Concept Of Personal Space Is Wired Into Our Brains, And Can Be Powerful Bonding Tool, But It’s Still Not Fully Understood
Accusations that former Vice President and potential 2020 candidate Joe Biden is too handsy have brought attention to the idea of personal space. Scientists and researchers have been studying the universal phenomenon for years, but questions about it, and how it works in our brains, still remain. In other public health news: cancer, violence, sexual partners and your microbiome, IVF, miscarriages, and more.
The New York Times:
Beyond Biden: How Close Is Too Close?
On Wednesday, the former vice president and potential presidential candidate Joe Biden released a video in which he discussed the importance of personal space. “Social norms have begun to change,” he said. “They’ve shifted, and boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset — and I get it.” Mr. Biden was responding to allegations by two women that he made them uncomfortable by coming too close, and by being too familiar and hands-on. His video was, in part, an acknowledgment that the rules of social engagement can change over time — along with perceptions of how much physical contact is appropriate, and where the boundaries of personal space lie. (Carey, 4/4)
The New York Times:
Cancer’s Trick For Dodging The Immune System
Cancer immunotherapy drugs, which spur the body’s own immune system to attack tumors, hold great promise but still fail many patients. New research may help explain why some cancers elude the new class of therapies, and offer some clues to a solution. The study, published on Thursday in the journal Cell, focuses on colorectal and prostate cancer. These are among the cancers that seem largely impervious to a key mechanism of immunotherapy drugs. (Richtel, 4/4)
Cancer Testing: A 'Holy Grail' Blood Test Could Be The Future
Testing for cancer in blood, urine or even saliva: That approach has been called the "holy grail" for diagnosing the second leading cause of death in the world, and it has been fueling an area of research that continues to raise eyebrows and questions. Doctors can diagnosis cancers in a number of ways, including taking biopsies of tissue where a suspected tumor might be; imaging tests such as X-rays, ultrasounds or MRIs; and screening tests such as endoscopies or colonoscopies. (Howard, 4/3)
Before His Suicide, Sandy Hook Dad Sought Origins Of Violence In The Brain
Soon after the December 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, in which a gunman murdered 20 children and six adults, a question began to haunt the parents of 6-year-old Avielle Richman, one of the victims that day. "I remember asking, 'Why would somebody walk into a school and kill my child?' " Jennifer Hensel told Anderson Cooper in 2013. "I need to know that answer. I have to have that answer." To search for that answer, Hensel and her husband, Jeremy Richman, drew on their unique expertise. (Hodge, 4/4)
Your Sexual Partners Can Change Your Microbiome, Finds A Study In Mice
People’s sexual partners could impact both their gut microbiome and their immune system, according to a new study from the University of Colorado, Denver, done in mice. Mice that received stool transfers from men who had anal intercourse had different microbiomes than mice whose stool donors only had vaginal intercourse, the study found. When researchers checked the mice’s immune systems, the mice whose stool donors had anal intercourse also showed signs that, were they human, they might have a higher risk of HIV infection. (Sheridan, 4/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
IVF Often Doesn’t Work. Could An Algorithm Help?
Trying to get pregnant with in vitro fertilization is a gamble. But some fertility doctors think artificial intelligence could help tilt the odds in their patients’ favor. Currently, birth rates from IVF vary widely, from 31% for women age 35 and under to around 3% for women age 42 and older when using fresh embryos, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To get pregnant, many women ultimately have to go through multiple rounds of IVF. The process can be time-consuming, emotionally exhausting and expensive. (Mullin, 4/4)
The New York Times:
Night Shifts May Raise The Risk Of Miscarriage
Pregnant women who work night shifts may have an increased risk for miscarriage. Researchers studied 22,744 pregnant Danish women, tracking their work schedules and hospital admissions for miscarriage using government databases. The study, in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that after eight weeks of pregnancy, women who had worked two or more night shifts during the previous week had a 32 percent increased risk of miscarriage compared with women who did not work nights. Working only one night shift a week did not significantly increase the risk. (Bakalar, 4/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
Does Your Smartphone Know If You’re Depressed?
Depressed patients don’t enunciate vowels as much as people who aren’t depressed. Their smiles are smaller. Suicidal individuals who speak in a breathy voice rather than a tense tone are more likely to re-attempt suicide. And patients with psychotic disorders, such as one form of schizophrenia, raise their eyebrows often when averting their gaze. These are among the behavioral biomarkers researchers have established using facial and acoustic analysis. With technology, they measure shifts not always discernible to the eye or ear, such as slight movements of facial muscles as well as subtle changes in tone and language. (Reddy, 4/4)
Seriously Ill Children Often Resist Treatment. Can Offering Simple Rewards Change That?
Few scenarios are harder to witness than the suffering of a seriously ill child. For kids with life-threatening diseases, survival often requires procedures that are painful and scary. But a Washington nonprofit is encouraging kids to be active in their own care by rewarding them for enduring their treatment. (Solman, 4/4)
The Washington Post:
Study Challenges Health Benefits Of Moderate Drinking
It might just be enough to kill your buzz: A new study challenges the idea that a drink or two a day could actually be good for you. In a study conducted in China, the researchers found that moderate drinking slightly raised the risk of stroke and high blood pressure. They weren’t able to figure out, though, whether small amounts of alcohol might also increase the chances of a heart attack. People who have a drink or two a day have long been thought to have a lower risk of stroke and heart problems than nondrinkers. But scientists were unsure if that was because the alcohol was beneficial or if the people who didn’t drink had other health issues. (Cheng, 4/5)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Silenced By Fear: New Moms Worry Admitting To Postpartum Depression Could Mean Losing Their Children
Postpartum depression affects one in seven women. In March, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug specifically for postpartum depression. A month earlier, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new guidelines recommending screening for depression in all pregnant and postpartum women and referring those at risk to counseling. But those advances help only if women in need are identified in the first place — a particular challenge for women of color and low-income moms, research shows, as they are several times more likely to suffer from postpartum mental illness, but less likely to receive treatment. (Patani, 4/5)
The New York Times:
A Diet To Ward Off Gum Disease?
The right diet may improve gum health, a small study has found. German researchers studied 30 people with gingivitis, the inflammation of the gums that can cause redness, swelling and bleeding. A dentist measured the severity of their gingivitis and their levels of plaque, the bacteria-laden film that builds up on the teeth and can cause gum disease. (Bakalar, 4/4)
Assaults Against Elderly Men In The US Up 75%, Study Finds
The rate of nonfatal assaults on American men 60 and older increased 75.4% between 2002 and 2016, a new government report estimates. For women, the assault rate increased 35.4% between 2007 and 2016. "These findings highlight the need to strengthen violence prevention among older adults," concluded the researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Unfortunately, few strategies have been rigorously evaluated." (Scutti, 4/4)