Research briefs 231107

Appendix risk for schizophrenics
Schizophrenics are at increased risk of suffering from a ruptured appendix, Taiwanese research has shown. Looking at discharge data for 10,000 people hospitalised for acute appendicitis in 1997-2001, showed a ruptured appendix occurred in 46.7 per cent of schizophrenics. In comparison, a ruptured appendix occurred in 25.1 per cent of patients with no major mental health problems and 43.4 per cent of those with major mental disorders other than schizophrenia (BMC Public Health 2007 Online).

Vitamin D does not prevent fractures
Vitamin D injections fail to protect the elderly from fractures, say UK researchers. The findings come from a four-year study of 9,440 men and women over 75. Participants were given an intramuscular injection of 300,000 IU vitamin D2 or placebo at the same time as their annual flu vaccine. But no reduction in non-vertebral fracture rates was seen between the groups. It would be better to combat vitamin D deficiency in the elderly with daily supplements of calcium and vitamin D, say the researchers (Rheumatology online 2007).

Smoking link to hair loss in Asian men
Asian men double their chances of going bald early by smoking, research has shown. The study involved 740 Taiwanese men aged 40 to 91. Presence of androgenetic alopecia (AGA) and information on a range of clinical risk factors were taken. This showed that being a smoker increased the risk of moderate-to-severe AGA by 77 per cent, rising to a 134 per cent increased risk in those who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day (Arch Dermatol 2007; 143: 1,401-6).

Brain differences in migraine sufferers
People who suffer from migraines have differences in the sensory areas of their brains compared with people who do not suffer from them, according to US research. The researchers found that a part of the cortex is thicker in people who suffer from the debilitating headaches. For the study, the researchers compared 24 people who suffer migraines with 12 people who do not suffer the condition. The somatosensory cortex area of the brain was found to be 21 per cent thicker in the migraine sufferers. But further research is required to examine whether the brain differences are the cause of migraines or the result of migraine attacks (Neurology Online 2007).

Rage sends blood boiling for a week
An angry outburst can send BP soaring for up to a week after the event, say US researchers. The study involved 23 people who were exposed to a three-minute harassment stressor. Half the group were asked to recall the test while BP was measured 30 minutes and a week later, and the other half only at one week. This showed that BP was still raised a week later. This suggests that recalling the event has more effect than passage of time, say the researchers (Int J Psychophysiol 2007; 66: 135-40).

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