Shingles is a re-awakening of chicken pox as an adult but much worse. The painful blisters that come with shingles may last for weeks. So what's the good news? Well, after a five years of study, a new vaccine may dramatically reduce the risk of shingles. The latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine reports that a vaccine has prevented shingles in about half the patients. Among the other half that broke out with blisters anyway, it was generally mild with complications dramatically reduced. This was a big study 38,000 men and women over age 60. The vaccine is similar to the chickenpox vaccine that kids have been getting since 1995. This adult version is fourteen times stronger. Merck Pharmaceuticals is already working with the FDA to get approval, but it's unclear how long that will take.
How close is your house to a very busy road? A new study of over 5,000 children found those living within 80 yards of a major roadway had an almost 50% higher risk of having asthma symptoms compared to the kids who lived at least a football field away from heavy traffic. This new study supports previous information that homes and schools near busy highways can increase the risk for asthma. Researchers warn this is an important health concern because of the number of kids today who live fairly close to major roadways.
If you're a gardener, you may be very interested in a study in New Scientist. Researchers say they have proof now that you need to wear protective clothing when you garden. If you're using pesticides. The reason? That patients with Parkinson's Disease have been shown to be more likely to have used pesticides regularly compared to non-users. Researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 people and found amateur gardeners were 9% more likely to develop the disease. Likewise, people with high exposure to pesticides, like farmers, were 40% more likely to develop Parkinson's. Researchers questioned 767 people with Parkinson's, and compared them to 1,989 people without the disease. The study relied on people's memory of pesticide use. The study also determined other risk factors for Parkinson's disease, like family history (350% increased risk), and being knocked unconscious (32% increased risk). Past studies have shown some relationship between pesticides and Parkinson's, this study strengthens the suspicion. However, more studies need to be done to confirm the results.