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Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(9):1647

More and more high school students are finding it harder to breathe. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six high school students claims to have asthma. In 2003, researchers surveyed approximately 13,000 high school students about the disease. Sixteen percent of the students reported having asthma, and more than one third claimed to have had an attack in the past year. However, the extent of under- or over-reporting could not be determined and is one limitation of the study. (MMWR Weekly, August 12, 2005)

Are people who have heart attacks during the day better off? According to a study of 68,000 patients published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients with heart attacks who go to the hospital on nights or weekends wait approximately 21 minutes longer for angioplasty than those who go during regular business hours (i.e., weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Patients arriving at the hospital during regular business hours wait only 95 minutes, whereas patients who arrive later wait an average of one hour and 56 minutes. Authors of the study say this wait increases the risk of death by 7 percent. (JAMA, August 17, 2005)

Flying planes isn’t easy on the eyes. According to findings published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, commercial airline pilots are at increased risk of developing cataracts because of exposure to cosmic radiation. In a study of nearly 450 men 50 years and older, researchers compared the men’s occupation with the prevalence of nuclear cataracts. Pilots were more likely than men in any other profession to have eye problems. Cosmic rays, which come from the sun and outer space, have already been determined to cause problems in the eyes of astronauts. (Arch Ophthalmol, August 2005)

According to a study of 54 couples in Proceedings: Biological Sciences, ovulating women may be more attracted to men with symmetrical bodies. The women in the study were 18 to 44 years of age, were ovulating normally, and were not taking oral contraceptives. They were surveyed about their physical attraction to their own partners and to other men at various times of the month. The authors found that during ovulation, women whose partners had asymmetrical bodies showed a greater desire for other men who had a more symmetrical appearance. The study authors conclude that this may be because of the women’s desire to pass on stronger genes to their offspring, an idea similar to survival of the fittest. (Proc Biol Sci, August 17, 2005)

Finally—an excuse to get out of work. Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that workers who spend long hours on the job may be at increased risk for sickness or injury. The 13-year study evaluated the schedules, job histories, and incidence of work-related injuries and ailments in almost 11,000 workers. Researchers discovered that at least one half of more than 5,000 job injuries reported occurred during extended work hours. They also found that people who worked overtime were 61 percent more likely to become ill or injure themselves than people who worked a normal schedule. (Occup Environ Med, August 2005)

When Americans say, “I’m allergic,” they aren’t lying. A nationwide survey published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that 54 percent of people in the United States are allergic to at least one of 10 common allergens. Researchers studied the results of skin allergy tests from more than 30,000 participants six to 59 years of age. They found the most common allergic reactions were to dust mites, rye grass, ragweed, and cockroaches. Researchers also determined that men were more likely than women to have allergies. (J Allergy Clin Immunol, August 2005)

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