News From the World of Medicine
Home Massages: To Give Is to Receive
Some things are best left to the pros, but the DIY version of a relaxation massage works well, according to a study from Northumbria University in the U.K. Healthy but frazzled couples took a three-week course to learn a handful of simple massage techniques. Their perceived stress levels diminished, both during the training and afterwards, as they used their new skills. What’s more, both the partner who received the massage and the one who provided it got a wellness boost across eight domains, including energy, pain and mood.
Spice Your Meat to Block Carcinogens
Cooking meat at high temperatures— grilling or broiling, in other words— creates carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
The good news for barbecue lovers is that certain seasonings can prevent HCAs from forming. A Kansas State University experiment showed that a gram of black pepper almost totally inhibits the HCAs on 100 grams of ground beef by binding with the free radicals involved in their formation. Piling on antioxidant herbs and spices works equally well, the most effective ones hailing from the mint (rosemary, thyme and oregano, for example) and myrtle (cloves and allspice) families.
There Are Upsides to Worrying
Fretting can be hard on the mind and body, but sometimes it does more good than harm, says a recent report out of the University of California. First, worrywarts are more likely to take preventive health and safety steps such as wearing seat belts or using sunscreen. A bit of anxiety also makes you brace for the worst, which means you’ll be emotionally ready for a bad outcome and relieved if there’s a good one. In short, a surplus of concern is paralyzing, but a bit from time to time is nothing to worry about.
Short-Term Oral Steroids Carry Risks
Corticosteroids are powerful antiinflammatory drugs that mimic hormones. They are prescribed sparingly for the long term because of complications such as blood clots and osteoporosis. However, they are still commonly used as a short-term measure against problems such as respiratory-tract infections and allergies. A cohort study of 1.5 million people in the U.S. found that within the first 30 days following a short prescription, corticosteroid pills more than tripled the risk of blood clots and multiplied the risk of sepsis by five. The researchers acknowledged that oral steroids can be very helpful but urged people not to take a higher dose than needed.