News from the World of Medicine

Reader's Digest - - Contents -

How to Live Longer

To test the as­sump­tion that a healthy life­style re­ally adds years to your life, re­searchers de­vised a sim­ple study. They looked at the life span of more than 123,000 Amer­i­cans and then checked to see who had stuck with these five daily habits: eat­ing well, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly, main­tain­ing a healthy weight, avoid­ing smok­ing, and drink­ing in mod­er­a­tion. Sure enough, the folks who fol­lowed all five lived longer, but even the re­searchers were as­ton­ished by how much longer. Women at age 50 who fol­lowed all five healthy habits lived 43 more years on av­er­age, com­pared with 29 years for women who didn’t fol­low any of them. Men who main­tained all the habits lived an ad­di­tional 38 years be­yond 50, com­pared with 26 years for those who didn’t.

A Good Mood Helps Your Flu Shot Work Bet­ter

In any given year, the flu shot is es­ti­mated to be ef­fec­tive in only 17 to 53 per­cent of older adults, com­pared with 70 to 90 per­cent of younger peo­ple. Sim­ply be­ing in a good mood, how­ever, ap­pears to help older adults get the vac­cine’s ben­e­fits. In a study of peo­ple ages 65 to 85, those who were in a good mood on the day of vac­ci­na­tion had higher lev­els of in­fluenza an­ti­body in their blood up to 16 weeks later.

Plant-based Milks Are Not All Equal

Cow’s milk is nu­tri­tious for those who can di­gest it prop­erly, but as many as 65 per­cent of the world’s adults can­not. What about plant-based milks, which are much more widely tol­er­ated? Sci­en­tists from Mcgill Univer­sity in Mon­treal com­pared unsweet­ened soy, al­mond, co­conut, and rice milks and con­cluded that soy milk of­fers the most nu­tri­tional value. Why? It con­tains a bal­anced blend of the three macronu­tri­ents— carbs, pro­teins, and fats—plus isoflavones, compounds that may help pre­vent hor­mone-re­lated can­cers by bind­ing with es­tro­gen re­cep­tors.

A Nasal An­tide­pres­sant Works Quickly

Es­ke­tamine, cur­rently used as a gen­eral anes­thetic, could prove to be a pow­er­ful weapon in the fight to pre­vent sui­cide. In a small study, vol­un­teers with se­vere de­pres­sion who used an es­ke­tamine nasal spray

re­ported greater im­prove­ments in their symp­toms (in­clud­ing feel­ings of sad­ness, dif­fi­culty con­cen­trat­ing, and sui­ci­dal thoughts) just four hours af­ter their treat­ment, com­pared with vol­un­teers who used a placebo. This is sig­nif­i­cantly faster than the four to six weeks it takes for most an­tide­pres­sants to take ef­fect. No ben­e­fits were ob­served af­ter 25 days, how­ever, sug­gest­ing that the spray works for only a short time.

Ibupro­fen Negates Strength Train­ing’s Ben­e­fits

A small study of young, healthy vol­un­teers who fol­lowed the same weight train­ing pro­gram re­vealed that those who took a low dose of as­pirin (75 mg a day) had twice the mus­cle devel­op­ment and a big­ger in­crease in strength than those tak­ing high doses of ibupro­fen (1,200 mg a day). If you want to build mus­cle mass, con­sider al­ter­na­tives to ibupro­fen.

Chart­ing Can­cer Pain

Dur­ing a five-day trial with nearly 2,000 pa­tients in 19 dif­fer­ent can­cer cen­ters, med­i­cal staff reg­u­larly noted the level of pa­tients’ pain on a sim­ple pa­per chart with a pen: red (se­vere), yel­low (mod­er­ate), or green (mild). Those whose care included use of the chart re­ported less pain dur­ing this time, even though they did not re­ceive higher medicine doses. The chart ap­par­ently prompts doc­tors to re­view which pain med­i­ca­tions are work­ing and which are not be­fore pa­tients’ pain be­comes un­bear­able.

In­halers Raise Risk Of In­fec­tion

A new study sug­gests that adults over 65 who use cor­ti­cos­teroid in­halers for asthma or chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease (COPD) raise their risk for in­fec­tion with non­tu­ber­cu­lous my­cobac­te­ria (NTM). NTM can cause a se­ri­ous lung in­fec­tion in some peo­ple that is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to treat be­cause it is re­sis­tant to a num­ber of com­mon an­tibi­otics. Peo­ple who use an in­haler (es­pe­cially one with flu­ti­ca­s­one, the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in Flonase) should dis­cuss the risks with their doc­tor.


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