Mixed Thinking

By Scott LaFee

July 17, 2019 5 min read

Almost half of older adults (ages 50 to 80) think they'll develop dementia sometime in their life, according to a new National Poll on Healthy Aging from the University of Michigan. But nearly two-thirds said they were engaging in some kind of activity to either help prevent or minimize dementia, such as playing brain games or taking nutritional supplements.

Somewhat contrarily, just 5% of those polled said they had spoken to their doctor about proven ways to prevent dementia, such as maintaining ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoiding harmful alcohol intake and getting regular exercise.

On the other hand, 60% said they were willing to provide a DNA sample to help study the disease, and 44% expressed interest in participating in a clinical trial testing new treatments and prevention strategies.

Grumpy People, Rejoice!

There's a widely held belief that smiling, whether you want to or not, can make you feel happier. It's known as the facial feedback hypothesis. As every budding scientist knows, a hypothesis is really just an educated guess requiring proof. Well, the proof is in, and it's not looking good for smiling. A new study in Psychological Bulletin reviewed 300 experiments and 50 years of data and concluded that "smiling equals happy" isn't much of an effect at all. The researchers estimated that for every 100 smilers, only 7 could expect to feel happier than if they hadn't smiled at all.

Body of Knowledge

A person will die more quickly from total lack of sleep than from hunger. Death would occur after 10 days without any sleep; starving to death takes several weeks.

Get Me That, Stat!

There are more than 734 million people in the world considered obese and another 1.6 billion deemed overweight. At the other end of the scale, more than 838 million people are undernourished, and more than 9 million will die from hunger this year, according to the State of Food Insecurity in the World report, the World Health Organization and United Nations World Food Program.

Stories for the Waiting Room

From 1990 to 2015, approximately 1.4 million men ages 15 to 34 were killed in gun-related deaths in four countries — the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil — representing nearly half of the 2.5 million such deaths worldwide, according to a new study published in Lancet Public Health. The vast majority of deaths were in Brazil and the United States. The researchers found that gun-related mortality was strongly associated with race and education level. Black men in the U.S. with a high school education or less were at the highest risk of mortality across all ages and countries.

Phobia of the Week

Noctiphobia: Fear of the night, which is not to be confused with nyctophobia, which is fear of the dark.


"It takes six months to get in shape and two weeks to get out of shape. As soon as you know this, you can stop being angry about other things in life and only be angry about this." — Comedian Rita Rudner


Q: How much mucus does the average body produce in a day?

A: Roughly a liter, slightly more than a quarter of a gallon.

Medical Myths

Testosterone treatment does not help older men retain their memory. Some research has shown that men with low levels of testosterone also have memory problems, while middle-aged and older men with higher levels of the hormone appear to have healthier brains and better cognitive function. But a major clinical trial testing that connection found that testosterone was no better than a sugar pill in helping older men avoid memory loss.

Last Words

"Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" — Final radio transmission of volcanologist David A. Johnson, just before he was killed by the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: KlausHausmann at Pixabay

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