Today in medicine: Stress has increased since the 1980s

If your stress has gone up recently, you’re not alone.

Stress has increased since the 1980s
Study subjects: 6,300 Americans
Location of study: U.S.
Results: A new report in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology says that over the last quarter century stress increased 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men. Among those experiencing the highest stress levels were people with lower incomes and those with less education. The study also found that stress decreases as people get older.
Significance: The computer age hasn’t made life less stressful. The widening wealth gap is also possibly increasing economic stress levels.  

For smokers, a picture says a thousand words
Study subjects: 200 smokers
Location of study: U.S.
Results: The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that putting graphic images on cigarette packs, such as pictures of patients on ventilators, was more effective in getting smokers to realize the health risks than worded warnings.  
Significance: This news could help lead to the creation of more convincing warning labels for packs of cigarettes.

Stem cell treatments for stroke victims
Study subjects: 12 stroke patients
Location of study: Scotland
Results: Researchers found promising results when treating stroke victims with stem cells. Five of the six patients who received doses of the stem cells had some improvement in movement and speech without any side effects.
Significance: Stem cells could one day improve the quality of life for stroke victims.
 
Making music is brain food
Study subjects: 12 people with no prior musical training
Location of study: Italy
Results: Scientists tested people with no musical background and found that after only two weeks of regular exercise on a piano keyboard, both motor skill and brain function had improved.
Significance: The study supports evidence that just a short period of ambidextrous training leads to better coordination. The musical stimuli prompted a structural reconstruction of gray matter in those brain regions that are involved in coordinated movement. Also, it furthers new research into neuroplasticity, the brain’s auto-restructuring to meet the need of a new task.
 


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