July 4th, 2014
11:14 AM ET
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.
Motörhead is one of the most hardcore rock ’n’ roll acts on Earth
That Motörhead has the reputation as one of the most hardcore rock’n’roll acts on earth may not surprise you. But finding evidence to support this claim in one of the major medical journals might.
According to a case study published Thursday in The Lancet, a man “developed a chronic subdural hematoma (bleeding in the brain) after headbanging at a Motörhead concert.”
The man did not have any previous head trauma, and complained of headaches in the four weeks after attending a Motörhead concert.
Headbanging is “generally considered harmless,” according to the authors of the report, but there have been some very severe injuries associated with it, including carotid artery dissection and whiplash.
After a CT scan confirmed the bleed, this man underwent brain surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain. Two months later, he is doing well.
“This case serves as evidence in support of Motörhead’s reputation as one of the most hardcore rock ’n’ roll acts on Earth, if nothing else because of their music’s contagious speed drive and the hazardous potential for headbanging fans to suffer brain injury,” the authors wrote.
Selling over 30 million albums worldwide is certainly an achievement. Getting published in a medical journal? Now that’s metal.
Orgasms and alcohol affect your pillow talk
Oxytocin plays a significant role in social interactions, maternal behaviors and trust. So it should come as no surprise that it plays a role in the bedroom too.
So when researchers looked at how orgasms and alcohol affect communication between partners after sex, they found that people who reached orgasm were more likely to confide important, positive information to their partners.
That may be because oxytocin reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which might explain the inclination to divulge your secrets in the afterglow.
On the other hand, the study, published Thursday in the medical journal Communication Monographs, found that alcohol (in combination with a failure to orgasm) resulted in less positive information disclosure, as well as more unintentional secrets spilled.
Fast food's fallout is handed down through generations
It’s no secret that overindulging in fast food and can have negative consequences on your health. But what about your children’s?
In a study published this week, author Dr. Ian Myles found that a bad diet could affect us in ways previously unconsidered.
“Of potentially greatest concern,” writes Myles, “our poor dietary behaviors are encoded into both our DNA scaffolding and gut microbiome, and thus these harmful immune modifications are passed to our offspring during their most critical developmental window.”
The gut flora in a child is inherited through the mother, and previous studies have suggested a mother’s diet can affect her child’s flavor preferences. A father’s bad diet can also have an impact on “cellular memory” in DNA, studies have shown, as it is passed on to offspring for immune development.
An excessive diet won’t just affect your heart, liver and kidneys, according to the new study, it can also have harmful effects on your immune system. These effects include “increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease."
The 'weekend effect' hurts children too
Children who undergo simple emergency surgeries, such as hernia repairs or appendix removals, on weekends are more likely to suffer complications than kids getting the same kind of treatment during the week, according to study published this week.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center analyzed 22 years’ worth of surgical records (nearly 440,000 admissions), and found that children undergoing urgent and emergency procedures on weekends were 63% more likely to die compared to weekday patients. However, the authors emphasized that “an individual patient's risk of dying was miniscule, and the actual deaths attributable to the weekend effect were very few - 30 over the 22 years.”
The researchers hope that the findings will be a conversation starter, helping public health experts gain insight into the reasons behind the phenomenon commonly known as the “weekend effect,” which previous studies have shown happens with adult patients as well.
Gut cells may be turned into insulin-producing machines
Researchers at Columbia University are getting closer to finding a way to help free diabetics from insulin injections.
While this is still very early research, it's an instance where a cell study comes after a mouse study (usually it's the other way around), creating a new intermediary step before the drug or procedure is tested in humans.
Scientists used human induced pluripotent stem cells. IPS cells are created by taking a skin cell from a patient (in this case someone with Type 1 diabetes), and making it divide like an embryo, which yields stem cells that can be coaxed into having a specific purpose. Doctors can test new drugs on these cells to see if they work, rather than testing the drugs on mice.
In this study, IPS cells were coaxed to become miniature replicas of the human intestine, says study author Dr. Domenico Accili, a professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Researchers found out that they "can trick gut cells into becoming insulin-secreting cells," which Accili calls a key finding.
In the past, Accili says, researchers have been able to create insulin-producing cells from embryonic stem cells. But those cells weren't able to release the insulin into the body, meaning they still aren't helping regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics.
The Columbia researchers say their new cells are not only producing insulin, they're also releasing it.
The next step for this particular research: human trials, something Accili says could be happening in the next couple of years.
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