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Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(6):966

People seeking medical advice are more likely to turn to the Internet than to their physicians, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers analyzed data from the Health Information National Trends Survey of more than 6,000 U.S. adults. Of the study participants who reported ever using the Internet, 63.7 percent said they looked online to find health or medical information. When looking for information about cancer, 48.6 percent reported going to the Internet before asking a physician. Although many patients turn to the Internet for reference, they rely on physicians as the most trusted source of quality health information. (Arch Intern Med, December 12/26, 2005)

Vitamin D may make it easier to breathe. According to a study published in Chest, high amounts of vitamin D in the body can improve lung function. Researchers analyzed data collected between 1988 and 1994 from a national nutritional survey of more than 14,000 persons. They found that people with high levels of vitamin D in their bodies could inhale and exhale more air. The researchers concluded that vitamin D would be a simple and inexpensive intervention to improve lung function in people with respiratory problems. (Chest, December 2005)

Could the iodine in milk be the cause of teenage acne? New research, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, may explain the link between dairy consumption and acne in teenagers. Previous research suggests that adolescents who consume large amounts of dairy products have a higher risk of developing acne, although the reasons for this are unknown. Researchers now hypothesize that the high iodine content in milk, which comes from the iodine-fortified feed given to cows and iodine-based sanitizing solutions used on farms, may contribute to skin problems. It has been well established in other studies that iodine intake can make acne worse. Researchers suggest that future studies focus on the links between dairy consumption, iodine intake, and acne. (J Am Acad Dermatol, December 2005)

Suffering from lower back pain? Yoga might help, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers randomly assigned 101 adults with chronic back pain to one of three treatment groups and found that a slow-moving form of yoga was more effective than general exercise or use of a self-help book. After 12 weeks, participants in the yoga group reported better back function than members of the other two groups. They also reported using less than one half as much pain medication as their peers. Researchers stress the importance of using only basic poses of yoga because more advanced poses might make back pain worse. (Ann Intern Med, December 20, 2005)

A spoonful of sugar can help reduce pain in some children. The findings of a study published in the journal Pain showed that young children with a “sweet tooth” had a higher tolerance for pain when they had a mouthful of sugar. The study authors recruited 242 children five to 10 years of age and tested their preference for sweetness using various concentrations of sucrose. Participants were then given a sugar solution to hold in their mouths while submerging their hands in cold water. Children who preferred higher amounts of sucrose tolerated the cold water for longer periods and were less likely to report discomfort when the sugar was held relative to water. The increased threshold held true only for normal-weight children, not for adults or overweight children. (Pain, December 15, 2005)

Can eating disorders be prevented? According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers in the United Kingdom have developed a questionnaire for young women that could accurately predict eating disorders more than 70 percent of the time. Researchers gave the questionnaire to nearly 3,000 female patients 16 to 23 years of age who were dieting at the start of the study but had no history of eating disorders. After two years, 104 of the women were diagnosed with an eating disorder. The researchers found that specific responses on the original questionnaire separated those who developed a disorder from those who did not. They hope the questionnaire could be used during routine physician visits to identify at-risk dieters and help prevent eating disorders. (Am J Psychiatry, December 2005)

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