Heat waves and heat domes are particularly dangerous to kids with asthma, a new study finds. Daytime heat waves are associated with 19% increased odds that a child with asthma will wind up in the hospital, researchers discovered. What’s more, heat waves that stretch for days double a kid’s risk of being hospitalized due to asthma. “We found that both daily high heat events and extreme temperatures that lasted several days increased the risk of asthma hospital visits,” said researcher Morgan Ye, a research data analyst with the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (UCSF). For the study, the team analyzed data from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland between 2017 and 2020, using climate data to determine the timing of heat waves for each zip code in the hospital’s service area. “We continue to see global temperatures rise due to human-generated climate change, and we can expect a rise in health-related issues as we observe longer, more frequent and severe heat waves,” Ye said in a UCSF news release. Hot and humid weather is a common asthma trigger, the American Lung Association says. Such weather also increases smog levels. Past studies have linked extreme heat with asthma, but it’s been unclear whether heat waves can lead to asthma attacks so bad that children will need hospitalization, researchers said. This study also is…  read on >  read on >

People with asthma who vape tend to develop the respiratory disease earlier in life than folks who never vaped, new research shows. Overall, asthmatic adults who said they’d vaped over the past month were over three times as likely to have developed asthma relatively early in life (before the age of 27) compared to folks who never vaped, said a team reporting the findings May 17 in the journal JAMA Network Open. According to the researchers, “harmful chemical ingredients found in electronic nicotine delivery systems have been found to affect pulmonary function and may have the potential to affect respiratory health,” perhaps including the triggering of asthma. The study was led by Adriana Pérez, of the department of biostatistics and data science at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Her team noted that smoking has long been linked to an upped risk for asthma, but studies regarding links between vaping and asthma are lacking. By 2021, more than 11 million U.S. adults said they were vaping regularly, Perez’s team said, and by 2022 over 2.5 million U.S. high school students were doing so. Could all that vaping be speeding the emergence of asthma among Americans? To find out, Pérez’ team used data from a large study focused on tobacco and health outcomes (including asthma) involving almost 25,000 adults and high school-age teens,…  read on >  read on >

The smell of food is appetizing when you’re hungry. At the same time, it can be a turnoff if you’re full. That’s due to the interaction between two different parts of the brain involving sense of smell and behavior motivation, a new study finds. And it could be why some people can’t easily stop eating when they’re full, which contributes to obesity, researchers say. The weaker the connection between those two brain regions, the heavier people tend to become, results show. “The desire to eat is related to how appealing the smell of food is — food smells better when you are hungry than when you are full,” said study co-author Guangyu Zhou, a research assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “But if the brain circuits that help guide this behavior are disrupted, these signals may get confused, leading to food being rewarding even when you are full.” “If this happens, a person’s BMI could increase. And that is what we found,” Zhou added in a Northwestern news release. “When the structural connection between these two brain regions is weaker, a person’s BMI is higher, on average.” Odors play an important role in guiding motivation for behaviors like eating, researchers said. At the same time, how you perceive smells can be influenced by how hungry you are. But…  read on >  read on >

Following a vegetarian or vegan diet might just buy you a longer, healthier life, a new review finds. Staying away from meat was tied to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and early death, researchers reported in a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One. After combing through nearly 50 studies on such diets that were published between 2000 and 2023, a clear pattern emerged: Both were linked to a lower risk of both cancer and heart disease linked to narrowed arteries. Notably, the diets seemed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and gastrointestinal cancers like colon cancer. Vegetarian diets were also linked to a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. In addition, plant-based diets lowered the chances of obesity, inflammation and “bad” LDL cholesterol.  “This research shows, in general, that a plant-based diet can be beneficial, and taking small steps in that direction can make a difference,” said review co-author Matthew Landry, an assistant professor of population health and disease prevention at the University of California, Irvine. “You don’t have to go completely vegan to see some of these benefits,” he told NBC News. “Even reducing a day or two per week of animal-based consumption can have benefits over time.” Still, Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noted that…  read on >  read on >

The Mediterranean diet has already been shown to be great for a person’s physical health, but new research finds that following the Mediterranean diet also can lift your mood. People on the diet tended to have lower levels of anxiety and stress, researchers reported recently in the journal Nutrients. “It’s a big tick for the Mediterranean diet,” said researcher Evangeline Mantzioris, with the University of South Australia. “Through a relatively easy lifestyle change, people can markedly improve their stress and anxiety levels. Who wouldn’t want to give it a go?” The Mediterranean diet involves plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and olive oil, researchers said. Fish and seafood should be eaten at least twice a week, and dairy and lean proteins eaten daily in smaller portions. The diet encourages minimal consumption of red meats and processed foods and cutting out sugary beverages. For this study, researchers surveyed nearly 300 Australians aged 60 and older regarding their diet and their symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. People who ate in ways that closely tracked a Mediterranean diet had lower levels of stress and anxiety, even after researchers accounted for other factors. The researchers also found that specific elements of a Mediterranean diet — fruit, nuts, legumes and low consumption of sugary beverages — were associated with less stress and anxiety. No…  read on >  read on >

