An analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Health and Retirement Study conducted by Jennifer Ailshire, PhD, of the University of Southern California is the first to look at how air quality affects the cognitive function of older men and women. The research focused on data from 14,793 people over the age of 50 and found those living in areas with higher levels of air pollution scored poorer on cognitive function tests even after factoring in age, race, education, smoking, behavior, and cardiovascular condition. According to Ailshire, older adults are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of unhealthy air and there is emerging evidence that exposure may have adverse effects on the brain, as well as heart and respiratory health. More here.
More than 100 million American adults suffer from chronic pain, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. That’s nearly one-third of all Americans and more than the number affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. But despite costing nearly $635 billion a year in treatment and lost productivity, chronic pain receives less attention and focus than other diseases and conditions. According to the report, government agencies, healthcare providers, professional associations, educators, and public and private funders of health care need to lead a transformation to better prevent, treat, and understand pain of all types. Among the recommendations offered by the Institute of Medicine were increased education and research to help health professionals better understand pain and the available treatments, as well as improving care by increasingly tailoring it to each patient’s experience. More here and here.