STAT Medical News: Hand Sanitizer Is No Substitute for Water

WATER WINS Water was the most effective at removing stomach bug viruses from the hands, Emory University researchers find. They planted stomach bug viruses on volunteers' fingers and allowed them to dry. The results, presented this week at the American Society for Microbiology Meeting in Orlando, Fla., showed the percentage of the viruses removed by water, hand soap, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Water removed 96 percent of the virus; liquid antibacterial soap removed 88 percent; and the hand sanitizer removed only 46 percent.

BUG EYED A study of bacteria found on extended-wear soft contact lenses finds most of them are staph bacteria (74 percent), with the majority probably resulting from contamination with facial bacteria from the forehead, nose and cheek. Other germs found on the lenses are typical of bacteria that live in lens solutions and cases. The researchers from Constella Health Sciences recommend thorough cleaning and disinfecting lenses before putting them in the eyes. This study was presented this week at the American Society for Microbiology Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

ALZHEIMER'S IS A PHYSICAL DISEASE FIRST Poor physical function in early old age may be a sign of impending dementia, say researchers after a study of 2,288 people 65 and older. At the start of the study, none of the people had signs of memory problems, but six years later, 319 had developed dementia, most commonly Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from the University of Washington at Seattle found that poor physical performance, such as difficulty sitting and standing repeatedly, poor balance, and a weaker hand grip, was associated with an increased likelihood of developing dementia -- up to 10 times increased risk. Authors of the paper, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, say that these findings underscore the link between the mind and the body, and that physical breakdown may be an earlier sign of dementia than memory problems.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate degree in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.

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