Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Architecture and Design Help the Brain Recover

From the 1 November 2011 Science Daily article

How does the hospital environment affect our rehabilitation? New research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, into how the space around us affects the brain reveals that well-planned architecture, design and sensory stimulation increase patients’ ability to recover both physically and mentally. Digital textiles and multisensory spaces can make rehabilitation more effective and reduce the amount of time spent in care…..

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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crowdsourcing Nutrition in a Snap: Counting Calories in Photos, PlateMate Proves the Wisdom of the (Well-Managed) Crowd

Computations and algorithms cannot yet evaluate a meal, but it turns out that they can build an effective workforce. The PlateMate project proves that a well-managed crowd can play the role of a nutritional expert. (Credit: Image courtesy of Eric Hysen)
From the 5 November 2011 Science Daily article
Americans spend upwards of $40 billion a year on dieting advice and self-help books, but the first step in any healthy eating strategy is basic awareness — what’s on the plate.

If keeping a food diary seems like too much effort, despair not: computer scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have devised a tool that lets you snap a photo of your meal and let the crowd do the rest.

PlateMate’s calorie estimates have proved, in tests, to be just as accurate as those of trained nutritionists, and more accurate than the user’s own logs. The research was presented at the 24th ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, a leading conference on human-computer interaction.

“We can take things that used to require experts and do them with crowds,” says Jon Noronha ’11, who co-developed PlateMate as an undergraduate at Harvard and now works at Microsoft. “Estimating the nutritional value of a meal is a fairly complex task, from a computational standpoint, but with a structured workflow and some cultural awareness, we’ve expanded what crowdsourcing can achieve.”…

PlateMate works in coordination with Amazon Mechanical Turk, a system originally intended to help improve product listings on Amazon.com. Turkers, as the crowd workers call themselves, receive a few cents for each puzzle-like task they complete.

PlateMate divides nutrition analysis into several iterative tasks, asking groups of Turkers to distinguish between foods in the photo, identify what they are, and estimate quantities. The nutrition totals for the meal are then automatically calculated.

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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Adding Nurse Practitioner Reduces Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits, Study Finds

 

US Navy 031027-N-0000W-001 Family Nurse Practi...

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From the 5 November Science Daily article

Adding a nurse practitioner (NP) to a busy hospital staff can decrease unnecessary emergency department (ED) visits, according to a study published in the latest issue of Surgery by researchers at Loyola University Health System. Researchers found that the nurse practitioner reduced ED visits by improving the continuity in care and troubleshooting problems for patients. The addition of an NP also resulted in an improved use of resources and financial benefits for the health system….

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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

Aging Could Influence Climate Change: Individual Carbon Dioxide Emissions Decline in Old Age

Age distribution of expenditures on energy-intensive goods (average values for U.S. resident per capita and per year in U.S. dollars). (Credit: © MPIDR, Emilio Zagheni)
From the 7 November Science Daily article
New demographic analysis reveals that the COemissions of the average American increase until around the age of 65, and then start to decrease. For the United States this means that, although the aging of the population will lead to a slight overall rise in CO2emissions over the next four decades, the long-term trends indicate that increasing life expectancy will result in a reduction in emissions.
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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Fatherhood Can Help Change a Man’s Bad Habits

From the 7 November 2011 Science Daily article

After men become fathers for the first time, they show significant decreases in crime, tobacco and alcohol use, according to a new, 19-year study.

Researchers assessed more than 200 at-risk boys annually from the age of 12 to 31, and examined how men’s crime, tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use changed over time. While previous studies showed that marriage can change a man’s negative behavior, they had not isolated the additional effects of fatherhood.

“These decreases were in addition to the general tendency of boys to engage less in these types of behaviors as they approach and enter adulthood,” said David Kerr, assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University and lead author of the study. “Controlling for the aging process, fatherhood was an independent factor in predicting decreases in crime, alcohol and tobacco use.”…

 

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Calmer? Inhaling Low Levels of CO Reduces the Impact of Environmental Stress, Study Suggests

From the 8 November Science Daily article

 Carbon monoxide (CO) — a tasteless, colorless and odorless gas — is not only a danger to the environment but also highly toxic to human beings. Found in the exhaust of vehicles and generators, CO has been dubbed the “silent killer” because excessive inhalation is lethal, poisoning the nervous system and heart.

Now, in a surprising twist, Prof. Itzhak Schnell of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geography and the Human Environment has discovered that low levels of the poisonous gas can have a narcotic effect that helps citydwellers cope with other harmful environmental factors of an urban environment, such as off-the-chart noise levels. This finding indicates that CO, in small doses, is a boon to the well-being of urbanites, better equipping them to deal with environmental…

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November 14, 2011 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Drinking Water from Plastic Pipes: Is It Harmful?

From the 9 November 2011 Science Daily article

 Pipe-in-pipe systems are now commonly used to distribute water in many Norwegian homes. The inner pipe for drinking water is made of a plastic called cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). Are these pipes harmful to health and do they affect the taste and odour of drinking water?…

The study showed:

  • There are no health risks associated with drinking water from PEX pipes
  • A few types of PEX-pipe may cause prolonged undesirable taste and odour if the water remains in pipes over time
  • Although the taste and odour usually dissipate with use, water from two of the PEX types still had an unpleasant smell and taste after a year
  • The level of volatile organic compounds that leaked from new PEX pipes was generally low
  • The level was further reduced with use
  • No correlation was found between production method and leaking products
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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Former Football Players Prone to Late-Life Health Problems, Study Finds

Former football players experience more late-life cognitive difficulties and worse health than other former athletes and non-athletes. An MU study found that these athletes can alter their diet and exercise habits to improve their mental and physical health. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Missouri-Columbia)

From ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2011)

 — Football players experience repeated head trauma throughout their careers, which results in short and long-term effects to their cognitive function, physical and mental health. University of Missouri researchers are investigating how other lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise, impact the late-life health of former collision-sport athletes.

The researchers found that former football players experience more late-life cognitive difficulties and worse physical and mental health than other former athletes and non-athletes. In addition, former football players who consumed high-fat diets had greater cognitive difficulties with recalling information, orientation and engaging and applying ideas. Frequent, vigorous exercise was associated with higher physical and mental health ratings.

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November 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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