5 studies you may have missed
Food trucks are generally as safe or safer than restaurants, a new study found.
June 20th, 2014
03:05 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week 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.

You are the (Facebook) company you keep
Journal: PNAS

It may be time to think twice before accepting that friend request on Facebook. A new study by scientists at Cornell University and Facebook suggests that emotions can be spread via Facebook and other social networks. Yes, you read that right: Your Facebook posts are contagious. The scientists looked at 3 million Facebook posts from a group of 155,000 randomly selected users.

“When positive posts were reduced in the news feed, the percentage of positive words in people’s status updates decreased,” the researchers write. Conversely, when negative posts were reduced, the percent of negative words decreased and the percentage of positive words increased.

Here's some good news to post: A previous study showed that positive messages appear to be “more contagious” than negative ones.

Read more from CNN Money

We overestimate how hard we exercise
Journal: PLOS ONE

Your daily workout may leave you feeling like a sweaty super hero, but is that enough? A new study conducted at York University in Canada suggests the majority of people have a broad misunderstanding of how much exercise is needed to maintain good health.

The study recruited 129 sedentary adult volunteers ages 18 to 64, irrespective of ethnicity, sex or body mass index (BMI). The volunteers were instructed to walk or jog on a treadmill at a speed they thought corresponded to be “light,” “moderate” and “vigorous” intensities. Despite being given the standards of intensity defined by Canada’s Physical Activity Guide, volunteers underestimated how hard they should be exercising to reach the “moderate” and “vigorous” intensities.

Conversely, participants were accurately able to estimate “light” intensity exercises. While the researchers say their study calls for new descriptions of what is considered moderate and vigorous exercise, it does point out a few limitations: The results of the study have not been verified in older populations. A large proportion of the study’s participants were younger, with the median age of 20.

Scientists find gene mutation may lower your risk of a heart attack
The New England Journal of Medicine

Normally we think of good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) as the two major players in heart disease. But triglycerides also play a big role, and researchers may have found a way to stop them from clogging your arteries. Two independent studies found that people who carry any of four different mutations linked to the APOC3 gene have significantly lower levels of triglycerides in their blood.

As a result, these mutation-holders are 40% less likely to have heart disease than people without the mutation. Yes, not all gene mutations are bad. Pharmaceutical companies say these findings could lead to the creation of a drug that mimics the results of the APOC3 gene mutations.

In food trucks, you should trust
Journal: Institute for Justice

Looking for a lunch locale with a low risk of food poisoning? Food trucks are good choice. In fact, in some states, they’re actually healthier than your local restaurants. Researchers in Virginia examined approximately 260,000 food inspections collected from government agencies in Boston, Massachusetts; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles; Louisville, Kentucky; Miami, Florida; Seattle, Washington; and Washington.

Inspection reports included details on clean counters, proper labeling, proper food storage, hand-washing facilities, sick employees, and spoiled foods. Food trucks did as well or better than restaurants in the majority of inspections.

According to the study authors, “The notion that food trucks and carts are unsafe is simply a myth.”

Still no evidence of sustained human-to-human MERS transmission
The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization reiterated this week that the global MERS situation is serious. But results from U.S. and global case studies suggest human-to-human transmission remains low. No one who came in contact with the two MERS-CoV patients in the United States were infected with the emerging disease, health officials confirmed this week. "

All household members and the health care workers who cared for the cases tested negative for both active and previous infection with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. cali girl

    When I exercise I go by my maximum heart rate of my age to determine my workout If I am up in the 80% then I am working out at the max, about 70-65% is a moderate rate and good for most days.

    June 20, 2014 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AmericaMovingFoward

      Pretty much this. Heart rate has always been a good way to measure how hard I'm performing for me.

      June 21, 2014 at 08:51 | Report abuse |
    • SixDegrees

      Agree. It's simple and unambiguous. I can't imagine what this study was looking at, or why such a commonsense metric would not be used.

