Reader’s Digest Health Report: March/April 2017

We’ve rounded up the seven best medical discoveries from around the world for March and April of 2017.

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Abstinence Easier Than Controlled DrinkingPhoto: Shutterstock

Abstinence Easier Than Controlled Drinking

Some medical professionals think problem drinkers can learn to cut down on alcohol, while others advocate avoiding it completely. A recent Swedish health report followed up with 201 alcohol-dependent patients who started treatment two and a half years earlier. When people agreed with their caregivers about which goal to pursue, about 90 per cent of those who were attempting abstinence were successful, versus only 50 per cent of those aiming for moderation.

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Tick bites may be causing meat allergies, according to health reportPhoto: Shutterstock

Tick Bites Triggering Meat Allergies

A newly recognized allergy to red meat is emerging in tick-endemic areas around the world, causing symptoms ranging from hives to anaphylactic reactions. Reports from Australia, Europe, North America, Central America, Asia and Africa suggest that some tick bites train the immune system to identify a carbohydrate called alpha-gal—found in many mammals—as a threat. The allergy can be confirmed with the help of a blood or skin test. Sufferers are encouraged to avoid beef, pork and other red meats; some are also sensitive to dairy.

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Fast food restaurants raise risk of diabetesPhoto: Shutterstock

Fast-Food Swamps Raise Diabetes Risk

Living in an area with many fast-food restaurants and few healthier options, also known as a fast-food swamp, increases the risk of developing diabetes by 79 per cent,
according to a study out of the University of Toronto. Fast-food joints did not greatly affect the risk when there were enough cafés and sit-down restaurants for people to frequent instead.

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Health may be affected by work relationshipsPhoto: Shutterstock

Health Affected by Work Relationships

Having a job suited to our personality and skills is nice, but it's not only what we do at work that will affect our well-being. It’s also how we relate to the people there. An analysis of 58 studies in 15 countries found that people who experience a strong sense of belonging at the workplace tend to have better overall health and a lower risk of burnout. We derive purpose and meaning from membership in groups, the researchers explained, and the benefit is even more pronounced when our colleagues also identify with the organization or team.

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Two female friends riding roller coasterPhoto: Shutterstock

Roller Coasters May Help Pass Kidney Stones

Researchers at Michigan State University grew curious about the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster at Walt Disney World in Florida after a number of patients claimed to have passed kidney stones after riding it. They decided to test it using a 3-D-printed model of a kidney; the forces exerted by the ride did cause mock stones of all sizes to pass. Sufferers who enjoy roller coasters might find them worth a try, the lead researcher says.

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Woman applying sunscreen on facePhoto: Shutterstock

Low-Factor Sunscreen Leads to Unsafe Exposure

In an observational study of 143,844 women led by the University of Oslo, the subjects who used low-factor sunscreen (SPF of 15 or less) had a greater melanoma risk than those who didn’t use sunscreen. People may believe sunscreen lets them soak up rays safely, but this isn’t true if they don’t wear enough, forget to reapply it periodically, miss areas of exposed skin or use products with an insufficient SPF.

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Yoga is safe, but don't overdo itPhoto: Shutterstock

Yoga is Fairly Safe, But Don't Push It

Yoga-related injuries are relatively rare, but they’re more likely as you age, according to a 13-year Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine report. The rate for people 65 and older was 58 per 100,000, compared to 12 per 100,000 for those 44 years of age and under. In all groups, the most common mishaps were sprains and strains, and the most affected area was the torso. It’s important to choose a qualified instructor and start off slowly.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada