Are Your Earlobes Burning?: A report published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that many pairs of earrings sold for less than $50 by local San Francisco stores and artists contain nickel, which can cause dermatitis on the earlobes, reports HealthDay News.

The study didn’t find a particular price point or country of origin that assured earrings did or did not contain nickel, but here’s an interesting side note:

When testing earrings bought at accessory and clothing stores targeting women, 24.1 percent of the earrings purchased at places targeting women under age 40 tested positive for nickel, but less than 2 percent of earrings from stores aimed at women over 40 tested positive.

Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain: “When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong,” writes Sara Reistad-Long in The New York Times. “Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.”

Oral Hormone Therapy Pills Increase Clot Risk, Says Study: “Menopausal women who take hormone-replacement therapy pills more than double their risk of developing a potentially fatal blood clot, French researchers said on Friday,” reports Reuters. “The review of 17 studies suggested that the risk was also
significantly higher during the first year of treatment, they reported in the British Medical Journal.”

It Pays to be Heart Smart if Considering Hormone Therapy: “A research study has found that a simple blood test may indicate whether post-menopausal hormone therapies present an elevated risk of a heart attack,” according to this release. “The study, part of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, was conducted in 40 centers nationwide and included 271 cases of coronary heart disease in the first four years of the trials.”

“Because studies on hormone therapy have shown that they may increase heart attacks and strokes, many women have been reluctant to use this treatment,” said corresponding author Paul F. Bray, M.D., director of the Division of Hematology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.

“However, because hormones remain the most effective remedy for managing post-menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, many women wanted to take this therapy, but have struggled with the decision because they feared the potential side effects. We found that a simple and widely used blood test may be useful to advise women if they are at an increased risk of a heart attack while undergoing hormone therapy,” adds Bray.

Name Eight Major Vaccines Recommended for Adults: Can’t do it? You’re not alone. Judith Graham of the Chicago Tribune writes:

Last year, when the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases looked at the issue, about half of the people surveyed (49 percent to be exact) knew there was a vaccine for the flu.

Fewer than 18 percent could identify another infectious illness against which adults can be vaccinated. And 49 percent said they weren’t concerned about getting a vaccine-preventable disease.

That’s shortsighted. According to the American College of Physicians, 50,000 Americans die of illnesses each year that could be prevented by a vaccine. Ninety-nine percent of them are adults.

A list of recommended adult vaccines is included. Topping the list: the shingles vaccine, recommended for everyone 60 or older without serious immune system problems.

New Safety Program to Monitor Medicare Drug Use: “Federal health officials will begin monitoring prescription drug usage by millions of Medicare participants in an effort to identify potential safety problems,” reports the Associated Press. Kevin Freking writes:

The Food and Drug Administration has been under increasing pressure to develop a comprehensive drug surveillance system since the painkiller Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004 after it was linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

New regulations announced Thursday by the Health and Human Services Department will enable the FDA, states and academic researchers to screen the Medicare claims data. Under the regulation, the Medicare data can be made available in 30 days.

Medicare beneficiaries use an average of 28 prescriptions a year, and those who consider themselves in poor health have an average of 45 prescriptions annually, giving investigators a huge database of health records to tap into.

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  • Carolyn Hahn May 23, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I loved that NY TImes article on the older brain not necessarily forgetting things but filtering for what’s important. I’ve been sort of amazed to find myself “smarter” than when I was a teenager or young adult…books I read a decade or two ago, that I re-read now–I sense completely differently. The things I “forget”–I give myself permission to forget (the names of the 275 people I “supervised” as recently as 2003–BYE! I have 40, now, I remember their names). If it’s important, I write it down (or post stickie notes on the bathroom mirror). If it’s not important, I feel no qualms about saying “I’m sorry–tell me your name again?”
    I have a photographic memory for the things I’m interested in (eg, 18th and early 19th century Anglo Jewish history, the Gin Craze, Hogarth, thrift shop books)and letting other stuff go…oh well! I recognize my younger brain when I see things I wrote in junior high or college, but I’m grateful for the older, wiser brain, even if I literally do have to jump out of bed and write things down before I fall asleep.
    “too soon old, too late smart”–or, “youth is wasted on the young” (not–at 49– that I want to go back and re-live one Golden Moment of it!)