Circumcision May Prevent HIV Spread in Africa

THE KINDEST CUT? Researchers from the World Health Organization believe that widespread male circumcision in Africa could prevent 2 million new HIV infections and 300,000 deaths over the next 10 years. Last year, these same researchers published results suggesting that male circumcision could reduce the risk of HIV infection in African men by 60 percent. They now believe that making circumcision more common could dramatically cut the impact of HIV and AIDS on Africa. Over 20 years, they estimate the number of lives saved would top 1.6 million, perhaps reaching nearly 6 million. These results were published this week in the Public Library of Sciences Medicine.

SLEEP HELPS MEMORY Sleep helps memory for new facts, and the mental benefit to sleep persists throughout the day, according to a new study of 60 young adults published in Current Biology. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and The University of Pennsylvania found that people who were allowed to sleep before being tested on a memory task performed better than those who were kept awake. The authors believe that when people "sleep on it" after learning something new, sleep may help store the information better in the brain.

BEST HEALTH DECISION YOU CAN MAKE … is not to smoke. A new study following more than 37,000 middle-age women finds that engaging in five health behaviors can slash the risk of stroke by about 50 percent -- but the most important one is not smoking. Women who didn't smoke; drank in moderation; exercised four or more times per week; maintained a high-fiber, low-fat diet; and were quite slender had around half the risk of stroke compared to women who didn't do these things. Not all of the behaviors gave equal stroke protection -- stroke risk was a whopping 71 percent lower in the nonsmokers, but exercise didn't really give any specific protection on its own. You don't need to be exceptionally thin to see some benefit. Average weight and even overweight women got the same reduction in stroke risk. These findings were published from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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

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