Today’s Headlines: Eyelashes, Older Diabetics and Aspirin

Extending your eyelashes may dry your eyes out. Many women seek to make their eyelashes appear longer, darker and fuller than they naturally are with mascara and extensions. But new research has found that those longer lashes may not be so good for your eyes. “Researchers started off by measuring animals’ eyelashes, which were always one-third the width of the eye. Such natural lashes apparently protect against dirt and drying by creating an area of stagnant air in front of the eye. Researchers then studied synthetic lashes attached to artificial eyes made from aluminum caps filled with water. When the lashes were natural length, they reduced particle accumulation and evaporation by half in a wind tunnel. But at longer lengths they actually funneled air into the artificial eyes, drying them out and carrying in particles like dust.” The research hasn’t been repeated in real women, but several physicians have seen similar effects in their practice with women who use mascara, which can also unnaturally lengthen eyelashes. (Fox)

Many older diabetics may be pushing their blood sugar too low. Basic diabetes education has taught many diabetics to focus on keeping their blood sugar below a certain target based on the patient’s medical history. A new study examining blood sugar control in older adults has found that bar may be set too low in many. “The researchers measured a substance in the blood called hemoglobin A1c. A1c reflects a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past three months. A person without diabetes would have an A1C reading under 5.7 percent. People with pre-diabetes may have a reading between 5.7 and 6.4 percent. Levels above that qualify for a diabetes diagnosis. Most people with diabetes aim to keep the number under 7 percent. Almost two-thirds of the older adults in the study maintained tight blood sugar control, keeping their A1C levels at 7 percent or lower, according to results.” The problem is that other research has shown that keeping the A1C level so close to seven dramatically increases the risk of low blood sugar, which can lead to serious consequences in those who are older without any real benefit. Older adults with low blood sugar are particularly at risk for falls, which can lead to serious and life-threatening injuries. The researchers say all diabetics should continually reassess with their doctor which A1C and blood sugar goals are right for them. (Reuters)

Many people taking aspirin probably don’t need it. Aspirin has become a mainstay in preventing a variety of diseases related to blood clotting, including heart attacks and stroke. In spite of the benefits of aspirin there are also risks of bleeding that can be dangerous and even deadly. “Researchers examined the medical records of patients who were being tracked as part of the American College of Cardiology’s PINNACLE registry. They focused on patients who were taking aspirin to prevent their first heart attack or stroke.” They assessed the risk for death from heart attack or stroke in each of these patients. “Their analysis revealed that 11.6% of the patients had a risk below 6%, which is too low to justify the potential side effects of the therapy. In general, these patients were much younger (49.9 years old, on average) than people taking aspirin with good reason (average age 65.9 years). 80% of them were women. In fact, 16.6% of the women analyzed were taking aspirin inappropriately, compared with only 5.3% of the men.” This isn’t to say all younger women taking aspirin don’t need it. But it does indicate that many may have been put on aspirin with careful thought about whether the benefits outweigh the risks. If you’re on aspirin, discuss the reasons why with your doctor. (LA Times)