5 studies you may have missed

Here’s a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.

Eating more fruits and veggies won’t make you lose weight

Fruits and Vegtables

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

We’re often told to eat more fruits and vegetables, but the chances that you’ll lose weight just by eating more of these foods are slim. New research suggests increased fruit and vegetable intake is only effective for weight loss if you make an effort to reduce your calorie intake overall.

In other words, you need to exercise or consume fewer calories to shed those pounds.

Don’t let that stop you from including more fruits and veggies in your diet, though. Even if they don’t directly help you lose weight, these foods still provide a number of health benefits.

What your smartphone says about your health

Journal: PeerJ

Smartphones

Add it to the list of things your smartphone knows about you. Your mobile device reflects your personal bacterial “blueprint,” meaning it can reveal the microorganisms you’re harboring on your hands.

Researchers looked at the phones of 17 people and found that 82% of the most common bacteria on participants’ fingers were also found on their phones. The researchers say further understanding of this link could have important public health implications.

“Mobile phones can potentially be a non-invasive way to track environmental microbial exposure over time and space, and inform how we exchange human microbiota with our immediate surroundings,” the study authors write.

It’s important to note, however, that the study’s sample size was very small and only looked at phones with touchscreens.

Read more from BBC

Why you should kick the smokeless habit

Journal: Circulation

As Major League Baseball considers a ban on smokeless tobacco, new research shows stopping use after a heart attack cuts your mortality risk nearly in half.

Swedish researchers studied almost 2,500 smokeless tobacco users who experienced heart attacks. Comparing those who quit using smokeless tobacco with those who continued to use it after the heart attack, the scientists found that the risk of mortality was almost halved in those who quit.

The researchers point out that this study looks solely at heart attack survivors. The number of smokeless tobacco users who died is unknown, so the study authors say that the risks presented here could be an underestimation.

Parents of sick kids turn to the ER or urgent care

Journal: Pediatrics

Parents of sick children often turn to emergency rooms or urgent care centers, even when they know their child’s illness isn’t that severe.

In a new study published this week, researchers surveyed more than 600 parents and found that more than 88% sought acute medical care when their child was unable to attend child care. Many of these parents did so because they needed a note so their child could go back to daycare or preschool, and so they could go back to work.

“For me as a doctor, it’s kind of nuts — and not the best use of anyone’s time, let alone health care dollars,” a pediatrician at Boston Children’s hospital wrote in an editorial for Huffington Post about the inefficiencies this creates and the need for an improved system.

Improving the environment can improve your health

International Journal of COPD

Less pollution could lead to better respiratory health, a new study suggests. Researchers at Duke University found that as air quality improved, fewer people died from emphysema, asthma and pneumonia.

For almost two decades — from 1993 to 2010 — the researchers examined the levels of nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants in North Carolina. They then compared this information with the death rates of the population that were attributed to respiratory diseases.

The results were adjusted for smoking and seasonal fluctuations of certain respiratory diseases.

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