5 Medical Advances for Your Brain, Eyes and More

The latest news from the world of medicine about emerging breakthroughs in science and technology.

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Your Brain: Dementia Clues in Famous Faces

Your Brain: Dementia Clues in Famous FacesThomas Fuchs for Reader's Digest
An inability to ID pictures of well-known celebrities such as Princess Diana, JFK, Oprah Winfrey, and Elvis Presley may be a sign of early dementia, according to new research from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Middle-aged people with early-onset dementia could name only 46 percent of such famous people; healthy adults got them right 93 percent of the time. Researchers believe doctors could use this simple quiz as part of a battery of tests to help diagnose dementia and understand how healthy brains remember familiar things. Source: Tamar Gefen and Emily Rogalski, PhD, Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago

Family: More Siblings, Happier Marriage?

Family: More Siblings, Happier Marriage?Thomas Fuchs for Reader's Digest
If you come from a big family, you may be less likely to get divorced, according to a new study presented at the American Sociological Association. Ohio State University researchers analyzed data from 57,000 Americans over a 40-year period and found that those with siblings are more likely to stay married than only children. Each sibling decreases a person’s divorce risk by about 2 percent. (There are diminishing returns: After about seven siblings, there’s not much additional payoff.) Bigger families may allow more opportunities to practice good communication, empathy, and negotiation, skills that may fortify marriage Source: Doug Downey, PhD, and Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, PhD, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University

Fitness: The Commute That Quells Diabetes

Fitness: The Commute That Quells DiabetesThomas Fuchs for Reader's Digest
Workers who hoof it to the office are 40 percent less likely to have diabetes, 20 percent less likely to be overweight, and 17 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who drive, according to a new study of 20,000 U.K. residents in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Taking public transportation or cycling was also associated with better health. This and other studies suggest it’s not always necessary to go to the gym to reap the health benefits of physical activity. Source: Anthony Laverty, School of Public Health, Imperial College London

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Eyes: A Window on Stroke Risk

Eyes: A Window on Stroke Risk Thomas Fuchs for Reader's Digest
A picture of your eyes may help doctors predict your chances of having a stroke, according to research recently published in the journal Hypertension. Researchers took special images of the retinas of nearly 3,000 people with high blood pressure, then followed them for an average of 13 years. Those who had extensive blood vessel damage at the beginning of the study were more than twice as likely to have a stroke as those who had no damage, after accounting for other factors like age and weight. Even people whose photos revealed only mild damage still had a 35 percent increased risk. Although more research is needed, experts believe that this could be a good addition to standard health checkups for people with high blood pressure. Source: Mohammad Kamran Ikram, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Singapore Eye Research Institute, the Department of Ophthalmology and Memory Aging & Cognition Centre, at the National University of Singapore

Surgery: Slug Glue Means No More Stitches

Surgery: Slug Glue Means No More Stitches Thomas Fuchs for Reader's Digest
Stitches and staples due to surgery are unsightly and prone to infection, and they may require subsequent visits to be removed. So why don’t doctors just glue damaged skin together? Current adhesives usually aren’t strong enough to endure the rigors of body fluids and flexing skin, but researchers are exploring one inspired by slugs and snails. Scientists at Ithaca College have determined that the animals use a special blend of common minerals like calcium and iron to quickly turn slippery goo into a powerful adhesive, which lets them stick to rocks and resist birds’ prying beaks, even underwater. Researchers say this discovery will help them develop a medical glue that would let wet skin flex and bend, all while healing without a scar. Source: Andrew Smith, PhD, professor of biology, Ithaca College, New York

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