Daily Rounds: Brain Implants; Patients Hoard Meds; NYC Bans Gulps; Fish Oil Flop?

Brain implant improves thinking in monkeys, first such demonstration in primates (The New York Times) – “Scientists have designed a brain implant that sharpened decision making and restored lost mental capacity in monkeys, providing the first demonstration in primates of the sort of brain prosthesis that could eventually help people with damage from dementia, strokes or other brain injuries. The device, though years away from commercial development, gives researchers a model for how to support and enhance fairly advanced mental skills in the frontal cortex of the brain, the seat of thinking and planning.The new report appeared Thursday in The Journal of Neural Engineering.”

Americans hoarding medication, avoiding doctor to save money: report (Huffington Post) – “More than 60 percent of Americans who didn’t have prescription drug coverage said they skipped a doctor’s visit in the last year because of cost, according to a new Consumer Reports survey. That’s up from nearly 50 percent the year before. Even among Americans with prescription drug coverage, costs are getting too high; more than 20 percent of them still missed doctor’s visits because of cost, the survey found. The new report echoes the findings of others indicating that rising health care costs may be becoming unsustainable for many Americans, putting their health at risk.”

Supersized drinks on the way out in NYC (USA Today) – “The Big Apple is turning off the spigot on supersized sugary drinks. On Thursday, the New York City Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed 16-ounce cap on sweetened bottled drinks and fountain beverages sold at city restaurants, delis, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts. The beverage ban, which goes into effect on March 12, applies to drinks that have more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. It does not include 100% juice drinks or beverages with more than 50% milk.

Fish oil pills don’t fix heart ills in 24-year data review (Bloomberg News) – “Looks like a fish oil pill a day won’t keep the doctor away.
Scientists who reviewed data from about 68,000 patients gathered in 20 trials over the past 24 years found that men and women taking fish oil supplements didn’t lower their risk for a bevy of ills including heart attacks, strokes and death.
Diverging recommendations about the benefits of fish-oil supplements, which contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, can “cause confusion in everyday clinical practice about whether to use these agents for cardiovascular protection,” Moses Elisaf and his colleagues from the University of Ioannina in Greece wrote in the study. The scientists concluded that the use of fish-oil pills is unnecessary to ward off heart disease, a finding that contradicts other studies that said the supplements were beneficial.”

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