The Recovery Room: News beyond the pandemic — February 26
The coronavirus pandemic dominated the headlines and our daily lives for most of the past year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.
However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.
This week’s Recovery Room begins with a new Through My Eyes feature from an author who writes without the ability to draw on any visual imagery. We also published a profile of one of the first Black women at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and her work in exposing a cancer drug fraud.
Next, we look at the vexed question of whether eggs are good for you and also at the value of eating superfoods to lose weight.
You’ll also find our report on a study that reveals how quickly you should answer a question if you want to be believed, how many different viruses have found a home in the human gut, and new evidence of why conscientious people might live longer.
We highlight this research below, along with other recent stories that you may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.
1. Navigating the world with aphantasia
We begin this week’s Recovery Room with a personal perspective on living without visual imagery. Katrice Horsley has found that there are some downsides — but also that aphantasia has helped give added depth to her writing.
A former United Kingdom National Storytelling Laureate, Katrice says that her reduced ability to “see” the characters, places, and situations in her stories has led her to find new ways to inhabit them. She shares insights into how aphantasia has affected her daily life and how it guides her writing technique, giving it enhanced physicality.
To read this fascinating article on the pros and cons of seeing nothing with the mind’s eye, click below.
2. Alma Levant Hayden: First Black woman in the FDA
MNT continued to mark Black History Month this week with the latest in our series of Special Features celebrating the achievements and legacy of Black pioneers in the medical sciences.
In this feature, we talk about the career of Alma Levant Hayden, the first Black, female chemist at the FDA. Hayden is best known for her role in exposing Krebiozen, a drug promoted as a cure for cancer, as a scam.
Her spectrometric analysis revealed that a sample of this white powder was simply creatine, a substance that occurs naturally in the human body. Despite the importance of her discovery, historical documentation of this case does not mention Hayden by name.
To read more about Alma Levant Hayden’s early life, career, legacy, and the ongoing need for greater equity in science and medicine, click the link to the article below.
MNT‘s most popular new article this week, with more than 51,000 page views since its publication yesterday, examines the link between eating eggs and a person’s cholesterol levels.
Eggs are seen as a nutritious and inexpensive staple of diets around the world, but are they actually good for you? What is cholesterol, and how much is in an egg? Are there any cholesterol-free egg substitutes or alternatives available?
This article includes an in-depth review of the research into whether eggs are healthy. And the conclusion? Yes, eggs are probably healthy for most people.
Another popular new article, with over 47,000 page views so far, is our look at how to treat inflammation naturally.
Our writer defines acute and chronic inflammation before looking at a variety of dietary and lifestyle factors, such as sleep and exercise, that may play a role in reducing it.
The article also considers the evidence for specific supplements that may control inflammation, such as omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin, as well as topical remedies like aloe vera gel. However, natural remedies may not always be appropriate, so we also recommend when to consult a doctor.
5. People are more likely to believe quick answers than slow ones
A new study reported in MNT this week claims that if you want to be believed, a slow, thoughtful response may not be the best strategy — fast answers carry greater credibility.
The study was fairly large, with 7,565 participants in the United States, U.K., or France taking part in 14 experiments. After watching a video, hearing audio, or reading a report about a person’s response to a question, the participants consistently decided that people who took longer to answer were less sincere.
The only exceptions were on occasions when the questions required some thought or the answer was unpleasant or awkward to deliver. To read more about this interesting study and its implications for everyday life, click below.
6. Neuroscience of overeating: Animal study provides insight
A new study in rats has identified a part of the brain involved in the feeding response, which may inspire new ways to reduce overeating in humans.
The researchers found that switching off activity in the infralimbic cortex reduced overeating in rats that had recently learned to associate the arrival of edible treats with a visible cue, in this case, a light.
The researchers note that this finding may shed light on the neurobiological underpinnings of food memories and the motivation to acquire food, which could potentially lead to clinical applications that reduce overeating in humans.
This week, MNT‘s editors published a new report on the role that superfoods may play in losing weight. The term “superfood” owes more to marketing than science, but the nutrients in many of these foods may be beneficial.
The article looks at some common superfoods, including fruits, berries, vegetables, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids — plus which vitamins and antioxidants they contain and how to add them to your diet. It also explores the evidence for superfoods helping with weight loss and some of the other possible effects.
However, for people looking to lose weight, it is clear that superfoods alone won’t help, unless they are part of a healthy diet and lifestyle that includes enough exercise.
8. More than 140,000 different viruses live in the human gut
The human gut is home to a vast range of bacteria, but a new database compiled by scientists in the U.K. reveals that the gut microbiome also includes hundreds of thousands of viruses, over half of which are identified for the first time.
This new collection of human gut phage genomes is believed to be the most comprehensive of its kind. And, far from being harmful, many of these viruses help regulate the gut’s environment and microbiome.
Ahead lies the huge task of disentangling the web of interactions between gut bacteria, viruses, and human health and revealing how these relationships vary, from person to person and in a single individual over a lifetime.
9. Why sex differences in cardiovascular disease matter
MNT marked American Heart Month by launching a new collection of science-backed resources on cardiovascular health. Also this month, the journal Circulation published its fifth annual Go Red for Women edition, which explores the challenges that females with heart disease face.
This year, the focus is on disparities in outcomes between male and female patients, especially in terms of who is judged to have a better chance of survival on admission to the hospital. The problem of an underrepresentation of females in clinical trials is also highlighted.
Click below for more on Go Red for Women, including a link to a summary of this year’s edition.
10. Research suggests conscientious people may live longer
Conscientiousness is defined as a tendency to be responsible, organized, and capable of self-control. This personality trait is linked to a lower risk of mortality, and our final article, this week, reports on a new study that may explain why.
The researchers found that participants with higher conscientiousness scores had lower levels of the immune system biomarker interleukin 6 and a reduced risk of death. This finding is significant because it establishes a biomarker as the direct link between a personality trait and the risk of mortality, for the first time.
To learn more about personality traits, mortality, biomarkers, and the limitations of this new study, click below.