About Marie Benz MD FAAD

Physician in practice over 30 years. Editor of MedicalResearch.com. All interviews conducted exclusively for MedicalResearch.com by Marie Benz, MD.

Time, Money, and Gender Explain Division of Household Labor

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rebecca Horne, MSc, PHEc
MSc graduate in Family Sciences from the University of Alberta
Professional human ecologist
PhD student in Psychology at the University of Toronto
Research area in intimate relationships

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although several studies have argued that time, money, and gender are important factors that shape the division of household labour, we know little about how these factors impact housework at different stages of the life course. Specifically, are time, money, and gender-related variables equally important for explaining housework involvement at different life stages? In our study, we compared men’s and women’s housework contributions at different life stages and explored how work hours, income (relative to one’s partner), marital status, raising children, and gender impacted housework at these distinct stages.

We drew on data from the Edmonton Transitions Study, which has tracked the school-to-work and adolescence-to-adulthood transitions of nearly 1,000 Canadians for over three decades. We analyzed survey data from participants who had romantic partners during three developmental periods: the transition to adulthood (age 25; assessed in 1992), young adulthood (age 32; assessed in 1999), and midlife (age 43; assessed in 2010).

We found that regardless of age or life stage, women performed more housework than men. In addition, lower housework involvement was most reliably predicted by earning a greater share of income and being male at age 25; working longer hours and raising children (for men only) at age 32; and earning a greater share of income, working longer hours, and being male at age 43. Importantly, gender was the strongest predictor of housework responsibility earlier and later in life.

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Eczema Patients More Sensitive To Irritating Effects Of Hard Water

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Danby

Dr. Danby

Dr. Simon G. Danby, PhD
Independent Research Fellow
Sheffield Dermatology Research,
Department of Infection & Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease,
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Healthy,
University of Sheffield

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Living in a hard water area has been widely associated with a higher risk of developing atopic eczema, a chronic skin condition characterized by an intensely itchy red rash, however the reasons for this association were unclear. We therefore conducted a study to determine how hard water contributes to the development of this condition.

We found that exposing the skin to hard water damages the skin barrier – which is our defense against outside threats such as bacteria or sun burn – and increases the sensitivity of the skin to potentially irritant surfactants found in everyday wash products. This is because hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium ions that bind to surfactants, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), making them insoluble so that they precipitate onto the skin.

Hard water also has a high alkalinity, meaning that it can help raise skin surface pH, so that it becomes more alkaline. Skin pH is normally acidic, and a shift towards alkaline pH disturbs the skins natural function as a physical barrier and leaves it prone to colonization by potentially pathogenic bacteria. By damaging the skin barrier, washing with hard water may contribute to the development of atopic eczema.

Importantly, patients with eczema were much more sensitive to the effects of hard water than people with healthy skin. This increase in sensitivity was associated with a genetic predisposition to a skin barrier defect brought about by mutations in the gene encoding filaggrin (FLG loss-of-function mutations). Filaggrin is a structural protein important for the formation of our skin’s barrier to the outside environment. Up to half of people with eczema carry a filaggrin gene. This new study illustrates the mechanism by which calcium and magnesium ions in hard water, surfactants and filaggrin interact to damage the skin barrier.

We report that removing the calcium and magnesium ions using an ion-exchange water softener could mitigate the negative effects of hard water on the skin. The implication is that using a water softener could help reduce the incidence of eczema by reducing the harmful effects of covert irritants in everyday wash products.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: That the way we care for our skin, including the products and the water we use, has a significant impact on the health of our skin. Further research is needed to identify the best approach to caring for our skin from birth.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We are now embarking on a pilot trial to investigate whether installation of a domestic water softener around the time of birth can prevent skin barrier breakdown and eczema in those living in hard water areas.

