Health Buzz: Marriage and Health and Other News

Mighty skinny mice, a possible BPA ban in California, and best adult and pediatric hospitals

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Till Death Do Us Part

Is being married good for your health? Perhaps less so than you may think, a new study published this week in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior suggests. Researchers have long noticed that married couples tend to have better health than singles, but a team led by a Michigan State University sociologist has now concluded that the wellness gap is diminishing. The trend is due almost exclusively to a marked improvement in the health of never-married men, a press release about the study says. "Encouraging marriage in order to promote health may be misguided," the authors wrote in the study.

In April, U.S. News's Michelle Andrews wrote about the connection between health insurance and marriage. In July, the U.S. News On Men column pointed out that men, as well as women, can be victims of domestic violence.

Mighty Skinny Mice

A mutant mouse variety, developed by Harvard Medical school researchers, can scarf down a fatty diet without gaining as much weight as standard lab mice, a study published in the most recent issue of Nature Neuroscience found. The transgenic mice burn energy at a faster rate since researchers have knocked out a specific eurotransmitter called GABA that helps regulate hunger, thirst, and body temperature, HealthDay reports. Such research could help spur the development of new treatments to help humans stave off obesity.

This isn't the first time overweight mice made news in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that researchers from the Salk Institute in San Diego had announced that two drugs can significantly improve the athletic endurance of sedentary mice. The researchers have said it is reasonably likely the drugs would have the same effect in humans but that more testing is needed. Neither line of research, however, has yet yielded any new weight loss medications for consumers. Sticking to a good diet and getting ample exercise is still the most reliable way people can keep their weight down. U.S. News's On Fitness column offers frequent advice on how to keep moving. Also, U.S. News writer Sarah Baldauf explored what science knows about fat last December and offered six tips on how to lose weight.

California Weighs BPA Ban for Children’s Products

California lawmakers are considering statewide restrictions for some products containing a chemical often found in plastic, bisphenol A, or BPA. If the legislation, which would apply to product or food containers designed for children 3 and younger, is passed, it would be the first ban on the state level of the controversial chemical, the Associated Press reports. Eleven other states, as well as Congress, have considered bisphenol A restrictions. Research has shown that bisphenol A does affect the hormonal system, but scientists disagree on the magnitude of the health risks the chemical poses to humans.

Looking for help going BPA free, just to be safe? A U.S. News article published last year explained how people can avoid the controversial chemical, and a more recent story offers a list of BPA-free shopping resources.

America’s Best Hospitals

Looking for a top quality hospital? Every year, U.S. News analyzes data on thousands of medical centers to rank 170 standouts in 16 specialties. This year's special section offers a database of hospitals searchable by location and specialty, as well as an Honor Roll of 19 institutions that achieved high scores in at least six specialties. For the entire special report, including our methodology, a glossary of terms, and spotlight articles on Vanderbilt University Medical Center, check out U.S. News's America's Best Hospitals. And if you're looking for a pediatric hospital, this year U.S. News reviewed the nation's best children's hospitals in general pediatrics, cancer, and five other specialties.

- Adam Voiland