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Am Fam Physician. 2001;63(12):2323

While studying patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that it may be related to fibromyalgia. The study shows that patients with CFS have higher levels of blood flowing through parts of the brain associated with pain perception and response during resting periods. Patients with fibromyalgia, however, show lower resting-state levels of blood flow in those brain structures. And while healthy people show increases in blood flow through the left hemisphere of the brain during pain stimulation to the right side of the body, patients with CFS and fibromyalgia show increases in both hemispheres.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) who also smoke can have the same impact on their health as taking medicine for CHF does, just by kicking the habit. Comparing the health of current smokers with former smokers and persons who had never lit up, researchers weren't surprised when they found that current smokers have higher rates of heart attack, recurrent heart failure and death than never-smokers and ex-smokers. However, they were shocked to find no differences in these rates between ex-smokers and never-smokers.

For some insomniacs, the problem isn't falling asleep, it's staying asleep. A study published in JAMA shows that regular sleeping habits can be a snooze. Subjects assigned to a cognitive behavior therapy group were instructed not to take daytime naps and to wake up at the same time every day. They were also told to get out of bed if they woke up in the night. Following this regimen, 64 percent of these subjects reported having one half the amount of nighttime wakefulness they had previously averaged. Twelve percent of those using relaxation therapy also reported one half the previously experienced nighttime wakefulness.

While several studies have shown that consumption of moderate amounts of wine reduces mortality, researchers are still tentative about whether the benefit lies in the alcohol itself or in the type of beverage consumed. A study described in the Harvard Heart Letter shows that drinking 1 to 7 glasses of wine per week decreases overall mortality by 20 percent. Consuming the same amount of beer per week showed only a 10 percent decline in mortality. Despite this finding, some researchers still believe there are other associations or measurements that need to be accounted for before drawing a conclusion. Any participants willing to help with this study?

The dog really is man's best friend. According to a study published in Nature Genetics, people with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) may someday be able to see just as well as their canine companions with LCA. Three Briard puppies with a condition closely resembling LCA had their right eye injected with corrected copies of the RPE65 gene, which causes about 15 percent of LCA cases. As a control, their left eyes were untreated. When tested three months later, the dogs were able to navigate through a maze, bumping into objects on the left side, but avoiding those on the right.

“Look Ma, one hand.” A new eating utensil allows people with the use of only one hand to cut and eat a whole meal by themselves. The design of the combined fork and knife makes it possible to cut bite-sized pieces of most foods with the use of only one hand. The process is simple: press down on the food, roll to cut, twist to pick up the food, and enjoy. The utensil, manufactured by a home healthcare and rehabilitation company, is dishwasher-safe and has an easy-grip handle. It is designed for use by righties and lefties.

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Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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