In the News: Cat Ownership May Not Lead to Mental Illness, Eating Fruits and Vegetables May Lower Lung Disease Risk, Medicine to Help Alcoholics Quit are Underutilized

Am I going crazy right meow? Cat ownership may not cause mental illness. Becoming a crazy cat lady is a fear of many feline owners, but keepers of kittens can rejoice because a new study found that there is no link between cat ownership and the development of mental health problems. In the study, researchers followed nearly 5,000 cat people for nearly 20 years and found that there is no association between psychotic symptoms and having a cat in the home. While more long-term studies need to be done, the authors acknowledge the increased risk for toxoplasmosis exposure in those who cuddle up with their furry friend, so follow the CDC’s advice to reduce exposure. (TIME)

When the smoke clears on eating plants. Eating fruits and vegetables may decrease risk of lung disease in smokers. No matter who your primary care doctor is, you can almost guarantee they’ll tell you to eat your fruits and veggies. And now new research suggests that eating plants might be even more important for smokers. In the study, nearly 44,000 people and their dietary habits were tracked for 10 years. The scientists found that the smokers who ate more than five servings of fruits and veggies a day had a decreased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). The best way to decrease the risk of COPD is to stop smoking, but patients in the process of quitting may be able to get additional benefit from eating more food from the produce aisle. Here are some of Dr. Oz’s favorite vegetarian recipes. (NYTIMES)

And the pursuit of hoppiness . . . Medicines that can help alcoholics quit are underutilized. The American Heart Association suggests that one or two alcoholic drinks a day could be beneficial for heart health, but the Centers for Disease Control report that many Americans take the recommendation too far—drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in a day. Physicians have a few medications that could help patients with alcohol dependence, such as naltrexone, but a recent study found that these drugs are underutilized despite the fact that they can be helpful for many people. While the authors acknowledge that naltrexone is no cure-all, they want physicians to know that using these medications in combination with counseling could provide relief for several patients in need. If you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, talk to your doctor about getting help. For everyone else, check out Dr. Oz’s tips on how to cut back on alcohol. (NPR)