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Am Fam Physician. 2003;68(7):1257

Fewer deaths from heart attack occurred in France on the day that country won soccer's 1998 World Cup, according to a study published in Heart. In men, 23 heart attack deaths were reported, compared with an average of 32.6 deaths on the five days before and after the match. A nonsignificant decrease in heart attack deaths was noted in women. While the reason for the finding is unclear, the researchers speculate that decreased activity and euphoria before and after a major sports event leads to reduced stress.

Laughter really is the best medicine. In a two-day experiment conducted in Japan and reported in a letter to the editor published in Diabetes Care, two-hour postprandial glucose levels were found to increase less when patients with type 2 diabetes who were not receiving insulin therapy “laughed well” at a comedy show than when they listened to a monotonous lecture. The researchers speculate that the physical act of laughing may accelerate the body's use of glucose after a meal. Alternatively, the positive effect of laughter on the neuroendocrine system may suppress the rise of blood glucose levels.

Smoke exposure causes absence marks? Yes, children may miss school more often because of respiratory illnesses if they are exposed to smoke at home. In a substudy of the longitudinal Children's Health Study that was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers evaluated household smoke exposure, asthma status, and number of illness-related school absences in 1,932 fourthgraders from 12 communities in southern California. The risk of missing school because of respiratory illness was greater in children with asthma who lived with one or more smokers than in children without asthma who had no household smoke exposure. The risk of school absenteeism was also increased in children without asthma who lived with two or more smokers.

Drinking less than the recommended amount of water each day may take its toll. As reported in Reuters Health, a preliminary study presented at the Experimental Biology 2003 meeting supports the recommendation that persons should drink at least eight glasses of water each day. During the 12-week study, 10 college students drank four, eight, or 12 eight-ounce glasses of water a day in four-day test cycles; between cycles and for one other week, they drank their normal amount of water. At the end of each test cycle, the students underwent tests to evaluate hydration status and answered questions about their well-being. The students who drank only four glasses a day had a suboptimal hydration level; they also said that they felt less focused and had less energy than when they drank more water. Students who drank eight or 12 glasses of water a day were well hydrated and reported similar well-being.

Is golf a “thinking” game? A study published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology suggests that if golfers want to play well, they shouldn't think too hard when they are standing over the ball. When six golfers (handicaps of zero to 13 strokes) were asked to visualize their swings during blood oxygen level–dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging, the best golfers showed the least brain activity.

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