Health Headlines of the Week: July 2-6

Featured Article, Healthy Living
on July 6, 2012

Birthing Smarter Kids

Want smarter kids? Let them cook a little longer in the womb, says a new study from Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.  The study followed 128,000 New York public school children from birth to age 8, whose gestation periods ranged from 37 and 41 weeks. On third grade reading and math tests, study participants who were born at 41 weeks scored, on average, one point higher than children delivered at 37 weeks. This translates to an approximate 1.5-point difference in IQ. The researchers are hopeful that the results will encourage a reassessment of what defines prematurity.

Avoid Skin Cancer. Drink Coffee?

Just when you’ve finally kicked the caffeine habit, a new study suggests it may not be all bad. Study results released Monday in Cancer Research revealed that people who consumed three or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily were 17 percent less likely to develop basal cell carcinomas, the most common form of skin cancer, than those who drink less than one cup per month. Nearly 113,000 people participated in the study, which also showed a reduced risk in people who get caffeine from alternative sources like sodas and chocolate.

Got D?

Vitamin D continues to stay relevant in health news thanks to a new study out of Zurich, Switzerland. Study results released in the July 5 New England Journal of Medicine reveal the potential for up to 30 percent reduced risk of hip fractures in women older than age 65 who consume more than 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day. Additionally, there was a 14 percent reduced risk of non-spine-related fractures. There was no reduced risk found when less than 792 IU were consumed per day.

How Times Have Changed

Anyone who lived through the 80s remembers the discovery of HIV/AIDS … and the fear it unleashed because of its mysterious nature. Causes, spread, treatment … there were many more questions than answers, but this week marks a milestone in being able to get at least one answer, and in the privacy of your own home no less. The Food and Drug Administration approved the very first over-the-counter, at-home HIV test this week. Starting in October, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test can be purchased in stores or online, and results from a quick mouth swab will be revealed in 20 minutes—one line is negative, two lines is positive. Like most tests, the OraQuick is not without flaw: one in 5,000 will be a false positive, but when two lines do show up, OraQuick customer service reps will be available to provide guidance on next steps 24 hours a day.