Originally created 12/02/99

Capsules



Snoring and sex

Snoring can ruin your sex life. Not only because it results in your sleeping alone -- the tiredness and irritability brought about by obstructive sleep apnea, in which the airway becomes temporarily blocked several times during sleep, can upset the sex lives of both genders, National Naval Medical Center researcher Janet Myers reports. "In men, sexual dysfunction may be related to suppression of reproductive or hormonal functioning," Dr. Myers said. Men may also have diminished oxygen levels in their bloodstream that could hinder erection.

Early bird stress

If you're an early riser, you may catch the proverbial worm, but you're also likely to be more stressed than those who sleep late. British researchers report in New Scientist magazine that people who get up early have higher levels of cortisol, the body's main stress hormone. The levels remained high all day.

Risk-takers

Also in New Scientist, a report says that scientists may have discovered why elderly people seem to be easy prey for tricksters and fraudulent advertising.

"Researchers in Iowa have discovered that many older people have localized brain damage that impairs their ability to avoid risky decisions," the magazine said. The researchers say the brain damage is related to age.

Back to back pain

If you have lingering back pain, spinal manipulation by osteopaths appears to work about as well as conventional medicine, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Many studies have shown that most backaches go away within a month, no matter what kind of treatment sufferers get. So this study was conducted on people who had been in pain for at least three weeks but less than six months.

Easing the way

Talk about a slick discovery! Use of a special medical gel, placed in the cervix of a pregnant woman, can shorten both the time until labor begins and the time to delivery, according to a new Ohio State University study. The gel may eliminate the need for induced labor in problem pregnancies and reduce the number of Caesarean sections, researchers report in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

To sleep, perchance

Claims of health benefits from taking melatonin supplements may be grounded in a false premise, a new study suggests.

Promoters urge older people to buy the product to restore vigor, sleep better, lose weight and so on. The assumption is that as people age their body's production of melatonin slows. So adding melatonin should help them regain the healthful glow of youth.

But a new study suggests that older people produce just as much melatonin as those who are younger.

The study by researchers affiliated with Harvard University reported that 34 healthy people ages 65 to 81 were compared to 98 people ages 18 to 30.

"The idea that a pineal clock winds down as you get older is simply not true," said Jamie Zeitzer, a co-author of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Medicine. "Being older does not cause a person to have low melatonin levels. While we know that some older individuals have low melatonin levels, it isn't because of aging per se."

In a heartbeat

The new automated external defibrillators are so safe that even a child can operate one, a new study confirms.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle gave instructions on using the equipment, which applies an electrical shock to the chest of a person in cardiac arrest to restart the heart.

"These machines are incredibly easy to use," said Dr. Gust Bardy, who headed the study. "After one minute of instruction, it took sixth-graders less than 30 seconds longer than a trained professional to apply a shock that could restore a heartbeat."