant mothers consumed pomegranate juice on a daily basis.  These startling results of a preliminary study are being rushed into publication by neonatologists at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


The team there conducted a randomized, controlled, double-blind study of 78 pregnant women whose developing babies were diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction at 24-34 weeks.  These growth issues are associated with placental malfunction.  


Half the group received a 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily while the controls were served a placebo with an identical taste and color.  Pomegranate juice’s anti-oxidant polyphenols are known to cross both the placenta and the blood-brain barrier.


When the neonate brains were analyzed with MRIs at 36-41 weeks, those babies whose mothers received the pomegranate juice were spared some negative neurologic effects of their placental insufficiency.  Though their brains were no larger than controls, they showed improved structure and function. 


The Brigham team is currently mounting a larger study to confirm and extend these results.  Meanwhile, pregnant women with known intrauterine growth problems will almost certainly benefit from daily pomegranate juice.


Lillian G. Matthews, Christopher D. Smyser, Sara Cherkerzian, etal. Maternal pomegranate juice intake and brain structure and function in infants with intrauterine growth restriction: A randomized controlled pilot study. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (8): e0219596 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219596


IUGR, pomegranate, intrauterinegrowthrestriction, placentalinsufficiency

#IUGR #pomegranate #intrauterinegrowthrestriction #placentalinsufficiency



Cannabis Flower The Most Effective Pain Reliever



Cannabis does relieve pain, the most effective pain relief comes from whole cannabis flower, and the products most likely to help with pain are those with the highest THC rather than CBD content.  These are the conclusions from a University of New Mexico study that analyzed data contributed by nearly 3000 users of the ReleafApp.  


This Releaf app contains the largest available database of outcomes from patient self-directed cannabis administration.  It captures information about the product used, the beneficial effects, and any side effects and complications.


The researchers looked at more than 20,000 cannabis administrations.  The average pain reduction recorded was 3 on a 10 point scale, and cannabis containing THC worked well for musculoskeletal, headache, nerve, and gastrointestinal pain.  The bad news is that the psychoactive THC products did drive more temporary cognitive and functional impairment along with a longer-term addiction risk.


If you do suffer from pain, I’d recommend downloading and using the ReLeafApp.  You’ll be able to record and store your own observations, contribute to the crowd-sourced knowledge about cannabis usage,  and receive summary non-identifying information about others’ experiences.


Xiaoxue Li, Jacob M. Vigil, Sarah S. Stith, Franco Brockelman, Keenan Keeling, Branden Hall. The effectiveness of self-directed medical cannabis treatment for pain. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2019; 46: 123 DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.07.022


Cannabis, pain, THC, Releafapp 

#Cannabis #pain #THC #Releafapp 



Green-space Drives Happiness



A visit to your favorite park can give you a happiness boost equivalent to Christmas.  In a first-of-its-kind-study, a University of Vermont study analyzed the word contents of tweets from nearly 4700 users as a function of their publicly identified geolocation.


Those users in the largest green spaces with the most vegetation used the happiest words in their tweets.   They also tended show less narcissism dropping the use of first person pronouns such as “I” and “me.” 


Their burst of happiness on Twitter was statistically equivalent to that coming from users over the traditional winter holiday.  The park visit even showed a positive tail, since tweets following the visit used fewer negative words.


The researchers caution that the “twitter-addicted” may not always be representative of the population at large.  I’d take that chance, and get yourself out into the great outdoors.  So many other studies have demonstrated the benefits of frequent visits with good ol’ Mother Nature.


Aaron J. Schwartz, Peter Sheridan Dodds, Jarlath P. M. O'Neil‐Dunne, Christopher M. Danforth, Taylor H. Ricketts. Visitors to urban greenspace have higher sentiment and lower negativity on Twitter. People and Nature, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10045


Greenspace, happiness, twitter, Christmas

#Greenspace #happiness #twitter #Christmas



Even Nicotine-Free Vaping Is Toxic



It’s all over the news: currently more than 200 mostly young people have been hospitalized with life-threatening respiratory illness.  At least one of them has died.  


A new study from the University of Pennsylvania shows that even vaping once without any nicotine leads to significant blood vessel lining damage.


The study analyzed 31 healthy non-smoking adults before and after vaping a single e-cigarette that did not contain nicotine but only the usual propylene glycol-glycerol base with tobacco flavoring added. Each participant took only 16-3-second puffs.


Even this limited exposure drove a 34% reduction in major arterial dilatation, a 17% reduction in peak blood flow, a 20% reduction in venous oxygenation, and a 26% reduction in blood acceleration.  The electric heating and vaporization process converts the e-cigarette liquids into toxic substances that damage blood vessels.


Don’t use these devices.  If you want to quit smoking and need to withdraw from nicotine, use nicotine gum or the patch.  Save your lungs, your blood vessels, and your life.


Alessandra Caporale, Michael C. Langham, Wensheng Guo, Alyssa Johncola, Shampa Chatterjee, Felix W. Wehrli. Acute Effects of Electronic Cigarette Aerosol Inhalation on Vascular Function Detected at Quantitative MRI. Radiology, 2019; 190562 DOI: 10.1148/radiol.2019190562


Vaping, nicotine, lungdisease

#Vaping #nicotine #lungdisease




That’s “Health News You Should Use.”  For those in the USA, have a terrific Labor Day and drive defensively.  Until we next speak, keep a smile on your face, your brain active, and your body in motion....these are THE best medicines. 

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