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Health

    Are you taking statins? They may not work well for about half of the people taking them, according to a new report.  >> On AJC.com: Blood pressure medication recalls: Everything you should know Researchers from the University of Nottingham in England recently conducted a study, published in the Heart journal, to determine the effectiveness of statins, which are used to treat high cholesterol.  To do so, they examined more than 165,000 people who were taking the drug to decrease heart disease risk by lowering cholesterol levels. According to national guidelines, statins must reduce bad cholesterol levels by 40% after two years to be considered effective, the team noted.  After analyzing the results, they found 51% of the subjects had a poor response to the treatment, which put them at a higher risk of developing heart disease. The drug was effective for the other 49%. >> Read more trending news  “Our research has shown that in almost half of patients prescribed statins they are very effective and offer significant protection against cardiovascular disease,” co-author Stephen Weng said in a statement. “However, for the other half – whether it’s due to your genetic make-up, having side effects, sticking to the treatment, or other medications – we don’t see that intended benefit.” The scientists believe genetic factors and patients not staying on their medicine could be the main reasons the medication did not work well for more than half of the participants.  They also explained the United Kingdom follows the same trends in the United States and other countries, so their findings could be applied to Western populations.  The scientists now hope to continue their investigations, so they can better predict patients’ cholesterol responses to treatments. >> On AJC.com: Common painkillers triple side effects of dementia, study says The authors concluded: “We have to develop better ways to understand differences between patients and how we can tailor more effective treatment for those millions of patients who are simply blanket prescribed statins.” 
  • The construction industry is facing an alarming problem: a staggering suicide rate. >> Watch the news report here According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more male construction workers take their lives than any other industry. The CDC report showed that the 2015 suicide rate for men in construction was 53 per 100,000. That is four times higher than the overall suicide rate. >> These jobs have the highest suicide rates in the country, CDC says 'We have an industry that is loaded with what I would call alpha males,' said Chris Brennan, business representative of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Boston.  'When someone kills themselves, that's it, it's over. And it's a scary subject for people, so we need to do a better job of understanding of what was going on and the darkness,' Brennan said. 'They’re supposed to be tough men and women who can deal with pain and challenges that other folks maybe can’t deal with,' said Steve Mongeau, the executive director of Samaritans, a suicide prevention center in Boston. Mongeau blames several factors. They include a competitive, high-pressure environment, a higher prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse, separation from families and long stretches without work. 'That inconsistency can lend itself to some concerns, self-doubts, possible worry, possible issues in other areas that could lead you to become somewhat despondent and consider suicide as an option,' Mongeau said. The CDC stresses that suicide prevention on the construction site is critical because it's where many workers spend most of their time.  Friends and family can help spot and prevent suicide, too. Some of the signs to watch out for are increased tardiness and absenteeism, decreased productivity and self-confidence, isolation from co-workers and agitation and increased conflict among co-workers. >> Read more trending news  One of the ways the construction industry has responded to the alarming rate of worker suicides is through the creation of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Chairman Michelle Walker said the organization's goal is simple but critical: to raise awareness.  'There’s a huge portion of the construction population and construction business owners and leaders that are simply unaware of the fact that this is an issue in the industry,' Walker said. That's why Brennan is developing a program that will give local workers the tools they need to build a better support system. He believes the peer-to-peer approach could mean the difference between life or death.  'We’re just trying to draw those people out, draw them out, say, 'Hey, come on out to the light, and we’ll get better, we’ll get better together,' Brennan said.  If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK. It is staffed 24 hours per day.
  • Which is better for you: drinking a bottle of wine each week or smoking 10 cigarettes? You probably answered that question wrong. According to a new study, the cancer risk for women is the same for each. The cancer risk from smoking cigarettes is fairly well-known, but “the number of cancers attributed to alcohol is poorly understood by the public,” according to the study, which was recently published in the journal BMC Public Health. In fact, a 2017 survey by the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that 70 percent of Americans didn’t know alcohol consumption can lead to cancer. >> On AJC.com: 'Beer before wine’ is not always fine, new study determines Tobacco use accounts for 7 million deaths per year globally, with an estimated two-thirds of smokers expected to die from their habit, according to The BMJ. About 3.3 million deaths occur each year because of the harmful use of alcohol, BMJ reported, corresponding to 5.9 percent of all deaths globally. To increase the public’s awareness of cancer from alcohol, researchers from the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Bangor University and University of Southampton compared the cancer risk of drinking wine to the cancer risk of smoking cigarettes. >> On AJC.com: Taking a break from alcohol can improve sleep and weight, study says Using data from Cancer Research U.K. and other sources, the scientists concluded “that if 1,000 non-smoking men and 1,000 non-smoking women each drank one bottle of wine a week, around 10 extra men and 14 extra women could develop cancer during their lives; equivalent to the lifetime cancer risk stemming of a man having five cigarettes a week, and a woman having 10 smokes.” But the bad news doesn’t end there. When wine consumption increased to three bottles a week, or about half a bottle a day, “around 19 men and 36 women may develop an alcohol-related cancer.“ Does this mean drinking wine is just as bad for you as smoking? No, the researchers said. >> Read more trending news  They were “absolutely clear that this study is not saying that drinking alcohol in moderation is in any way equivalent to smoking. Smoking kills up to two thirds of its users, and cancer is just one of the many serious health consequences. This study purely addresses cancer risk in isolation.” >> On AJC.com: Do you drink too much? Here’s what a new study says However, the National Cancer Institute lists alcohol as a known human carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent. Longtime alcohol consumption has been linked to the development of head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. You can read the full study on BMC Public Health’s website.
