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This Week in Health: Sex picks up after 50th wedding anniversary

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Sex picks up after 50th wedding anniversary

Location of study:U.S.

Study subjects: Over 1,600 married adults between the ages of 57 and 85

Results:A new study found that many older folks who’ve been married for more than half a century experience a modest uptick in how often they have sex. “Although sex decreased in frequency as marriages endured, it did so at a decelerating rate and eventually began to slightly increase beginning around the 50-year point,” says Samuel Stroope, PhD, assistant professor of sociology at Louisiana State University. Another notable finding was that older adults in first marriages had sex more frequently than remarried older adults.

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Significance:The reasons behind these findings are still unclear, as the study was unable to prove any cause-and-effect relationships. Even so, the findings held water even after researchers controlled for factors like health problems, marital quality, and demographic characteristics. Either way, it suggests that sex isn’t all downhill for long-married couples.

Common soda ingredient linked to cancer risk

Location of study:U.S.

Study subjects: 110 soft drink samples from California and New York

Results:We all know soda isn’t the healthiest choice of beverage, but can it actually cause cancer? New research out of Johns Hopkins University suggests just that. A chemical known as 4-MEI, which gives some sodas its color, has been found to cause lung tumors in animals. The chemical is also present in a variety of beverages that contain caramel color.

Significance: According to researchers, 44 to 58 percent of people over the age of 6 have at least one can of soda per day – maybe more. This could potentially be exposing them to 4-MEI. “This exposure may increase the risk of cancer in soda drinkers,” says senior author Keeve Nachman. “Risks related to 4-MEI were highest for routine consumption of a beverage called Goya Malta, and lowest for the Coke products.” The chemical’s health hazards for humans remain unclear at this point. (The substance has never been studied in humans.) At this point, the U.S. National Toxicology Program refers to it as a possible human carcinogen.

One-off syringes may slow the spread of infectious diseases

Results: The World Health Organization is recommending that all health care providers begin using one-time syringes that cannot be re-used. The practice could, according to the organization, protect millions of people worldwide from contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV. The announcement comes on the heels of a 2014 WHO-sponsored study that echoes the same concerns.

Significance: The safety-engineered syringes (also known as “smart” syringes) are impossible to re-use. Some of the needles are designed to break if someone attempts to use them more than once. Other types come with a metal clip that makes it impossible to pull the plunger back again for another use. Some even feature a needle that automatically retracts into the barrel after the first use. “Adoption of safety-engineered syringes is absolutely critical to protecting people worldwide from becoming infected with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases,” Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department, says in a news release.

 
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