Whether you’re studying for an important exam or learning a new language, there’s more proof that nonstop cramming sessions may not translate into the long-term memory retention you want. Memory is a complex process that requires time for the brain to absorb new information. One needed step is called memory consolidation, when the newly created memory is set, so you can retrieve it later on. Extensive research has shown that this consolidation takes place as you sleep, and explains why studying before bed may help you retain what you just read. While your body gets needed rest, your brain is busy working. During this active state, different parts of the brain communicate with each other. Research done at Aachen University in Germany found that taking a 90-minute nap after learning can also boost recall for some people after motor-skill or language learning. Want another approach? A study done at New York University found that you can also “set” a new memory during waking hours by simply taking a break after a learning session, rather than immediately jumping onto another task or onto one of your high-tech gadgets. Enjoy a short walk or grab a snack and let your conscious mind wander so your brain can get to work on what you just learned and not be distracted by a new challenge. More information Read the…  read on >

Any approach that differs from conventional — or Western — medicine is typically considered complementary and alternative, or CAM. But these practices have become much more mainstream, leading to growth in the health care approach called integrative medicine, which draws on traditional and non-traditional systems tailored to each individual’s needs. The U.S. National Institutes of Health agency that reports on CAM therapies has even changed its name to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, to better reflect this shift in philosophy. Getting familiar with integrative health will help you decide if it’s the approach you want. Integrative medicine focuses on your well-being and considers all aspects of your health: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental. It draws on whatever medical approaches — traditional or alternative — will serve you best. Integrative medicine centers are now part of many leading institutions across the United States, such as the University of Arizona, Duke, Scripps, Vanderbilt and the University of California, San Francisco. Board certification for practitioners from the American Board of Integrative Medicine was introduced in 2014. These advances have made it easier to find integrative doctors and medical centers. Key Tenets of Integrative Medicine: Creating a partnership between patient and practitioner. Using conventional and alternative methods as needed, and less-invasive yet effective interventions when possible. Focusing on prevention and promoting good health as…  read on >

Hundreds of millions of people visit U.S. amusement parks every year and take over a billion rides. Serious injuries are few — about one in 24 million. Yet accidents — including fatal accidents — do happen, often because riders didn’t follow safety guidelines or had a pre-existing medical condition. But sometimes accidents can be caused by faulty equipment or operator error. Here’s how to protect yourself and your family while still having fun. Always follow posted safety rules, especially those concerning age, height, weight and health restrictions. Be conservative when choosing rides for children, seniors and people with disabilities. Use all seat belts, shoulder harnesses and lap bars. Double check that they’re fully latched. Both small, thin riders and obese riders are at higher risk than others of being ejected from rides that have only lap restraints. All riders must keep all limbs inside the ride at all times. Hold onto handrails and stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop. Keep your eyes forward to protect your neck. Never stand up or rock in a ride that’s not designed for it. If a ride stops midway, stay seated and wait for instructions. Make sure your kids know this if they ride without you. Report unsafe behavior or conditions you see to a manager immediately. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates how…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Few people go through life without having episodes of lower back pain. For some people, though, it’s a daily struggle. The American Academy of Family Physicians says back pain may be controlled by maintaining proper posture and sitting, lifting, standing and exercising properly. Others have to seek medical attention for relief. The academy mentions these warning signs that you should see a doctor about your aching lower back: If pain radiates down your leg below your knee. If your leg, foot or groin feel numb. If you have fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or weakness. If you have difficulty going to the bathroom. If the pain was caused by an injury. If pain is so intense that you can’t move. If your pain doesn’t improve or gets worse after two weeks.

Hit-and-run deaths in the United States reached a record high in 2016, a new report shows. “Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem,” he added in a news release from the foundation. Hit-and-run deaths in the United States rose an average of 7 percent a year since 2009, with more than 2,000 deaths reported in 2016. That’s the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009, the authors of the report said. The highest per-capita rates of such deaths were in New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida, while the lowest rates were in New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota. Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-runs in the United States are pedestrians and bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were due to hit-and-runs. That’s compared to just 1 percent of all driver deaths in that same time period. Since 2006, there has been an average of 682,000 hit-and-run accidents a year according to the findings, which were released April 26. Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA, said that “it…  read on >

