Public Health

Epidemiologists have linked El Niño, a recurring pattern where every 2-7 years warm waters in the Equatorial Pacific change the weather, to short stature, also known as stunting,  which is usually due to chronic malnutrition.

The authors found that children born in coastal Peru during and after the 1997-98 El Niño, the last strong one, have a lower height-for-age than others born before the event. 

El Niño
has also been linked to epidemics of malaria, dengue fever, cholera and diarrhea, though the first recorded one was in 1525, so they have been happening a lot longer than that.. 

How can the weather stunt growth?  

Doubling and even nearly tripling saturated fat in diets does not drive up total levels of saturated fat in the blood, according to a controlled diet study.

The researchers found that total saturated fat in the blood did not increase - and went down in most people - despite being increased in the diet when carbohydrates were reduced. Palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid associated with unhealthy metabolism of carbohydrates that can promote disease, went down with low-carb intake and gradually increased as carbs were re-introduced to the study diet.

The existing literature on the long-term effects of marijuana on the brain is confusing, mostly due to methodological differences across studies.

E-cigarettes should not be sold in Australia, as a therapy or a consumer product. gdvcom/Shutterstock

By Ross MacKenzie; Benjamin Hawkins, London School of Hygiene&Tropical Medicine, and Thomas Novotny, San Diego State University

Cocaine users complaining of chest pain may have microvascular dysfunction, improper blood flow through the smallest blood vessels that may not be detected in regular testing, putting these patients at risk for heart complications or death, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

Increasing the amount of omega-3s in your diet will likely decrease your risk of getting heart disease, according to Penn State nutritionists who cite evidence supporting the heart-health benefits of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA), marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids.

A generation ago, there were awareness campaigns to tell people with an irregular heartbeats to go to the emergency room to prevent possible heart attacks.

It worked. People now go to the emergency room as they have been told but with the gradual government takeover of health care there is sudden concern about the costs of these visits. Atrial fibrillation is the most common kind of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat and can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. 

At the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014, researchers analyzed patients from the Nationwide Emergency Department Data who visited the emergency department with AF listed as the first diagnosis in 2006-11. They found:

Since the year 2000, mortality rates for heart disease declined by almost 4 percent even as higher blood pressure and obesity role, according to a new paper in JAMA.

Matthew D. Ritchey, D.P.T., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, and colleagues examined the contributions of heart disease subtypes, such as coronary HD (CHD) mortality, to overall heart disease (HD) mortality trends during 2000-2010. 

Breathing secondhand marijuana smoke could damage your heart and blood vessels as much as secondhand cigarette smoke, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

Home dialysis therapies may help prolong the lives of patients with kidney failure compared with hemodialysis treatments administered in medical centers, according to an upcoming study at ASN Kidney Week 2014 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Home dialysis therapies are more convenient and less expensive than in-center treatment, but it's unclear whether all home therapies - which include peritoneal dialysis and home hemodialysis - can prolong patients' survival. Researchers led by Austin Stack, MD, MBBCh, FASN (Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, in Ireland) analyzed national data to compare dialysis survival among 585,911 patients who started dialysis in the United States between 2005 and 2010.