Too Much Caffeine Can Cause Hallucinations: Drinking too many cups of joe might not only bring on a case of jitters, but it could provoke hallucinations, a study by England's Durham University finds. The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, concludes that people with a high caffeine level from coffee, tea, or energy drinks are more likely to see things or hear voices that are not real. High caffeine users, defined as those who drank the equivalent of seven cups of instant coffee a day, were three times more likely to have heard a voice that wasn't there. The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council, queried 200 students about caffeine consumption in such forms as coffee and tea along with energy drinks, chocolate, and caffeine pills. Simon Jones, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Durham, said the study is a "first step toward looking at the wider factors associated with hallucinations." On the upside, researchers in Sweden and Finland found that midlife coffee drinkers had lower risk for dementia.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases Rise: Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the United States and minorities are bearing the brunt of the assault, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annual report shows. The report, "Trends in Reportable Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the United States, 2007," finds that more than 1.1 million cases of Chlamydia were reported in 2007 compared with 1 million the year before. Reported cases of gonorrhea remained stable with some 350,000 cases in 2007. Syphilis, a disease the CDC said was close to being eliminated as a health threat, has increased for the past seven years and went from 9,756 cases in 2006 to 11,466 in 2007. The report also noted the racial disparities in those suffering from STDs. "Blacks represent only 12 percent of the total U.S. population but made up about 70 percent of gonorrhea cases and almost half of all Chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2007," the report said. "Similarly, disparities among Hispanics, though less severe, also exist for Chlamydia. While Hispanics account for 15 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 19 percent of all reported Chlamydia cases."
Healthcare Costs and Families: Healthcare reform is essential to restoring economic security for American families, according to an analysis by Families USA. The group, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that pushes for healthcare, concludes that medical debt is tied to a number of current economic ills including home foreclosures and bankruptcy. The group notes that healthcare reform should not be "put on hold until the economy recovers" because "without healthcare reform that achieves quality, affordable coverage for all, it will be impossible to restore family economic security." Families USA finds that about half of families who file for bankruptcy due so "in part because of medical reasons" and nearly half "of home foreclosures in 2006 were caused, at least in part, by financial issues stemming from a medical problem." The analysis also suggests that 41 percent of working-age Americans had trouble paying medical bills in 2007 and of that number 39 percent had used up all of their savings to pay their medical bills."
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