All Sauce from Weekly Gravy:

Headed to a Major League Baseball game? Be prepared to duck and cover. As the 2018 season gets underway, a new study finds that fans’ risk of being struck by a foul ball or flying bat at Major League Baseball (MLB) games is on the rise. Each year, about 1,750 fans are hurt by foul balls at MLB games. That works out to about two injuries for every three games — more common than batters getting hit by wayward pitches, according to Indiana University researchers. The researchers did not examine injuries among the more than 40 million fans who attend minor league games. But fans’ risk of getting hit at MLB games rose as nearly two dozen new stadiums opened since 1992, the study found. The added risk is easy to explain, the researchers said. “Fans today frequently sit more than 20 percent closer to home plate than was the case throughout most of the 20th century,” said study author Nathaniel Grow, an associate professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “When you combine that with an increase in the speed with which baseballs are being hit into the stands, fans have less time to avoid errant balls or bats heading in their direction,” Grow explained in a university news release. A typical foul ball enters the stands at…  read on >

Even though they know it’s dangerous, many American drivers still talk on a cellphone or text while behind the wheel, a new survey finds. In fact, the number of drivers who say they talk regularly or fairly often on their cellphone while driving has actually risen 46 percent since 2013, the pollsters say. More than 2,600 licensed drivers, aged 16 and older, were questioned for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey. Nearly 58 percent said talking on a cellphone while driving is a very serious threat to their safety, while 78 percent said texting is a significant danger. Yet nearly half of the respondents said they recently talked on a hand-held phone while driving. And more than one-third had sent a text or email while driving, according to the survey. “With more than 37,000 deaths on U.S. roads in 2016, we need to continue finding ways to limit driving distractions and improve traffic safety,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The foundation’s work offers insight on drivers’ attitudes toward traffic safety and their behaviors, so we can better understand the issue and identify potential countermeasures to reduce crashes,” he added in a foundation news release. Drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times more likely to crash, and those who text are up to eight times…  read on >

Medical care costs in the United States can be so overwhelming that Americans fear the cost of treatment more than the illness itself, a new poll shows. “It’s shocking and unacceptable that medical bills strike more fear in the hearts of Americans than serious illness,” said Shelley Lyford. She is president and CEO of West Health Institute, a San Diego-based research group that teamed up with NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct the nationwide poll. More respondents (40 percent) feared the cost of treating a serious illness than feared becoming ill (33 percent). The poll, of more than 1,300 adults, also found that 44 percent had not gone to the doctor when they were sick or injured within the past year, and 40 percent had skipped a suggested medical test or treatment because of the expense. Nearly half of the respondents said they also went without a dental checkup or cleaning in the past year, and 4 out of 10 said they didn’t see a dentist when they needed care. Thirty percent said they had been forced to choose between paying for medical bills or necessities such as food, heating or housing in the past year. About one-third said they had not filled a prescription or took less than the prescribed dose to save money. And respondents who said they didn’t get a…  read on >

New research suggests that a special MRI technique can spot abnormal connections in the brains of preschoolers with autism. The discovery “may be a clue for future diagnosis and even for therapeutic intervention in preschool children with [autism],” study co-author Dr. Lin Ma, a radiologist at Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing, explained in a news release from the journal Radiology. The findings were published in the journal on March 27. One U.S. expert agreed that the imaging advance could be a boon to autism research. “This discovery gives us a more objective diagnostic method by using MRIs to aid us in the diagnosis of children who do have autism, and also gives us a better understanding of the abnormal differences in the brain,” said Dr. Matthew Lorber. He’s a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. In the study, the Chinese team used an MRI technology known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). This technique provides important information on the conditions of the brain’s “white matter,” the researchers explained. In the study, Ma’s group compared DTI results from 21 preschool boys and girls with autism (average age 4-and-a-half years) and 21 similarly aged children without autism. The children with autism had significant differences in what’s known as the basal ganglia network, a brain system that’s important in behavior. They also had differences in…  read on >

Tree care workers have one of the nation’s most perilous jobs, and the danger could grow as climate change increases the risk to trees from major storms, diseases, insects, drought and fire, experts warn. Better training and safety in tree care operations are essential, according to researchers from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. Every year, about 80 tree care workers die and at least 23,000 chainsaw-related injuries are treated in U.S. emergency rooms. Many of those injuries stem from poor training and equipment, according to Rutgers experts who have studied risks to tree care workers since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In the last month, the northeast and mid-Atlantic states have gone through four nor’easters resulting in further widespread tree damage from heavy snow. “There is a popular misconception that tree removal is low-skill work, but nothing could be further from the truth,” researcher Michele Ochsner said in a university news release. “Handling storm-downed trees without injury to people or property involves an array of technical skills and knowledge of how different species of trees respond in different seasons and weather conditions,” she explained. Ochsner formerly worked in Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations. She and her colleagues found that workers employed by tree care experts and licensed arborists were more likely to receive health and safety training and to use protective gear than…  read on >

