NewsBeast: Health

Illustration by Kagan McLeod


Survey Says Gays at Higher Risk
Gay men are almost twice as likely as straight men to have had cancer, according to a new and fearsome survey from the California Institute of Health. Why? Health professionals pointed to an array of options: gay men are more likely to be HIV-positive, putting them at a higher risk for some cancers. Gay men are also more likely to smoke, with 37 percent smoking, as compared to 24 percent of straight men, according to one survey. Another theory holds that gay men have less access to health care because they often don't have access to a partner's insurance plan. Still another suggests the survey is deceptive: that gay men are just likelier to survive cancer than their straight counterparts, and therefore live to tell the tale. Published in Cancer


How Bad Is This Allergy Season?
Allergists have reported seeing double the usual number of patients this year. Typically, allergies account for 3.5 million lost workdays.

The pollen count in some regions has soared to 5,000 grains per cubic meter—three times the level at which people start reporting allergies.

About 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. This year has been especially bad because of warm temperatures and low rainfall in some areas.

Illustration by Kagan McLeod


In Labor? Try Some Laughing Gas.
A growing movement among health-care professionals advocates giving women nitrous oxide while they give birth. So far only three medical centers in the country offer the gas—more common in dental procedures—as a palliative for labor pain, but a group of nurse midwives suggests it as a viable alternative to an epidural. The gas offers several benefits: it cuts pain without numbing the lower half of a woman's body; it doesn't metabolize in the blood, so its effects quickly come and go; and a woman holding her own gas mask can control her level of intake. And it's hardly novel—nitrous oxide is widely used in England and Scandinavian countries as an aid during labor. Published on MedPage Today

Illustration by Kagan McLeod


One More Reason to Guzzle Red Wine
A compound in red wine helps prevent death from radiation, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. Resveratrol, already celebrated as an antioxidant, was shown to prevent death in irradiated mice. At what point should we just start adding this stuff to the water supply? Published in Medicinal Chemistry Letters

Illustration by Kagan McLeod


Don't Rush Your Kids Into a CT Scan
New research shows that following child head trauma, CT scans are not needed immediately—which will come as a relief to hypochondriac parents on the playground. Studies show scans are overused as a diagnostic tool for children in emergency rooms. The doctors recommended a wait-and-see approach. Published in Pediatrics