Cool Down: The Week in Health

Coffee, bladder-control, and eye doctors—our favorite health headlines this week

By: Emily Leaman

Ladies, here's a reason to feel less guilty about your morning jolt. A new study published in the journal Stroke says that women who drink a cup or more of coffee a day might be at a lower risk for stroke. Researchers looked at data from nearly 35,000 women between the ages of 49 and 83 and found that coffee drinkers were as much as 25 percent less likely to have a stroke. The reason is unclear, but the best guesses are that it reduces inflammation and makes the body more responsive to insulin.

Speaking of bladder-filling liquids, you know when you really, um, gotta go? Those are the times, new research suggests, when you make the best decisions. A study in Psychological Science reports that a full bladder helps with impulse control and decision making. Researchers at a university in the Netherlands divided subjects into two groups and gave them glasses of water. One was instructed to down five cups, while the others were told to sip just a little bit. Forty minutes later—the time it takes for liquid to reach the bladder—subjects were asked if they wanted a small monetary reward now or a larger one in a month. Those with full bladders more frequently chose the latter (more financially-savvy) option. The lesson? Take a water bottle to your next appointment with your financial consultant. Your stock portfolio might thank you.

A piece published on the Atlantic's Web site details a new Kentucky law under which optometrists—eye doctors with no medical degrees—can wield scalpels and perform eye surgeries, delicate procedures previously preformed only by medical-school-trained ophthalmologists. Interestingly, the article notes that 30 percent of consumers don't know the difference between the two types of eye doctors, but that 95 percent want only MDs performing surgeries. The author is right to be worried:

The eye is part of the central nervous system. I don't know too many primary care docs who do a little bit of neurosurgery or plastic surgery on the side. There's a reason the rest of medicine organizes itself into cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons, neurologists and neurosurgeons, and so on. There's a reason you want a surgeon to do surgery. They do a lot, and they do it well.

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