      June 21, 2014 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • mickinmd

      Claiming that a certain speed ranges represents light, moderate, or vigorous is not a good way to do it and it makes me wonder how much homework the researchers did before designing the experiment (and yes, I'm a scientist and a retired high school sports coach). What is vigorous exercise for me would represent moderate exercise for someone in excellent shape. The way nutrition and fitness scientists measure exercise is based on the maximum VO2, or volume of oxygen you can breathe. This isn't available to most of us, so a good measure is percent of maximum heartrate. You can get an estimate of what it is (in beats/minute) by 220-age in years for men and 225-age in years for women. If you carry a heartrate monitor watch, you may find you slightly beat that calculation. For example, I'm 63 and the calculation predicts 157 bpm, but I've recorded 169 bpm with my heart monitor strap and sports watch.

      Studies done at MIT by Covert Bailey back in the 80's indicate that roughly 60%-80% max. heart rate is the light-moderate to moderate zone that's best for fat-burning. Lower than that or higher than that and you're mostly burning carbs.

      The speed at which those heart rates occur, whether it's running, cycling, rowing, etc. differs widely among the population.

      I exercise – mostly cycling – and try to keep my heart rate 60-80% of max.

      June 23, 2014 at 17:57 | Report abuse |
    • SdW

      My heart rate for effective cardio workouts is between 134 and 149. If the article is point to the root-cause as I think it is, I tend to agree with it. I see folks at the gym "walking" or just kind of working out which I always hope that they realize they're doing nothing to help themselves. I realize that sweating is not proof of an effective workout, but it's the heartrate which in turn burns calories. It's like when people take the stairs at work. Big deal, stairs do nothing for you but hey if you want to walk, more power to you. Everyone should get a cardio test to determine what their effective heart-rate should be to maximize their cardio. And no, running yourself to the maximum heart-rate is no better than running your heart-rate at the low number; you just have to be in the middle range.

      June 24, 2014 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
    • nonovyerbeezwax

      Taking the stairs most certainly DOES do something for people; it beats taking the elevator. Anything people do to be less sedentary is a move in the right direction.

      June 24, 2014 at 10:07 | Report abuse |
  2. Heather Kennedy

    Your headline should tead You just think YOU'RE working out hard. Not YOUR.

    June 20, 2014 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. John

    "You just think your working out hard"

    YOUR? How about "you're?"


    June 20, 2014 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. sandy

    You just think you're speaking English.

    June 20, 2014 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bikerxena

    Please clarify the gene mutation's designation. In one place it's called APOC3, and a couple of lines later, it's ATOC3. For those of us who might wish to do further research (because it does sound intriguing!), please fix, as there seems to be a "mutation" in the designation of the gene mutation. Thank you.

    June 20, 2014 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Adong NisA

    The proclamation you make as to the exercise overestimation is wrong.

    The study used sedentary individuals. Of course they are much more likely to overestimate because they have no experience exercising and have no knowledge as to how proper exercise should be preformed.

    June 20, 2014 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. DP

    Recruiting sedentary adults for that study made it pointless. Besides those not being the population who are working out and, thus, to be judged on how well they estimate intensity, sometimes there are reasons someone is sedentary and their bodies will scream back at them to stop if working out is a bad idea until the underlying health problem is addressed.

    June 21, 2014 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. John C

    Interesting data on food trucks being better than restaurants in the majority of inspections. My wife and I love food truck night in our local area. I always encourage good nutrition in my wellness lectures. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUbz3u3qFNs

    June 21, 2014 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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    What does talking about heath studies have anything to do with FB posts being contagious? The blurb to click on said "FB posts are contagious". I guess cnn.com got the wrong link AGAIN.

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    I agree with the first one people do overestimate how hard they work out. I see people in the gym all the time barely working out. They actually think that you're getting the proper exercise they need but they are not .

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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.