Medical News Notes – August 2, 2013

Posted Friday, Aug 2, 2013 by Allen B. Ury

MedicalAssistant1The link between flu and bipolar children. Healthy living can combat job stress. Small restaurants serve up big health risks. These and other stories from the world of health and medicine in this week’s Medical News Notes.

Flu in Pregnancy Raises Risk of Bipolar Disorder

Pregnant women exposed to the flu virus have a 400 percent higher chance of having children with bipolar disorder than women who’ve avoided the flu, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Prospective mothers should take common sense preventive measures, such as getting flu shots prior to and in the early stages of pregnancy and avoiding contact with people who are symptomatic,” said Dr. Alan Brown of Columbia University, who participated in the study. “In spite of public health recommendations, only a relatively small fraction of such women get immunized. The weight of evidence now suggests that benefits of the vaccine likely outweigh any possible risk to the mother or newborn.” You can get more details here:

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Counter Job Stress Damage

Job stress can be a killer, but its effects can be lessened by living a healthy lifestyle, according to a new report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Studying more than 100,000 working adults throughout Western Europe, researchers found that 16 percent reported having high-stress jobs. Many suffered from coronary heart disease linked directly to job stress. The exceptions were those people who kept their weight down, drank little, exercised regularly, got six to eight hours of sleep nightly, and generally maintained what we’d call a healthy lifestyle. Their rate of heart disease was half that of their non-healthy peers. Read more about this study at:

Small, Independent Restaurant Chains Are Diet Busters

Many larger restaurant chains are required by law to list their meals’ calorie content. That is not so with most one-off restaurants and smaller chains. And these eateries are likely to offer food that contains as much as 50 percent of an adult’s daily recommended caloric intake, according to a new study just published in JAMA Internal Medicine. “These comparative findings suggest that both non-chain and chain restaurants contribute to the obesity epidemic, which is making people unhealthy and has a huge impact on health care costs,” said Dr. Susan Roberts of Tufts University, one of the study’s authors. Read more about the study here:

New Study Disputes the Benefits of a Low-Sodium Diet

For years, health experts have told us to minimize our salt intake. Since 2005, we’ve been advised to consume just 1,500 milligrams — or about a half-teaspoon — per day to lower blood pressure, or risk increased chances of heart attack and stroke. Now, a new study from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says you should take these recommendations with, well, a grain of salt. They say there’s no evidence that salt consumption below 2,300 milligrams per day has any health benefits. And consuming less salt can actually lead to increased triglyceride levels, insulin resistance and sympathetic nervous system activity. “Those are all bad things,” said Dr. Michael Alderman of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “A health effect can’t be predicted by looking at one physiological consequence. There has to be a net effect.” Read the full story here:

Magnesium Is Key for Children’s Bone Health

We’ve long known the critical role calcium plays in bone health. But a new study points to another equally important element, one that’s missing from many children’s diets: magnesium. “Calcium is important, but, except for those children and adolescents with very low intakes, [calcium] may not be more important than magnesium,” said Dr. Steven Abrams of Baylor College of Medicine, who participated in the study. Foods rich in magnesium include almonds and salmon. Read more here:

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