Fido is good for your heart. The American Heart Association says that owning a pet, especially a dog, can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is unclear whether owning a dog directly reduces the risk. Research showed that people with dogs might engage in more physical activity because they walk them. It also showed that owning pets might be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower incidence of obesity. Also according to research, pets can have a positive effect on the body's reactions to stress.
Port-wine stain birthmarks' connection to a gene. In new findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers reveal the discovery of the cause — a genetic mutation that occurs before birth — of Sturge-Weber syndrome and port-wine stain birthmarks. Struge-Weber is a rare disorder affecting about one in 20,000 births, while port-wine birthmarks are more common, affecting about 1 million individuals in the United States.
Sturge-Weber syndrome is a neurological and skin disorder associated with port-wine birthmarks on the face, glaucoma, seizures, intellectual impairment and weakness on one or both sides of the body. Port-wine stain birthmarks are caused by abnormally dilated capillaries in the skin, which produce reddish to purplish discoloration. With the discovery, researchers can begin investigating drugs that selectively inhibit the implicated pathways. "The link to melanoma may also influence research and lead to new directions for the treatment of both conditions in the future," according to a news release.
The FDA scrutinizes caffeinated products. The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that, in response to a trend in which caffeine is being added to products, the agency will investigate the safety of caffeine in food products, particularly its effects on children and adolescents.
The announcement came just as Wrigley's began promoting a new pack of gum with each piece containing as much caffeine as half a cup of coffee. However, the company has decided to hold off on putting the product on the market until the FDA reviews the implications of added caffeine in food products.