Medical News Notes – May 21, 2013

Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2013 by Allen B. Ury

Medical News NotesGreek coffee a life extender. Kid’s sports injuries drop 12 percent. How teenagers’ brains mature during sleep. These and other stories from the world of health and medicine in this week’s Medical News Notes.

Is Greek Coffee a Life-Extending Elixir?

Residents of the Greek island Ikaria tend to live longer than any of their European counterparts. (One percent of Ikarians live past 90, compared to just 0.1 percent of Europeans overall.) Now, researchers believe they may have discovered the secret to the islanders’ longevity: boiled Greek coffee. This type of coffee is low in caffeine but unusually high in antioxidants as well as polyphenols, chemicals that help keep blood vessels healthy. Expect to see a run on Greek coffee at your local Starbucks soon.

Kids’ Sports-Related Injuries Drop 12 Percent

Sports-related injuries for kids ages 5 to 14 have dropped 12 percent over the past 10 years, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Most of the decline was in “free-play” activities, such as bicycling, skateboarding, roller sports and using playground equipment. Injuries in organized sports such as soccer and football were up slightly during this same period.

Teenagers’ Brains Change During Sleep as They Move into Adulthood

Brain wave studies of sleeping teenagers have revealed remarkable changes in brain structure over time. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, sleep laboratory found that during the deepest phases of sleep (delta or slow wave), teenage brains restructure themselves, becoming less chaotic and more organized. While the chaotic structure promotes healing in the event of injury during childhood, the more organized structure favors logical thinking and problem solving, important skills people need as adults. Conducted over 10 years, the studies reinforce the need for teenagers to get plenty of uninterrupted sleep so their brains can mature properly.

New Hope for Depression Sufferers

For 50 years, mental health experts have believed the cause of most cases of clinical depression is lack of the hormone serotonin. But now, new research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine suggests serotonin levels are not the issue, but slow- or miscommunication between brain cells. This latest finding could open whole new treatment possibilities, according to Dr. E. Albert Reese, vice president for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland. According to the CDC, 10 percent of Americans were treated for depression between 2005 and 2008, but only about half responded to common serotonin uptake inhibitors such as Zoloft, Prozac and Celexa.

The Healthiest — and Unhealthiest — Professions

According to a new Gallup survey of 170,000 adults conducted in 2012, certain jobs are clearly associated with health — and unhealthy — habits. People employed in farming, fishing and forestry rated the highest in physical fitness, while nurses had the healthiest eating habits. At the opposite end of the scale, transportation workers and those in manufacturing scored the highest in obesity, while people who work in construction or mining were the heaviest smokers.

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