BIKERS BEWARE A one-man study in Britain reports that wearing a helmet while bike riding actually increases the likelihood of getting hit by a car. Using ultrasonic distance sensors, a traffic psychologist at the University of Bath found that cars tend to drive significantly closer to bicyclists wearing helmets than they do to cyclists not wearing helmets. He speculates that drivers perceive bikers with helmets to be more road savvy and predictable. On average, drivers came about 8.5 inches closer to his bike when he wore a helmet. When the researcher disguised himself as a woman, drivers gave about 5 extra inches of space. The study was published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.
TUMMY TROUBLES The government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today released data on the growing rate of stomach and gastrointestinal problems in the United States. Over the past 10 years, there has been a 35 to 47 percent increase in several diseases, including colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis and heartburn/reflux. On the flip side, stomach ulcers have gone down. It's speculated that some of the new cases of stomach problems may be directly due to the better treatment of ulcers. Lead researcher Dr. Anne Elixauser explains that wiping out one of the major culprits of ulcers -- a bacterium called H. Pylori -- may make the stomach more active and actually increase reflux. Other causes of the rise in stomach and gut problems are likely obesity, fiber-poor diets and more infections.
NO GULF WAR SYNDROME? A report from the Institute of Medicine says there is no conclusive evidence of a specific Gulf War syndrome. It says military personnel deployed during the first Gulf War do have more health symptoms than the average citizen, but there is still no sign of a distinct pattern or syndrome in these veterans. Scientific data has shown that Gulf vets have more psychiatric disease, substance abuse problems, and greater risk for the rare neuromuscular disease ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). The Institute found conflicting evidence on brain and testicular cancer, and miscarriages, but said the data were inconclusive. The committee recommends that the government follow the incidence of these diseases more closely through health screenings and follow-up.