Medical Headliners: racism pill, springing forward, school menus - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Medical Headliners: racism pill, springing forward, school menus

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From a bad grade on school cafeteria menus to a medication for racism, experts are weighing in on some heated health issues.

Pill for Racism: In this day and age, there's typically a pill for everything - but how about a pill to reduce racism? Experts have found that a drug commonly used to treat heart conditions appears to reduce subconscious racial prejudice.

Oxford researchers gave volunteers the beta-blocker propranolol.  The volunteers scored lower on a range of psychological tests designed to reveal any racist attitudes than a group who took a placebo.

The region of the brain called the amygdala is involved in processing emotion, including fear, and many psychologists think racist feelings are driven by the fear center. Propranolol inhibits the amygdala.  Oxford experimental psychologist, Sylvia Terbeck said, "It's a quite robust test that was developed in 1998 and there has been a lot of research going on about this test and also there's actually been a bit of research on how it corresponds to real-life behavior...I think it helps us to understand what underlies racial prejudice and maybe there's some kind of unconscious emotional bias that underlies racial prejudice responses."

Some scientists urge caution in thinking this is a cure for racism.

Post Daylight Saving Time Health Risks: You are probably feeling the effect of that lost hour of sleep over the weekend because of Daylight Saving Time. Studies show the days following the schedule change can be dangerous, from increased car accidents and heart attacks to work-related injuries.

Sleep specialist, Dr. Eliot Friedman, said, "Our own internal clock all of a sudden becomes misaligned with the new time."  

Dr. Friedman says it takes about five days for our bodies to adjust. A new study, co-authored by a Penn State researcher, has shown that this increased fatigue leads to massive productivity losses at work related to cyberloafing, or surfing the internet for your own personal use while at work.

"F" for School Breakfasts:  More than 90 percent of school breakfasts feature processed meat and many contain more sodium, fat and cholesterol than young children should have in a day.

Experts at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine studied breakfast menus from 30 school districts across the country. They found one in three offered low-fat options like oatmeal.

The worst meal was the ham, egg and cheese breakfast -- which contained 1800 milligrams of sodium. Other unhealthy options included cheesy scrambled eggs, a sausage, egg and cheese whole grain sandwich, maple-flavored pork pancake wrap and donuts.

For more stories making medical news and tips on healthy living, click here.

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