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Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(4):948

We know we ought to take time to smell the roses—but now we have to try each nostril? According to a recent report in Nature, differing airflow in the right and left nostrils results in different perceptions of smell. Air flows through the nostrils at different rates because of turbinate swelling, and every few hours the nostril taking in more air switches from left to right. In a recent trial, 17 of 20 respondents identified the main ingredient in a constant mixture of an octane and L-carvone differently, depending on the nostril used to smell. When the trial was repeated several hours later, the perceptions were exactly opposite.

Wasting away in “cyberville”? According to a recent study by the Fortino Group, which polled 6,000 Internet users and persons who do not use the Internet, persons between 10 and 17 years of age (Generation Y) will spend an average of 23 years, 2 months online—more than 1/3 of their lifetimes. Baby boomers check in with 5 years, 6 months spent surfing the net, and individuals of the Generation X sector will spend 9 years, 11 months in cyberspace.

Broccoli tastes better as people age, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A recent study cited in Time magazine found that sensitivity to bitterness in vegetables such as spinach and broccoli decreased with age in more than 300 women 21 to 84 years of age. Women in older age groups also had a greater fondness for bitter liquids such as tea and coffee and for sour fruits such as lemons and grapefruits.

The American Journal of Public Health reports that children in foster care may be more likely to have severe psychiatric disorders than other children. According to recent research, children in foster care are almost three times as likely to receive psychotropic medication than other school-aged children. In addition, 52 percent of foster children with a clinical status meriting a medication evaluation are not receiving medication. The lack of medication is partly due to the fact that children with mental health problems have less stability in their foster placement and often don't have a stable caregiver participating in treatment.

Motherhood may increase brain power. A recent study found that maternal and foster rat mothers performed significantly better on maze trials than virgin female rats. The virgin rats took approximately 80 seconds longer than mother rats to complete food-bated mazes. According to Nature, the increased memory and learning can be traced to the neural activity brought about by pregnancy and the presence of pups. In fact, pregnancy may reshape the brain, producing a more complex organ to deal with an increasingly demanding environment.

Is that coffee really good ‘til the last drop? Not according to a recent study published in Psychology Today. The study, which included 72 participants, monitored blood pressure and hormone levels in subjects after they ingested 500 mg of caffeine, the amount corresponding to four cups of coffee. Not only did blood pressure and hormone levels rise, but they remained elevated the entire day. The high levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine, stress hormones, were most alarming and suggested that long-term abuse of caffeine could lead to a higher risk of coronary heart disease.

When it comes to treating hand eczema, steroid ointment wins hands down over steroid cream, reports Family Practice News. Hidden additives in the more commonly prescribed steroid creams often go unrecognized by physicians and sometimes aggravate the condition. The creams, which often contain sensitizers such as formaldehyde releasers, can also cost patients up to $1.31 more per gram.

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