Obesity's ties to MS and more marriage benefits: In health news today

Jan. 31, 2013, 11:18 a.m.

Marriage appears to reduce the risk of a heart attack in both men and women, says a new study. (M.G. Kafkas/Flickr Creative Commons)

Obese children, teen girls in particular, are three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis than their normal-weight counterparts, reports Reuters. The study didn't prove that extra weight causes MS, but it does suggest that rising obesity rates could mean more diagnoses than there were in the past.

The Los Angeles Times has news on a report in which an international team of experts sifted through more than a dozen ideas about obesity that are widely believed but unsupported by reliable evidence. Among the research team's assertions: School P.E. classes don't necessarily help reduce and prevent child obesity rates; and babies who are breast-fed aren't any less likely than their peers to become obese.

Men's risk of dying of cancer is 35 percent greater than women's, says a new British analysis, in part because of late diagnoses and male eating and drinking habits. The Guardian notes that in 2010, 202 out of every 100,000 men died of cancer, compared to just 147 per 100,000 women.

Two gene mutations may increase a person's risk of dying from cocaine use eightfold, according to a new study. HealthDay says the mutations affect how the chemical messenger dopamine affects the brain. Cocaine blocks the brain from absorbing dopamine.

Folks with spouses (or fiancees), you're in luck: U.S. News & World Report says marriage appears to reduce the risk of heart attack for both men and women.

New research from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the relationship between a doctor's empathy and her or his ability to heal. The L.A. Times says the study indicates that physicians' empathy, as well as their confidence in their own ability to help a patient, may be a crucial part of their effectiveness.

And finally: For those who still doubted, HealthDay has news on a study that says today's instant online social communications "does not confer the same feel-good effects" as talking in person.

Photo by M.G. Kafkas via Flickr Creative Commons.

Stories nearby