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Am Fam Physician. 2005;71(9):1643

Is beer beneficial to the brain? The Washington Post reports on a recent study that found women who drank light to moderate amounts of beer or wine daily for four years were about 20 percent less likely to experience mental impairment in old age. The study, published in BMJ, included over 12,000 elderly women (ages 70 to 81 years). Results remained the same even after consideration of factors that could potentially influence the data, such as age, education, and health. Although the study included only women, the researchers anticipate that the results would most likely be similar in men.

Stressed? Try joining a band. A recent study published in the Medical Science Monitor found that music-making may be a viable stress reliever. In the study, 32 participants completed a stress-inducing puzzle, and then were randomized to use a Recreational Music-Making (RMM) machine or to sit quietly and read in the waiting room. After analyzing the participants’ stress-gene activity through blood tests, researchers found reversal in 19 of 45 stress markers in those who used the RMM instrument after completing the puzzle, but they found only six reversals in those who read.

Most children dread the sentence, “Eat your broccoli!” But, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the majority of young children aren’t eating enough fiber. The study monitored the two-day food intake of 8,242 two- to five-year-old children. Researchers discovered that many children eat less than five grams of fiber per day. Experts calculate the amount of fiber a child older than two years should eat per day by adding five to the child’s age. For example, a four-year-old child needs to eat nine grams of fiber per day. Researchers warn that a low-fiber diet could put children at higher risk for constipation and possibly impact their lifetime risk for heart disease and other diseases related to low fiber intake.

Bread makers are fighting back against the effect that the low-carbohydrate diet craze has had on their business. The newly formed Grain Food Foundation has begun a public education campaign to promote bread products. The group is focusing its efforts on touting the healthy side of bread (e.g., white flour is enriched with three major B vitamins) and trying to dispel myths. In a recent survey undertaken by Harris Interactive, one in five women aged 35 to 44 years thought bread was fattening or in some way unhealthy. The Grain Food Foundation is hoping that its new program will encourage people to invite the breadbasket back to the table.

It’s a miracle! Physician’s Money Digest reports that a survey conducted by HCD Research and the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies found most American physicians believe in miracles. Approximately 74 percent of the 1,100 physician-respondents, from various religious backgrounds, agreed that miracles have occurred and will continue to occur. In fact, 55 percent said they believe they personally have witnessed miracles while treating patients.

A physician-patient communication gap is occurring, according to a study published in JAMA. Two hundred fifty-three physicians completed a cross-sectional survey regarding over 1,500 patient visits. Respondents reported missing clinical information (e.g., laboratory reports, radiology results, and medical history) in one in seven visits. The physicians believed that the absence of information adversely affected patients in 44 percent of these visits, creating such problems as otherwise avoidable negative drug interactions, duplications, missed diagnoses, and unnecessary testing. Physicians were more likely to experience missing information during visits with patients new to the United States, those new to the physician’s practice, or those with multiple medical problems.

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