News from the World of Medicine
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.