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Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(4):462

Owners of vicious dogs may be more likely to commit a crime than owners of non-vicious dogs, suggest study results from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. The researchers found that 100 percent of study participants who owned high-risk dogs, regardless of whether the dog was licensed, had one criminal conviction or traffic citation. Thirty percent of persons who owned unlicensed, high-risk dogs had five or more criminal convictions or traffic citations compared with only 1 percent of those who owned licensed, low-risk dogs. Furthermore, owners of unlicensed, high-risk dogs were 9.1 times more likely to be convicted of a crime involving children and three times more likely to be convicted of domestic violence compared with owners of licensed, low-risk dogs. The authors conclude that ownership of a high-risk dog should be considered when health care professionals assess instances of child endangerment. (J Interpers Violence, December 2006)

Nuke those fries! According to a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, fries precooked in the microwave before deep-frying may be healthier than fries that are only deep-fried. Researchers found that microwaving fries before deep-frying reduced the food's level of acrylamide, a substance suspected to cause cancer, by 36 percent, 41 percent, and 60 percent when fried at 302°F (150°C), 338°F (170°C), and 374°F (190°C), respectively, compared with fries that were only deep-fried. The pre-microwaved fries were also a more appealing color, which the authors believe was because of the more gentle heat treatment during frying. (J Sci Food Agric, [in press])

A controversy has arisen over a new factory that is in the business of gross anatomy. The “Plastinarium,” a factory/museum named for its anatomist founder's process of preserving human bodies in resin, has opened in an economically depressed town in Germany. Although the preserved bodies of donors often are dissected in slices and sold as anatomy teaching devices to schools and universities (e.g., a full-frontal section of a human costs $9,000), the factory also features a permanent scene in which three cadavers sit around a table playing poker. According to Reuters Health, the founder, who was once dubbed “Dr. Death” by the German magazine Spiegel, believes cadavers to be no different than slices of meat sold on a slab. The business has yielded protestors, many of whom say the factory has disturbed the dignity of the deceased. Employees, however, are simply happy to finally find work. (Reuters Health, November 17, 2006; Spiegel, November 16, 2006)

What a save! Results of a study published in Human Movement Science suggest that goaltending may be more science than art. Researchers discovered that the best hockey goalies always keep their eyes on the puck and their gaze on the shooter's hockey stick. They also found that a goalie's ability to stop a puck was dependent on the location, onset, and duration of his or her fixation and tracking gaze seconds before the puck is shot, a phenomenon the authors call “quiet eye.” The quiet eye is the moment in every sport in which the eyes must receive and the brain must process the last piece of visual information before the athlete can perform the final critical movement. According to the authors, having optimal focus is just as important as being in optimal overall physical shape. (Hum Mov Sci, December 2006)

Reducing daily cigarette consumption by one half may offer no significant health benefits, according to a study published in Tobacco Control. Researchers found that participants who typically smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day—defined as “heavy smokers”—but cut their daily cigarette consumption by at least 50 percent did not significantly reduce their risk of all-cause mortality or premature death from cardiovascular disease, smoking-related cancer, or ischemic heart disease, compared with heavy smokers who did not reduce their daily cigarette intake. Additional sick leave and disability were seen among heavy smokers who reduced their daily cigarette consumption. There was, however, an insignificant reduction in the risk of death from lung cancer. The authors note that counseling heavy smokers that cutting their cigarette consumption will improve their health may offer patients false expectations. (Tob Control, December 2006)

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