Am Fam Physician. 1998 May 1;57(9):2051-2052.
▪ The crying we do at movies is not the same as the crying we do when recalling personal emotionally-charged events, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Researchers identified certain brain regions that are activated depending on whether an emotion arises in response to an external or an internal stimulus. During the study, several areas of the emotional part of the brain (the amygdala, hippocampus and hypothalamus) showed increased activity while participants viewed “tearjerker” movie scenes—but not while they recalled emotional moments from their own lives.
▪ Use of protease inhibitors might bring on diabetes or hyperglycemia in susceptible patients. In a study of 105 evaluable HIV-infected patients who had been treated with protease inhibitors, six showed some form of glucose intolerance. None of these patients had glucose intolerance before the treatment, although all six had a preexisting risk factor, reports Family Practice News.
▪ The order in which socks and underwear are donned may be a key to prevention in athlete's foot sufferers. Putting on socks before putting on underwear can keep athlete's foot from turning into jock itch, suggests a physician who spoke at the Ohio Dermatological Association annual meeting, according to Family Practice News. Most people towel upward after showering and then put on their underwear. Having patients put on their socks before their underwear, and toweling down rather than toweling up, will keep athlete's foot from traveling.
▪ How well do consumers know their fitness facts? Consumer Reports on Health newsletter conducted a true/false survey and found that only 9 percent of participants knew that “to build strength, you need to push your muscles to the point of exhaustion.” Seventy-one percent incorrectly thought that “you should drink fluids whenever you start to get thirsty during exercise.” Statements in which participants fared a little better included, “You shouldn't exercise when you have a head cold” (80 percent knew that was false) and “Weight training is dangerous for people with high blood pressure” (70 percent knew that was false).
▪ It looks like a new trend has hit our schools: girls, often thought to be at a disadvantage in terms of self-expectations and self-confidence, are now outranking boys in these qualities. A survey conducted by Louis Harris & Associates for Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. revealed that girls have more confidence in their abilities than do boys. Seventy-four percent of girls plan to go to college, compared with only 61 percent of boys. Girls also feel they get more positive feedback from teachers. Minority girls are the most positive in their outlooks on life and their abilities to succeed, says Business Week.
▪ Smokers who undergo cardiac procedures have a low likelihood of quitting, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Of more than 5,400 patients who had angioplasties performed at the Mayo Clinic over a 16-year period, 21 percent were smokers at the time of the procedure. Of the smokers, 63 percent continued to smoke after surgery and 51 percent continued to smoke even after a previous heart attack. Less than 10 percent went to the Mayo Nicotine Dependence Center. The patients who were least likely to quit smoking were those who could benefit most from smoking cessation.
▪ An alcoholic binge late in pregnancy may do more than just destroy some of mom's brain cells: it may make her baby's brain old before its time. According to The Brain in the News, scientists at Texas A&M University conducted studies on laboratory rats and found that high doses of alcohol during the equivalent of the last trimester can cause changes in the brain and behavior of the newborn that mimic those brought on by old age, such as fragmented sleep and short bouts of activity. Basically, researchers said, exposure to alcohol speeds up the aging of the biological clock that controls circadian rhythms.
▪ Getting a little bit of sun may lower the risk of breast cancer, according to a study conducted through the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, as reported in Prevention. Researchers found that the risk of breast cancer was significantly lower in women who lived in sunny climates or who reported getting the most sun. Exposure to sunlight for about 10 to 15 minutes a day gives a woman's body the amount of sunlight it needs to produce vitamin D, the factor credited for the reduction in risk.
▪ Not only does donating blood help save other people's lives, it may help save yours—if you're a man, that is. British Medical Journal reports that preliminary research performed in Finland has shown that men who give blood may receive in return a slight reduction in the risk of heart attack. Researchers note, however, that a much larger study would need to be performed to confirm the link.
▪ What type of person responds better to stress, is more satisfied with marriage, and has a closer relationship with his or her spouse? A pet owner! Research presented at a meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society has shown that couples who own cats or dogs have healthier relationships than couples who don't have a pet. Blood pressure and heart rate levels were measured during conflict situations between spouses; couples with pets had lower systolic blood pressure readings at baseline, as well as quicker returns to baseline after exposure to stress, compared with their petless counterparts.
▪ The power of mind over matter may be a key to hypertension management. According to Prevention, a recent study of patients with hypertension found that the power of the mind can be just as great or greater than the power of medicine in lowering blood pressure. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine taught stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing and listening to relaxation tapes, to 22 patients with hypertension. After one year, 73 percent of the patients were able to stay at lower medication levels and more than one half did not need any medication. On the flip side, only one third of the group who did not use relaxation techniques were able to lower their medication levels.
▪ Singing lollipop holders could be the next big thing to hit the toy market. The new toy called “Sound Bites” will play music audible only to the lollipop owner. When the sucker is popped into the mouth, the music and sounds begin. The vibrations travel up the stick to the teeth, jaws and ears, so no one else hears the music. Co-inventor David Capper describes it as “how you hear your own voice inside your head.” Sound Bites has already been approached by people wanting their music to be played through lollipops, says Business Week.
Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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