  • Are you the parent of a baby or small child? If so, it's time to check your medicine cabinet. Kingston Pharma is recalling one lot of infant cough syrup sold at Dollar General stores nationwide over possible Bacillus cereus or Bacillus circulans contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday. >> On FDA.gov: Read the full news release here The recall is for 2-ounce bottles of DG™/health NATURALS baby Cough Syrup + Mucus marked with Lot KL 180157, UPC 8 54954 00250 0 and an 11/20 expiration date. 'Bacillus cereus in food products has the potential to produce two forms of gastrointestinal illness, one being a syndrome primarily of vomiting, and the other of diarrhea,' the news release said. 'Most often, illnesses are mild and self-limiting, although more serious and even lethal cases have occurred.' >> Read more trending news  Kingston Pharma said it hasn't received any reports of illnesses in connection with the recalled product. If you bought the recalled cough syrup, you should take it back to the store for a refund, the release said. For more information, call the company at 1-844-724-7347 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT or email Christina.Condon@SciRegs.com.
  • Parents have to start early in the week to prepare their children for daylight saving time, a pediatric sleep doctor told Pittsburgh's WPXI-TV. >> Watch the news report here On Sunday, we will be springing clocks forward an hour and losing some sleep. That can be difficult for everyone, but especially children. Dr. Deepa Burman of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said the shift can make behaviors change quickly. >> Daylight saving time 2019: When do we set our clocks ahead? 'They might be having more frequent meltdowns at bedtime because they might be more tired from that loss of sleep,' Burman told WPXI. Burman said parents need to ease children into the change by pushing bed time up by 15 minutes a night in the days leading up to daylight saving time. 'By the time the time change happens, you are already ready for that 8 p.m. bedtime,' she said. She says with darker mornings and lighter nights ahead, it is also important to adjust your morning routine a bit to wake up your body sooner. >> Read more trending news  'If you live in Pittsburgh where we don't have as much natural light, try to get artificial lights, bright lights, turn on all the lights in your house,' Burman said. She also stressed the importance of putting away electronics well before a child's bedtime, or it could make falling asleep more difficult. 'Those artificial lights can actually decrease the body's melatonin,' Burman said. The doctor said the consequences of long-term sleep deprivation can include memory and attention problems, especially in young children.
  • The number of seniors injuring themselves while walking dogs is skyrocketing, University of Pennsylvania researchers say. According to a new study in the surgery edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, bone fractures from such incidents more than doubled during a 13-year period. >> Read more trending news  In 2004, about 1,700 people 65 or older visited emergency rooms with fractures after falling while walking a dog, the study said. In 2017, that number was almost 4,400. Women need to be especially careful because they are at higher risk for bone disease, the study said. Walking a dog can still be a great source of exercise, but experts say older dog owners should take special care to train their best friends or choose smaller breeds. Read more here.
  • A Massachusetts husband has come up with a creative way of asking strangers to help save his sick wife, who’s in the hospital fighting for her life. >> Watch the news report here You can't miss Brett Penney of Haverhill driving around in his wife's red Jeep.  'She's an amazingly special caring person that pretty much does anything she can for anyone else and it's hard for her to be in this position,' Penney said.  >> Read more trending news  That's why Penney made magnetic signs that stick on the side of his Jeep that say, 'My wife needs a liver.' He's asking strangers to help keep his wife, Danielle, alive.  'I thought it was ingenious because I’m coming back and forth from Boston every day so I figured if I just went down 93 a little slower everybody would be like what's his problem and they'd read the sign, so don't get mad at you for the guy in front of you going slow,' said Penney. Fifty-year-old Danielle Penney is on a transplant list after being diagnosed with liver disease in August 2017.  'It's not just for me. If you are willing to donate and help someone help save someone's life, they would appreciate it as well,' said Danielle.  Brett has made 50 of the magnetic decals and has 100 more on order. He's been giving them out to family, friends and complete strangers and says he'll do anything for his bride of 27 years.  'Not going to stop. Do it until she gets help, whether I have to drive around 24 hours a day. You'll be seeing me everywhere,' said Penney.  If you are interested in being a liver donor, there are requirements, including being between the ages of 18 and 55 and being in good physical and mental health. Click here for more information. 
