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December 13, 2019

Weekend reads: Could running a marathon actually help your knees?

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Is there such thing as too much sleep? Sleeping too much might increase your risk for stroke, according to a study published in Neurology. For the study, researchers in China tracked 31,750 men and women for an average of six years and found that those who slept nine or more hours a night had a 23% increased relative risk of stroke compared with those who slept seven to eight hours a night. Sleeping less than six hours a night did not have any effect on stroke risk. The researchers also found that people who napped for more than 90 minutes a day had a 25% increased risk of stroke compared with those who napped for 30 minutes or less each day. Those who slept more than nine hours and napped for more than 90 minutes a day saw an 85% increased risk of stroke. The researchers said the reason for the correlation is unclear, but noted that sleeping long has been associated with increased inflammation, poor lipid profiles, and weight gain.

    Running a marathon might be good for your knees (yes, you read that right).A recent study published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine has found that training for and running marathons may help rebuild the health of certain parts of middle-aged knees. For the study, researchers looked at 80 novice runners, mostly in their mid-40s, who had signed up for an upcoming London Marathon and spoke with them about their knees. Six months prior to the marathon, the researchers noted that the runners' knees were not yet like those of experienced runners, and the runners themselves reported that their knees were in good health. The researchers then took MRIs of the participants' knees before the marathon, during a four-month marathon training program, and then two weeks after the marathon was over. The researchers found that after the marathon, existing bone marrow lesions had shrunk in some of the runners' knees, while other runners' knees saw some of the damage in their cartilage improve. Overall, according to Laura Maria Horga, a co-author of the study, "the main weight-bearing knee compartments showed beneficial effects from the marathon."

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Evidence shows HIV-positive newborns should start treatment right away. When an infant tests positive for HIV, standard practice among doctors is to delay treatment for weeks or months after birth, out of concern that the medication will be too powerful for the infants. However, a study in Botswana supports previous research showing that starting newborns on medicine earlier leads to better outcomes. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, found that 10 babies with HIV who started on conventional antiretrovirals within three days of being born had an undetectable viral load after two years of treatment. In comparison, children who started on the medication a few months after birth had 200 times more of the virus in their blood after the same time period. While the children treated early are not yet cured, they could experience "long-term remission" of the virus, according to Daniel Kuritzkes, co-author of the study and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

    Why passengers can't bring wheelchairs on planes—and what activists are doing about it. Regulations prohibit airplane passengers from bringing their wheelchairs on planes, even after the Americans with Disabilities Act increased the accessibility of buses and trains. As a result, wheelchair users can experience a lot of "discomfort and embarrassment" when flying, according to Shane Burcaw, an author, speaker, and wheelchair user. According to NPR's "Shots," there are several reasons why wheelchairs aren't permitted on planes. The first is safety—according to a major airline industry group, "aircraft seats are constructed to meet rigorous safety regulations that include survivability at several times the force of gravity," which means "aircraft seats are the only permissible seating for all passengers." Another issue is size. Because wheelchairs are "unique in size, weight, and features, it is a complicated process to determine just what is feasible onboard an aircraft," according to American Airlines. However, while airplane seats can handle a lot of force, wheelchair restraint systems can as well, Michael Schulson writes for "Shots." In fact "most of the requirements for an airline seat…are less stringent than for vehicle seats," according to Miriam Manary, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. And while change is coming, "it's not happening fast enough, but so it goes with government regulation," said Emily Ladau, a disability rights activist. "And, in the meantime, disabled people are continually dealing with the consequences."

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