Monday, November 26, 2012

Give And Take: How The Rule Of Reciprocation Binds Us

In 1974, Phillip Kunz and his family got a record number of Christmas cards. In the weeks before Christmas they came daily, sometimes by the dozen. Kunz still has them in his home, collected in an old photo album.

"Dear Phil, Joyce and family," a typical card reads, "we received your holiday greeting with much joy and enthusiasm ... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's. Love Lou, Bev and the children."

The cards from that year came in all shapes and sizes, but the basic message was the same. The writers wanted Kunz to know that he and his family were cared for, and also they wanted to share their own news. They included pictures of family members and new homes and smiling graduates with freshly minted diplomas.

It all seems pretty normal, except for one thing: Kunz didn't know any of them.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Study: Unemployment may raise risk of heart attack

People who are unemployed at any time during their life may be at an increased risk of having a heart attack after age 50, a study finds Monday.

In fact, the chances of a heart attack associated with multiple job losses may be on par with the risks people face from known factors such as smoking, hypertension and diabetes, says the study's lead author, Matthew Dupre, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Regular Checkup Is Good for the Mind as Well as the Body

EVERYONE is familiar with the concept of a periodic medical checkup — some sort of scheduled doctor’s visit to check your blood pressure, weight and other physical benchmarks.

The notion of a regular mental health checkup is less established, perhaps because of the historical stigma about mental illness. But taking periodic stock of your emotional well-being can help identify warning signs of common ailments like depression or anxiety. Such illnesses are highly treatable, especially when they are identified in their early stages, before they get so severe that they precipitate some sort of personal — and perhaps financial — crisis.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Flu During Pregnancy Linked to Autism, Says Survey

Mothers who reported having the flu during pregnancy were at least twice as likely to have a child with autism as those who did not report having the flu, according to new survey results from a Danish study. While the study does not suggest that high fever -- or flu -- causes autism, many experts said the correlation reinforces recommendations that all pregnant women should get the flu shot.

 The study by researchers in Denmark and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at nearly 97,000 children ages 8 to 14 who were born in Denmark between 1997 and 2003, only 1 percent of whom were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The researchers interviewed the mothers during their pregnancy and after delivery about any infections and high fevers they'd experienced while pregnant, as well as whether they had used antibiotics.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

The nearer the bar, the greater the chances of risky drinking

Does living near a bar encourage people to overindulge, or do heavy drinkers move to neighborhoods with easy access to alcohol? A new study suggests it may be the former for some people.

Researchers in Finland found that of nearly 55,000 Finnish adults followed for seven years, those who moved closer to bars were somewhat more likely to increase their drinking.

When a person moved one kilometer (0.6 mile) closer to a bar, the odds of becoming a heavy drinker rose 17 percent. A "heavy drinker" meant more than 10 ounces a week for men and about seven ounces a week for women, of distilled alcohol.

The link doesn't prove that mere distance from a bar turns people into alcohol abusers, according to the researchers.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Losing Sleep Leads to Gains in Weight

What does sleep have to do with weight? The latest research finds a link between lack of sleep and hunger.

New research published in the journal SLEEP shows that getting more shuteye could lead to less overeating, and that lack of sleep has different influences on hunger in men and women.

To take a closer look at the hormonal effects of sleep restriction on hunger, the researchers brought 27 healthy men and women into a sleep lab and manipulated the amount of time they slumbered. In the first condition, the participants slept for four hours a night for three nights in a row. Three weeks later, they were allowed to sleep for nine hours a night for three consecutive nights.

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