All Sauce from Weekly Gravy:

Women might need a lot fewer daily steps to lower their risk of heart failure than they think, a new study suggests. The usual recommendation is that people get 10,000 steps a day, but women ages 63 and older actually gain solid heart benefits from around 3,600 steps daily, researchers report Fev. 21 in the journal JAMA Cardiology. On average, 3,600 steps a day at a normal pace was associated with a 26% lower risk of developing heart failure, results show. “Accumulating 3,000 steps per day might be a reasonable target that would be consistent with the amount of daily activity performed by women in this study,” said lead researcher Michael LaMonte, a research professor of epidemiology and environmental health with the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. For this study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 6,000 U.S. women ages 63 and older. Participants wore a motion tracker on their hip for up to seven consecutive days, except for when in water. They averaged nearly 3,600 steps a day. Among these women, more than 400 heart failure cases occurred during an average 7.5 years’ follow-up. The risk of developing heart failure was 12% lower for each 70 minutes a day spent in light intensity exercises and 16% lower for each 30 minutes daily spent in moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity, results show. By…  read on >  read on >

Hormone replacement therapy might help women avoid depression as they go through menopause, a new study finds. Women treated with hormone therapy at a menopause clinic in Ontario, Canada, experienced a reduction in their symptoms of depression, researchers report Feb. 21 in the journal Menopause. This improvement occurred whether or not antidepressants were also prescribed, results showed. “This study showed a beneficial effect of hormone therapy on mood symptoms during menopause when used alone and a synergistic effect when used in combination with antidepressants,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The Menopause Society. “It also highlights the high prevalence of mood symptoms during this transition and the need to address women’s symptoms holistically rather than having a singular focus on hot flash management,” Faubion added in a society news release.  Depression has been shown to be particularly likely to occur around the time of menopause, researchers said. In this study of 170 women, about 62% of participants scored as “depressed,” said researchers led by Dr. Alison Shea, from The Research Institute of St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. Hormone therapy has been shown to effectively manage hot flashes, but its ability to address mood-related symptoms is less established, researchers said in background notes. Hormones influence the brain pathways that regulate mood during and after menopause, and are thought to play a role in depressive symptoms,…  read on >  read on >

Junk food increases people’s risk of colon cancer, as well as alcohol, lack of exercise and obesity. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t know about these risk factors for colon cancer, a new survey has found. Colon and rectal cancers have been rising in people under 50 for two decades, researchers said, meaning that many develop the cancer before screening colonoscopies are recommended. “We know that screening colonoscopy saves lives by detecting the disease in its earliest and often precancerous state, but it’s not recommended for a person of average risk before age 45 right now,” said researcher Dr. Matthew Kaladay, chief of colorectal surgery at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. That makes preventive lifestyle habits vitally important for younger adults. Unfortunately, the survey of about 1,000 adults 18 or older revealed that: Less than half (49%) know alcohol is a risk factor Two in five (42%) are unaware that a lack of physical activity is a risk factor More than a third don’t recognize obesity (38%) or a high-fat, processed food American diet (37%) are risk factors Four out of five people did know that family history is a risk factor for colon cancer. Unfortunately, Black and Hispanic people — the groups at highest risk — had the highest lack of knowledge about lifestyle risk factors. Black Americans are more likely to develop and…  read on >  read on >

Women working in health care endure significantly more stress and burnout compared to their male co-workers, a new review concludes. Gender inequality, a poor balance between work and life and a lack of workplace autonomy all create pressure on female health care professionals, researchers report. On the other hand, there are factors that can protect women from stress and burnout: a supportive and flexible work environment, opportunities for professional development and mindfulness meditation. “Human beings are not equipped to handle the combined, intense pressures in healthcare, in part due to the pressure to not take time to care for yourself,” said researcher Leigh Frame, associate director of the George Washington University Resiliency & Well-being Center. For the study, Frame and her colleagues analyzed the results from 71 prior studies published in 26 countries and four languages between 1979 and 2022. The studies reviewed stress and burnout among a range of female health care workers, including doctors, nurses, clinical social workers and mental health providers. This is the first comprehensive analysis to examine the relationship between work stress and well-being in female health professionals, researchers said. The pandemic prompted the review, as it cast a spotlight on health care burnout. Results showed that women are under tremendous pressure to succeed both at home and on the job. Such pressure contributes to toxic stress, occupational burnout, depression,…  read on >  read on >

After states legalize the sale of weed for recreational use, on-the-job injuries rise among younger workers, new research shows. U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for 2006 through 2020 show that legal “recreational marijuana sales were associated with a 10% increase in workplace injuries among individuals aged 20 to 34 years,” the study authors concluded. They note that prior research involving older workers did not show this effect. In fact, older workers’ injury rates typically decline after recreational weed is made legal in their state, perhaps because older folk are only using their marijuana to ease pain. In contrast, the rise in injury among younger workers may be because “marijuana use diminishes workers’ cognitive functioning or acts as a gateway to harder drugs,” the researchers theorized. The study was published Feb. 23 in the journal JAMA Health Forum and co-led by Dr. Joseph Sabia, chair of the economics department at San Diego State University. As the researchers noted, “since 2012, 24 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and sale of small quantities of marijuana for recreational purposes.” Would such moves encourage young workers to get high on the job, putting their performance at risk? To find out, Sabia’s group used Bureau of Labor statistics to track changes in the rate of workplace injuries among young employees, before and after laws allowing recreational marijuana sales…  read on >  read on >

