The Recovery Process: News beyond the pandemic

21 August — For much of this year the coronavirus pandemic has dominated the media and our daily lives. Medical News Today has covered this fast-moving, dynamic topic with daily coverage of the latest news, expert interviews and continuing research into the deep racial differences that COVID-19 has helped to unmask.

This did not stop us from publishing hundreds of interesting stories on a variety of other subjects, however.

We announced this week on Nccmed’s exclusive study, of how climate change may have driven the rapid spread of West Nile virus across the US. We also looked at how cannabinoid products interact with dozens of prescription drugs, and why people the live longer in ‘blue states’ than in ‘red states.’

If you’ve ever considered going for 2 days without food, we ‘re disclosing the dangers, benefits, and how you can stay the course. We also investigated what could cause hallucinations, and how they seem more frequent than we thought.

Lastly, inflammatory can explain why our immune systems are deteriorating with age. We ‘re looking at ways you can reduce it, and retain your youthful vigor longer.

Here are ten recent stories people may have overlooked amid all the fervor of COVID-19.

1. West Nile virus in the US: A case study on climate change and health

Climate change, triggered by the negative impact of human action, has become a crisis that could adversely affect all aspects of life on Earth.
Climate change, triggered by the negative impact of human action, has become a crisis that could adversely affect all aspects of life on Earth.

Nccmed took a deep dive into the rapid spread of the West Nile virus, and its connection with climate change, to coincide with World Mosquito Day on August 20.

Nccmed mined several data sources in this exclusive analysis, and looked at them in a new way. We have addressed the facts and implications for public health with experts on climate change and infectious diseases as the climate crisis intensifies.

2. Cannabinoids, including CBD, may interact with prescribed drugs

Research indicates cannabinoid products, including cannabis and CBD oil, may interact with some prescribed medications
Research indicates cannabinoid products, including cannabis and CBD oil, may interact with some prescribed medications

This week our most famous new article highlights fresh research suggesting that cannabinoid products, including cannabidiol ( CBD), could interfere with prescribed drugs.

Over the past 5 years, CBD sales have risen more than eight times in the U.S., propelled by supposed benefits like anxiety control, sleep disorders, and pain relief. This new study does, however, classify 57 prescription drugs that could impact concurrent cannabinoid use. Furthermore, the researchers list another 139 drugs that could have lower risk interactions.

3. What to know about 48-hour fasting

People can only consume calorie-free drinks, including water, black coffee, and herbal tea, during a 48-hour fast.
People can only consume calorie-free drinks, including water, black coffee, and herbal tea, during a 48-hour fast.

What’s going to happen if you go for two days without eating? That was the subject of a popular new article. Millions of people practice intermittent fasting, but going for 48 hours without food was the curiosity of thousands of readers.

We looked at how to achieve so, the dangers and possible advantages, and the fascinating concept of autophagy, where cells in the body eliminate or recycle discarded molecules and damaged pieces.

  1. People live longer in blue states, recent research indicates

4. People in blue states live longer, new study suggests

Research indicates state laws and approaches have a bearing on average life expectancy.
Image credit: BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images
Research indicates state laws and approaches have a bearing on average life expectancy.
Image credit: BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images

MNT reported on a study this week highlighting life expectancy disparities between Connecticut, a Democrat-led ‘blue state’ and Oklahoma, a ‘red state,’ where voters overwhelmingly prefer the Republican Party. Life expectancy in Connecticut rose by 5.8 years between 1980 and 2017 but in Oklahoma only by 2.2 years.

The researchers say that this is due to policy disparities that concentrate on tobacco use, immigration, civil rights , the environment, and labor concerns, such as regulations on the right to work and minimum wage.

The researchers conclude that modifying these policies to represent more liberal views may have a positive effect on life expectancy.

Exercise can help people maintain healthy immunity into older age.
Image credit: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
Exercise can help people maintain healthy immunity into older age.
Image credit: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

“Inflammaging ” is the term researchers call the persistent, low-level inflammation implicated in almost all symptoms linked to old age. Apparently the anti-inflammatory immune response is less effective as people get older.

We discuss how the immune system changes when we age in this Special Feature. We also wonder whether factors related to lifestyle will delay or reverse these changes. The post, published Tuesday, has already emerged as one of the most famous of this week.

6. Hallucinations: What explains these tricks of the mind?

Not all hallucinations occur due to psychotic disorders or psychedelic drugs.
Not all hallucinations occur due to psychotic disorders or psychedelic drugs.

Hallucinations are more common than we believe. They can manifest as odors and sounds or voices of phantoms, as well as visual disturbances. One Norwegian study found that 7.3 percent of the 2,533 people studied had undergone “auditory verbal hallucination” or in their heads heard voices.

Within this Special Feature, we explore how widespread hallucinations are and what the research is suggesting about the mechanisms behind those phenomena.

7. Baby boomers face greater cognitive decline than previous generations

Conditions during adulthood may contribute to greater cognitive decline among baby boomers
Conditions during adulthood may contribute to greater cognitive decline among baby boomers

Cognitive test scores have increased in older adults for decades, from generation to generation. We commented on a new study this week that shows that is not the case for early (born 1948–1953) and middle (born 1954–1959) baby boomers in the United States. Both groups show a greater deterioration in cognitive compared with previous generations.

The researchers identified many common life characteristics that could be correlated with this deterioration, and cautioned that this and future generations would possibly result in an rise in the number of people with dementia.

8. Oxytocin could prevent osteoporosis in females

Females experience hip fractures, often as a result of osteoporosis, at a higher rate than males.
Females experience hip fractures, often as a result of osteoporosis, at a higher rate than males.

A few weeks ago, MNT focused on how oxytocin, the so-called ‘love hormone,’ shows promise in Alzheimer’s disease as treatment. New work in female rats now indicates that this hormone may also prevent bone density and loss of energy.

Additional studies are required to determine the safety and effectiveness of oxytocin treatment in humans, but these early findings are promising. The hormone can provide some people with another means of preventing osteoporosis.

9. Daily aspirin may exacerbate cancer in older adults

A recent study shows that older adults may be more at risk of advanced cancers if they take aspirin daily.
A recent study shows that older adults may be more at risk of advanced cancers if they take aspirin daily.

We wrote earlier this year on the lack of evidence to support the notion that low-dose aspirin prevents dementia. There’s more bad news for those who self-medicate with this medication, because it can raise the risk of cancer death in older adults.

The research ‘Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly’ (ASPREE) was a large study between 2010 and 2018 involving 19,114 individuals residing in Australia and the USA. Researchers found that people taking aspirin were at a substantially higher risk than those taking placebo to be diagnosed with advanced cancer and die from the disease.

The researchers investigated why this could be the case, including the possibility of aspirin inhibiting immune responses that would otherwise regulate cancer growth

10. What are the benefits of meditation for kids?

Meditation may help reduce anxiety in children
Meditation may help reduce anxiety in children

We also looked this week at how meditation can be helpful to children. We listed the potential advantages, numerous types of therapy, and several applications tailored specifically for children to help them focus, find calm, and regulate their breathing.

It is one of the most time our readers spent with this week’s articles, an average of over 10 minutes each.

We hope this has provided a glimpse of the variety of storeys we cover at Nccmed. Next week we are back with a new range.

Next time: A sneak preview of what’s in our draught folder

Each month we bring out hundreds of new posts. Here are some forthcoming articles which may pique the interests of our readers:

  • How your smartphone can tell when you’re drunk
  • Knowing you’ve taken a placebo doesn’t stop it working
  • More myths about sleep debunked

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