TIME Nike

How Nike’s Medieval Ice Pack Helmet Will Cool Athletes’ Skulls

Or, how to be cool without looking cool.

According to Nike, pouring a bottle of water on your head isn’t a good enough way to cool down after finishing a decathlon. The sporting goods company’s solution? A super-cooling piece of headgear, which doesn’t have a price tag yet, but is surely more expensive than a water bottle.

The device fits snugly like a hat on the forehead, head and neck, then drapes over the face with loose mesh. It may make athletes look straight out of a Friday the 13th set, but the cooling effect might be worth the bad photos. The hood is like a head-shaped ice pack, which surrounds the athlete with chilled water.

In a Nike [fortune-stock symbol=”NKE”] press release, Olympic decathlete Ashton Eaton, who is partnering with Nike to create the headgear, explains why he wants to wear a medieval ice pack helmet: “A perfect scenario would be to fell like you’ve just started on every event. There more you do, the more attrition you experience.” For Eaton, cooling off quickly isn’t a matter of comfort: it helps him regenerate between his ten events.

Eaton is testing the prototypes for Nike in the months leading to the 2016 Summer Olympics, according to Wired. Olympic athlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who is married to Eaton, will be testing out the hood during her summer training as well.

TIME Healthcare

Hospitals Have Reduced Deaths, Hospitalizations, and Costs Among Medicare Patients

"It's a jaw-dropping finding"

American hospitals have reduced deaths, hospitalizations, and costs among people over the age of 65 in the past couple of decades, according to a new report released Tuesday.

“We didn’t expect to see such a remarkable improvement over time,” said Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at the Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Krumholz and his colleagues looked at over 68 million Medicare beneficiaries between 1999 and 2013. The group was chosen for their “fee-for-service” structure, where doctors and hospitals would be paid per procedure or visit.

They found that hospitalization rates for this group plummeted 24%, saving more than 3 million people unnecessary hospital visits. Their chance of survival and recovery had improved from less than two decades ago: patients were 45% less likely to die during their stay, 24% less likely to die within a month of being admitted, and 22% less likely to die within the year.

Deaths among the group fell 16%, meaning 300,000 lives were saved in the 14-year span, according to the report. Patients who visited the hospital also saw a 15% drop in their bills compared to 1999.

Krumholz said that better training for hospital staff led to many of the improvements.

“There has been tremendous focus on making sure that our hospitals are safer and that treatments are more timely and effective,” Krumholz told USA Today.

People are also living healthier, longer lives—smoking less, breathing cleaner air, and able to take advantage of scientific breakthroughs in medicine.

Despite doing so well, Krumholz doesn’t think it’s time for hospitals to get lax.

“The things we’re trying to do to make things better are working,” Krumholz noted. “Rather than wave the victory flag, we want to see that trend continue. There’s no reason to take our foot off the pedal.”

 

TIME Research

There’s a New Way to Predict West Nile Virus Outbreaks

Arizona Officials Battle West Nile Virus
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Scientists are working on a promising new model

It’s peak mosquito season in the United States, which means the risk for the mosquito-borne West Nile is up. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the agency sees the most cases of the disease between June and September.

As of July 21, 2015, the CDC reports that 33 states have reported West Nile in people, mosquitoes or animals and there have been 23 cases of West Nile in humans. Though many people with West Nile will not develop symptoms, the disease can cause inflammation of the brain or inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal chord. Only about 1% of people will develop neurological illness from the virus. Unfortunately there are no drugs or vaccines for West Nile. Cases have been reported in every state except for Alaska and Hawaii.

Given the fact that there’s no cure or vaccine for West Nile, being able to predict when and where the disease could spread in the U.S. before it happens would be a boon for public health experts, and researchers are getting closer to that possibility. In May, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published their recent findings that showed links between the weather and incidence of West Nile virus nationwide.

MORE: You Asked: Why Do Mosquitoes Always Bite Me?

The researchers analyzed associations between temperature and precipitation and higher prevalence of West Nile virus disease in the U.S. from the years 2004 to 2012. The found notable and consistent patterns among different regions in the U.S. For instance, in the East, a drier than normal fall and spring was associated with an above average number of outbreaks. But patterns looked different in the West. Weather may influence breeding patterns as well as other vectors of the disease like birds.

The researchers are now in the process of using their findings to build a model using climate data to predict the risk of West Nile Virus transmission across the U.S. “If we can predict [West Nile virus] outbreaks, we can target public health messages to high risk regions of the country. And counties will have additional information to use for deciding about when, where, and if they should do mosquito control,” says researcher Micah Hahn a scientist at NCAR and CDC.

