5 studies you may have missed

Food trucks are generally as safe or safer than restaurants, a new study found.
Food trucks are generally as safe or safer than restaurants, a new study found.

Here’s a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.

You are the (Facebook) company you keep
Journal: PNAS

It may be time to think twice before accepting that friend request on Facebook. A new study by scientists at Cornell University, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Facebook suggests that emotions can be spread via Facebook and other social networks.

Yes, you read that right: Your Facebook posts are contagious. The scientists looked at 3 million Facebook posts from a group of 155,000 randomly selected users.

“When positive posts were reduced in the news feed, the percentage of positive words in people’s status updates decreased,” the researchers write. Conversely, when negative posts were reduced, the percent of negative words decreased and the percentage of positive words increased.

Here’s some good news to post: A previous study showed that positive messages appear to be “more contagious” than negative ones.

We overestimate how hard we exercise
Journal: PLOS ONE

Your daily workout may leave you feeling like a sweaty super hero, but is that enough? A new study conducted at York University in Canada suggests the majority of people have a broad misunderstanding of how much exercise is needed to maintain good health.

The study recruited 129 sedentary adult volunteers ages 18 to 64, irrespective of ethnicity, sex or body mass index (BMI). The volunteers were instructed to walk or jog on a treadmill at a speed they thought corresponded to be “light,” “moderate” and “vigorous” intensities.

Despite being given the standards of intensity defined by Canada’s Physical Activity Guide, volunteers underestimated how hard they should be exercising to reach the “moderate” and “vigorous” intensities. Conversely, participants were accurately able to estimate “light” intensity exercises.

While the researchers say their study calls for new descriptions of what is considered moderate and vigorous exercise, it does point out a few limitations: The results of the study have not been verified in older populations. A large proportion of the study’s participants were younger, with the median age of 20.

Scientists find gene mutation may lower your risk of a heart attack
The New England Journal of Medicine

Normally we think of good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) as the two major players in heart disease. But triglycerides also play a big role, and researchers may have found a way to stop them from clogging your arteries.

Two independent studies found that people who carry any of four different mutations linked to the APOC3 gene have significantly lower levels of triglycerides in their blood. As a result, these mutation-holders are 40% less likely to have heart disease than people without the mutation.

Yes, not all gene mutations are bad.

Pharmaceutical companies say these findings could lead to the creation of a drug that mimics the results of the ATOC3 gene mutations.

In food trucks, you should trust
Journal: Institute for Justice

Looking for a lunch locale with a low risk of food poisoning? Food trucks are good choice. In fact, in some states, they’re actually healthier than your local restaurants.

Researchers in Virginia examined approximately 260,000 food inspections collected from government agencies in Boston, Massachusetts; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles; Louisville, Kentucky; Miami, Florida; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C. Inspection reports included details on clean counters, proper labeling, proper food storage, hand-washing facilities, sick employees, and spoiled foods.

Food trucks did as well or better than restaurants in the majority of inspections. According to the study authors, “The notion that food trucks and carts are unsafe is simply a myth.”

Still no evidence of sustained human-to-human MERS transmission 
The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization reiterated this week that the global MERS situation is serious. But results from U.S. and global case studies suggest human-to-human transmission remains low.

No one who came in contact with the two MERS-CoV patients in the United States were infected with the emerging disease, health officials confirmed this week.

“All household members and the health care workers who cared for the cases tested negative for both active and previous infection with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV),” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

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