Last fall, Sharon Boland was worried she’d never lose the extra 70 pounds she was carrying. At age 54, everyone told her, it would be nearly impossible to slim down. “I’ve probably carried weight most of my life,” said Boland, a business lawyer who lives in Greenwich, but she had gained an extra 25-30 pounds in the previous few years. Her friends were right: It is undeniably harder to lose weight after about age 50. Eating and exercise habits that worked fine during the 30s and 40s can quickly lead to extra pounds and paunches a decade or two later.
Clattering carts, overly bright lights and frequent disruptions make hospitals a tough place to get a good night’s sleep. But now, hospitals across Connecticut are launching efforts to help patients sleep longer and better. At Yale-New Haven Hospital, researchers are expanding a pilot program that successfully reduced noise in the medical ICU and kept staff out of patient rooms overnight. At Hartford Hospital, where noise levels sometimes resembled airport runways, they’ve eliminated overhead paging on patient floors except in true emergencies. And Stamford Health’s new hospital building, slated to open in September, is designed with sleep in mind.
Getting an autism diagnosis can take months, even years of doctor’s visits, and the diagnosis depends largely on watching a child play. As a result, who gets put on the spectrum and who doesn’t can depend on who and where the doctor is. “Your likelihood of receiving an autism diagnosis, unfortunately, is very much dependent on where you live and which clinic you’re able to get to—if you’re able to get to a clinic at all,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, an advocacy group that supports autism research. Activists like Singer have been trying to address this lack of consistency for years. But science has worked against them.
For the last 50 years, men have consistently had an easier time quitting smoking than women. More men go cold turkey. More men stop on nicotine blockers like gum and patches. More men succeed on medications. Sherry McKee, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, thinks she may know why.
What if an aspirin a day could keep cancer away? A growing body of scientific research suggests that aspirin can prevent some cancers of the digestive system, and maybe even breast and prostate, too. In the latest study, published today in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Yale University researchers found that patients from 30 hospitals across the state were less likely to develop pancreatic cancer if they took a small, daily dose of aspirin. Researchers are stopping short of recommending aspirin as a broad cancer prevention tool, because of its possible side effects, including stomach pain and gastrointestinal bleeding. “Aspirin is not a risk-free substance,” said Dr. Harvey Risch, a professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, who led the research.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) isn’t just for fidgety little boys anymore. The number of young adult women taking medications for ADHD jumped by 85 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to a recent report by St. Louis-based Express Scripts, a pharmaceutical benefits company. While children are still more likely to have ADHD, the rate of diagnosis is climbing faster in adults – up 53 percent in grownups versus 19 percent in kids over those four years. The increase has been driven by rising awareness and recent changes to ADHD’s definition, which allows more adults to meet the diagnosis criteria.
Most children with autism are well past their fourth birthday by the time they’re diagnosed with the condition, according to new government data. Their parents and teachers may have raised red flags earlier, but it takes months or years to confirm suspicions with a formal diagnosis. And therapy rarely starts without one. “The school wouldn’t do anything for us until we had a diagnosis,” said Kimberly Vincent, of Wallingford, whose daughter Rebekah was diagnosed at age 6. That’s why researchers are trying to come up with new strategies for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders as early as possible. Last month’s release of new government data showing autism spectrum disorders now affect one in 68 kids provided an extra push and sense of urgency, several experts said.
Everyone occasionally struggles to remember a name, blanks out on an appointment or forgets why they walked into the other room. But somewhere around age 40, those “senior moments” start to take on a new seriousness. They suddenly seem like scary signs of aging, perhaps harbingers of major memory loss to come. “A few years ago, these complaints were just dismissed,” says Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Now, researchers have become interested in mid-life memory, both to understand their patients’ complaints, and because of the recognition that the seeds of dementia are laid around this time of life.