Less than 40 percent of American adults with extremely high cholesterol levels get the medications they should, a new study finds. Researchers examined federal government data to assess rates of awareness, screening and the use of cholesterol-lowering statins among adults aged 20 and older with extremely high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. The investigators also looked at a subgroup of patients with familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that causes extremely high cholesterol that increases the risk of early heart disease. Rates of cholesterol screening and awareness were high (more than 80 percent) among adults with definite/probable familial hypercholesterolemia and extremely high cholesterol, but only 38 percent of them took statins. Of those who took statins, only 30 percent of patients with extremely high cholesterol had been prescribed a high-intensity statin. Patients in the study least likely to be taking statins included those who were younger, uninsured, and without a regular source of health care. “Young adults may be less likely to think that they are at risk of cardiovascular disease, and clinicians may be less likely to initiate statin therapy in this population,” wrote lead author Dr. Emily Bucholz, who’s with the department of medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It is possible that lifestyle modifications continue to be prescribed as an initial treatment prior to initiating statin therapy,” she added. The findings were published March…  read on >

Millions of Americans buy marijuana online illegally, a new study found. “Anyone, including teenagers, can search for and buy marijuana from their smartphone, regardless of what state they live in,” said study leader John Ayers. He’s an associate research professor at San Diego State University’s School of Public Health. In the study, Ayers’ team examined Google searches about buying marijuana by Americans between January 2005 and June 2017. During that time, there was a threefold increase in such searches, peaking at between 1.4 million and 2.4 million searches a month. Marijuana shopping searches were highest in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state, where recreational marijuana use is legal. But such searches increased each year in all but two states — Alabama and Mississippi. That suggests online shopping for the drug is increasing nationwide, the researchers said. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that broadly expand the legal use of marijuana. The researchers also found that 41 percent of marijuana shopping search results linked to retailers advertising mail-order marijuana delivered through the U.S. Postal Service, commercial parcel companies or private couriers. Online sales of marijuana are illegal, even in states that have fully or partially legalized the drug, “but clearly these regulations are failing,” said study co-author Eric Leas, a research fellow at Stanford University. Immediate action is needed to halt online…  read on >

Pet owners care deeply about what their furry family members eat. So should they worry about a new study that finds chemical preservatives known as parabens are often in dog and cat food, as well as in urine samples from the animals? Maybe, researchers say, though there’s no need to panic. “Parabens are reported as endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” said the study’s senior author, Kurunthachalam Kannan. These preservatives can interfere with hormones and may have harmful effects on developmental, reproductive and neurological systems, explained Kannan. He’s with the New York state Department of Health’s division of environmental health sciences. But the levels of parabens and their by-products found in pets are low, according to the new study. “The current exposure levels of parabens and their metabolites in cats and dogs are 100- to 1,000-fold less than the tolerable daily intake limits,” Kannan said. However, the safe levels were based on research in humans, and it’s possible that pets are more sensitive, he added. The researchers pointed out that diseases — such as diabetes, kidney diseases and thyroid problems — have been rising in pets that primarily stay indoors compared to those who live outside exclusively. And some scientists have proposed that chemical exposures in the home could play a role in these illnesses. So far, no studies have confirmed any harmful effects from paraben exposure, according to…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Smoking is associated with 1 in 5 deaths in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The agency suggests these methods that may help you quit: Commit to quitting and get motivated to make a change. Get support from friends and family. Consider using medicine to help you quit, and if you do, use it correctly. Take up a new hobby as a distraction. Be prepared for the effects of withdrawal and the possibility of relapse.

U.S. war veterans who sustained severe combat wounds and have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at increased risk for high blood pressure, a new study says. The study included nearly 3,900 military veterans who had been severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan from February 2002 to February 2011. Their average age when they were wounded was 26. More than 14 percent of the veterans developed high blood pressure at least 90 days after being wounded. The severity of the injuries and how frequently PTSD was noted in their medical records after the wounding separately affected their risk for high blood pressure. “What we found surprised us,” said study senior author Dr. Ian Stewart, a major at the U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in California. For every 5-point increase on a 75-point injury severity score, the risk for high blood pressure rose 5 percent. Veterans with an injury severity score of 25 or lower and no recorded PTSD diagnosis had the lowest risk for high blood pressure, according to the study. Compared with veterans with no PTSD diagnosis, the risk for high blood pressure was 85 percent higher among those who had PTSD noted one to 15 times in their medical records — indicating chronic PTSD. High blood pressure was 114 percent more likely among veterans with PTSD noted more…  read on >