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Emotionally supporting the spouse all individualized: study

January 22, 2017      

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Emotionally supporting the spouse all individualized: study

Researchers at New York State’s very own Binghamton University took a scientific look at what works best in husbands and wives supporting each other.

In a study of 65 pairs of men and women, researchers had participating married couples engage in two interactions.  In each, the husband and wife each selected a discussion topic about a stressor external to their marriage (such as poor physical fitness or the desire to get a new job).

Before the study and after each selected conversation, researchers measured each husband and wife for levels of cortisol, a natural hormone that helps regulate stress in the body.

The study found that cortisol levels in wives went down both when their husbands expressed positive support towards them, as well as when the wives reacted negatively to their husbands’ attempts at being supportive.  Conversely, cortisol levels went up in wives who showed more positive behavior while getting support from their husbands.

In short, cortisol levels did the opposite of what researchers expected them to do.

According to the researchers, skill in delivering and receiving social support (by using more "positive" support behaviors) is not consistently linked to actual reductions in cortisol.  In fact, more positive behaviors may have unintended negative consequences, and classically defined negative behaviors can sometimes have positive effects.

“Say a husband is giving advice to his wife when she has a problem.  Even though giving advice is a constructive thing to do, it may not be helpful to her at the moment,” said Nicole Cameron, assistant professor of psychology at Binghamton University and co-researcher. “Maybe she just wants someone to listen to her.  Or maybe there could be the opposite, where the husband is being more of a supportive listener but the wife really wants someone to give her some advice.”

 

Heart attacks 25 percent likelier in poor females

A new data review suggests that poor women are likelier to suffer heart trouble than poor men.

The study by the George Institute for Global Health in Oxford, England analyzed 116 studies that included 22 million people in North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia—finding that among poor people, women had a 25 percent higher risk of heart attack than men.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women worldwide, with an estimated 8.6 million deaths each year, the study authors noted.

The study findings were published online recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Nevada Woman Dies of ‘Superbug’ Resistant to All Antibiotics

A Nevada woman in her 70s who’d recently returned from India died in September from a "superbug" infection that resisted all antibiotics, according to a report released mid-January.

The case raises concern about the spread of such infections, which have become more common over past decades as germs have developed resistance to widely used antibiotics.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “basically reported that there was nothing in our medicine cabinet to treat this lady,” report co-author Dr. Randall Todd told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The woman fractured her right leg while in India and underwent multiple hospitalizations in that country over two years.  The last such hospitalization occurred in June.   She returned to the United States but was admitted to the Reno-area hospital in August with a severe inflammatory reaction to an infection in her right hip.

On Aug. 19, doctors isolated a sample of a known antibiotic-resistant “superbug”—known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)—from the patient.  Testing subsequently revealed the germ was NDM—a highly resistant form of CRE typically found outside the United States.

The report was published Jan. 13 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Even a Little Daily Activity May Boost Colon Cancer Survival: Study

With as little as 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, patients with advanced colon cancer may significantly boost their odds of beating the dread disease, says preliminary research.

Study authors tracked more than 1,200 colon cancer patients—finding a 19 percent decline in risk for early death among those who got a half-hour or more of moderate exercise daily.

Those who got five or more hours of moderate activity a week—such as walking, cleaning or gardening—pushed that survival benefit to 25 percent, researchers said.

Exercise benefits previously have been reported for early stage cancer patients. The new study extended to patients with advanced cancer and a much grimmer prognosis.

What’s more, a half-hour of such activity daily also translated into a 16 percent drop in the progression of disease, the study authors said.

The findings held up even after accounting for a range of factors, including patient age, body weight, overall health, other serious disease, or the particular type of cancer treatment underway.

The study can’t actually prove that exercise improves the prognosis for late-stage colon cancer. Also, the researchers noted that advanced-stage colon cancer patients only appeared to derive benefit from moderate—not vigorous—activity.  No similar link was seen with routinely engaging in more strenuous sports or running.

Heart attacks can begin with stress: study

“You’re going to give me a heart attack!”

