Men's Health: Health Bulletin

Not only have scientists found that some stress actually boosts your immune system, but there is also key evidence to suggest that your dentist may be the best person to warn you of an impending heart attack or stroke. Read on for more news from Men's Health.

A Shot to Save Your Life

Researchers at the University of Texas at Houston found that heart-attack survivors are one-third less likely to have a second heart attack if they get a flu vaccination before the flu season. The flu may contribute to inflammation that leads to rupturing of arterial plaques, such as the blockage shown here. It may also weaken your body in general, making you more susceptible to heart damage.

Heart Attacks, Now Gum Disease

Aspirin is on a roll. A study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found that people who took low doses of aspirin had healthier gums than those who didn’t take aspirin. Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia theorize that aspirin protects the fibers and ligaments that attach gums to teeth. Unless there are medical reasons for not taking aspirin (usually stomach trouble, but talk to your doctor), people at high risk of gum disease should take a low dose of aspirin (100 milligrams) daily, says Robert Hirsch, M.D.S., Ph.D., one of the study authors.

Kicking Through Chemistry

Scientists at the University of Toronto have found that methoxsalen, a drug used to treat psoriasis, reduces the number of cigarettes smokers need for satisfaction. It suppresses the enzyme responsible for the metabolism of nicotine, says Edward Sellers, M.D., the lead researcher. That makes a cigarette’s nicotine effect last longer, satisfying the craving with fewer smokes. Methoxsalen also inhibits the release of cancer-causing agents from nicotine. The drug is not FDA approved for smoking cessation, though Dr. Sellers is hopeful it will be within a few years.

Some Stress is Good For You

So she dumped you, but at least you’re less likely to get a poison-ivy rash. Brief bouts of emotional stress may boost your immune function, suggests a study by researchers at Ohio State University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. When the researchers exposed the skin of mice to a foreign substance, they found a stronger immune response among mice who had been briefly stressed just before the exposure. Hormones released during stress send protective cells called leukocytes from the bloodstream to the skin. “It’s long been known that chronic stress suppresses the immune system,” says Firdaus Dhabhar, Ph.D., the study author, “but short periods may actually ready it for battle.”

Getting the Inside Story

Scottish researchers are working on a tiny camera that will fit in a capsule and, once swallowed, will film your insides. The pill will give doctors a director’s-eye view and provide early warning about precancerous polyps or other problems. “Most of the technology exists, but just needs to be integrated,” says David Cumming, Ph.D., of the University of Glasgow.

A Pump For Prostate Cancer

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