Discovered: happiness as a longevity percentage, resurfacing worries about X-ray scanners, the non-heart risks of ADHD medication, and an unpleasant climate change weather forecast.

  • Do you really want to know, as a percentage, how unhappiness affects your lifespan? Happy people may live longer. Common sense, and smile research, keeps telling us. But how much longer should happy, intensely smiling people be expected to live? Will a half-smirk pasted on your face add a few more precious years to your life, just as a furrowed brow scratches off a couple months? No one knows, but we'll keep trying: "new research says happy lives are longer — by 35 percent." USA Today spoke to the researchers behind the British study (which used a one-day survey to rate feelings, then checked in with these people five years later), who noted that "We can't draw the kind of final conclusion that the happiness is leading directly to better survival." But, now would be a good time to go quantify, exactly, just how happy you are in a very blunt online quiz anyway. [USA Today]
  • Latest climate change forecast: more unpleasant, very severe, weather. According to the AP's reading of a forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there will be stronger hurricanes, "more extreme spells of heat" and an uptick in "intense, single-day, heavy rainstorms" by the end of the century, among other weather changes. Sure, skeptics will just shrug off the prognostication. It may be worth mentioning, however, that recently the author of a Koch-funded study investigating the merits of climate change (yes, those Koch's) found that there was really something to that temperature-rising theory. [Associated Press]
  • The digital age is ready for hospitals, but they aren't ready for the digital age.  In order to qualify for federal stimulus funds, the government has a few requirements--and only 1 in 10 hospitals are meeting them, according to a new study relayed by The New York Times. The newspaper notes that the criteria not being met are thing things like "eliminating handwritten orders and giving patients electronic copies of their medical records when discharged, generally on a disk or a secure e-mail." [The New York Times]
  • Worrying about airport backscatter X-ray technology will commence again right about, now: "Research suggests that anywhere from six to 100 U.S. airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines," writes ProPublica in their investigation of why the technology was fast-tracked for use in American airports. Obvious reasons (terrorism scares) are detailed, but the procedural ones that the news outlet notes are just as important: "Because of a regulatory Catch-22, the airport X-ray scanners have escaped the oversight required for X-ray machines used in doctors’ offices and hospitals. The reason is that the scanners do not have a medical purpose, so the FDA cannot subject them to the rigorous evaluation it applies to medical devices." [ProPublica]
  • Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin don't up the risk of heart problems in youth.  A study that wasn't conducted by the makers of such ADHD medication confirmed that the drugs, "didn't increase the risk of serious heart problems," The Wall Street Journal reported. There have been worries the medication (which we're informed carries warnings of heart risks on the bottles) would cause problems even to the point that the "American Heart Association gave the controversial advice in 2008 that it was reasonable to screen a child starting on such a drug with a heart EKG test," the Associated Press noted. The latest study, which looked at medical data of 1.2 million youth aged 2 to 24, found 81 cases during the seven-year study period. [The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press]