The Health Blog

March '18 Health Bulletin

Influenza on a plane

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/03/13/1711611115

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at the risk of being infected during a flight. Since there are billions of air travellers annually, it's a worthwhile study to see if the common idea of "air travel increases infection risk" holds true. The idea of being in a confined space, sharing the same dry, contaminated air with other sneezing, coughing passengers would suggest so. However after studying the "movements, behaviours or social contacts between individuals during flight", the authors concluded that you are only at risk if you are seated within a meter of an infected passenger. Practically, this means you're at risk if you are seated within two seats (beside) or one row (in front of or behind) an infected passenger. (80% vs 3% for everyone else). Further, air quality measurements from the cabin did not contain any trace of respiratory viruses. The movement of passengers around a plane increases their risk and their spread of germs. (40% of passengers never leave their seats on short haul flights, 40% get up once, 20% get up two or more times) (40% window seats get up, 60% middle seats, 80% aisle seats - average for 5 minutes). 


Male Birth Control Pill

http://www.abstractsonline.com/pp8/#!/4482/presentation/6619

Dimethandrolone Undecanoate (DMAU), quite the mouthful, has been undergoing trials to study it's safety and efficacy. A study presented recently that DMAU was able to lower testosterone and specific hormones responsible for sperm production. DMAU is reversible - when test subjects stopped taking the drug, their hormone levels returned to normal. Previous attempts at the "male pill" were hindered by absorption issues and various side effects. DMAU seems to avoid the more significant side effects and only observed some weight gain and lowered levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. Subsequent studies are planned to further test effectiveness before trials proceed with couples. 


Another reason to stay active

http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2018/03/14/WNL.0000000000005290

A study that first began in 1968 has shown that in females, being active reduced the probability of dementia by 88%. 1400 Swedish women partook in the study were grouped into various fitness levels. Of those in the highly fit group, only 2 in 40 participants developed dementia. Comparatively 32% of those in the low fitness group developed dementia. Even those in the highly fit group who developed dementia, they developed symptoms on average of 11 years later. 


Of important to note, it has also been found in another study, that there is a threshold when exercise stops being particularly protective - that is, starting activity late in life is not as likely to help. Start exercising early.


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