Examining body and mind through medical research

11/09/2013 2:11 PM

08/08/2014 10:19 AM

The daily deluge of health studies, reports and statistics is often meandering and confusing.

After all, sometimes a report will contradict the findings of another, issued just days earlier. More often, snapshots of the American experience are revealed in the numbers at the bottom of an abstract statistic, parked far away from the statistic shouting the loudest up top.

We take time out again now to sift through some of the reports that have surfaced in the last few months. Below is a sampling of interesting nuggets found therein, each shining some light on the body and mind.

70 percent: Nearly this many Americans are on at least one prescription drug, according to a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Forty-eight percent of Americans in the study took at least one prescription drug in the past month. Antibiotics, antidepressants, painkilling opioids and cholesterol-lowering drugs were the most commonly used.

200-plus kinds of fungi live on the human foot, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

1 in 3: Fewer than this many U.S. children between ages 11 and 16 eat fruit and vegetables daily, according to the National Institutes of Health.

82 percent is the percentage increase in likelihood that patients who have weekend surgery will die compared with if they had undergone the procedure on a Monday, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. Some experts hypothesize that the quality and availability of expert staffing on the weekend may be to blame.

Biological dirt: What scientists are calling the bits and pieces found on roughly 15 percent of reusable colonoscopy instruments, according to a study at five hospitals nationwide presented at the annual conference for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The study comes after thousands of patients in the last four years have had to undergo HIV and hepatitis testing after authorities uncovered improper cleaning practices at hospitals.

29.5 percent of women failed to pick up their new bisphosphonate prescriptions, a medication that is most commonly used to treat osteoporosis and similar bone diseases, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the journal Osteoporosis International. The failure to pick up these newly prescribed medications, called primary nonadherence, can lead to an increased risk of fractures for these patients.

Groceries: Last year, the average U.S. family of four with health insurance spent more money on out-of-pocket health care costs ($9,144) than on groceries ($8,388), according to the 2013 Milliman Medical Index.

10 out of every 100,000 black people developed multiple sclerosis in an average year, compared with seven white patients, three Hispanic patients and slightly more than one Asian person. More than two-thirds of all MS diagnoses were in women, and that gender gap was particularly strong among black people. It was previously believed that white people had a higher incidence of the disease. The study appeared in the journal Neurology.

Memory: Rosemary essential oil helps healthy adults remember the past and to do things in the future, according to a study by researchers who reported their findings to the British Psychological Society.

1 in 10 Americans admit taking a prescription drug they have not been prescribed, and a quarter of those people have used them just to get high, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll.

HRT: Women on hormone therapy for an average of seven years maintained the same level of cognitive function 10 years after, showed a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. The women were ages 50 to 55 when they started therapy.

35 percent of women are estimated to have experienced violence at the hands of their partners or other sexual violence, according to the World Health Organization.

Red wine: A compound found in red wine known to help maintain blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, doesn’t seem to be effective in obese people, according to a study from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. The compound is called resveratrol.

40 percent of people drank the night they were designated drivers, according to a University of Florida study.

10 percent of Americans between ages 14 and 21 acknowledge having perpetrated an act of sexual violence at least once, and 4 percent of a nationally representative sample of American kids reported attempting or completing rape, shows a study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Sore throat: Only about 10 percent of adults with sore throats have strep throat, which is caused by bacteria that could be killed by antibiotics, yet 60 percent of people seeing a doctor for a sore throat leave with a prescription for antibiotics, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

250,000 people participated in a study that found no link between celiac disease and autism spectrum disorders. People who were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the study were no more likely to be diagnosed with celiac disease than people without an autism spectrum disorders, showed the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Apps: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued final rules governing the development of mobile medical apps, saying it will focus its oversight on those products that have the potential to harm consumers if they do not function properly, such as apps that monitor heart rhythm.

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