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Research You Can Use

Personal Health

By Nancy Johnston Hall

I’m always coming across health research findings that I want to share—the “Did you know …” topics that are worth bringing up in conversation with friends because they’re interesting and useful. So just pretend we’re sitting over a couple of margaritas, chatting. Did you know that  …

Thinking young can help you be young

Researchers at University College London asked roughly 6,500 men and women, average age 65, the question, “How old do you feel you are?” Eight years later, the researchers determined which study participants were still alive. They found that those who felt three or more years younger than their chronological age had a lower death rate compared to those who felt their age or those who felt more than one year older that their actual age. While there was no association between self-perceived age and cancer death, they did find that the relationship between self-perceived age and cardiovascular death was strong.

A Harvard University psychologist, Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, who wrote about these research findings in the US medical journal Internal Medicine, said that those who see themselves as younger are more likely to be physically active. They’re not thinking they’re too old to be biking or hiking. They also may see a long life ahead of them and thus be more interested in eating with future health in mind. Siegel wrote, “If we feel old, we’re likely to treat food with an ‘I won’t live much longer, I might as well enjoy this’ attitude, which could lead us to eat unhealthfully.”

Double-dipping chips leads to bacterial contamination

In a study at Clemson University in the US, published in the Journal of Food Safety, researchers analyzed bacterial contamination before and after a person double-dips a chip. They found that bacterial counts in the dip increased significantly after a person took a bite from a chip and then dipped again. Salsa had more bacteria after double-dipping compared with chocolate or cheese dips (perhaps due to differences in thickness and acidity of the dips). While double-dipping is most likely not a serious health issue, this research does raise the possibility that a person who is sick (or about to be) might spread a disease by re-dipping. If you hate to waste what’s left of a good chip, try turning it around and dipping with the untouched side.

Knee surgery—one at a time or both?

There are some benefits to replacing both joints during a single surgery. These include undergoing anesthesia only once, fewer days in the hospital, and only one, although prolonged, rehabilitation.

But when Mayo Clinic researchers analyzed thousands of knee-replacement procedures, they found that people who have simultaneous knee replacements are more likely to develop dangerous blood clots or die within 30 days than those who have single-knee surgery. Still, such complications are rare overall. But because the possibility is there, if you’re over 80 or have cardiovascular or lung disease, these researchers say you’re probably better off having two separate surgeries. If you’re healthy, having both knees replaced at the same time may be a good option.

Nancy Johnston Hall is a retired health writer with nearly 40 years of experience. She has a master’s degree in medical journalism. Last year Nancy and her husband became part-time residents of San Miguel.


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