Lab Report: Health, Science and Medicine

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Pittsburg fans put their hearts into cheering for their team on its way to Super Bowl XLV


How a Home-Team Loss Can Break a Fan's Heart

Football fans are notoriously passionate about their teams, and new research suggests that their emotional connection can put them at increased risk of a heart attack after the Super Bowl.

Scientists studying death rates in Los Angeles County--where two different teams have made it to the championship game--found that deaths from heart attacks rose in the weeks after the L.A. Rams lost the title game in 1980 but dropped slightly in the weeks following the Raiders' victory in 1984. Plus, the study reported, it wasn't just men who were affected but women as well.

For avid fans, high-stakes games like the Super Bowl can trigger the same kind of stress and fight-or-flight response as extreme events like earthquakes. It's not so much the win or loss that sets off the ticker but rather the intensity of the game and the fan's emotional attachment to the team. L.A.'s first Super Bowl, for instance, was a tight contest on home turf lost by a beloved team, while the victory years later was played out of state by a newly transplanted franchise. Loyalty, it seems, sometimes has a steep price.


Dietary Guidelines Limit Salt, Fat, Sugar--and Food

Every five years, the government makes an attempt to help Americans eat more healthily by revising its Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). This year's official advice includes familiar messages to reduce salt, sugar and fat and to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as new recommendations to incorporate more seafood. And for the first time, the guidelines urge people simply to eat less overall, a move that was applauded by nutrition experts, given the obesity epidemic.

The new DGA is also more practical than previous versions, providing concrete advice to drink water instead of sugary beverages and to fill half of every meal plate with fruits and veggies.

Still, the guidelines aren't perfect. They include a recommendation that Americans without a history of high blood pressure lower their daily intake of sodium to 2,300 mg, a level that many experts consider to be too high. A healthier target, they say, would be 1,500 mg per day for the average adult.

Of course, the guidelines alone can't revamp Americans' less-than-healthy diets. So this year the government is also revising packaged-food labels and partnering with projects such as the First Lady's Let's Move campaign to promote physical activity.


Nasal Vaccine For Measles

Sniff and you're immune: that's what researchers are hoping to accomplish with a powdered nasal vaccine that could replace the two measles shots children now receive. The inoculation has worked in animal studies, and human trials are under way in India, where using the easier nasal route may help more kids get vaccinated.

Humans' Closest Genetic Kin

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