Who hasn’t heard (or said) that at a moment of peak stress? 

But now, a Harvard University study of nearly 300 volunteers over roughly four years found that those with increased activity in the brain’s amygdala, which is closely tied to stress, had increased heart disease and stroke risk.

Researchers tracked participants’ health throughout the study, during which 22 were diagnosed with a heart attack, angina (chest pain), heart failure, stroke or peripheral artery disease (poor circulation in the legs).

Analyzing PET and CT brain scans taken of all volunteers, researchers found that people with increased electrical activity in the amygdala had higher risk for heart disease and stroke. They also developed heart problems sooner than people with lower levels of amygdala activity.

According to the researchers, the study is yet another indication that stress directly impacts heart health—and that by decreasing stress (or reacting more healthily to it), one increases heart health.

Study suggests more kids should get tonsils removed

Back when your humble Gazette editor was a kid (1970s-early 80s), surgical removal of the tonsils was very common and almost routine—at least to his mind—among kids.

A new review of historical records by Vanderbilt University Medical Center now backs that notion, finding that while most kids’ tonsillectomies (80 percent) today are done to treat sleep problems—30 years ago, nine out of ten were done to treat recurring throat infections.

The study looked at whether the shift in treatment philosophy was warranted—whether even more kids today might benefit from tonsillectomies despite the surgical procedure being the third most common surgery (about 530,000 each year) performed on U.S. children today.

According to today’s general guidelines, tonsillectomies for throat infections should only be performed if a child had three—or more—sore throats for three years in a row, five over two years, or seven in the previous years.

The new study found that kids who got their tonsils removed despite not meeting those guidelines had almost 50 percent fewer sore throats, after surgery.

However, that health benefit only lasted for the first three years after kids’ surgeries.

The study was published Jan. 17 in Pediatrics.

Scientists repair genetic defect in rare immune disorder

That’s not to say they’ve cured the disorder.

But scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have now repaired mutations in a gene called CYBB.  The gene causes a rare genetic immune disorder called X-linked chronic granulomatous disease (X-CGD), in which the body’s white blood cells cannot effectively fight off infections.

The scientists first edited defective versions of the CYBB gene in stem cells taken from people with X-CGD.  They then transplanted them into mice.  The repaired CYBB genes produced healthily functioning white blood cells in the mice.

The federal scientists’ ultimate goal is developing the approach into a clinical treatment for people with X-CGD.  They suggest that this approach to gene correction also may be applicable to other blood diseases caused by mutations in a single gene, such as sickle-cell anemia.

For kids’ ear infections, no benefit to less antibiotics

For years, the standard treatment for your child’s ear infection at your local pediatrician’s office was ten days of antibiotics.

In recent years, what with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, many doctors have tried to prescribe fewer antibiotics, including for the ear infections common in babies and toddlers.  The idea was to help limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

However, a new study by the University of Pittsburgh now shows that giving little kids with ear infections only five days of antibiotics doesn’t reduce their resistance to antibiotics—meaning that the standard ten-day course of antibiotics is still safe resistance-wise.

The study divided 520 children with ear infections, ages 6 to 23 months, into two groups—one getting antibiotics for five days and the other for ten days.  (Those in the five-day group were given a placebo for the 2nd five days.)

After monitoring participating kids during and after treatment, researchers found that 34 percent of the five-day group had worsening symptoms and signs of infection, while only 16 percent of ten-day group did.  They also found equal levels of resistant bacteria in samples taken after treatment from both groups of children.

The study was published Dec. 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Study suggests more kids should get tonsils removed

Back when your humble Gazette editor was a kid (1970s-early 80s), surgical removal of the tonsils was very common and almost routine—at least to his mind—among kids.

A new review of historical records by Vanderbilt University Medical Center now backs that notion, finding that while most kids’ tonsillectomies (80 percent) today are done to treat sleep problems—30 years ago, nine out of ten were done to treat recurring throat infections.

