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Socioeconomy behind sleepless nights

Insomnia affects up to twice as many women as men, and Taiwanese researchers have identified socioeconomic status as a factor in determining which women are affected. A study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that women of higher income with more education have lower rates of sleeplessness than those who are less fortunate. The study is based on 40,000 Taiwanese over 15 who were interviewed about their sleep habits. Overall, the study showed that students and regular exercisers were the best sleepers, and that insomnia was associated with older age, divorce or separation, low income, joblessness, smoking and failure to graduate from high school. Authors affirm that the results of the study are universal.

Viagra links still doubtful

The warning came earlier this year when the specialists at the University of Minnesota published evidence linking Viagra to nonarteritic ischaemic optic neuropathy, described as “stroke of the eye,” which occurs when blood flow to the optic nerve is stopped. The US Food and Drug Administration now has 42 reports of such blindness, 38 of them among the users of Viagra. The FDA is investigating but has no evidence yet that the drug is to blame. Daniel Watts, a spokesman for Viagra’s manufacturer Pfizer, said there was no proof that the drug caused the problem and those who took Viagra often had high blood pressure which could also cause blindness.

Quick check for oral cancer

A simple mouth check by trained healthcare personnel can cut down deaths due to oral cancer by as many as 37,000 every year, a study conducted in India concludes. Oral cancer ' one of the fastest spreading cancers, primarily associated with chewing tobacco and betel nuts ' is difficult to be detected at an early stage. The screening method pioneered by Dr Rengaswamy Sankarnarayan, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, takes just five minutes to perform and is easy, effective and cheap, says a report in Lancet. The method tried on 95,000 people in several centres around India cut death rates to about 21 per cent. The researchers advocate its use in high-risk groups ' people who use alcohol as well as tobacco.

Stroke improves artistic skills

Minor brain damages need not be all that bad, says a report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. According to it, painting skills of two painters had transformed after they had suffered mild strokes. The brain damages did not change the artists’ personality but turned their drawings more luminous, bolder and impressionistic.

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