According to NCAR scientists Andrew Monaghan and Mary Hayden, who are also working on the model, additional data sets are being considered and implemented to help the model predict the number of cases expected in each U.S. county, including land use data, demographic data, and mosquito maps.

The hope is that the CDC will eventually adopt the model. According to Monaghan, having this information could help the CDC allocate resources to places that are likely going to be the most affected. The researchers want the model to be both informative and easily digestible to the average person. It’s also possible that the model could one day be translated to work for other mosquito-borne diseases in the United States besides West Nile.

Some researchers estimate that a functioning system will be available in about a year. Others involved are more broad in their estimations: “We continue to work on it but it may be several years before we have a validated model that we can use, if we get there at all,” says Dr. Marc Fischer of the CDC. Still, those in the community remain optimistic that such a system is possible, and may be available sooner rather than later.

TIME Research

Here’s How Sexy Advertising Backfires

Researchers say that titillating content can, in fact, hurt sales‚ not help them

The first nude print ad was published in 1936 for Woodbury Soap. It featured an undressed woman lazily lying at the beach, her arm positioned at just the right angle to shield her breasts from view. It followed the old advertising adage that sex sells.

But that no longer holds true, according to a new study released by the Psychological Bulletin. Brad Bushman, a communications professor at Ohio State University and a co-author of the study, says it’s not that sex and violence don’t grab our attention—of course they do. In fact, paying attention to such things are evolutionary responses that are necessary for survival (being attuned to safety threats prepares people to protect themselves; finding opportunities for mating keep the species going).

But just because they grab our eye doesn’t mean the ad translates into sales.

“[A]dvertisers think sex and violence sell, so they buy advertising time during sexual and violent programs, and in turn producers continue to create sexual and violent programs that attract advertising revenue,” the authors write. But when a person is being shown a product—say, laundry detergent—with a sexy backdrop, it’s not the detergent that’s capturing the attention so much as the action onscreen. Sex is distracting, Bushman says. “We have a limited capacity to pay attention to cues.”

Bushman and his co-author, Robert Lull, found 1,869 articles in two databases that had historically studied consumer response to sex and violence. Researchers weeded out studies that didn’t directly address consumer response, didn’t have a control group, and didn’t look explicitly at the effects of sex and/or violence on the consumer.

“In the best case scenario, sex and violence doesn’t work,” Bushman told TIME. “For advertisers, it can actually backfire, and people will be less likely to remember your [product]. They might report being less likely to buy your product if the content of your program is violent or sexual.”

No surprise, some demographics respond differently to sexy or violent ads. Women tend to remember products from provocative ads; men tend to be distracted by sex or violence and not remember the product. Older participants were turned off by violence and sex; younger consumers were more likely to respond to it.

Still, taken together, the researchers conclude this: “Brands advertised in violent contexts will be remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent media.”

TIME Research

That Makeup Ad Is Probably Lying to You

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New study reveals how many ads for cosmetics are inaccurate or false

Only 18% of all claims made in commercials for cosmetics are generally trustworthy, according to new research released Monday.

Cosmetics firms often use advertising verbiage like “clinically proven” or “inspired by groundbreaking DNA research.” But researchers combed through these claims and found that the majority were vague and many are outright lies, according to a new study published in the Journal of Global Fashion Marketing.

The researchers assessed 289 cosmetic ads, including ads for products like make-up, skincare and fragrance, featured in magazines like Vogue and Marie Claire. They then separated the various claims into different categories, including environmental claims, endorsement claims and scientific claims. The researchers rated them as “acceptable,” “vague,” “omission” or “outright lie.”

The study authors conclude that claims of “well-being and happiness” are usually not substantiated. “Those who back the claims with scientific evidence and consumer testing often use questionable methodologies for their substantiation,” the authors wrote.

TIME Research

You Can Now Inhale Caffeine Instead of Drink It

Eagle Energy Vapor
Matt Lang—Eagle Energy Eagle Energy Vapor

A new e-cigarette-like inhaler gives users a boost of caffeine. But how safe is it?

Forget coffee and energy drinks—now you can inhale your caffeine.

Perhaps taking a cue from increasingly popular e-cigarettes, marketers have now created a way for people to vape their energy. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that products like Eagle Energy Vapor allow people to forgo their morning cup o’ joe and puff their caffeine instead. Each inhaler boasts a pretty small amount of caffeine, which the company says comes from natural sources like guarana, taurine, and ginseng (stimulants that are also common among energy drinks). As the Times describes it: “Think of it as a Red Bull for the lungs.”

No surprise, some experts in the medical community find this trend problematic. America is, evidently, a nation in need of a pick-me-up, at least if you consider the boom of products that contain caffeine, like energy drinks, caffeinated water and snacks and powdered caffeine. As I recently reported in TIME, the U.S. energy drink business is estimated to grow more than 11% by 2019 to an estimated $26.6 billion in yearly revenue.