An open question for weight-loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy and Zepbound has been whether folks will keep the pounds off when they stop taking them. Regular exercise could be the key to quitting the drugs without regaining weight, a new Danish study says. “It is actually possible to stop taking the medication without large weight regain, if you follow a structured exercise regime,” said senior researcher Signe Sorensen Torekov, of the University of Copenhagen. As little as a couple hours a week of exercise maintained the weight lost with the drugs, researchers found. “Our study offers new hope, as we have shown that the majority of those who take weight-loss medication and exercise regularly are able to maintain the beneficial effects a year after treatment termination,” Torekov said in a university news release. For the study, researchers recruited four groups of test participants. One group was given a weight-loss drug, a second group was asked to exercise regularly and a third group was given the drug and asked to work out. The fourth group received a placebo. The results showed that the exercise groups experienced an improvement in their quality of life. And those taking the drug while exercising kept the weight off once they quit the medication. The new study was published Feb. 19 in the journal Lancet eClinical Medicine. “All it takes is…  read on >  read on >

Black voters support a ban on menthol cigarettes by a wide margin, refuting claims that such a ban would be strongly opposed by Black Americans, a new survey shows. Black voters support by a 37-point margin the menthol ban proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with 62% in favor and 25% against. That’s even greater than the 29-point margin by which all voters support the ban, with 58% in favor and 29% against. Implementing the rule would not harm President Joe Biden’s chances of re-election, the poll found. There was no change in Biden’s overall standing after voters were asked to assume his administration ended the sale of menthol cigarettes. “There is clear evidence that the menthol rule has no meaningful electoral impact,” concluded The Mellman Group, a leading political research firm that conducted the poll on behalf of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids. In December 2023, the Biden administration announced it was delaying until March a long-planned ban on menthol cigarettes. The ban had been opposed by some civil rights leaders with ties to Big Tobacco, who argued it would give police an excuse to target Black smokers. Media reports said that a poll commissioned by tobacco giant Altria also influenced the administration’s decision to delay the ban.  The Altria poll, presented to the administration but never publicly released, claimed that the…  read on >  read on >

FRIDAY, Feb. 23, 2024 (HealthDay news) — Artificial intelligence can match and even outperform human eye doctors in diagnosing and treating glaucoma, a new study finds. The GPT-4 system from OpenAI did as well or better than ophthalmologists in assessing 20 different patients for glaucoma and retinal disease, researchers report Feb. 22 in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology. “AI was particularly surprising in its proficiency in handling both glaucoma and retina patient cases, matching the accuracy and completeness of diagnoses and treatment suggestions made by human doctors in a clinical note format,” said senior study author Dr. Louis Pasquale, deputy chair for ophthalmology research at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. The results suggest that AI could play an important support role for ophthalmologists as they try to manage patients’ glaucoma. “Just as the AI application Grammarly can teach us how to be better writers, GPT-4 can give us valuable guidance on how to be better clinicians, especially in terms of how we document findings of patient exams,” Pasquale said in an infirmary news release. Glaucoma is notoriously difficult to diagnose. About half of the 3 million Americans with glaucoma don’t know they have it, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Glaucoma occurs when fluid pressure builds up inside the eye, damaging the optic nerve and creating blind spots in…  read on >  read on >

Lockdown drills have become a shudder-inducing part of American life, preparing kids to lie low and keep quiet if a gunman chooses to roam their school. But a new study finds these drills help children who’ve been exposed to violence, helping them feel safer at school. The findings contradict claims that drills traumatize children rather than making them feel secure, researchers said. “Participating in drills may be a way to help students who have been exposed to violence feel safer in schools,” said researcher Jaclyn Schildkraut, executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in the U.S. Lockdown drills, now carried out at almost all public schools, involve locking classroom doors, turning off the lights, staying out of sight and remaining quiet. The drills were introduced following the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, in which two teens shot dead 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 24 others. For this study, students in fifth grade and above at a large urban school district in New York State responded to a survey about how safe they felt at school and how prepared they were for lockdowns and other emergencies. The students were also asked about their exposure to violence, such as seeing or hearing that someone brought a gun or knife to school or being involved in or…  read on >  read on >

Toddlers who are really into their food might have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder once they enter adolescence, a new study shows. Kids ages 4 and 5 with a strong urge to eat when teased with tasty food appear more likely to report a range of eating disorder symptoms by ages 12 to 14, researchers report Feb. 20 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. For example, teens who responded to food most strongly as a toddler were nearly three times more likely to report binge eating symptoms as those who were least interested in food, results show. “Although our study cannot prove causality, our findings suggest food cue responsiveness may be one predisposing risk factor for the onset of eating disorder symptoms in adolescence,” said researcher Ivonne Derks, with the University College London Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care. “However, high responsiveness to food is also a normal and very common behavior and should be seen as just one potential risk factor among many rather than something to cause parents worry,” Derks added in a university news release. High food responsiveness is defined as the urge to eat when seeing, smelling or tasting good food, researchers said in background notes. For the study, researchers analyzed data from 3,670 youngsters in the U.K. and the Netherlands to see how appetite traits…  read on >  read on >