Today’s Headlines: Walnuts, E-Cigarettes and Loved Ones

Walnuts may help improve your memory. You now have another reason to load up on nuts. While past research had found nuts to help with your heart, new research has found they may help with memory as well. “In a cross-sectional study that drew from a large sampling of the U.S. population aged 20 and older, Dr. Arab and co-researcher Dr. Alfonso Ang found that people who ate more walnuts performed significantly better on a series of six cognitive tests. The study adds to a body of research surrounding walnuts’ overall brain health benefits, including the possible effect of slowing or preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mouse models.” Nuts have a variety of positive health effects and regularly eating them has been found to lower the risk of heart disease. “There are numerous active ingredients in walnuts that may contribute to protecting cognitive functions, the researchers say. They are high in antioxidants and a combination of vitamins and minerals. A significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid in walnuts, also benefits heart and brain health.” (CBS)

E-cigarette smoke may contain cancer-causing chemicals. Good research about the benefits and dangers of e-cigs is still needed, but data continues to appear about the new smoking replacement. The most recent research has found that the smoke replacement may not be completely safe. “Under certain conditions, taking 10 puffs from an e-cigarette would expose a user to about 2.5 times as much formaldehyde as he or she would get from smoking a single tobacco cigarette. Formaldehyde is used as an industrial disinfectant and as an ingredient in permanent-press fabrics, plywood, glues and other household products. It is also formed when the propylene glycol and glycerol in e-cigarette liquids and oxygen are heated together. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer says formaldehyde can cause leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers the chemical a ‘probable human carcinogen.’” The amount of the chemical made depended on the voltage of the e-cig. “When the e-cigarette was used on the ‘low voltage’ setting of 3.3 volts, the researchers didn’t detect any formaldehyde in the vapor. However, when the device was on the ‘high voltage’ setting of 5 volts, they measured an average of 380 micrograms of formaldehyde per sample.” While the jury is still out on e-cigs, caution should be taken when deciding whether or not to use them. (LA Times)

Having your partner present may increase pain. It might seem comforting to have a loved one come to doctor’s office or hospital with you, but a new research study has found that their presence may actually increase how much pain you feel while there. “The team recruited heterosexual couples and asked them a series of questions to measure how much they sought or avoided closeness and emotional intimacy in relationships. Each female volunteer was then subjected to a series of painful laser pulses while her partner was in or out of the room. The women were asked to score their level of pain and their brain activity was measured. The researchers found that certain women were more likely to score high levels of pain while their partner was in the room. These were women who said they preferred to avoid closeness, trusted themselves more than their partners and felt uncomfortable in their relationships. When their partners were present, these women’s brain activity also showed higher spikes of activity in regions of the brain linked with experiencing body threat.” If your personality is similar to those of the women tested in this study, you might think twice about bringing your husband or boyfriend to your next doctor’s appointment for moral support. (BBC)