brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(5):707

Will the early bird remember to get the worm? A study that appears in Current Biology suggests that getting enough sleep may be crucial to memory, and persons who do not sleep enough each night are apt to forget learned facts. Forty-eight participants were assigned to one of four groups—sleep before testing, wake before testing, sleep before testing with interference, or wake before testing with interference. Every group memorized 20 pairs of words, but persons in the interference groups were tasked with memorizing an additional 20 pairs of words just before testing. Of patients assigned to the noninterference groups, those who were allowed to sleep recalled slightly more word pairs than those who were not allowed to sleep. Among participants in the interference groups, however, those who were allowed to sleep were able to recall a significantly higher number of word pairs compared with patients who were not allowed to sleep. (Curr Biol, July 11, 2006)

For tall men with long, slender legs, having a healthy heart may be as easy as making a slam dunk, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers studied 12,254 men and women 44 to 65 years of age who were participating in a large study of atherosclerosis risk. After comparing leg length with intimal-medial thickness of the carotid artery, the researchers found that persons with long legs had less buildup of deposits in their blood vessels and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke compared with participants who had short legs. The length of a participant’s legs was estimated by subtracting the person’s seated height from his or her total height. The link between leg length and heart disease risk was strongest in black men and weakest in black women. Researchers conclude that childhood factors associated with greater prepubertal linear growth, such as breastfeeding and childhood nutrition, may lower cardiovascular disease risk. (Am J Epidemiol, July 15, 2006)

Who knew a cell phone could be so exciting? Your brain did, of course! Researchers have published a study in Annals of Neurology suggesting that cell phone use increases electrical activity in the brain. Fifteen men who were 20 to 36 years of age participated in the study, and the researchers found that the men’s cortexes were excited for more than an hour after being exposed to an electromagnetic field emitted from a cell phone. These effects may be beneficial to patients who have migraines or dementia, or for those who have had a stroke; however, the authors note that the effects could be detrimental to persons with epilepsy or a brain disease. (Ann Neurol, August 2006)

The school lunch lady may offer a choice of greasy fries or a fresh green salad, but posting nutrition facts on the wall can make the choice clear for many high school students, says a study published in the Journal of Child Nutrition & Management. Not only does the nutrition information enable students to make healthier dietary decisions, but the researchers found that it also improves satisfaction with the dining room staff. Students from six Pennsylvania high schools were asked to assess their level of satisfaction with their school’s nutrition program before and after the study. Students who attended schools that posted the nutrition values at the point of meal selection were more satisfied with the quality of the food and the service compared with students who attended schools in which the information was not readily available. Moreover, the authors found that overall satisfaction with the service and the food decreased in the control schools. (J Child Nutr Manage, Spring 2006)

“Lite” cigarettes are not really that light, and persons who smoke these low-tar, low-nicotine cigarettes may be less likely to kick the habit than those who smoke non-light cigarettes, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers analyzed 32,374 responses to the U.S. 2000 National Health Interview Survey and found that 37 percent of the self-reported smokers said they used light cigarettes to reduce the health risks of smoking. However, persons who smoked light cigarettes were about 50 percent less likely to quit compared with those who smoked full-strength cigarettes. The researchers note that the findings are disturbing because the majority of persons who use light cigarettes in hopes of reducing the health effects of smoking are educated women. (Am J Public Health, August 2006)

Continue Reading

More in AFP

Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.