Construction workers, farmers and others who work in the sun are at greater risk for skin cancer, according to researchers. And a new study reveals these job-related cancers cost nations millions in medical expenses. The researchers said lawmakers should address this trend and take steps to reduce job-related exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. “The findings suggest that policymakers might give greater priority to reducing sun exposure at work by allocating occupational cancer prevention resources accordingly,” said lead investigator Emile Tompa, a senior scientist at the Institute of Work and Health in Toronto. Tompa and his team analyzed government records and health surveys in Canada. They found that in 2011, nonmelanoma skin cancers cost $34.6 million in Canadian dollars. (At current conversion rates, that’s about $27 million U.S. dollars.) These costs included treatment, missed work, out-of-pocket expenses and reduced quality of life. The researchers then looked at the cost per patient for nonmelanoma skin cancers. They found basal cell skin cancers cost $5,760 per person, while squamous cell carcinoma can exceed $10,500 (in Canadian currency). The study was published April 26 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. “The results can also raise awareness among policymakers, employers, unions and workers about the significant contribution of workplace sun exposure to skin cancers,” Tompa said in a journal news release. “These groups can now make…  read on >

Heading the ball — not player collisions — may lead to temporary thinking declines in soccer players, a new study finds. “Unintentional head impacts are generally considered the most common cause of diagnosed concussions in soccer, so it’s understandable that current prevention efforts aim at minimizing those collisions,” said study author Dr. Michael Lipton. He is a professor of radiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “But intentional head impacts — that is, soccer ball heading — are not benign,” he added in a university news release. “We showed in a previous study that frequent heading is an underappreciated cause of concussion symptoms. And now we’ve found that heading appears to alter cognitive [thinking] function as well, at least temporarily,” Lipton noted. However, the study was not designed to prove that heading actually causes thinking problems. The study included more than 300 amateur soccer players, aged 18 to 55, in New York City. They were asked about how many head injuries they’d suffered and how often they’d headed the ball within the previous two weeks. During those two weeks, players headed the soccer ball an average of 45 times. About one-third of them suffered at least one accidental head impact, such as a kick to the head, or a head-to-head, head-to-ground or head-to-goal post collision. Players who…  read on >

Men under 50 who smoke cigarettes are increasing their risk for a stroke, researchers warn. And the more they smoke, the greater their stroke risk, reported the University of Maryland investigators. The bottom line: quit. But if you can’t, smoking fewer cigarettes may help reduce your risk, the researchers said. “We found that men who smoked were 88 percent more likely to have a stroke than men who never smoked,” said lead researcher Janina Markidan, a university medical student. At the lower end, men who currently smoked fewer than 11 cigarettes daily were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked, she said. But heavier smokers — those with a two-pack-a-day or greater habit — were nearly five times more likely to have a stroke than those who never smoked, Markidan said. These findings are particularly important because ischemic strokes among younger adults are increasing. And tobacco use among young adults is also on the rise, she said. Markidan’s team’s prior research identified a strong link between smoking and stroke in young women, but less was known about the relationship in younger men, the researchers said in background notes. Ischemic strokes — the most common kind — occur when blood supply to the brain is blocked. Stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association.…  read on >

Women are more likely than men to suffer a knee injury called an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. But — surprisingly — the injury occurs the same way in both genders, a new study reveals. Prior research suggested women are two to four times more likely to suffer ACL tears due to differences in how this type of injury occurs in the sexes, researchers at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., noted. But that theory is wrong, according to the results of a new study of 15 women and 15 men with torn ACLs. Those prior studies were based on slow-motion replays of injuries, while the new work relied on scans and other advanced techniques. “Based on watching videos of athlete injuries, previous researchers have suggested that females may have a different mechanism of injury than males. But it’s difficult to determine the precise position of the knee and the time of injury through footage,” said study leader and biomedical engineer Louis DeFrate. “We used MRI scans taken within a month of the ACL rupture and identified bruises on the surface of the two large bones that collide when the ACL tears — the femur and the tibia — then used 3-D modeling and computer algorithms to reconstruct the position of the knee when the injury occurred,” he explained in a Duke news release. “Our results…  read on >

If you suffer from allergies, you already know that pollen is in the air — even in the parts of the United States with unseasonably cool temperatures. So what kind of allergy season can we expect this year? Will we see a return of the pollen vortex? Might we have a blooming bombogenesis of pollen? Don’t scoff: There is some evidence that climate change and increasingly warm temperatures may lead to more pollen each year. “Just like weather forecasting, it’s hard to know eventually what climate change will do to pollen counts. But what we’ve seen is unpredictability. The winters haven’t been as cold, and pollens may not become as dormant, so the allergy season might last longer,” said Dr. Punita Ponda, assistant chief of allergy and immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. Or, as some areas of the country have seen this year, fluctuations between warm and then cold weather can lead to “shorter, but more impactful pollen seasons,” Ponda said. And some of what people experience as the “worst allergy season ever” may be a matter of perception, she said. “In situations like New York has had this year — [with cold and warm weather alternating instead of a gradual progression to warmer temperatures] — trees will bloom because they’re dependent on the light cycle, not the temperature,” Ponda explained. “But…  read on >