Originally created 12/07/00

Capsules



Piercing price

A woman can really sink her teeth into some fashion trends. Or at least her gums.

A lip piercing left a university student in Turkey with severe gum recession, doctors say. And they warn those considering mouth piercing that they might end up sporting a paper dental bib along with the trendy jewelry.

The patient, described in the current issue of the Journal of Periodontology, had gotten a mouth stud about six months before she visited the dentist. The doctors noticed that her gums, in places where they had contact with the metal, had receded.

When gums pull away from a tooth, the root is exposed and more vulnerable to decay and periodontal disease. Doctors have already documented other possible consequences of oral piercing, including swelling, pain, fractured teeth and infection.

Threat response

A child's threat to hit or attack another child should be taken seriously because the youngster will often act on the threat, according to a survey of more than 9,000 children.

The study of students in grades 3 to 12 found that students who made a few threats were three to four times more likely to strike other students than students who did not make threats, said Mark I. Singer of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Children who frequently threatened others had a much higher rate of aggression, he reported in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Interpersonal threats of violence - which were made across sex, age and geographic settings - should be brought to the attention of teachers, counselors and others who can intervene to defuse the situation, Dr. Singer said.

Hypnosis power

Are hypnotized people just acting, or has something really taken over their brains?

Brain-imaging studies indicate that something strange is going on during hypnosis. The brains of hypnotized people who were asked to see colors that weren't there displayed the same patterns of activity that occurred when they were shown the actual colors while not hypnotized, said Stephen M. Kosslyn of Harvard University.

"These findings support the claim that hypnosis is a psychological state with distinct neural correlates and is not just the result of adopting a role," he reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Drug mishaps

As many as 350,000 drug-related injuries occur each year to nursing home residents, and more than half may be preventable.

The estimate is based on a study of 18 community nursing homes, which found that more than half of the 546 adverse drug reactions were preventable, Dr. Jerry H. Gurwitz of the University of Massachusetts Medical School reported in the American Journal of Medicine.

"This important study demonstrates that adverse events related to drug therapy continue to be a common, and perhaps preventable, source of illness in nursing home residents," said Dr. Darrell Abernethy of the National Institute on Aging.

Cholesterol blockers?

Dallas scientists and their colleagues have discovered how people keep cholesterollike substances in fruits and vegetables from entering the body.

The finding could one day lead to new ways to reduce absorption of cholesterol in the body, said Dr. Helen Hobbs of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, who led the study.

The researchers studied people with a rare genetic condition, sitosterolemia. People with the disease absorb large amounts of plant sterols, chemical cousins to cholesterol. Sitosterolemia also causes extra absorption of cholesterol, and patients develop premature atherosclerosis.

Abnormalities in two genes cause the condition, the researchers reported in the latest issue of the journal Science. Normally, the scientists believe, the genes provide the body with molecular pumps that expel some cholesterol and plant sterols in intestinal cells. But in patients with the gene defects, those pumps fail. Plant sterols and too much cholesterol enter the circulation. The liver also has trouble shunting any excess cholesterol and sterols into the bile, where they can be eliminated from the body.

The next step is to see whether more subtle abnormalities in the genes explain why some people's cholesterol levels are more sensitive to changes in diet.