Health Buzz: Severe Acne May Raise Suicide Risk

Want to be happier? Keep your focus; 6 common myths and misconceptions about diabetes.

By + More

Study: Acne Linked With Suicide Risk

People being treated for severe acne are twice as likely as their untreated peers to commit suicide, new research suggests—fueling debate about whether the risk is caused by the condition itself or a drug used to treat it. Swedish researchers analyzed data from nearly 6,000 people treated with the acne medication isotretinoin, marketed as Accutane, between 1980 and 1989. By the end of 2001, 128 of these patients were hospitalized because of a suicide attempt, and 17 male and seven female patients had died by suicide, according to a study published today in the British Medical Journal. Suicide risk was highest within the six months after treatment ended—perhaps because patients were upset that although their condition improved, their social lives did not, researchers speculate. "All patients with acne of a severity for which isotretinoin is [needed] should have psychosocial factors and suicidal intent monitored," Australian researchers Parker Magin and John Sullivan wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. "Given the extended period of risk, families of patients may also have a role in this monitoring."

  • Two More Ways to Treat Bad Acne
  • The Latest Advance Against Acne
  • Want to Be Happier? Keep Your Focus

    Nearly half the time we're awake, our thoughts drift to topics unrelated to whatever we're doing, writes U.S. News's Deborah Kotz. We think about the fight we had with our spouse when we're driving or replay events from a friend's wild party while brushing our teeth in the morning. We text incessantly while watching TV and phone mom during laundry-folding time. And all the while our minds are wandering—even when we're having pleasant daydreams—we're not very happy, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science. "How often peoples' minds wander is definitely a big predictor of who's happy and who's not happy," says study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University, because the more often they take themselves out of the present moment, the less happy they are.

    The study found that happiness falls when folks aren't focused on the task at hand, even an unenjoyable one, like doing errands. The researchers used a novel approach to get real-time snapshots of what the 2,250 study participants were thinking and how they felt throughout the day. They developed a free iPhone app that buzzed volunteers, whose average age was 34, several times a day asking them how they were feeling right before they were contacted, what they were doing and whether they were thinking about something other than what they were doing. Except during sex, participants recorded their minds wandering during every activity; most frequently, minds drifted off during personal grooming like taking a shower, shaving, and putting on makeup. [Read more: Want to Be Happier? Keep Your Focus.]

    • Sisters Bring Happiness
    • Bad Health Habits Rob 12 Years From Life Span: 6 Ways to Boost Willpower
    • 6 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Diabetes

      Nearly 24 million Americans—or 1 in 10 adults—have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which projects that by 2050, as many as 1 in 3 adults will have the disease. Diabetes is one of the major causes of heart disease, stroke, new cases of adult blindness, and leg and foot amputations not caused by injury, U.S. News reports. Those are facts.

      Yet there are many mistaken beliefs about diabetes. Sue McLaughlin, former president of healthcare and education at the American Diabetes Association, offered her opinion of what she says are the six most common myths and misconceptions about diabetes, based on an ADA survey of more than 2,000 Americans released in 2009.

      1. Diabetes is not that serious. In fact, diabetes causes more deaths than breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined, McLaughlin says. Still, people with type 2 diabetes—the most common form of the disease—may go a long while, even years, before being diagnosed because they may downplay their symptoms or write them off to other causes. So if you are making frequent trips to the bathroom at night; experience extreme thirst, overwhelming fatigue, or blurry vision; or notice that you keep getting infections, ask your doctor to test you for diabetes. An early diagnosis can help ward off complications. [Read more: 6 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Diabetes.]