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Health Updates 10 June 2011

  • Autism linked to hundreds of genetic mutations, not just a few: “The findings, reported in three studies published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, cast autism disorders as genetically very complex, involving many potential changes in DNA that may produce, essentially, different forms of autism”. (LA Times)
  • Questions suggest skepticism and a lean towards plaintiffs health care law suit: “Three federal appeals judges expressed unease with a requirement that virtually all Americans carry health insurance or face penalties, as they repeatedly raised questions about President Barak Obama’s health care overhaul…But the pointed questions about the so-called individual mandate during almost three hours of oral arguments suggest the panel is considering whether to rule against at least part of the federal law to expand health coverage to tens of millions of Americans”. (Associated Press)
  • Exercise cuts stroke risk in elderly: “The risk of small brain infarcts was lower by about 40% in older people who reported high levels of physical activity, researchers said.  ‘Engaging in physical activity may be an important strategy to reduce the prevalence of subclinical brain infarcts, and thus, potentially, improve functional outcomes’,” wrote Joshua Z. Willey, MD, of Columbia University in New York.  However, those who exercised only lightly had the same risk of small strokes as those who were inactive. (John Gever, MedPage Today)
  • High coffee intake may cause auditory hallucinations: “Australian researchers found that drinking five regular cups of caffeinated coffee may raise the risk of auditory hallucinations, according to a small study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences….The theory is that caffeine may worsen the effects of stress on the body.  The body naturally releases a hormone called cortisol when it is under stress, but caffeine seems to increase the amount of cortisol that is released”. (Huffington Post)
  • Mental health problems account for nearly half of all disability among the young:  A new World Health Organization study investigating the international burden of disability in young people found that 45% of the disability reported was related to depression, bipolar illness, schizophrenia and other mental disorders, including alcohol abuse.  After mental disorders, accidental injuries were the second largest cause of disability, at 12%, followed by communicable diseases (including malaria, TB and HIV).  The top risk factors for disability were alcohol and drug use, failure to use birth control, and iron deficiency (a sign of malnutrition).  According to John S. Santelli, MD, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, mental health issues generally respond to prevention, early detection and treatment: “We know what to do.  We just need to do it”. (Huffington Post)
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