People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) face more than triple the odds of bruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding, a new study finds. The small study of 76 Brazilian adults (38 diagnosed with PTSD and 38 without the condition) found much higher incidence of daytime teeth grinding. “Our study showed that PTSD can be manifested orally, in bruxism and a higher level of pain after a clinical dental examination. This requires joint action by psychiatrists, psychologists and dentists in screening and treatment of both health conditions,” said study lead author Dr. Ana Cristina de Oliveira Solis of the University of Sao Paulo. The findings were published recently in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations. According to background information supplied by the researchers, it’s thought that between 8% and 30% of people habitually grind their teeth during waking hours. While it’s well known that PTSD can manifest in psychological ways, such as flashbacks, nightmares, sleeplessness and self-destructive behaviors, there’s been little study of its effect on oral health, the researchers said. Everyone in the study underwent an examination to determine the health of their teeth and gums. “Oral hygiene was not found to be associated with the problem,” Solis said in a journal news release. “Periodontal examination, which included measurement of bacterial plaque and gingival bleeding [or bleeding on probing], showed that patients with PTSD and controls…  read on >  read on >

A competitive game with a potential cash reward appeared to help overweight British men lose weight, researchers report. The incentive was winning the “Game of Stones” — a stone is a British measurement of body weight equal to 14 pounds — and pocketing the equivalent of just over $500 in American dollars if the man achieved weight-loss goals. Weight loss was more successful among men who engaged in Games of Stones versus those who weren’t offered the challenge, said a team led by Dr. Pat Hoddinott, of the University of Stirling in Scotland. Nevil Chesterfield, 68, lost weight and called Game of Stones “a real success for me.” “The financial incentive was important — it did give the project tremendous credibility when I explained it to my peer group,” he said in a news release from the University of Bristol, which partnered in the research. “Partaking in a university study sounds worthy, and the fact that it is intended to inform future health policy gives seriousness, but the payments for hitting targets takes it to new heights, particularly with male friends. To them, it becomes something more than some sort of diet,” Chesterfield said. The premise of Game of Stones was simple. Men living with obesity were promised the cash reward if they met three weight-loss targets: 5% weight loss at three months, 10% at…  read on >  read on >

Inmates released from jail have a ninefold increased risk of suicide within the following year, compared to people who’ve never been incarcerated, new research shows. “Suicide prevention efforts should focus on people who have spent at least one night in jail in the past year,” concluded the team led by Ted Miller, a senior research scientist with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Beltsville, Md. For the study, researchers pooled data from 10 different studies of death rates among formerly incarcerated adults. They used that data to estimate the suicide rate among the nearly 7.1 million adults who had been released from jail at least once in 2019. Inmates had a nine times greater risk of dying by suicide within one year of their release, and a seven times greater risk of suicide within two years of release, researchers found. People newly released from jail account for an estimated 20% of all adult suicide deaths, but they only account for just under 3% of the entire adult population. Adults are often arrested while in the throes of a mental health crisis, researchers noted. It’s now possible for health systems to link jail release data to patient health records, and thus can target for outreach patients who have been recently released, the researchers noted. “Focused suicide prevention efforts could reach a substantial number of…  read on >  read on >

San Francisco is on the verge of passing a ban on “forever chemicals” in the protective clothing firefighters wear while battling blazes. City lawmakers are expected to pass an ordinance on Tuesday that will prohibit the use of firefighting gear made with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS have been linked to health harms, including decreased fertility, low-birth weight and developmental delays in children, a greater risk of certain cancers and higher cholesterol levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While the compounds, which linger for years in the environment, have been phased out of most manufacturing, they are still used in some firefighting foams and nearly all firefighters’ uniforms because they resist flames and extreme heat, NBC News reported. If passed into law, the city’s fire department would have until June 30, 2026, to buy new protective clothing made without PFAS for its more than 1,400 firefighters. San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who authored the legislation, said he believes the ban “is morally right and it is financially right.”  “Cost is so small compared to a human life, is so small compared to the cost of health care, is so small compared to the cost of settling lawsuits,” he told NBC News. Lt. Magaly Saade, a firefighter and training instructor at the San Francisco Fire Department, has had cancer twice, forcing her to undergo…  read on >  read on >

Women who smoke during pregnancy run a higher risk of their kids becoming overweight or obese, and researchers now think they know one reason why. Children born of moms who smoked while expecting tend to have gut bacteria that is significantly different from that of kids whose moms didn’t light up, scientists reported recently in the journal Gut Microbes. It’s been known for some time that women who smoke in pregnancy tend to have babies who become overweight children, said co-senior researcher Anita Kozyrskyj, a microbiome epidemiologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Canada. “We just didn’t know how it happened,” Kozyrskyj said in a university news release. “There may be many ways, but in our study we showed one way is by changing the gut bacteria in the infant.” Obesity currently affects more than 18% of children and teens, up from only 4% back in 1975, researchers said in background notes. For the study, researchers used data from more than 1,500 children being tracked as part of a long-term study of child development. The kids’ weight was measured at ages 1 and 3, and stool samples were collected at 3 and 12 months of age. Researchers found that a child’s risk of excess weight was associated with higher levels of a type of gut bacteria called Firmicutes, and that smoking…  read on >  read on >