This year in health news has been filled with breakthroughs regarding everything from sleep to homeopathy to the importance of vitamin D. All of these breakthroughs and new research findings can have a huge impact on pain patients and their treatments. Here’s a roundup of what’s been happening in research and health news in 2015 so far.

1. Sympathetic pregnancy in men is real

At least when it comes to weight gain. A study that tracked over 10,000 men found that those who became fathers gained both weight and body mass, while men who remain childless actually lost weight in the same period. Turns out that “dad bod” is a real thing.

2. Coffee makes your DNA stronger

In another study that helps prove the magical powers of coffee (in moderate amounts and with your doctor’s okay!), dark roast coffee was shown to decrease the oxidative damage in white blood cells and helps maintain the structural integrity of DNA, a marker of good health. This study only looked at black, dark roast coffee, so no cream and sugar in your morning joe.

3. No, your teen is not getting enough sleep

The percentage of teens getting seven hours of sleep or more a night is only 43%, down from 72% in the 1990s. Sleep deprivation makes everyone cranky, including the parents of the sleep-deprived teens.

4. But only one session of insomnia counseling can help

A simple one-hour therapy session cured 73% of people suffering from acute insomnia. This intervention occurred before the problem could become chronic. Your sleepy teen might benefit from this.

5. Or maybe we just need more vitamin D

In some cases of insomnia, a person’s circadian rhythm is off (due to shift work or some other disruption to a normal sleep pattern, like chronic pain). Rising with the sun can help, and it turns out that vitamin D is lacking in pretty much everyone’s life, even more so than previously thought. Scientists at Creighton University have discovered that recommended daily allowances of vitamin D are far lower than they should be, nearly ten times lower. Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” and helps to improve mood, ensure good sleep, and build strong bones.

6. So get out and take a walk

Sitting is epidemic in the U.S., and since we aren’t getting enough vitamin D, the answer to both may be to simply stand up and take a walk outside. Just a half hour of physical activity six days a week lowered the risk of early death by 40%.

7. But stay off your phone while you walk

As anyone who has walked down a crowded sidewalk can attest, those who text and walk are erratic and unpredictable. This may seem more harmful to those who encounter walking texters, but researchers found that texting walkers adapted their gait to become more of a shuffle, which may account for an increase in injuries. This “adaptation” can also lead to pain related to improper alignment later on.

8. If the injuries require a blood transfusion, there may be more blood available

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have created an enzyme that may be able to change any blood type to more closely resemble Type O. Type O blood is also referred to as a universal blood type because it can be used for patients with any blood type.

9. But don’t rely on homeopathy for any kind of treatment

The National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia has reviewed 225 research papers on homeopathy and concluded that, “Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.” The report went on to say that those who ignore these findings may put their health at risk because if they delay or avoid seeking proper medical care for potentially serious conditions.

10. And while you’re at it, it’s really time to quit smoking

By now, pretty much everyone knows that smoking is very, very bad for you, but new research published in BMC Medicine has found that smoking kills two of every three users. The study followed nearly 205,000 men and women for 45 years and found that 66% of people who smoked would eventually die from a smoking-related illness. So do yourself a favor: quit today.

11. Your view of the world (and your kids) may need to change

Nearly 95% of parents think that their overweight children look “just right,” a startling increase in our general inability to understand what a healthy weight looks like. This number may be even higher in low income and minority populations. It can be difficult to honestly assess your child’s weight, especially when everyone around you and your children is overweight. Changes begin with acknowledging the problem at home.

12. And maybe help your kids take an honest look at themselves

While body positivity and self-acceptance is important for kids, it’s also important to understand that being overweight or obese comes with serious health concerns, many of which are entirely preventable. Researchers at Georgia Southern University found that, much like parents, kids were not self-aware enough to realize that they are overweight. There is a difference between self-confidence in the body that you have, the same one that may not resemble a model’s body, and denial that there is a weight issue. There is no need for “fat-shaming,” but recognizing what a healthy weight is can be the first step to a healthier life.

13. At school, swap recess and lunchtime

A new study out of Brigham Young University found that if kids go to recess before lunch, their consumption of fruit and vegetables increases by 54%. This is good news for cutting down on food waste (when all those fruits and veggies get thrown away) and also increasing intake of healthy, whole foods for children.

How will these 13 health breakthroughs affect you for the rest of this year?


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