Today’s Headlines: New Lungs, Football Helmets and Loneliness

Researchers grow human lungs in lab for first time: “In a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize transplant medicine, researchers have successfully grown human lungs in a lab for the first time.” Researchers created a “scaffold-like structure” from the connective tissue of two cadaver lungs. They then applied cells from other lungs to the scaffold and put it in a chamber of “nutritious liquid.” After only four weeks, “the team had a complete human lung – and they were able to successfully repeat the procedure using another set of lungs.” Unfortunately, researchers estimate it will be another 12 years or more before lab-generated lungs might be used in transplants. (Fox News)

Football helmets don’t protect side of head in tests: “Players using current football helmets aren’t adequately protected against hits to the side of the head, which can lead to sometimes-lethal concussions and brain swelling, researchers said.” A test of ten helmets using crash test dummies showed that they reduced the risk of traumatic brain injury by 20% on average compared to no helmet. Researchers said that “current tests of helmets focus on impacts that lead to broken skulls, and don’t adequately assess the chances of traumatic brain injury.” Twelve percent of youth football deaths are a result of head or neck injuries in students who return to a game following a concussion. (Bloomberg News)

Loneliness increases risk of premature death in seniors: “According to research by a professor at the University of Chicago, extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s risk of premature death by 14%,” making it “nearly as potent as disadvantaged socioeconomic status.” Loneliness may disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, increase cortisol levels and raise depression risk. Moreover, seniors with a strong social support system have better “physical and mental resilience” that helps them to live longer, according to the researcher, John Cacioppo. (Medical News Today)