Groundbreaking health care innovations, like the first-ever blood test for preeclampsia and the FDA’s approval of a drug that can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, grabbed headlines this week. But a number of newsworthy studies also shone new light on a variety of important topics, from the dangers of loneliness to the risks parents took during the baby formula shortage. Here are some of the top health stories you may have missed this week from Yahoo News partners.

‘We should not downplay the importance of loneliness on physical and emotional health’

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In a study of over 18,000 diabetic adults in the United Kingdom, researchers found that loneliness “may be a bigger risk factor for heart disease in diabetes patients than a bad diet, smoking, lack of exercise or depression,” Insider reported.

The study, published last Thursday, followed diabetic patients who had not been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, and used questionnaires to assess loneliness. Over the span of 10 years, researchers found that the chances of developing cardiovascular disease were 11% to 26% higher in patients with the highest scores for loneliness, with a response of “never or almost never being able to confide in someone” qualifying as a high-risk characteristic.

Researchers also looked at social isolation as a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but found that those scores “were not significantly related to any of the cardiovascular outcomes.”

“We should not downplay the importance of loneliness on physical and emotional health,” Dr. Lu Qi, one of the authors of the study and a professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said. “I would encourage patients with diabetes who feel lonely to join a group or class and try to make friends with people who have shared interests.”

Nearly half of U.S. parents resorted to unsafe feeding methods during baby formula shortage, study finds

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Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that nearly half of parents who relied on formula to feed their babies resorted to unsafe feeding methods during the formula shortage in the spring of 2022, Salon reported this week.

The research, published last month, looked at infant feeding practices during the formula shortage, which was caused by a combination of pandemic-era supply chain issues and a recall of Abbott Nutrition baby formula. Abbott provides over 40% of baby formula in the U.S., and at the time the survey was conducted, in May 2022, some states had 90% out-of-stock rates. Researchers found that unsafe feeding practices — which included “watering down formula, using expired formula, using homemade formula or using human milk from informal sharing resources” — climbed from 8% before the shortage to nearly 50% during peak shortage.

“Using expired formula is unsafe because the nutrients in the formula can degrade over time, and so that in itself can interfere with infant growth and development,” the study’s lead author, Jennifer Smilowitz, told Salon. “Acquiring human milk informally — so this is milk sharing, whether online or with friends and family, versus acquiring pasteurized donor milk — is unsafe, because it can introduce health and safety risks.”

“These practices may seem harmless when we think of an adult diet, but we need to remember that infants require a very specific balance of nutrients to grow and develop,” she added.

Men with more cardio fitness have lower risk of deadly cancers, according to new study

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Men with higher cardiorespiratory fitness have a lower risk of dying from lung, colon or prostate cancers, as well as a lower chance of developing lung or colon cancers in the first place, Insider reported.

Research published last Thursday by the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences measured VO2 max — or the ability to use oxygen during exercise — of 177,709 Swedish men, and followed them over nearly 10 years. Even after adjusting for lifestyle factors like diet and smoking habits, those with at least moderate VO2 max scores had a lower chance of developing or dying from certain common cancers in men compared with those with the lowest scores, although the data did show they had a slightly higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Types of exercise that can improve cardio health over time include walking, running, swimming and cycling, Insider said.

Drinking water from nearly half of U.S. faucets may contain cancer-causing chemicals

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A study released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that at least one type of “forever chemicals” — synthetic compounds known collectively as PFAS — can be found in about 45% of tap water samples in the U.S. Previous studies of such chemicals have found links to certain cancers, including kidney, liver and pancreatic cancers, as well as other health issues like reproductive problems, weight gain and weakened childhood immunity.

The report was based on samples taken between 2016 and 2021 from faucets in 716 locations, “including 447 that rely on public supplies and 269 using private wells.” Types of locations used for samples included residences in both urban and rural areas, schools, offices and national parks. “Heaviest exposures were in cities near potential sources of the compounds,” the Associated Press reported.

The report doesn’t make any policy recommendations, but the information “can be used to evaluate risk of exposure and inform decisions about whether or not you want to treat your drinking water, get it tested or get more information from your state” about the situation locally, the lead author, Kelly Smalling, said.

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