Vol. 61 February 15, 2011 Nothing But Good News


Several readers have remarked on the “downers” in some of my most recent posts, from child abuse to good things that weren’t so good to hazards of negotiating emergency rooms, so here is a post of mostly good news.


If you are a Massachusetts resident over 50 years of age, watched the Super Bowl game, and did NOT have a heart attack then that is good news for you, so far.

A study in Los Angeles revealed that cardiovascular deaths in men increased by 15% and in women by 27% on the day of, and up to 14 days after, the Los Angeles Rams lost the 1980 Super Bowl. The death rates were even higher in those over 65 years. The Rams’ 1984 win dropped the death rate by 1%.

There has been a steady decline in cardiovascular deaths in the U.S. from 1950 to present from approximately 450 deaths per 100,000 annually to 100 deaths per 100,000.

This decline in deaths is associated with clear scientific advancements in identifying coronary risk factors, use of diagnostic imaging, building of coronary care units, new pharmaceutical agents, open heart surgery, and interventional cardiology. Next to come will be pharmocogenomics, molecular targeting, stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, and other new terms of“precision medicine”. (1)

Your politics may be a result of your birth order, your emotions, or even your DNA, so tell your friends and colleagues to stop trying to change yours.

An older sister can make a younger sibling more liberal, whereas (how is that for sneaking in a lawyer-type word) an older brother can make a younger sibling more conservative. (2) By measuring the time people spent looking at and reacting to  “disagreeable” and “agreeable” pictures University of Nevada scientists were able to distinguish liberals from conservatives and vice versa. “Conservatives are easily appalled;liberals are easily enchanted.” (3) DNA Samples from 60 Wall Street traders revealed that the most veteran traders (presumably the most successful) had genes associated with moderate levels of dopamine activity in the brain; a sign  associated with moderate, balanced risk-taking disposition. Veteran traders were also less likely to trade in volatile markets. (Have you asked your broker about his or her DNA?) (4)

Medicare takes a step toward becoming more like Visa!

Medicare is implementing soft-ware screening technology to spot patterns of potential abuse and fraud PRIOR to a claim being paid. (I remember using my Visa card to buy fuel for my boat in two different states in two days, and Capital One called me the next day to see if the second purchase was really made by me.) Up until this time Medicare would “pay” the claim and then “chase” the suspicious ones. “The largest Medicare frauds are designed at the highest level of companies, with accountants, billing experts and salespeople smoothing over the paperwork so that it will slide past all the proctors.” Don Berwick, Medicare Administrator at the time, said “We’re getting ahead of the game here.” (5)

Gun control works.(6)

The states that have strong gun control laws and low gun ownership have the lowest gun death rates.

Hawaii 9.7% gun ownership – 3.18 gun deaths per 100,000
Massachusetts 12.8% ownership- 3.42 deaths per 100,000
Rhode Island 13.3% ownership – 4.18 deaths per 100,000

The three highest?

Alaska 60.6% gun ownership – 20.64 deaths per 100,000
Mississippi 54.3% ownership – 18.47 deahts per 100,000
Louisiana 45.6%  ownership – 19.32 deaths per 100,000

Most kids who are allergic to milk can eat muffins and pizza without symptoms.

75% of milk-allergic kids in one study could tolerate milk as a baked product. In fact those children who routinely ate baked milk products were significantly more likely to become tolerant of uncooked milk than those who avoided all forms of milk, including baked milk products. Unfortunately, baking peanuts, nuts, and seafood does not modify their allergic properties. (7)

The FDA now requires more nearly honest labeling of sunscreen products.(8)

Sunscreen above UVB 15 SPF can protect against skin cancer and reduce photoaging. Sunscreen below UVB 15 SPF can NOT, but both can be labeled “broad spectrum”. The term “water-resistant” has to be linked with a statement that it’s duration is either “40 minutes” or “80 minutes.” Sunscreen sprays have not been studied and may NOT provide the same protection.  Keep reading the fine print and adopt the Australian slogan, “slip-slop-slap”; slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat.

Children raised in bilingual homes may have mixed syntax and vocabulary in both languages up until age 2, but then they learn multi-tasking and different ways of solving problems earlier than monolingual children, besides being proficient in two languages.

Newborn infants born to bilingual mothers can differentiate between the rhythms and sounds of the two languages, presumably a prenatal effect. At 4 months infants of bilingual mothers could distinguish between the two languages spoken by the mother on a SILENT videotape of the mother, presumably by watching movements of the face and mouth. (9)

Mothers can take the credit for the good math scores of their sons.

While the origin of gender differences of all sorts is a constant cause of discussion and research, one study revealed that mothers, particularly middle-class white mothers, referred to numbers more than twice as much when interacting with their pre-school sons than in talking to their daughters. (10)

1.  NEJM 366;1 Jan 5, 2012 200th Anniversary Article
2.  Br Jour of Pol Sci, Urbatsch, R., 2011
3. Bos Globe Feb. 5, 2012, Kevin Lewis
4. “A Combination of Dopamine Genes Predict Success by Professional Wall Street Traders”, Sapra, PLoS ONE, Jan. 2012
5. Cape Cod Times June 18, 2011
6. Violence Policy Center, CDC Reports, Oct. 2011
7. J Allergy Clin Immun 2011 July
8. FDA press release , Jun 14, 2011
9. NY Times Oct. 10, 2011 Klass, P.
10. Jour Lang and Soc Psych Dec 2010, Chang, A.

One Response to Vol. 61 February 15, 2011 Nothing But Good News

  1. […] facts that might be interesting and fun to pass along from any source. I hoped I would have significant good news. Not so. The few items I gleaned were during the first few days of January, and some of them are […]

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