Monthly Archives: September 2017

Collecting data for two weeks before a flu shot about food and drink consumption

Unfortunately, getting a flu shot doesn’t absolutely guarantee that you’ll sail through flu season unaffected, or even that you’ll be safe from the specific flu strains contained in the shot. But there is one factor that might give you better odds: your mood.

A recent study recruited 138 adults aged 65 to 85, collecting data for two weeks before a flu shot about food and drink consumption, physical activity, stress levels, sleep, and having a positive or negative outlook. For a month after the shot, participants continued to track all of these factors.

Researchers found that only one of them was predictive of higher flu antibodies four weeks after the flu shot. They write in the study, “We found that greater positive mood, whether measured repeated over a 6-week period around vaccination, or on the day of vaccination, significantly predicted greater antibody responses to influenza vaccination.”

Previous studies have noted that chronic stress can negatively affect the immune response to vaccines, but this is the first one to look at whether lack of stress can have a positive impact, says Lisa Christian, PhD, at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Having a sunnier outlook on life doesn’t just make you less likely to get the flu, either. Christian says research suggests that those with consistently low stress levels also have better health behaviors overall—they tend to exercise more, eat healthier foods, and sleep more soundly than their less-joyful peers.

“What we see is that the longer you maintain a positive mood, the better your health outcomes tend to be,” she says. “So, if you have that positivity for at least a few weeks before your flu shot, for example, you’ll likely be in a better position for that vaccine to work effectively.”

Twins thriving after separation surgery

A pair of twins who were formerly connected at the head are sitting up on their own and continuing to hit crucial developmental milestones after undergoing separation surgery in June. Abby and Erin Delaney, of Mooresville, North Carolina, have spent all 15 months of their lives at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Fox 29 reported.

Erin was recently discharged, but Abby remains in recovery.

“Nearly five months after separation, we are happy to announce that both Erin and Abby Delaney are doing well as they continue to recover from this very complex surgery,” Gregory Heuer, the girls’ neurosurgeon who co-led the 30-member surgical team, said.

Organization revokes appointment of Mugabe

The head of the World Health Organization revoked his appointment of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador” on Sunday after the choice drew widespread outrage and criticism. Zimbabwe’s government said it respected the turnabout and that the U.N. health agency “benefited tremendously” from the attention.

WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus last week told a conference in Uruguay on non-communicable diseases that Mugabe, who was present, had agreed to be a “goodwill ambassador” on the issue.

After the outcry by international leaders and health experts, Tedros said in a statement that he had reflected and decided to change his mind, calling it in the best interests of the U.N. health agency. Tedros said he had consulted with the Zimbabwe government about his decision.

The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, has long been criticized at home for going overseas for medical treatment as Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy falls apart and the country’s health care system deteriorates. Mugabe also faces U.S. sanctions over his government’s human rights abuses.

The United States had said the appointment of Mugabe by WHO’s first African leader “clearly contradicts the United Nations ideals of respect for human rights and human dignity.”

Two dozen organizations — including the World Heart Federation and Cancer Research U.K. — released a statement slamming the appointment, saying health officials were “shocked and deeply concerned.” The groups said they had raised their concerns with Tedros on the sidelines of the Uruguay conference, to no avail.

Zimbabwe’s government said it respected Tedros’ decision to withdraw Mugabe’s appointment.