So what’s the big deal?

From a health perspective, caffeine is tricky business. Many experts are concerned about some caffeinated products—particularly energy drinks. One of the primary arguments is that unlike coffee or soda, many energy drinks (and the new caffeine inhalers) contain multiple stimulants aside from synthetic caffeine. How these ingredients interact in combination is largely unknown. In addition, many doctors and health watchdogs are dissatisfied with the way these products are regulated. Manufacturers can choose to market their products as dietary supplements or as beverages, neither of which require pre-market safety approval by the FDA or any other public-health agency. According to the Times, the FDA has not reviewed the new caffeine inhalers for safety, either.

The effects of inhaling caffeine are also a gray area. “The way our bodies handle caffeine that is inhaled can be very different from when caffeine is in our food or drink,” says Mary M. Sweeney, a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Even if an inhaled product delivers the same dose of caffeine as a cup of coffee, it may have different subjective effects for people because the time-course might be different.”

In 2013, the FDA announced that amid a growing trend of manufacturers adding caffeine to food products (like gum, for example), the agency was launching a safety investigation into the matter. It’s now 2015, and that information is still not available to consumers. The FDA says it is continuing to look into it.

The Eagle Energy Vapor inhaler’s aesthetic similarities to e-cigarettes are undeniable. And while the jury is still out in regards to the overall danger of e-cigarettes, recent federal data has shown use tripled among middle and high school students in just one year. Could caffeine inhalers attract young people in a similar way? Are they as dangerous as medical experts believe other caffeinated products are? We don’t know. But what Americans should know is that just because a new caffeinated product is on the market doesn’t mean that it’s undergone a rigorous safety testing or approval process, or that doctors think it’s safe.

“What troubles me most about this particular product is that the flavor composition appears to be similar to candy; thus, it could be attractive to children and adolescents,” says Steven Meredith, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. “The long-term effects of caffeine on the developing brains of children and adolescents are still relatively unknown. But, caffeine consumption interferes with sleep, and sleep is necessary for learning. Thus, long-term cognitive effects of excessive caffeine consumption at a young age is certainly plausible.”

While the FDA says it’s continuing to investigate caffeinated products, it may be in your best interest to stick to stimulants that most medical experts can get behind: coffee.

TIME Research

Scientists Developing Pill That Could Let Gluten-Free People Eat Pasta

Plate of sea food pappardelle with cherry tomatoes
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A trial is slated to begin within the year

People who suffer from celiac disease may not need to avoid pasta forever: scientists are developing a pill that would allow them to eat gluten.

Scientists at the University of Alberta are working on a pill made from chicken egg yolks that could help people with celiac disease digest gluten, Quartz reports.

Hoon Sunwoon, associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, who worked on the project, explained to Quartz how the pill works: “This supplement binds with gluten in the stomach and help to neutralize it, therefore providing defence [sic] to the small intestine, limiting the damage gliadin causes.” Gliadin is a component of gluten that causes digestive trouble for people with celiac; gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

But celiacs, don’t rejoice just yet: the drug is still in development. A trial is slated to begin within the year.

TIME Research

You Asked: Why Is My Stomach Growling?

Why Stomachs Growl
Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

Grumblings are an important part of digestion, and they may play a role in obesity and gut disorders.

You know a rumbling tummy is a sign you haven’t eaten in a while. But there’s a lot more going on down there than a quaking plea for more food.

Like street sweepers cleaning up after a parade, the gastrointestinal contractions you feel are your gut’s way of cleansing your empty stomach of left-behind food particles, bacteria overgrowth and other debris, says Dr. Toku Takahashi, a professor and gastroenterologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Takahashi says the rumbling is just one phase of a larger process called the migrating motor complex (MMC), which ensures your stomach and intestines stay active and continue to clear away detritus between meals. He says a poorly functioning MMC has turned up in patients with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms of indigestion or the presence of harmful microorganisms.

Aspects of your gut’s grumbling may also affect your risk for weight issues like obesity.

Feelings of hunger come from your brain, but they’re based on chemicals signals your brain receives from your gut, says Dr. Jan Tack, a professor of medicine who studies gastrointestinal disorders at Belgium’s University of Leuven. According to Tack, there’s mounting evidence that both hunger and the different phases of the MMC are triggered by a “forgotten” gut hormone called motilin.

“The hormone is ‘forgotten’ because rats and mice do not express it, so it is under-studied,” Tack explains.

Gut chemistry quickly gets complicated. But Tack says both obesity and hunger appear to be linked in some ways to your motilin levels. “We have shown that motilin-induced hunger signaling is altered in people experiencing unexplained weight loss and obesity,” he says.