The Softened Water for Eczema Prevention (SOFTER) trial will be undertaken by Dr Flohr and his team from King’s College London and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with the University of Sheffield team and colleagues from the University of Dundee, the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology at Nottingham University, Imperial College London, the National Institute for Health (Bethesda, USA), and Amsterdam Medical Centre. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The study was funded by Harvey Water Softeners

The paper, The Effect of Water Hardness on Surfactant Deposition Following Washing and Subsequent Skin Irritation in Atopic Dermatitis Patients and Healthy Controls, is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. DOI: 10.10.16/j.jid2017.08.037

To keep up to date with news from the Sheffield Dermatology Research group follow us on twitter @Shef_Derm

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


The Effect of Water Hardness on Surfactant Deposition Following Washing and Subsequent Skin Irritation in Atopic Dermatitis Patients and Healthy Controls
Danby SG1, Brown K2, Wigley AM3, Chittock J4, Pyae PK5, Flohr C6, Cork MJ7.
J Invest Dermatol. 2017 Sep 12. pii: S0022-202X(17)32938-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2017.08.037. [Epub ahead of print]

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 






Antibiotics Prescribed By Dentists May Contribute To C.diff Infections

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stacy Holzbauer, DVM, MPH, DACVPM CDC Career Epidemiology Field Officer (CEFO) Commander, USPHS Minnesota Department of Health St. Paul, MN

Dr. Holzbauer

Stacy Holzbauer, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
CDC Career Epidemiology Field Officer (CEFO)
Commander, USPHS
Minnesota Department of Health
St. Paul, MN

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

  • Antibiotics are not harmless drugs—Clostridium difficile infection, which can sometimes cause a deadly diarrhea, is a complication of antibiotic use and can occur after even one dose of an antibiotic.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is part of the larger Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Emerging Infections Program (EIP). The healthcare-associated infection component of CDC’s EIP engages a network of state health departments and their academic medical center partners to help answer critical questions about emerging HAI threats including Clostridium difficile also known as “C. diff.”
  • In Minnesota, the majority of C. diff infections occur outside the hospital and are driven by antibiotic use in community or outpatient settings. In addition to routine surveillance data, we interview patients with C. diff who were not hospitalized prior to their infection to identify potential risks for developing C. diff infection, including identifying antibiotics received outside of routine healthcare settings.
  • Dentists prescribe approximately 10% of the antibiotics in outpatient settings, which was over 24 million prescriptions in 2013. When asked about their prescribing practices in a 2015 survey with the Minnesota Dental Association, 36% of dentists surveyed prescribed antibiotics for dental conditions that are generally not recommended to receive antibiotics according to American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines.

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Low-Cost, High-Volume Services Add Billions To US Health Care Tab

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

John N. Mafi MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles Natural scientist in Health Policy RAND Corporation Santa Monica, California

Dr. Mafi

John N. Mafi MD MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles
Natural scientist in Health Policy
RAND Corporation
Santa Monica, California

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Of the 3 trillion dollars the U.S. spends annually on health care, an estimated 10-30% consists of “low-value care”, or patient care that provides no net benefit in specific clinical scenarios (think antibiotics given for the common cold virus). Determining where and why this waste occurs is critical to efforts to safely reducing healthcare spending. Little is known, however, about the distribution of costs among such “low-value” services. In this context, we used the Virginia All Payer Claims Database in order to assess the quantity and total costs of 44 low-value services in 2014 among 5.5 million beneficiaries.

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Poor and Racial Minorities Have Worse Home Health Care Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karen Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH Washington University School of Medicine Saint Louis MO

Dr. Joynt-Maddox

Karen Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH
Washington University School of Medicine
Saint Louis MO

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Home health is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Medicare, and the setting of a new federal value-based payment program, yet little is known about disparities in clinical outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries receiving home health care.

We found that beneficiaries who were poor or Black had worse clinical outcomes in home health care than their peers. These individuals were generally more likely to have unplanned hospitalizations, readmissions, and emergency department visits. Under Home Health Value-Based Purchasing, these patterns should be tracked carefully to ensure the program helps close the gaps rather than widening them.

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40% of Cancers Associated With Overweight and Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. C. Brooke Steele D.O.

Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Centers fo Disease Control and Prevention 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: This report contains new information about cancer risk and people being overweight and obese. Research shows that being overweight or having obesity is associated with at least 13 types of cancer (adenocarcinoma of the esophagus; cancers of the breast [in postmenopausal women], colon and rectum, endometrium, gallbladder, gastric cardia, kidney, liver, ovaries, pancreas, and thyroid; meningioma; and multiple myeloma). We also know that the number of people who weigh more than recommended has increased over the past few decades. Therefore, we looked at the numbers of new cases of cancers associated with overweight and having obesity in the United States, as well as how the rates have changed over a 10-year period. Because screening for colorectal cancer can reduce colorectal cancer incidence through detection and removal of precancerous polyps before they become cancerous, we analyzed trends with and without colorectal cancer.

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Night Shift Work Linked To Increased Risk of Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sun Miaomiao

Prof. Shelly Tse
JC School of Public Health and Primary Care
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Sha Tin, Hong Kong

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Approximately 20% of the overall workforce is involving in a shift work schedule, which is equivalent to nearly 0.7 billion workers. It has been several studies and systematic reviews reported that shift work could contribute a risk to abdominal obesity, that was identified to be associated with increased mortality. However, the previous related studies derived from different industries and companies that held with various occupational settings of night shift work, and the results have been inconsistent or lack of statistical power. We believed that a better understanding of the knowledge gaps on the associations between specific obesity types and different shift work settings has important implications for occupational health practice. Our meta-analysis provided a clearer picture for the association between night shift work and overweight/ obesity with a potential gradient association, especially for the abdominal obesity.

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Gossip As An Evolutionary Strategy In Competition For Mates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Adam C. Davis, MSc

PhD Education student
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Charles Darwin argued that animals compete with members of the same sex for desired mates (i.e., intrasexual competition). Using this framework, evolutionary researchers have explored the variety of ways in which this kind of competition may play out across human cultures. Several researchers have argued that gossip may be an effective way for humans to compete for mates, but most of the research has been indirect up until this point.

In our study, we provide evidence that the reported tendency to compete with same-sex others for mates is associated with gossiping and positive attitudes toward learning about and spreading gossip. Gossip has also been argued to be women’s weapon of choice to compete for mates; however, few studies have tested this hypothesis. We provide evidence that women gossip to a greater extent than men, particularly about social information (e.g., friendships, romantic relationships) and the physical appearance of others (e.g., clothing), whereas men gossip more about achievement (e.g., salaries, promotions). Women also expressed more favourable attitudes toward gossiping than men.

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Human Kidney Organoids Underscore Importance of Microenvironment in Polycystic Kidney Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Benjamin Freedman, Ph.D
Assistant Professor | University of Washington
Department of Medicine | Division of Nephrology
Member, Kidney Research Institute
Member, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine
Seattle WA 98109 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this new technology and study? What are the main findings?

Response: Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is the leading genetic cause of end stage renal disease, affecting approximately twelve million people. The hallmark of the disease is the massive expansion of kidney tubules into large, fluid-filled cysts. Although we know the genes that are mutated in this disease, we do not have a firm grasp on what they do to protect the body from disease.

We used a new system, human kidney organoids with gene-edited PKD mutations, to discover how factors outside the cell affect cyst formation. We found that liberating the organoids from plastic dishes into floating cultures greatly increased the number and size of cysts that formed. We also found that PKD organoids had problems in their ability to change the shape of collagen scaffolds surrounding them, compared to control organoids of the same genetic background.

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Complexity of Animals Depends On Diverse Patterns of Gene Regulation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Colin Sharpe

School of Biology
Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science
School of Biological Sciences
University of Portsmouth
Portsmouth, United Kingdom 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We have long been fascinated by the question of what underpins the increasing complexity of multicellular animals. In a recent publication we looked at changes to the diversity of the NCoR family corepressors (NCoRs) across the Deuterostomes and found an increase in diversity from sea urchins to humans (1). This is due to gene duplication, an increase in alternative splicing and the encorporation of more protein motifs and domains.

In this study we devised a measure of functional diversity based on these three factors and calculated this value for over 12000 genes involved in transcription in nine species from the nematode worm to humans. Orthologues whose increase in diversity correlated with the increase in complexity of these animals were then selected and we looked for common features and interactions between the selected genes.

We found that proteins that regulate the dynamic organisation of chromatin were significantly enriched within the selection.

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