Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Scientific Turnabouts against Health Concerns

Over the past two weeks, science has made a few discoveries that could prove to be significant counters against a number of health concerns.

To learn more, take a look at some of the highlights!

Sunscreen does not seem to affect vitamin D production as previously thought.

Two hands are shown against a bright yellow background, where one hand is applying sunscreen to the other.

Many of us worry about our vitamin D intake. And for good reason! Vitamin D is not easily found in food sources, and the majority of it is probably gained through sunlight. But the benefits of getting vitamin D are critical for our bodies. After all, this vitamin helps the body build and maintain healthy bones.

But because this vitamin comes to us mainly through sunlight, there have been concerns about how sunscreen might impact vitamin D intake. No one wants to get sunburnt, and skin cancer is equally undesirable, if not more so. But does protecting ourselves with sunscreen negatively impact how much vitamin D we get?

Luckily, science has an answer that will be music to most, if not all, ears! According to the British Journal of Dermatology, there is little to no impact. Even if you put on sunscreen with a low ultraviolet A protection factor, you’ll still get vitamin D. But it’s good to note that you’ll get even more vitamin D using a sunscreen with a high ultraviolet A protection factor.

Untreatable childhood brain cancer could soon become treatable.

A young girl is on a swing in a wooded area.

For years, the childhood brain cancer diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) has been considered terminal. There are radiation therapy and experimental chemotherapy treatments available for the condition, but neither is considered to be a full-on cure. Most of the time, children who end up with DIPG are expected to only live nine to 12 months after their diagnosis.

But the academic journal Communications Biology has recently published a study indicating that there may soon be hope for those with DIPG. They have discovered a new drug that will be able to target a weakness found in DIPG, which could prove to be an effective and important treatment in the future.

Virtual reality technology could assist people with dementia.

A black virtual reality headset is sitting on a glass head mannequin.

Like DIPG, there is no cure for dementia. Instead, people who have the condition gradually lose their grasp of their cognitive abilities until they’re eventually unable to handle everyday tasks on their own.

It’s a tragic condition to have, and while science has yet to find a potential cure, there may be a new form of help for those with dementia. As noted by a study under the academic publication Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, providing eight dementia patients with virtual reality (VR) headsets offered a number of benefits, such as:

  • Helping them recall old memories through a stimuli that patients might not experience outside of VR
  • Giving their caregivers more information about their lives before care
  • Improving their social interactions with caregivers
  • Lifting their mood and motivation

The study was quite small, so it’s not known if these benefits would transfer to most dementia patients. But it does show how much better off the lives of dementia patients could be.

Avocados may help counter weight gain.

An avocado split in half rests on a granite surface.

Trying to lose weight can be incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, your body is built to keep starvation a non-issue, but not obesity. So once you lose weight, your body tries to resist further weight loss by lowering your resting metabolic weight.

It sounds like an impossible situation. However, the academic journal Nutrients notes that replacing avocados with carbohydrates could promote hunger suppression and meal satisfaction. So your weight loss could get a bit easier if you start looking to add avocado to your diet!

There’s sure to be more helpful discoveries like these, so look forward to more intellectually nourishing news in a fortnight!