Your Friday 5: The week in health

April 28, 2017 Mike Francis

Welcome to the end of April, as we salute the conclusion of Alcohol Awareness Month, Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Donate Life Month, National Facial Protection Month, Oral Cancer Awareness Month, Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month, National Infant Immunization Week, National Infertility Awareness Week, National Sleep Awareness Week, World Immunization Week and Every Kid Healthy Week. (And that’s only a partial list. Go to the government’s site for a full calendar of health observances.)

Let’s see what the people in lab coats have been up to.

When you twiddle the dial on the thermostat, your comfort isn’t the only thing you affect. New research shows that indoor temperatures affect your health because they influence your weight, your blood pressure and other factors. “Changes in environmental temperature, with respect to both heat and cold, affect the heat strain on the body and a significant redistribution of the blood pool is accomplished, which also affects cardiac output and cardiac and vascular strain,” the authors say, in part. They note people’s thermal comfort ranges have narrowed over the last 40 years as people have clustered in office buildings and other workspaces.

Some of us – and we are not proud about this – prefer eating pizza, breads, sausage, beef, cookies and almost every kind of food to eating vegetables. But vegetables bring well-documented health benefits, leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture to recommend that everyone eat 2.5 to 3 cups a day. So a group of researchers at the University of Illinois set out to answer the question: How can you encourage adults to eat more vegetables?  They explored the use of herbs and spices such as ginger, curry, rosemary and garlic, surveying participants’ preferences. In this early phase of the research, their key finding is that use of and taste for herbs and spices varies according to age, gender and ethnicity. And they found that many people simply aren’t confident cooking vegetables, or vegetables with spices.

When it comes to irregular heartbeat, men and women apparently are not created equal, according to a new study from the University of Alberta. The press release’s headline says it all: “More women with atrial fibrillation die after ER discharge than men.” Data from 21,062 people discharged from Alberta emergency rooms after being seen for atrial fibrillation or flutter found that 1.3 percent of the women were dead within a month, while 0.9 percent of the men were – a 40 percent difference. The authors said it’s too soon to conclude the condition or the treatment causes women to die at higher rates, but that more study is needed.

People who drink Italian-style coffee – espresso and the like – have a lower risk of contracting prostate cancer, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer. It’s not just the coffee, observers noted, but the way it is prepared. Said Licia Iacoviello, who heads the Laboratory of Translational Medicine: "We should keep in mind that the study is conducted on a central Italian population. They prepare coffee rigorously, the Italian way: high pressure, very high water temperature and with no filters. This method, different from those followed in other areas of the world, could lead to a higher concentration of bioactive substances.”

Bike to work, live longer. That’s the conclusion of researchers who studied the habits and medical histories of more than 264,000 people across the U.K. The study, published in the BMJ, found that commuting by bicycle was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death from other causes. Walking, too, was associated with lower risk of heart disease, the study found.

What are you thinking about?

Is there a health care study or subject you’d like us to examine? Let us know in the comments below.

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