  • If you plan your evening’s alcohol consumption by the old wives’ tale “beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer, have fear,” then you might wake up tomorrow feeling awful. Researchers at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and at the University of Cambridge put the saying to the test to determine if the order in which you imbibe beer and alcohol makes a difference. Their study, published Feb. 8 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, divided 90 volunteers into three groups. To get the groups as equally likely to be drunk as possible, participants were divided into groups of “triplets” based on similar age, gender, body composition, alcohol drinking habits and hangover frequency. Each triplet was then randomly assigned to one of the three larger groups. >> On AJC.com: Many hangover 'cures' are merely myths >> On AJC.com: Do you drink too much? Here’s what a new study says >> On AJC.com: Taking a break from alcohol can improve sleep and weight, study says On the first day of the study, group one was served beer before wine; group two drank wine before beer; and group three was served one or the other, but not both. A week later, groups one and two switched their order of consumption, and those who drank wine in group three drank beer while who had beer on day one drank wine. The volunteers, ages 19-40, drank until they reached a breath alcohol concentration of 0.11 percent.  The day after each party, er ... test, participants scored their hangover symptoms — thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, tachycardia (elevated heart rate) and loss of appetite — on a scale of zero to 7, with zero being no symptoms. The results? There was no difference in hangover intensity based on the order of alcohol consumption. >> Read more trending news  They were “unable to confirm that the well-known folklore of drinking ‘beer before wine’ purportedly results in a worse hangover than drinking ‘wine before beer,'” their report stated. The researchers admitted the study had limitations, including an inability to create a control group that drank only nonalcoholic beer or wine.  “When they tried to, QZ.com reported, “participants expressed ‘real dissatisfaction and envy’ about not being in the ‘ever-so-happy booze-sipping study groups’—even trying surreptitiously to sneak in.” Abstaining from alcohol is the only sure way to avoid a hangover, researchers said, adding that “perceived drunkenness and vomiting are useful predictors of misery in the morning after the night before.”
  • A healthy regimen can help you maintain a normal blood pressure, but having a romantic partner may be beneficial, too.  >> On AJC.com: Can a good marriage help keep your weight down? Researchers from the University of Arizona recently conducted a study, published in Psychophysiology journal, to determine how close relationships affect blood pressure.  To do so, they asked 102 people, who were in committed relationships, to complete a stressful task. They were told to submerge their foot into 3 inches of cold water ranging from 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  >> Read more trending news  As the subjects completed the assignment, they were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. They either had their significant other sitting quietly in the room or they were instructed to think about their romantic partner as a source of support or to reflect on their day. The team measured the group’s blood pressure, heart rate and heart rate variability before, during and after the task. After analyzing the results, they found those who had their partner physically present or those who thought about their partner had a lower blood pressure response to the task, compared to the others.  >> On AJC.com: Is your marriage over? 7 signs it may be time to call it quits (and 5 signs to stay) “The findings may help explain, in part, why high-quality romantic relationships are consistently associated with positive health outcomes in the scientific literature,” coauthor Kyle Bourassa said in a statement. “And it appears that thinking of your partner as a source of support can be just as powerful as actually having them present.” The authors noted their limitations. They only assessed college students but hope to observe people of various age ranges. Nevertheless, they believe romantic relationships can help with stress.  >> On AJC.com: Suffering from heart disease? You may have a better chance of survival if married “There are many situations, including at work, with school exams or even during medical procedures, where we would benefit from limiting our degree of blood pressure reactivity,” Bourassa said, “and these findings suggest that a relational approach to doing so can be quite powerful.”
  • Recalls of food and poultry products have increased significantly since the nation’s last major food safety law, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed in 2011. >> Read more trending news  Recent high-profile recalls — from romaine lettuce to eggs to beef — reveal how fundamental flaws in our current food safety system have led to a jump in these recalls since 2013, a new report from the Public Interest Research Groups found. >> On AJC.com: Perdue recalls 68,000 pounds of chicken nuggets after wood found in them According to PIRG, overall recalls since 2013 increased 10 percent, but recalls of the most hazardous meat and poultry products rose 83 percent during the same time frame. A report from the PIRG Education Fund, based on the study, says new technology might have contributed to the increase, but the reports reveals that element is inconsequential. >> On AJC.com: Massive beef recall expands; 12 million pounds of meat affected “Americans should be confident that our food is safe and uncontaminated from dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella,” it states. >> On AJC.com: FDA issues recalls for dry dog food Key findings from this year’s report include: An 83 percent increase in meat and poultry recalls that can cause serious health problems: USDA Class 1 recalls “involve a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death.” This includes recalls of beef for E. coli, poultry for Salmonella and others. Food recalls overall increased by 10 percent between 2013-2018: From crackers to children’s cereal to lettuce to meat, we’ve seen the total number of food recalls increase over the last six years. Archaic laws allow meat producers to sell contaminated products: It is currently legal to sell meat that tests positive for dangerous strains of Salmonella. A case study of the recent recall of 12 million pounds of beef sold by JBS could likely have been prevented if it this policy was changed. Bacteria-contaminated water used on vegetables and produce: A case study helps demonstrate how irrigation water polluted by fecal matter from a nearby cattle feedlot likely contaminated romaine lettuce with E. coli in the spring of 2018.