Women today feel much worse about their body images than women several decades ago. In contrast, men's self-images have remained stable for several decades, according to an analysis published in the May issue of the journal Psychological Science.
Yale psychiatrist Dr. Alan Feingold and co-author Ronald Mazzella reviewed 222 studies on body image published over the past 50 years. The studies were grouped according to whether they were published before 1970, in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990 to 1996. The researchers concluded that men rated themselves as physically attractive more than women did. But the strongest trend was seen in the declining satisfaction women have with their bodies. The study suggests that at least part of the increased rate in eating disorders may be linked to the growing number of women with poor self-images.
Cholesterol Drugs Aren't Being Taken Consistently
Drugs to lower cholesterol are often life-saving--if they are taken consistently. But a new study of 7,200 patients 65 and older reported in the May 13 Journal of the American Medical Assn. found that the subjects didn't fill their prescriptions more than 40% of the time during the first year of use.
Cholesterol-lowering medications don't cure disease. They only work while they are being taken. Thus, many people need to remain on the medications their entire lives. The authors of the study, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, suggested that some people may not realize the severity of having high cholesterol, since it produces no symptoms. They urge physicians to take the time to educate patients about what the medicine does and how it works.
Cost is not thought to be a deterrent against use of the drugs, since the government and insurers typically pay for them, the study noted. But some patients who are taking older cholesterol-lowering medications may have side effects, such as stomach discomfort, that cause them to quit taking the pills. Those patients should be switched to newer formulations.
Osteoporosis Drug May Benefit the Heart
A medication approved for the prevention of osteoporosis may also offer women some protection against heart disease, say the authors of a study of 390 women in the May 13 Journal of the American Medical Assn.
Raloxifene is a among a family of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators, or SERMs. Researchers have speculated that it might offer the same benefits as estrogen without the drawbacks, such as an increased risk of breast cancer. The study, from scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, found that raloxifene lowered levels of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol, by 12% in post-menopausal women compared with 14% for estrogen users. Raloxifene did not improve the women's levels of HDL, or "good," cholesterol. The drug also had a less favorable effect than estrogen does on a blood fat called lipoprotein-a.
Raloxifene, however, lowered levels of a clotting protein called fibrogen, a risk factor for heart disease, while estrogen does not.
The study's authors noted that it is too early to say whether raloxifene will become an alternative to estrogen and that more studies are needed to see if the drug truly prevents heart disease. Data on raloxifene's effect on breast cancer risk is expected to be released soon.
Pneumonia Stays Could Be Shorter, Study Suggests
Pneumonia accounts for more than 600,000 hospitalizations a year. But some patients may be staying in the hospital longer than necessary, according to new research.
The study in the May 13 Journal of the American Medical Assn. noted that hospital stays among pneumonia patients vary considerably across the country, suggesting that physicians may account for the variations. The study examined how long it took to stabilize 686 adults admitted at one of three university-operated teaching hospitals or to a community hospital. It found that 65% to 85% of the patients were kept at least a day longer than it took to stabilize them by vital signs--such as heart and respiration--and by other measures, such as mental status and the ability to eat.
The authors of the study, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, maintain that less than 1% of patients deteriorate after becoming stabilized, suggesting that more of them could go home sooner.
Obesity May Dispose Kids to High Blood Pressure
Chubby kids, especially those with excess weight at their midsections, have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure than normal-weight children, according to a study in this month's American Journal of Hypertension. While being overweight is known to increase high blood pressure in adults, there has been a question about whether children run the same risk.
The study found that obese children had significantly higher blood pressures throughout the day than normal-weight children. And children with greater abdominal girth had the highest blood pressures. The researchers concluded that the distribution of body fat should help identify children with a susceptibility toward hypertension later in life.
--Compiled by SHARI ROAN