Today’s Headlines: Peanuts, Headphones and Pain

Peanuts are an easy way to boost your heart health. Chowing down on a handful of nuts is just what the doctor ordered, according to a new study out this week. “Researchers examined nut intake for people from different ethnic groups and lower-income households. Previous studies have linked eating nuts to a lower mortality but had generally focused on higher-income, white populations. Researchers claim the new study is the first to discover all races could potentially benefit from eating nuts. They examined three large groups involving more than 70,000 black and white men and women living in the U.S. and more than 130,000 men and women living in Shanghai. The results found that those who ate peanuts across all three groups had improved total mortality and less cardiovascular disease.” While the study confirms previous findings that peanuts and tree nuts can both potentially lower heart disease risk, the researchers warn that the findings are just an association. “The study was based on observational data collected from questionnaires, rather than clinical trials, so they cannot determine whether peanuts are specifically responsible for a lower risk of death.” (TIME)

Your ears are probably exposed to too much noise. Headphones and earbuds have become a standard part of travel for most people, but according to a new report from the WHO, most are probably damaging their ears. “With the popularization of technology, devices such as music players are often listened to at unsafe volumes and for prolonged periods of time. In middle- and high-income countries, nearly 50% of teens and young adults are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from such devices. From 1990 to 2005, the number of people listening to music through headphones increased by 75 percent. WHO identifies eighty-five decibels as the highest safe exposure level up to a maximum of eight hours. Personal audio devices can sometimes sounds as high as 136 decibels, and, according to the report, users typically set their devices at between 75 and 105 decibels.” The report gives a few safe listening limits. “85 dB – the level of noise inside a car – eight hours; 90 dB – lawn mower –  two hours 30 minutes; 95 dB – an average motorcycle – 47 minutes; 100 dB – car horn or underground train – 15 minutes; 105 dB – mp3 player at maximum volume – four minutes; 115 dB – loud rock concert – 28 seconds; 120 dB – vuvuzela or sirens – nine seconds.” (BBC)

Pain is probably keeping you awake at night. Almost half of Americans have had their sleep disrupted by pain at some point in their lives. For many with chronic pain, the disturbance is constant. “The National Sleep Foundation surveyed 1,000 people about their sleep habits, overall health and pain levels. The researchers found that people who had chronic pain ended up with a 42 minute sleep deficit a week and people who had acute pain ended up with a 14 minute sleep debt.” While the researchers said many turned to pain meds to help them sleep, they cautioned that these medications actually worsen sleep problems because they change the natural sleep rhythm. Fortunately, the researchers also found that the usual advice about getting better sleep also works for those in pain. “People who are chronically sleep-deprived should abstain from alcohol and caffeine, get more exercise, practice relaxation techniques, eat a healthful diet and avoid television and other blue light-emitting devices at least two hours before bedtime.” (CBS)