Media Spotlight

Midlife ‘Wealth Shock’ May Lead to Death, Study Suggests


Middle-aged Americans who experienced a sudden, large economic blow were more likely to die during the following years than those who didn’t in a new study published in JAMA. The heightened danger of death after a “wealth shock” crossed socio-economic lines, affecting people no matter how much money they had to start. “This is really a story about everybody,” said lead study author Lindsay Pool, PhD, research assistant professor of Preventive Medicine.

Stress, delays in health care, substance abuse and suicides may contribute, she said. “Policymakers should pay attention.” Overall, wealth shock was tied with a 50 percent greater risk of dying, although the study couldn’t prove a cause-and-effect connection. This research was also featured in The New York TimesThe Washington Post and NPR, among other national media outlets.


Food Allergies in Kids May Be Result of ‘Perfect Storm’ of Factors


Scientists studying genetically vulnerable baby mice and the allergens that might trigger sensitivity were surprised to find many of them did not develop food allergies even after their skin was exposed to peanuts. So the investigators started adding other possible exposures to the mix. They found mice with the genes for an eczema-like condition would only develop food allergies if they were also exposed to dust mites or mold, had skin contact with the problem foods and were cleaned with soap. “This is a recipe for developing food allergy,” said Joan Cook-Mills, PhD, professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology and lead author of the study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.


How Romance Can Protect Gay and Lesbian Youths From Emotional Distress


Being in a romantic relationship can help gay and lesbian youth feel less mental distress — even more so if they are black or Latino. This contrasts with the fact that, in heterosexual teens’ lives, romance is generally found to cause distress rather than alleviate it. “The person they were dating … helped navigate issues with coming out or challenges they were having in the family about those relationships,” said Brian Mustanski, PhD, director of Northwestern’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing and lead author of the study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

He said that although parents and friends can help sexual minorities feel better, that support doesn’t tend to offset the effects of bullying as much as being in a relationship.


Gene Therapy Shows Promise in Patients with a Blood Disorder 


Investigators have used an experimental gene therapy to reduce the number of blood transfusions needed in 22 people with beta-thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, are another sign of the promise of gene therapy, which aims to deliver beneficial genes to patients’ cells to replace defective ones. Read more about this study, also covered by The New Yorker, NPR and CNN, here.