Best Ways To Avoid The Flu, Beyond The Vaccine
From washing hands to wearing masks, scientists study the most effective strategies for keeping flu infection rates down. In other public health news stories: conflicting nutrition research; Alzheimer's; and childhood cancer.
The Washington Post:
Want To Avoid The Flu? Wash Hands, Clean Counters, Crack A Window, Consider A Surgical Mask.
Influenza viruses cause about 200,000 hospitalizations every year in the United States. Annual seasonal vaccination is our best line of defense, but in recent years, mismatches in the vaccine can clearly limit its effectiveness. We study how the flu virus spreads between people. While we strongly encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine, the findings from our study on the stability of flu viruses in the air can provide useful information for parents, teachers and health-care officials to limit the spread of the flu in the community. By employing simple strategies to reduce the amount of the flu virus in our environment, we can decrease the number of infections every year. (Lakdawala and Marr, 10/27)
The New York Times:
Confused By Nutrition Research? Sloppy Science May Be To Blame
Confused about what to eat and drink to protect your health? I’m not surprised. For example, after decades of research-supported dietary advice to reduce saturated fats to minimize the risk of heart disease and stroke, along comes a new observational study of 136,384 people in 21 countries linking consumption of full-fat (read saturated) dairy foods to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. ... Caution is in order, especially since another new study, this one a randomly assigned clinical trial, found that three weeks on a diet rich in saturated fat caused liver fat and insulin resistance to rise far higher than diets high in sugar or unsaturated fat. (Brody, 10/29)
How An Outsider Bucked Prevailing Alzheimer's Theory, Clawed For Validation
Dating to the 1980s, the amyloid hypothesis holds that the disease is caused by sticky agglomerations, or plaques, of the peptide beta-amyloid, which destroy synapses and trigger the formation of neuron-killing “tau tangles.” Eliminating plaques was supposed to reverse the disease, or at least keep it from getting inexorably worse. It hasn’t. The reason, more and more scientists suspect, is that “a lot of the old paradigms, from the most cited papers in the field going back decades, are wrong,” said MGH’s Rudolph Tanzi, a leading expert on the genetics of Alzheimer’s. (Begley, 10/29)
Scientists And Parents Band Together To Research Cures For Rare Childhood Cancer
Epithelioid sarcoma is exceedingly rare — estimates vary but at most, no more than around 100 cases per year. Of those, 10 percent occur in children and adolescents. For this and many other rare cancers that kids get, it takes a long time to find enough patients to test new therapies. Even worse, small patient numbers mean there's less motivation to allocate resources to study the diseases and develop potential drugs. Dozens of childhood cancers fall in this category, some so rare that few pediatric oncologists hear about them. (Landhuis, 10/26)