Wellness Tips

Can self-pleasure give humans an evolutionary edge? Plus, tips for staying cool this summer, and more health news

Masturbation may give humans an evolutionary edge

Some might think masturbation is all about self-pleasure, but scientists now claim it’s far more significant than that.

Their new findings suggest it could serve an important role in evolution.

An ancient trait in primates, masturbation — at least for the males of the species — increases their reproductive success while also helping them avoid catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs), investigators from University College London discovered by using a huge set of data on primate masturbation.

Information came from nearly 400 sources, including 246 published academic papers, as well as 150 questionnaires and personal communications from primatologists and zookeepers.

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Move to ‘zero-emission’ vehicles could save 90,000 lives by 2050

Consider yourself a lifesaver if you opt for an electric vehicle next time you buy or lease a new car.

Electric cars can save millions of lives and reduce health care costs by improving air quality so people can breathe better and freer, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. Zero-emission electric vehicles don’t emit exhaust gas or other pollutants into the atmosphere. Instead of gasoline, these vehicles are powered by batteries that can be charged at charging stations.

If all new cars, pick-up trucks, and SUVs sold by 2035 were zero-emission, there would be up to 89,300 fewer premature deaths, 2 million fewer asthma attacks, 10.7 million fewer lost workdays, and a savings of $978 billion in public health benefits across the United States by 2050, according to lung association projections.

Longer breastfeeding in infancy, better school grades for kids?

Could breastfeeding lay the groundwork for good grades in high school?

That’s what the findings of a new British study suggest, although the differences were small between those who were breastfed and those who weren’t when it came to standardized test scores and grades.

“Breastfeeding promotes the development of the brain, which may account for better school performance,” said lead researcher Dr. Renee Pereyra-Elías, from the national perinatal epidemiology unit in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom.

Experts warn of heart dangers from Canadian wildfire smoke

As a huge plume of smoke from over 400 Canadian wildfires swept south and turned New York City into a landscape that resembled Mars more than Earth, heart experts warned that air pollution can damage the heart as much as it damages lungs.

It is obvious that wildfires can affect breathing and respiratory health, but exposure to this smoke can also cause or worsen heart problems, the American Heart Association said in an alert issued Wednesday.

“Most people think of breathing problems and respiratory health dangers from wildfire smoke, but it’s important to recognize the impact on cardiovascular health, as well,” Comilla Sasson, M.D., vice president for science and innovation at the American Heart Association and a practicing emergency medicine physician, said in an agency news release.

Insomnia might raise your odds for stroke

After many nights of tossing and turning, you might have more to worry about than just feeling exhausted and less sharp at work.

Insomnia symptoms — trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, or waking up too early — are also associated with higher risk of stroke, according to new research from Virginia Commonwealth University.

And the risk is greater if you’re younger than 50, researchers found.

As a biological function, sleep is key for processing memories, repairing cells and releasing toxins accumulated during the day, said study co-author Dr. Wendemi Sawadogo, a doctoral candidate at the time of the study.

Tips for staying cool in the extreme heat

Extreme heat can be dangerous, but you can stay cool and safe this summer if you take the right precautions.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) offers some tips for doing so.

“No matter your age, it is critical to be able to recognize the signs of heat-related illness,” said Dr. Jocelyn Ross Wittstein, an orthopedic surgeon at Duke Health in North Carolina and an AAOS spokesperson.

“When we exercise, our bodies cool off by sweating. We become dehydrated if we do not replace the fluids that we lose through perspiration,” she said in an AAOS news release.


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