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Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(6):1609

Gunfire claimed the lives of almost 80,000 young persons between 1979 and 1997 in the United States, reports USA Today. Statistics recently released by the National Center for Health Statistics rated 1994 as the most tragic year, with 5,793 young people dying of gunfire-related injuries. The lowest number of recorded deaths took place in 1983 with 2,962.

UCLA researchers hope to help end the cycle of domestic violence by putting their recent findings to use. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, included 256 women with physical injuries resulting from assault by a male partner who were seen at eight emergency departments across the country. The research pointed to alcohol or drug abuse among male partners as the leading factor increasing the risk of domestic violence in women. According to the report, women are three and one-half times more likely to be physically abused if their male partner abuses alcohol or drugs. Other characteristics of abusive males included unemployment, lack of a high school diploma and estrangement from the woman. Factors not affecting the risk of violence included race and ethnicity of the male partners and characteristics of the women, such as age, education, alcohol abuse or race, reports UCLA NEWS.

Daddies do make a difference when it comes to parenting, reports University of Maryland Medical News. A study of 175 three-year-old children showed that the presence of a man who was “like” a father resulted in better language skills and fewer behavioral problems in the children. The study, first published in Child Development, found that father figures who contributed financially to the family and participated in nurturing play with the children helped to improve the child's language and cognitive skills. Fathers who were employed and satisfied with their role as parent had children with fewer behavioral problems than those without father figures.

Go granny, go. A report in U.S. News & World Report credits positive subliminal messages in older adults with improved physical performance. The Beth Israel study, which included 47 healthy subjects between 63 and 82 years of age, measured walking speed rates of two groups that were shown subliminal messages on a computer screen. The individuals who received positive subliminal messages about old age, with words such as wise and accomplished, walked significantly faster than before. Negative subliminal messages seemed to have no effect on the performance of the other group.

Worried about fat? You may want to forget about it. According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, reported in Psychology Today, higher levels of fat and protein help protect against memory loss associated with stroke. The study included Japanese-Americans who immigrated to the United States. A separate study performed at Duke University Medical Center found that young women with lower levels of cholesterol (below 160 mg per dL) are more likely to have depression than those with normal or elevated cholesterol levels. Researchers warn that the greater risk of depression in these patients may be related to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help cholesterol circulate through the body. Good sources of this fatty acid are tuna, salmon, flaxseed oil and fish oil.

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