Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
New findings suggest individuals can develop new memories while asleep, according to The Washington Post. In a new study, a team of neuroscientists demonstrated that it is possible to teach acoustic lessons to individuals while they’re sleeping. “We proved that you can learn during sleep, which has been a topic debated for years,” author Thomas Andrillon told the Post. During the study, the investigators played clips of white noise for 20 sleeping participants. Although most of the audio was random, there were patterns occasionally embedded within the white noise, according to the authors. The results showed sleepers cannot focus on what they’re hearing nor make explicit connections, but memorizing acoustic patterns like white noise happens automatically, the Post reported. Scientists played back the white noise recordings for the sleepers once they were awake, and were asked to identify patterns within the noise. The findings showed the participants could successfully detect the patterns significantly better than random chance would predict. Additionally, memories of white noise patterns were found to form only during certain sleep stages. During REM and light sleep, the participants could remember the pattern the next morning, whereas during deeper non-REM sleep, playing the recording hampered recall, the Post reported. “[Patterns] presented during non-REM sleep led to worse performance, as if there were a negative form of learning,” Andrillon told the Post.
Colorectal cancer rates among white adults under 55 years are on the rise, according to Kaiser Health News. In a study published in JAMA, investigators examined the rates of colorectal cancer and deaths for individuals aged 20 to 54 years from 1970 through 2014. The findings showed death rates among whites increased from 3.6 to 4.1 cases per 100,000 individuals from 2004 to 2014. Contrastingly, colorectal cancer death rates among blacks decreased from 8.1 cases to 6.1 cases per 100,000 individuals. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and the third leading cause among women. An estimated 135,000 individuals will develop colon or rectal cancer this year.
New Hampshire is the latest state to sue Purdue Pharma over their drug OxyContin, alleging the manufacturer engaged in deceptive marketing practices that helped fuel the opioid epidemic. According to CNBC, the lawsuit filed in Merrimack County Superior Court said the company spent hundreds of millions of dollars since the 1990s on misleading marketing that downplayed OxyContin’s risk of addition. Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice said in a statement that New Hampshire continues to be impacted with a severe opioid epidemic, and that nearly 500 overdose deaths occurred last year alone. Purdue has denied the allegations, but said in a statement reported by CNBC, “we share New Hampshire officials’ concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions.”