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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(3):371

Judging a book by its cover may be exactly what women do when choosing a mate. A study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences suggests that women can detect a man's testosterone level and his fondness for children through his facial cues. The authors measured the testosterone levels of 39 men from various ethnic backgrounds and also asked the men about their fondness for children. The authors then showed photos of the men to 29 women from equally diverse backgrounds. Based on the photos, the women identified the man with whom they would prefer to have a short-term or long-term relationship and rated each man's level of masculinity. The women's preference for a short-term relationship matched the men with the highest testosterone measurements, and the men's affection for children was accurately predictive of the women's preference for a long-term relationship. (Proc Biol Sci, May 9, 2006)

Juggling work and motherhood isn't child's play, but it may result in a cleaner bill of health. The authors of a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that working mothers tend to be healthier than their stay-at-home counterparts. Researchers chronicled the self-reported health status of 2,604 British women at the ages of 15, 26, 36, 43, 53, and 54 years. Working mothers were healthier than their underemployed or childless peers at 54 years of age; 38 percent of stay-at-home moms were obese by 53 years, compared with only 23 percent of working moms. The authors conclude that most likely this multiple-role occupation directly relates to good health. (J Epidemiol Community Health, June 2006)

Vitamin C isn't just for scurvy—it's good for asthma, too! According to a study in Thorax, adults with asthma eat less fruit than those without asthma. Researchers monitored the diets of 1,030 study participants for one year and found that those with asthma consumed 132 g of fruit a day compared with 149 g a day for persons without asthma; 51.5 percent of patients with asthma reported no consumption of citrus fruit. Patients who ate at least 46 g of citrus fruit each day were less likely to develop asthma symptoms than those who did not. (Thorax, May 2006)

The many effects of a caffeine jolt: alertness, the jitters—and the prevention of lung damage? According to a study that appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, caffeine may prevent lung damage in premature infants. Caffeine's major benefits are related to its stimulant effect on the respiratory system. Investigators studied 2,006 premature babies and found that 36 percent of infants who were given caffeine therapy needed supplemental oxygen compared with 47 percent of infants who were given placebo. The babies who received placebo also required an additional week of ventilator therapy compared with the babies who were given caffeine treatments. (N Engl J Med, May 18, 2006)

According to the results of a study published in the British Journal of Urology International, one in 50 teenagers wets the bed. Study authors surveyed 16,512 children five to 19 years of age and found that 302 boys and 210 girls had primary nocturnal enuresis; 106 of the children also were incontinent during the day. At five years of age, 14.3 percent of children with enuresis wet the bed seven nights a week, compared with 48 percent at 19 years of age. In addition, daytime urinary incontinence affected a higher proportion of adolescent boys older than 10 years compared with children 10 years or younger. (BJU Int, May 2006)

According to a study in the British Medical Journal, persons who are social butterflies during mealtimes are healthier than those who prefer to eat alone. Researchers performed a study of 178 nondemented nursing home residents and determined that family-style meals benefited residents emotionally and physically. Ninety-five residents were randomly selected to take their meals in the presence of other guests, while the other 83 nursing home residents were served pre-plated tray dinners. Physical performance, body weight, and fine motor function remained stable in the family-style meals group but declined in the control group. Because of the poor quality of life for most nursing home residents, the researchers note that the 10 percent improvement in quality of life scores among residents who ate with other patients is substantial. (BMJ, May 5, 2006)

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Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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