The Check-Up: Today’s Top Health Headlines

The buzz around the health and fitness world this AM.

• I’m all about resourcefulness, which is why this story about how the street drug ecstasy could be used as a cancer treatment immediately caught my eye. reports that scientists at the UK’s University of Birmingham have created a modified form of the drug, which is designed to “reduce toxicity to brain cells…while increasing effectiveness against cancer cells.” So in other words, a cancer patient could potentially take modified E and fight cancer without, experts hope, feeling the high. And now for the money quote:

But even if the new drug does remain psychoactive, given the grueling side effects associated with most cancer treatment, having feelings of peacefulness and connection with others is unlikely to be objectionable. “You could have worse side effects,” Gordon notes wryly.

• On the heels of our piece about sex-ed in public schools comes this study which found that “sexually active teens in committed, romantic relationships are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior than teens who have casual sex or those who don’t have sex at all.” Interesting, right? The research, a joint effort by professors at the University of Oregon and University of Texas at Austin, also found that teens who engage in casual sex (described here as “hooking up”) demonstrate a higher level of antisocial behavior. And when you factor in intelligence, smarter kids don’t necessarily wait longer to have sex than their less-intelligent peers. A better predictor of a teen’s sexual behavior is parental involvement and other family-environment factors.

• The New York Times asks, “Are Crunches Worth the Effort?” Yes, they’ll give you abs that look rock solid, but some studies show they don’t do squat when it comes to athletic performance. And if you do them wrong, crunches can cause serious damage to your spine. I think I can hear The Situation weeping from here.

• A quick shout out to local hospitals Aria Health, which has several Philly facilities, and Main Line Health in Bryn Mawr, who were honored by Health Imaging & IT Magazine for excellence in electronic information systems. Aria Health was called out for integrating clinical imaging and patient data into “an acute electronic health record that provides radiologists, cardiologists and clinicians access to medical images and patient data at the point of care.” And Main Line Health, which reconfigured its data management in 2010, has reduced “the staff time required to support servers while providing 24 x 7 system monitoring and security.” Two other PA hospitals to make the list were the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey and Wellspan in York.