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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!

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Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Serving Up Food for Thought

Hungry to learn more about the latest medical news?

Then, join me as I tuck into some of the most recent juicy details.

A plant-based diet may help you fight against gingivitis.

Vibrant, veiny green leaves from a cabbage are in full view.

Ever wanted to keep your teeth nice and healthy? Well, recent research indicates that you might be able to do just that by changing your diet!

This research comes directly from a randomized trial published by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. During the four-week trial, researchers took 30 participants and split them into two groups. One group kept their original diet. And the other group changed their diet to one low in processed carbohydrates and animal proteins, but rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants, plant nitrates (i.e., plant chemicals), and fibres. Both groups were subjected to interdental cleaning, and at the end of the trial, researchers discovered that the group with the changed diet were able to significantly reduce gingivitis.

So, consider taking on a similar diet! Your teeth might thank you.

For more information about the studied plant-based diet, click here.

Breast milk could impact how childhood obesity is handled.

A baby in a bear-head-shaped hat is holding on to their mother's shoulder.

If you’re a mother to a newborn baby, you’re probably more interested in protecting the weight and diet of your child.

Well, science has something for you too. From The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study was recently published on breastfeeding children. The study focused on differences between mothers under 25 kg/m2 who were breastfeeding and mothers who were breastfeeding while over 25 kg/m2. And researchers soon discovered mothers with obesity who breastfed their children were providing those children with different metabolism substances that may make the children more prone to childhood obesity.

While this study only shows the possibility of a connection between breastfeeding and childhood obesity, it could be an important one to be aware of as you care for your baby. But before you take any extreme measures, talk with your doctor. They’ll have a better idea if there is a great risk to you and your baby.

You can also take the time to learn a bit more about breastfeeding and childhood obesity by clicking here to read directly from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s study.

Eggs are the breakfast of champions for diabetics.

Several eggs are on a tray frying over a fire next to some frying bacon.

Another study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that eggs might actually benefit people who have type 2 diabetes. More specifically, research from the study shows that if type 2 diabetics eat a breakfast high in fat and low in carbohydrates, they seem to have better control over their blood sugar levels for the rest of the day.

Luckily, eggs fit the bill for a high-fat, low-carb meal. So, if you happen to have type 2 diabetes, consider making your morning meal more eggcellent.

To learn more about the impact of such a meal, take a look at the study’s summary here.

Seasoning your food with salt may be unhealthy, but you might still be able to keep the taste.

A salt shaker is in the foreground against the background of a dining place.

If you’re looking for a way to season your breakfast, afternoon, or dinner meals, salt might be one item you think about. More specifically, you probably think of the most common blend of salt: sodium chloride. While it certainly can create a savory flavor, consuming too much sodium chloride can be problematic. If enough excess sodium chloride is consumed, you can end up stiffening your blood vessels, which can eventually lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

But science is here to offer a solution!

As part of a study in the Journal of Food Science, researchers looked at different salt blends to see how they could keep the salty flavor while lowering the amount of sodium chloride. So far, the most optimal blend of salt that they found consisted of 96.4% sodium chloride, 1.6% potassium chloride, and 2% calcium chloride. But they may very well find an even better blend at some point in the future.

So, look forward to new and improved salt with the same flavor, but with less of a negative impact on your health!

Take a look at more of the salty details here.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Newfound Scientific Advantages

From Skrillex ruining the days and nights for mosquitoes to birth control you can wear on your ears, plenty of exciting stuff has been happening in the medical world lately. Let’s check out some stories.

Electronic music repels mosquitoes.

brown mosquito

Remember this one for your summer camping trip! According to one study, it turns out that blasting electronic music — in this particular study, Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” — reduced feeding behavior in the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The study also noted that adult mosquitoes kept in an environment with music copulated less.

Why does music like that of Skrillex affect mosquitoes? Well, it appears that sound disrupts the low-frequency vibrations insects use to communicate with each other. This is an exciting finding, given how most of us vehemently hate getting bit by mosquitoes. It’s also exciting that the particular species studied, Aedes aegypti, carries the dengue virus. This virus can cause dengue fever in humans, a flu-like illness with no known treatment. So playing Skrillex could be a literal life-saver.

For more information, take a look at the original abstract here.

Midnight toilet trips are linked to hypertension.

Do you frequently get up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom? If so, you might want to get your blood pressure checked out.

Scientists in Japan, a country with a relatively high salt intake, have found a link between nocturia — the need to urinate at night — and high blood pressure. However, the researchers did note that although getting up to urinate at night meant subjects had a 40% higher chance of having hypertension, it didn’t mean there was a causal effect between the two. But it’s good to know that previous studies have associated high salt intake with nocturia. So if you have been dealing with frequent midnight toilet trips, you may want to consider cutting down on the ramen noodles.

You can check out the original press release for this news here.

High-tech pajamas could help you sleep better.

Toddler Sleeping While Sucking Pacifier

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Like most people in the helter-skelter modern world, you probably don’t get enough quality sleep. Well, a new technology aims to help you change that.

The Phyjama contains textile patches of sensors that can monitor a sleeper’s heartbeat, breathing, and sleep position. This data can give both ordinary sleepy Joes and medical professionals valuable, unobtrusive insight into sleeping habits. The team of inventors estimates that the Phyjama can be available to buy within two years. And it’s not super expensive either; it could cost between $100 and $200.

See the original press release about this exciting new product here. This research will be presented at the American Chemical Society meeting.

The future could soon include fashionable, wearable birth control.

Woman in Silver Framed Eyeglasses and Red Top

You may soon be able to go out stylish and safe thanks to wearable birth control. Scientists are testing a transdermal patch that can be attached to earrings and worn by women. This patch can be attached to the backs of jewelry pieces like earrings where it will then release the contraceptive through the skin.

Transdermal patches for other medical purposes have been around for some time, but they have never been incorporated into jewelry. Scientists are hoping that by doing so, contraception would be more appealing and discreet for women. This technology may also be useful in areas where long-term birth control devices like implants and IUDs are harder to access.

Learn more about this product here.

The future might also even let you grow babies from outside your body!

white land animal

If you’re wondering if we can grow babies outside our bodies and save on some labor pains, we’re not there just yet. But scientists are a step closer now. As a result, we are better able to support extremely premature babies on the border of viability (i.e., 21–24 weeks). Scientists have even been able to create an artificial womb that has successfully maintained preterm lamb fetuses at an age equivalent to 24 weeks of human gestation.

This technology is being hailed as a four-minute mile break in the field, and you can learn more about it here.