There was no shortage of big health news this week — from North Carolina’s 12-week abortion law to Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth to the World Health Organization’s new edict on artificial sugar. But here’s a round-up of some health stories you may have missed, courtesy of Yahoo News’ partner network.
1 in 5 older U.S. adults cut back on medication due to cost
In 2022, about 1 in 5 adults ages 65 and older altered their medication intake for cost-related reasons, according to a study published on Thursday.
In the national survey, 20.2% of people said they “either skipped, delayed, took less medication than was prescribed, or took someone else’s medication last year because of concerns about cost,” NBC’s “Today” show reported, and 8.5% said they went without basic needs in order to pay for their medication.
The Inflation Reduction Act aims to lower the high cost of prescription drugs for older Americans, and was signed into law shortly before the study survey concluded in September 2022.
Tricia Neuman, executive director for the program on Medicare policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told “Today” that “future polls will tell us the extent to which further action may be needed to drive down drug prices.”
Women may be more resilient than men to disruptions to their body’s internal clock
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at the body’s circadian rhythm, which the National Institutes of Health defines as “the 24-hour internal clock in our brain that regulates cycles of alertness and sleepiness by responding to light changes in our environment.” Changes to the body’s natural rhythms — such as staying awake at night when the body is accustomed to sleeping — can lead to health conditions that increase a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke.
In a study involving mice whose regular night-day cycles had been disrupted, researchers found that female mice were resilient to the changes and kept to their usual patterns of daily activity, whereas the male mice found it more difficult to adapt. The female mice were also more impervious to changes in liver and gut bacteria brought on by cycle disruptions.
Researchers also studied a collection of human health data from the UK Biobank, and found that the observations in mice appeared to apply to humans as well. While both men and women experienced more negative health outcomes than people whose natural rhythms hadn’t been interrupted, the outcomes were substantially worse for men than for women.
More rural women got cancer screenings thanks to DVD outreach
A study by researchers from the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and Indiana University built on previous research showing that finding innovative ways to tailor outreach — even using old-school technology like DVDs — is an effective way to reach rural Americans.
Women in rural Ohio who received interactive DVDs reminding them to get screened for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers were nearly twice as likely to do so, and women “who were also paired with a patient navigator by phone had a six-fold greater chance of getting a screening,” USA Today reported.
Many Americans in rural communities are limited not only by closures of some hospitals and women's health care centers, but also by less access to broadband, which limits telehealth services. Researchers said this was one reason they decided to use DVDs in their outreach.
“The question still is access: Not only broadband access, internet access, but access to a computer or a smartphone, which is not universal,” study co-author Electra Paskett said.
USA Today noted that nearly a quarter of individuals in rural areas, or around 14.5 million people, lack a fixed broadband service, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Past obesity may have lasting effects on mental health
Preliminary findings from a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin suggest that even after losing weight, individuals who were once obese can suffer from “weight scarring” that could lead to depression and anxiety — and even early death, the Guardian reported.
The study led by Dr I Gusti Ngurah Edi Putra of the University of Liverpool looked at data from over 40,000 individuals in the U.S., including past and current weight, height, symptoms of depression and other psychological well-being indicators, and mortality. They found that a history of obesity increased the risk of early death by about 30%, independent of current weight.
“Our findings suggest that obesity may be psychologically ‘scarring’ and that these psychological ‘scars’ may increase the risk of an early death,” Putra said. “Ensuring people with obesity receive psychological support, even after experiencing weight loss, may reduce the risk of subsequent ill health.”
Putra noted that the findings have yet to be published and are based on observational data, and that “further research confirming our findings is now needed.”