April 25th, 2014
07:02 PM ET
Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you 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.
Low tolerance for pain? Blame your parents
Researchers believe they've identified four genes that are responsible for your ability to tolerate pain. In their study, they asked 2,721 people with chronic pain to rate their pain on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the most painful. Researchers then grouped the participants according to low-pain, moderate-pain or high-pain ratings, and identified which genes were more prevalent in each group.
“Chronic pain can affect every other part of life,” study author Dr. Tobore Onojjighofia said in a statement. “Finding genes that maybe play a role in pain perception could provide a target for developing new therapies and help physicians better understand their patients’ perceptions of pain.”
Prenatal vitamin D could affect your baby's teeth
Skipping your prenatal vitamin D supplements could have unintended consequences for your baby's teeth. Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada found children born to moms with low levels of vitamin D in their blood during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cavities as a toddler.
Vitamin D helps strengthen tooth enamel, and a deficiency can lead to defects, which can leave the teeth vulnerable to cavities. Most organizations recommend taking a prenatal supplement that has 400 international units of vitamin D. The vitamin can also be found in fish, fortified milk and orange juice, and some cereals.
Read more from Medical Daily
Feeling sick? Get some sleep
Your mom was right (again). The best thing for you when you're sick is probably sleep.
After conducting two studies, researchers concluded extra sleep helps enhance fruit flies' immune systems' response to and recovery from infection. They believe these findings may apply to humans as well.
In the first study, scientists deprived one group of flies of sleep before infecting them with bacteria. Both the sleep-deprived flies and the control group slept while infected, but the sleep-deprived flies had a better survival rate. The researchers say the sleep-deprived flies slept longer while infected than the control group, possibly enhancing their immune system response.
In the second study, researchers used drugs to make one group of flies sleep longer while infected than another. The group that slept longer had a better survival rate. They were also able to clear the bacteria from their bodies more quickly.
"The take-home message from these papers is that when you get sick, you should sleep as much as you can; we now have the data that supports this idea," study author Julie Williams said in a statement.
3,000 types of bacteria live on your money
This research hasn't been published, but it was too gross not to share. Geneticists at New York University are examining dollar bills to find out how much bacteria you're carrying around in your wallet. Turns out it's a lot.
They identified 3,000 types of bacteria on 80 $1 bills from an unnamed Manhattan bank, and say that's only about 20% of the nonhuman DNA they found. The identified bacteria are known to cause everything from acne to ulcers.
Basically, "a body-temperature wallet is a petri dish," Philippe Etienne, managing director of Innovia Security Pty Ltd., told the Wall Street Journal.
Read more from WSJ.com
Cholesterol meds aren't a free pass to eat what you want
People who take statins, medication commonly used to lower bad cholesterol levels, eat more today than statin users did 10 years ago, researchers say.
Statin users' caloric intake in 2009-2010 was 9.6% higher than statin users' intake in 1999-2000, the scientists found after analyzing data from 27,000 U.S. adults. And while past statin users used to consume fewer calories and less fat than their non-statin-taking peers, that's no longer the case. It appears people today may believe statins are a free pass to eat what they want without high cholesterol.
"The importance of dietary composition may need to be re-emphasized for statin users," the study authors concluded.
Read more from the Chicago Tribune
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