This Week in Health: Driving while dehydrated as dangerous as drunk driving
Location of study: U.K.
Results: The dangers of driving while intoxicated are well publicized worldwide. New research now has all eyes on dehydrated driving. In a recent study sponsored by the European Hydration Institute, driving while even mildly dehydrated was comparable to drunk driving. “To put our results into perspective, the levels of driver errors we found are of a similar magnitude to those found in people with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent, the current U.K. legal driving limit,” study leader Ron Maughan, a professor at Loughborough University, said in a press release.
Significance: For the study, researchers recruited male drivers to participate in lab-based driving simulations. During times of proper hydration, they reported 47 incidents. However, when the men were only mildly dehydrated, that number rose twofold—climbing to over 100 incidents. The study suggests that driving while dehydrated may very well be a danger that goes under the radar.
Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: Nearly 700 children between the ages of 8 and 15
Results: In yet another study, a commonly used pesticide is being associated with ADHD. The pesticide at the center of the research belongs to the pyrethroid family. “Our study found that children with evidence of pyrethroid pesticide exposure were twice as likely to have ADHD compared to children with undetectable levels,” says senior author Tanya Froehlich, MD, a developmental pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “Boys appeared more susceptible to the adverse effect of pyrethroid exposure than girls.”
Significance: The research echoes the findings of a Rutgers University study from earlier this year in which researchers linked pyrethroids to ADHD in mice. (Similarly, male mice were also more susceptible than female mice.) Froehlich says the findings may be of considerable public health importance, especially since pyrethroids are commonly used in the U.S.
Location of study: Finland
Study subjects: 959 people who’d been convicted of a homicide
Results: Suspicions have swirled for years over whether or not certain prescription medications cause violent behavior. A new European study now suggests that both anti-anxiety drugs and prescription painkillers may increase the odds of committing a homicide. Contrary to popular belief, anti-psychotic drugs were not associated with a notably increased homicide risk, while antidepressants were linked to “a slightly elevated” risk. But the same could not be said for painkillers and benzodiazepines (aka Xanax and Valium).
Significance: “Benzodiazepines can weaken impulse control, and earlier research has found that painkillers affect emotional processing,” Professor Jari Tiihonen, who led the study, said in apress release. “Caution in prescribing benzodiazepines and strong painkillers to people with a history of substance abuse is advisable.”
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