Today in medicine: Geography affects sleeping patterns

Sorry, East Coasters — the West Coast gets the best Z’s.

America’s best sleepers
Study subjects: 157,319 people in 36 states
Location of study
: U.S.
Results: According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, people living in Southern states endure more sleep disturbance, while people in the West get better sleep. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia had the highest rates of sleep problems.
Significance: Geographic links to sleep patterns is a new area of study; but regional differences in health care and poverty levels, as well as ethnicity, are cited as strong factors affecting sleep.

Citrus may ward off female strokes
Study subjects: 70,000 women
Location of study: U.K.
Results: A study published in “Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association” found that women who had the highest dietary intake of flavonoids were 19 percent less likely to suffer ischemic stroke, which obstructs blood flow to the brain. Flavonoids are especially high in oranges and grapefruits.
Significance: The role flavonoids may play in protecting against stroke or cardiovascular disease is still uncertain. But vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory, which could help keep blood vessels healthy.

Improper condom use common
Study subjects: Sexually active adults
Location of study: Worldwide
Results: “Sexual Health” journal published new studies documenting worldwide condom use and found that the avoidance and incorrect use of condoms is commonplace. Researchers called for improved education and instruction on properly using protection.
Significance: Researchers pointed out that AIDS is increasing in the U.S. Condoms are a vital factor in stemming the disease, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
 
H5N1 flu and mortality
Study subjects: 12,000 people in Asia, Europe and Africa
Location of study: U.S.
Results: A new study from “Science” journal devalues the World Health Organization’s figures on H5N1 bird flu — which was reported to kill nearly 60 percent of infected people — suggesting the fatality rate may be much lower. Most subjects of the study infected with bird flu did not get sick, and none of them perished.
Significance: Because the number of people infected with H5N1 is higher than WHO thought, the fatality percentage was lowered; however, there is no concrete data on what the true fatality rate is. 


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