Today’s Headlines: Acetaminophen, Googling and Sitting

Tylenol doesn’t work for most chronic pain. When you have a sore back or aching knees, your first inclination might be to reach for acetaminophen. But according to new research out this week, that might not be the right choice for common causes of chronic pain. “Australian researchers reviewed three randomized trials that compared acetaminophen with a placebo for the relief of spinal pain, and 10 trials that compared their use for easing the pain of osteoarthritis. All together, the analysis included 5,366 patients. The review found high quality evidence that acetaminophen is ineffective in treating low back pain or disability. The studies of pain from knee and hip arthritis found a small but clinically insignificant short-term pain-relief effect for acetaminophen compared with a placebo.” This is not to say that acetaminophen never works. Instead, the researchers emphasize that it should probably be used for short-term pain. Those with chronic pain should talk to their doctors about other pain relievers that might help with chronic pain, especially if that pain is back pain or from arthritis. (New York Times)

Googling the answers to your questions make you feel smarter. When someone asks a question no one seems to know the answer to, it’s tempting to pull out your phone and find the answer. New findings published this week have found that doing so can make you feel smarter, but may not actually make you smarter. “The researchers asked 195 people to answer common questions, such as “how does a zipper work?” Half were told to look up the answers on the Internet, and half were told not to. Then they asked them to rate their ability to explain the answers to six unrelated questions. The group that had searched the Internet claimed much more knowledge than the group that hadn’t. They next asked 142 people to rate their ability to explain six concepts before and after they did the same experiment. Beforehand, they expressed the same confidence to explain the material. But afterward, those who used the Internet were confident they could give significantly better answers. And even when they rigged the online searches so that they produced no results, the Internet users rated themselves as more knowledgeable than non-Internet users.” The team found the Googling effect only applies to areas where people think the Internet might be useful, indicating people are storing in their brain where to find certain information, rather than the actual information itself. (Washington Post)

Sitting less also means less diabetes. When the newest season of your favorite TV show appears online, it can be tempting to watch the whole thing in one go. But new research has found that doing so regularly may increase your diabetes risk. “The group started with the population of people at higher risk of developing diabetes who were enrolled in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Some were assigned to exercise at least 150 minutes at a moderate level each week and change their diet with the goal of losing 7% of their body weight. Others were given the diabetes drug metformin, and another group was given a placebo. After more than three years, those who adopted the lifestyle changes lowered their risk of developing diabetes by 58%, compared to 31% for those taking the drug. The researchers also asked how much time they spent sitting at work and how much time they spent watching TV. The lifestyle group spent fewer hours sitting than the metformin and placebo groups, despite the fact that sitting less was not a specific goal of the program. And the more time they spent off their chairs, the lower their risk of going on to develop diabetes. Every hour spent sitting increased the risk of developing diabetes by 3.4%.” The results emphasize the importance of physical activity in lowering diabetes risk and suggest that efforts to help high-risk people avoid diabetes should include a goal of sitting less. (TIME)