The study looked at whether the shift in treatment philosophy was warranted—whether even more kids today might benefit from tonsillectomies despite the surgical procedure being the third most common surgery (about 530,000 each year) performed on U.S. children today.

According to today’s general guidelines, tonsillectomies for throat infections should only be performed if a child had three—or more—sore throats for three years in a row, five over two years, or seven in the previous years.

The new study found that kids who got their tonsils removed despite not meeting those guidelines had almost 50 percent fewer sore throats, after surgery.

However, that health benefit only lasted for the first three years after kids’ surgeries.

The study was published Jan. 17 in Pediatrics.

Spice up your longevity

In 2015, a Harvard School of Public Health study found that regular consumption of spicy food was associated with a lower risk of death.  Now, a new study by the University of Vermont finds an association between hot red chili pepper consumption and lower risk of death.

The study, which analyzed health and food-consumption data on 16,000 Americans over an 18-year period, found that Americans who regularly ate the chili peppers had a13 percent lower risk of death.

Researchers have long believed that capsaicin, the key natural ingredient in chilies and other plant-based vegetables that gives them their burning sensation, has many health benefits, including anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and even anti-cancer benefits.  But according to the new study, capsaicin may also kill harmful microbes in the body that can eventually lead to death.

The study was published recently in PLOS One.

Avoid toothaches: don’t scuba dive

Among the dangers of scuba diving is something you’d probably never think of, if not for a dental student who noticed it upon the first try at the underwater recreational activity.

University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine student Vinisha Ranna felt a squeezing sensation in the teeth upon taking up scuba diving.  A following survey of 100 certified recreational divers revealed that 42 had experienced the squeezing sensation, known as barodontalgia, which strikes the teeth when someone is subjected to high or low pressures.

What’s more, five mentioned experienced loosened crowns due to scuba diving, with one even breaking a filling. 

According to Ranna’s study, unhealthy teeth will be more susceptible to underwater pressure, creating dental pain while scuba diving.  The study was published in the British Dental Journal.

U.S. parents mixed on keeping sick kids home

So when do you keep your children home sick from school?  And how do you define “sick”?

The latest National Poll on Children’s Health, conducted annually by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, found that U.S. parents differ on what conditions should keep kids home—and even on whether those conditions are serious.

The poll of nearly 1,500 parents nationwide found that 75 percent had kept their child home sick from school at least once in the past year.  The two main reasons parents offered were that the illness would get worse or that it would spread to classmates.

Among symptoms, parents were most likely (80 percent) to keep kids with “bowel upset” home, while 51 percent reported the same for slight fevers.  Parents were least likely (12 percent) to keep home kids with runny nose, dry cough and no fever.

The poll also found that 18 percent of parents said that not being able to find someone to stay home with their sick child was very important.

Eat beans, feel fuller, eat less, lose weight: study

Vegetable patties made of such legumes as beans and peas leave diners feeling fuller than meat, a small study indicates—suggesting that people trying to lose weight may want to eat more legumes so as to feel satisfied sooner and thus eat less.

The study served several dozen men three different protein-heavy meals, with one centered on meat, one on beans and peas, and one apparently on both.

The “significantly” higher amounts of fiber in the protein-rich beans-and-peas meal “probably” contributed to the increased feeling of satiety, said researchers at the University of Copenhagen. 

But the study, published recently in Food & Nutrition, apparently did not account for varying appetites and tastes among the men.   Perhaps some people just like beans more?

Why husbands aren’t cold when wives are

A fascinating little article recently on Fox News Health offers several scientific explanations for why your husband isn’t “freezing!” while that’s exactly how you feel—even though the temperature in your living room, or front yard, is exactly the same for both husband and wife.

Among the reasons backed by various studies are: men have lower core body temperatures, meaning that colder air doesn’t feel as cold to them; men’s hands and feet are naturally a few degrees warmer, so loss of body heat in the extremities still leaves them with some warmth; and men have faster metabolic rates, or rates at which the body burns food for fuel (and produces body heat).

But of course, when it comes to emotional warmth, wives leave their husbands out in the cold.