Tack says a person’s motilin levels also seem to change after bariatric procedures like gastric bypass surgery. Motilin may also affect the ways you experience pleasure or a sense of reward after eating, he adds.

All of this research is very new. But manipulating motilin and the resulting MMC response may eventually emerge as a novel way to treat obesity, dyspepsia and other gut-related health issues, Tack’s research suggests.

In the meantime, one thing is certain: It’s normal and healthy to experience a grumbling stomach in between meals.

TIME Research

How Having Oily Skin Might Help Prevent Wrinkles

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And why wrinkles tend to be more noticeable around your eyes than on your forehead

Have you ever heard the old wives’ tale that people with oilier skin get fewer wrinkles? There may be some small grain of truth in that after all, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Anatomy.

For the study, Japanese researchers analyzed the skin on the foreheads and around the eyes in cadavers aged 20 to 90 years old, looking at the wrinkles, the number of sebaceous glands (which are what secrete the skin’s oil), as well as the skin’s elasticity and density. In the end they found that the depth and length of wrinkles correlated to the amount of sebaceous glands in these areas, with areas with more glands tending to have wrinkles that weren’t as deep or long.

This may explain why wrinkles tend to be more noticeable around your eyes (hello, crow’s feet) than on your forehead, since there are more oil-secreting glands in the forehead than around your eyes.

While the authors say it’s possible that oilier skin (thanks to having more glands) prevents dry and deeper wrinkles from forming, the presence of the oil isn’t the only thing that seems to help keep skin smooth. It could also be that the skin on the areas with more glands tended to be thicker and have more elasticity. As the researchers put it: “Such properties will suppress the deformation of the skin.”

Another interesting finding: the density of oil glands was lower in women, than it was for the men, though they didn’t see a big difference in wrinkle depth between the sexes.

Ultimately, what matters more for your skin is the total picture: protecting yourself from the sun’s rays, exercise, eating a healthy diet with lots of foods that are good for your skin, and getting enough sleep.

But hey, if this makes you feel a little bit better about your oily skin, we won’t blame you.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

More from Health.com:

TIME Research

There’s a New Theory About Native Americans’ Origins

native-american-bering-land-bridge-theory-two-new
Chlaus Lotscher / Getty Images An Eskimo harpoons a whale in the Bering Sea off Alaskan shores.

The question at hand: Did Native Americans come to the Americas in one migratory wave or two?

New research is turning a centuries-old hypothesis about Native Americans’ origins on its head. A team of geneticists and anthropologists published an article in Science on Tuesday that traces Native Americans to a single group that settled in what’s now America far later than what scientists previously thought.

The researchers looked at sequenced DNA from bones as well as the sequenced genomes of Native American volunteers with heritage from not only the Americas but also Siberia and Oceania, says according to Rasmus Nielsen, a computational geneticist at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the authors of the study. The researchers contacted people whose heritage indicated they were of Amerindian or Athanbascan—the two ethnic derivations of Native Americans—descent. Specifically, they looked at their mitochondrial DNA (mDNA), which is passed from mother to child.

What they found fundamentally changes what scientists previously thought. The team found that Native Americans most likely had a common Siberian origin, contradicting theories that an earlier migration from Europe occurred.

The timeline Rasmus and his colleagues propose goes something like this: About 23,000 years ago, a single group splintered off from an East Asian population. The group, hailing from northeast Asia, crossed the Bering Land Bridge between northeast Asia and Alaska, eventually making their way to the rest of the Americas. About 13,000 years ago—much more recent than previous theories—Native Americans started to split into different groups, creating the genetic and cultural diversity that exists today.

“We can refute that people moved into Alaska 35,000 years ago,” Rasmus says. “They came much more recently, and it all happened relatively fast.”

Rasmus’ team’s theory contradicts another line of thought, which points to two different populations coming from Siberia, settling in the Americas more than 15,000 years ago.

David Reich, a senior author of a different Nature paper detailing the competing theory and a professor at Harvard, told the New York Times that their results were “surprising”: “We have overwhelming evidence of two founding populations in the Americas,” he said. Reich’s group divides the migration groups into two: one is the First Americans, and another they identify as Population Y, which “carried ancestry more closely related to indigenous Australians, New Guineans and Andaman Islanders than to any present-day Eurasians or Native Americans.”

Despite their differences, both groups agree on the notion that Native Americans can trace their ancestry to Eurasian migrants with Australasian ancestry.

Rasmus emphasizes that their team’s new findings don’t close the case. But as simple as the finding seems to be, Rasmus says it is truly astonishing. “The original hypothesis isn’t true,” he says. “All Native Americans are descendants of one migration wave.”

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