Study: Advanced Degrees Linked to Lower Blood Pressure Levels
Could a hidden benefit of higher education be better health? Perhaps, according to a study published Sunday in the online journal BMC Public Health. Researchers analyzed data from the Framingham Offspring Study, which followed 4,000 people for 30 years, and found that folks who spent more years in school had lower blood pressure levels than their less-educated peers. The trend was particularly pronounced among women. On average, systolic blood pressure—the top number in readings like "130 over 80"—was about 3 points less for women who had studied for at least 17 years and earned advanced degrees than for women with a high school diploma or less. The comparable advantage for more-educated over less-educated men was nearly as great. A benefit of a few points might not seem like much, but could well translate into large numbers of individuals when spread across a population of millions—a significant public health benefit, the researchers say. "There appears to be a graded response, and the more education you have, the better you do," study author Eric Loucks, an assistant professor of community health at Brown University, told the Chronicle of Higher Education. High blood pressure, which is linked to heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure, can often spike due to stress. The researchers speculate that less-educated people often work stressful, demanding jobs that offer little control over decision-making or success, ratcheting up their blood pressure.
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Food-Borne Illnesses Still a Threat, Despite New Food-Safety Law
Ten years ago, while training to be a family doctor, U.S. News blogger Kenny Lin spent several months admitting sick children to a hospital's pediatric ward. He almost always treated toddlers for severe dehydration—the result of vomiting and diarrhea. Most of them had picked up a highly contagious bug called rotavirus from contaminated food, feces, or other children. It was easy to spot them, with their sunken eyes and parched skin, Lin writes. They looked desperately thirsty, but were too ill to drink. Unfortunately, the only treatment for most food-borne illnesses was—and still is— fluid replacement and time.
Today, the infant rotavirus vaccine has made this type of food poisoning much less common. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still estimates that food-borne illnesses affect 48 million American children and adults each year, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. In recent years, infectious bacteria such as salmonella have been implicated in outbreaks of food poisoning from contaminated eggs, peanut butter, and raw vegetables. A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine revisits the large salmonella outbreak in 2008 that sickened at least 1,500 people in 43 states and Canada. More than 300 people were hospitalized, and two died. Months of meticulous detective work by public health officials from the CDC and state health departments eventually traced the source to tainted jalapeño and serrano peppers grown on a single farm in Mexico. [Read more: Food-Borne Illnesses Still a Threat, Despite New Food-Safety Law.]
4 Ways to Unleash Your Creative Genius
"But I'm not creative!" If that thought is what froze you the last time you decided not to (fill in the blank), it's time to adjust your thinking, Meryl Davids Landau writes for U.S. News. Many people who can't draw anything more elaborate than a stick figure allow insecurity about their creativity to stop them from expressing their ideas, says Mark Runco, professor of creative studies at the University of Georgia and editor of Creativity Research Journal. But holding back is a mistake, experts say, because self-expression is known to reduce stress, enhance the immune system, and increase joy.
Psychologists define creativity as producing something that is original and that works—a key aspect of human experience and fulfillment, Runco says. That can cover everything from rearranging your furniture and designing a garden to generating a fresh solution to a business dilemma or world hunger. In general, young children most readily heed their creative impulses, because they haven't started editing themselves out of fear of the judgment of others. Studies have shown that this begins around age 10, when kids start focusing on teachers' rules and what their peers think, a phenomenon known as the "fourth-grade slump." [Read more: 4 Ways to Unleash Your Creative Genius.]
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