Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 9(1) January 2006 : 127-128.doi:10.12927/hcq..17916

Just the Facts: an A to Z look at some facts we learnt in 2005


[No abstract available for this article.]
Acupuncture: In a study of 50 patients suffering with fibromyalgia done by Mayo Clinic doctors, six acupuncture treatments given over two to three weeks significantly improved the symptoms of pain and fatigue.

Allergies: A new study of the 10 most common allergies finds that 54% of the US population suffers from at least one. The good news, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: one of the most dangerous allergies, to peanuts, is also the least widespread, affecting only 9% of the population. Topping the list are dust mites, rye, ragweed and cockroaches, with more than 25% of Americans allergic to each.

Out of Breath: In a study of 17,991 patients, people who had shortness of breath but no known heart diseases were four times as likely to die within three years as those who breathed easily.

Common Cold: The millions of people who buy Echinacea to prevent or relieve cold symptoms may be wasting their money according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. In a test of 500 subjects, those taking the herb fared no better than those taking a placebo.

76% of doctors in the US believe in God (83% of all Americans do). But, according to the Journal of General Internal Medicine, compared with the general public, M.D.s are:

  • 26 times as likely to be Hindu
  • 6 times as likely to be Buddhist
  • 5 times as likely to be Muslim.

622,000 - Lives expected to be lost to Diabetes in the US each year by 2025-nearly triple the number in 2000-according to the Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine.

Evening primrose oil, pressed from the flower's seeds, is rich in gammalinolenic acid, a substance that a new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found inhibits a gene that causes nearly 30% of breast-cancer cases.

Fitness cost: Americans spent $5 billion on Fitness equipment in 2004. That's nearly double the $2.8 billion spent in 1994, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.

Facial expressions: It pays to get mad. In a small study published in Biological Psychiatry, subjects who made angry facial expressions in stressful situations - like having to count quickly back from 6,233 by 13 - had smaller blood-pressure spikes and lower levels of stress hormones than those who responded with facial expressions of fear.

Ginkgo biloba: Taking ginkgo biloba supplements for at least six months may lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 60%, report doctors at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. In the lab, ginkgo also stopped some ovarian-cancer cells from growing.

Homeopathy: Lots of alternative therapies are effective, but according to the journal Lancet, homeopathy isn't one of them. In a review of 220 studies, researchers found it was no better than a placebo.

40 Million: Estimated number of people infected with HIV worldwide, double the number a decade ago according to a new UN report.

180,000: Number of hepatitis A infections that could be prevented each year in the US with child vaccinations, according to a CDC advisory panel that unanimously recommended routine vaccination of all 1- and 2-year-olds.

Laughter increases blood flow by causing the inner lining of blood vessels (the endothelium) to expand, according to a small study of healthy moviegoers who were shown both funny and distressing clips from films and then tested for the physical effects of each. With laughter, blood flow increased 22%; under stress, it decreased 35%.

Mammogram: Women whose breast cancer is found by mammogram may have a 53% better survival rate than those whose cancer is discovered another way says a study at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

A Norwegian study of testicular-cancer survivors offers hope for would-be dads: 71% fathered children within 15 years, though conception was less likely with men who had the most aggressive treatment.

Obesity: 24.5% of US adults are obese, up from 23.7% in 2003 according to the public health advocacy group Trust for America's Health.

Pollution: Kids living within one-half of a kilometre from bus and train stations and exposed to excess engine exhaust were 12 times as likely to die of cancer as other kids, according to a British study of 22,458 children claimed by the disease.

Puberty: Overweight girls are likelier than slimmer ones to start menstruating before age 12. They're also eight times as likely to become overweight adults. A new study in Pediatrics claims that being overweight appears to kick-start puberty.

Risk of crashing: A Penn State study finds that a truck driver's risk of crashing is three times as high during the last hour of a haul as during the first.

Risk of strokes: Sleep apnea has been linked to heart disease, but a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that it also significantly raises the risk of strokes.

Stress: A Danish study suggests that high levels of stress may have at least one benefit: a lower risk of breast cancer. In the 18-year survey of more than 6,500 women, those who were most frazzled were 40% less likely to develop breast cancer than low-stress ladies. But doctors warn that stress puts you at risk for a host of other ailments, such as heart disease.

TV: Two studies in the Journal of Pediatrics put hard numbers on the risks associated with watching more than the recommended maximum of two hours of TV a day. In one study, every extra hour of weekend TV at age 5 increased by 7% the chances of being obese at age 30. In a second study, 11-year-old girls who watched more than two hours a day were more than twice as likely to be overweight as girls who tuned in less.

Twenty-nine: Initial weeks of the human gestation period during which a fetus cannot feel pain, according to a controversial new study.

1-in-25: Number of fathers who may be unknowingly raising a child who is not biologically their own, according to a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Visible Minorities: A study at the University of California at San Diego found that magazines targeted at visible minorities, such as Ebony and Latina, had proportionally double the ads for junk food, cigarettes and alcohol and one-fourth as many health-promoting ads as mags like Good Housekeeping.

Women undergo fewer diagnostic tests and are one-third less likely than men to receive invasive treatments, such as angioplasty, for acute coronary syndromes, according to a study of more than 12,000 patients in 28 countries.

Youngsters who took gym classes that maximized movement and focused on fitness-boosting activities like walking and cycling showed more fat loss and cardiovascular improvement than kids in standard P.E.

Zinc: A study by researchers at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota found that seventh-graders who took 20 mg of zinc - double the recommended dietary allowance - five days a week for as long as three months outperformed their peers on tests of memory, word recognition, attention and learning.


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