Discovered: Smoking bans get heart health results; boys lean more than girls; music illiterates don't get emotion either; Curiosity verifies volcanic soil on Mars.
Smoking bans lead to healthier hearts. Opponents of bans on public smoking grumble about the inconvenience, saying that the laws won't get anyone to stop smoking and will only further inconvenience smokers. But from a public health standpoint, banning smoking in public zones is a boon to heart health, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have found. After ordinances against smoking in bars, restaurants, and workplaces went into effect, heart attacks in Olmsted County went down by a third. The researchers attribute the drop to less second-hand smoke. The county's heart attack rate in 2000 was 151 for every 100,000 residents. By 2009, only 101 per 100,000 people were having heart attacks. "There have been lingering doubts among some people about whether or not this was a real finding," says lead researcher Dr. Richard Hurt. "We think we have produced the most definitive results that anyone can produce related to smoke-free laws and heart attacks." Other variables that might have explained the drop—such as cholesterol and obesity rates—stayed constant, leaving public smoking the remaining probable culprit. [Reuters]
Over-the-counter drug abuse has a gender component. If rappers have been popularizing the recreational use of cough syrup with the kids, it seems that boys are listening more than girls. University of Cincinnati researchers found that while over-the-counter drug abuse among adolescents is on the rise in general, it's a bigger problem with teenage boys than with girls. Professor Rebecca Vidourek and her colleagues gathered data from 7th through 12th grade students attending 133 schools across Greater Cincinnati, finding that boys were more susceptible to abusing cough syrup, decongestants, and other over-the-counter medicine than girls. "Findings from this study highlight and underscore OTC drugs as an increasing and significant health issue affecting young people," says Vidourek. [University of Cincinnati]