November 22nd, 2013
02:26 PM ET
Here's a roundup of five medical studies published recently that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.
Breast milk + solid foods = allergy prevention?
With up to 8% of children in the United States dealing with food allergies, many parents want to know how they can prevent this condition. A new study suggests that babies who receive solid food while they are breast-feeding may be protected from food allergies.
Researchers tended to find a lower incidence of food allergies among babies who were still breast-feeding when they started eating solid food. Why? Scientists say that if infants are ingesting both solid foods and breast milk, the immune system can learn that the food is safe.
"My theory was that if food allergens – those things that infants become allergic to – aren't there at the same time as the breast milk, the breast milk can't educate the immune system," lead researcher Kate Grimshaw, a research fellow and allergy specialist at the University of Southampton, told HealthDay.
Exercise may help pregnant women quit smoking
How to stop craving cigarettes is on the minds of many smokers who want to quit. Earlier studies have established that exercise may disrupt nicotine cravings, but it remained unclear if these findings were true for pregnant women.
Now a new Canadian study suggests that "15 to 20 minutes of walking at a mild to moderate pace is sufficient to ward off cravings," Reuters Health reports.
Researchers looked at 30 pregnant women in their second trimester who smoked more than five cigarettes daily and did not regularly exercise.
Helping males procreate - at least, mice
Biologists have long considered the Y chromosome as a genetic marker for the male sex, but there's still more to learn about it. A new study suggests that there are only two genes on this chromosome necessary for males - at least, male mice - to fertilize an egg.
Since the research was done in mice, it's uncertain how applicable it will be to humans. But scientists said it could potentially help in the quest for male infertility treatments.
It also doesn't mean that the rest of the Y chromosome is useless. Researchers said the entire chromosome is probably needed for normal reproduction.
"We're not trying to eliminate Y chromosomes with our work – or men, for that matter," Monika Ward, a reproductive biologist at the University of Hawaii, told LiveScience. "We're just trying to understand how much of the Y chromosome is needed, and for what."
Waiting for pain is painful
No one wants to be in pain. But if we know it's coming – say we have to get a cavity filled – we usually want to get it over with fast.
Scientists in London conducted two small experiments with 35 volunteers to find out how dreading pain affects our decisions. Each study participant was asked to choose when they would receive electric shocks of varying intensity.
Most people preferred to experience the shocks sooner rather than later and were even willing to experience stronger shocks if it meant speeding up the process.
"Anticipating pain is unpleasant or disadvantageous, rather like pain itself," the researchers concluded.
Skip the excuse: There's no such thing as being 'left-brained'
We can't tell you how many times we've used the "right-brained" excuse to explain why our math skills stink. Right-brained people are more creative and word-driven, while those who have stronger left brains are more analytical and detail-oriented. Right?
Wrong, say scientists at the University of Utah.
The neuroscientists scanned the brains of more than 1,000 people, ages 7 to 29, to determine if there were any truth to the better half hypothesis. They found no evidence to support the myth that people had a stronger side. While certain activities may require you to work one half of the brain more than the other, the two halves would be a good match in an arm-wrestling competition.
"The neuroscience community has never accepted the idea of 'left-dominant' or 'right-dominant' personality types," lead study author Jeff Anderson told The Guardian. "The truth is that it would be highly inefficient for one half of the brain to consistently be more active than the other."
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.