News from the World of Medicine

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The Dan­ger of Skip­ping Break­fast and Eat­ing Late

Re­searchers at the Perel­man School of Medicine at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia asked nine healthy adults to eat three meals and two snacks daily be­tween 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Af­ter do­ing that for two months, the vol­un­teers took a cou­ple of weeks off be­fore lim­it­ing their meals and snacks to be­tween noon and 11 p.m. for two more months. When the group ate only later in the day, their weight, in­sulin, fast­ing glu­cose, choles­terol, and triglyc­eride lev­els all wors­ened, rais­ing their risk for de­vel­op­ing heart dis­ease and di­a­betes.

New “Green” Pain Treat­ment

Peo­ple with chronic mi­graines and fi­bromyal­gia who looked at a green LED light for one to two hours ev­ery day for ten weeks saw a 40 to 50 per­cent de­crease in pain, ac­cord­ing to a small-scale hu­man trial con­ducted by Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona pro­fes­sors Ra­jesh Khanna, PHD, and Mo­hab Ibrahim, MD, PHD. It’s un­clear ex­actly how this works, but in ear­lier an­i­mal stud­ies, re­searchers ob­served that ex­po­sure to green LED light boosted the body’s pro­duc­tion of its own nat­u­ral painkillers. The in­spi­ra­tion for the pro­ject was Dr. Ibrahim’s brother, whose headaches got bet­ter when he sat out­side and looked at sun­light fil­ter­ing through green tree leaves.

Ex­er­cise Boosts Mem­ory of Names and Faces

Ac­cord­ing to a small study pub­lished in the jour­nal Cog­ni­tive Re­search: Prin­ci­ples and Im­pli­ca­tions, young women who did just five min­utes of low-im­pact phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity af­ter learn­ing peo­ple’s names and faces scored higher when they were tested on their abil­ity to re­call the names the next day, com­pared with women who ei­ther ex­er­cised be­fore study­ing the face­name pairs or did not

Noise Can El­e­vate Your Blood Pres­sure

ex­er­cise at all. The same trend did not ap­ply to the male par­tic­i­pants. The study’s au­thor spec­u­lated that this was be­cause the tests in­cluded only male faces. If women re­spond bet­ter than men do to male faces, the fe­male par­tic­i­pants’ re­ac­tions might have swayed the re­sults. A study of peo­ple liv­ing near Athens In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Greece found that for those re­peat­edly ex­posed to the din of air­planes, es­pe­cially at night, the odds of de­vel­op­ing high blood pres­sure more than dou­bled with each ten-deci­bel in­crease in vol­ume. This sup­ports pre­vi­ous re­search link­ing loud noises with hy­per­ten­sion.

Acid Re­flux: Mediter­ranean Diet as Ef­fec­tive as Drugs?

A study pub­lished in JAMA Oto­laryn­gol­ogy ex­am­ined the med­i­cal records of peo­ple with acid re­flux in the throat. One co­hort had been treated with pro­ton pump in­hibitors and asked to avoid foods that ex­ac­er­bate the prob­lem (car­bon­ated bev­er­ages, al­co­hol, spicy or greasy meals, and so on). The se­cond group avoided the same items, drank only al­ka­line wa­ter, and ate a Mediter­ranean-style diet in which 90 per­cent of the food came from plants. Af­ter six weeks, the two co­horts saw roughly the same amount of im­prove­ment.

Sleep De­pri­va­tion as a De­pres­sion Treat­ment

Af­ter re­view­ing more than 60 stud­ies, re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia con­cluded that, in con­trolled set­tings, sleep de­pri­va­tion can rad­i­cally re­duce the symp­toms of de­pres­sion in about half of pa­tients—and in as lit­tle as 24 hours. That’s a huge im­prove­ment over an­tide­pres­sants, whose ef­fects may not be ap­par­ent for weeks. But don’t start stay­ing up late yet. Other stud­ies in­di­cate that a lack of sleep can ac­tu­ally cause de­pres­sion—along with a host of other health is­sues, such as obe­sity, di­a­betes, and heart prob­lems.

More re­search is needed to de­ter­mine how best to use a treat­ment of con­trolled sleep de­pri­va­tion.

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