Today’s Headlines: Vaccines, Dietary Salt, and Pain Tolerance

You may need another vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has announced it now recommends Prevnar 13 for all adults over 65. Prevnar is a vaccine that protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is one of the most common causes of pneumonia in older adults and can be fatal. The ACIP is a government organization that looks at all available evidence for various vaccines and makes recommendations about who should get what. “The panel recommended that adults 65 years or older who have not previously received either Prevnar or Pneumovax, or whose previous vaccination history is unknown, should first receive a dose of Prevnar 13, followed by a dose of Pneumovax.” The decision comes after studies showing the vaccine to be very effective in those over 65 at preventing infection. All decisions about vaccinations should be made with the help of a physician. (Fox)

The role of salt in health is more complicated than we thought. For healthy individuals, cutting salt out of your diet might be problematic. A new study out this week, “tracked more than 100,000 people from 17 countries over an average of more than three years and found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day had a higher risk of death or a serious event such as a heart attack or stroke in that period than those whose intake was estimated at 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams. Risk of death or other major events increased with intake above 6,000 milligrams.” The World Health Organization, U.S. government and American Heart Association all recommend less than 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams. While those on a low-salt diet should continue to keep their sodium low, this new study indicates that the debate is not over about how much is too much when it comes to salt. (WSJ)

Doing exercise may decrease your sense of pain. While just the thought of exercise may be painful for some people, a new study has found that exercise can actually increase your pain tolerance. “Scientists have known that strenuous exercise briefly and acutely dulls pain” by releasing endorphins, but less was known about the long term effects. By studying a group of volunteers who either did or didn’t do exercise over a several week period, researchers found that “the volunteers in the exercise group displayed substantially greater ability to withstand pain. Their pain thresholds had not changed; they began to feel pain at the same point they had before. But their tolerance had risen. Those volunteers whose fitness had increased the most also showed the greatest increase in pain tolerance.” (NYT)