Ever since I learned to read, I have been reading the Readers Digest magazine, even though my father, (secretly proud that I learned to read so young), joked about our first grade reading book and said that I should read Dick and Jane magazine.

(Dick and Jane were the stars of our first grade reader, and their activities were rather dull.)
Readers Digest was founded in 1922 by Dewitt Wallace and his wife, Lila, who both died in the 1980s. They became millionaires, and the magazine today has more than three million subscribers.
The October edition just arrived, and four of the five articles in the “News from the World of Medicine” section, right up front, seem like bad news.
The big headline on the first one says “Vegetarians May Have Higher Risk of Stroke.”
I have always been eating my vegetables when appropriate since the days when I was in a high-chair with a bib and my mother was trying to think up suitable threats to get me to consume some dinner. Now, an alarming number of decades later when I have long been eating vegetables regularly, comes the Readers Digest with this dismaying report:
“In an 18-year study of 48,188 people with no history of heart disease, vegans and vegetarians had a 22 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than meat eaters  but a 20 percent higher risk of suffering a stroke.”
Researchers, say the article, speculate that this is because the vegetables have low vitamin B12 levels, and suggest that the vegetarians should eat more cereal.
The next article has some good news, I guess. It reports that in 2015, researchers at Harvard University found that, in the week after the Boston Marathon, runners had a higher concentration of bacteria called Villonella, which breaks down the lactic acid that forms in muscles.
So, they took bacteria from one of the runners and injected it into mice. Those mice ran 13 percent longer than other mice.
This suggests that eventually there may be a probiotic supplement that will help marathoners run longer. (There was no mention of whether mice will be eligible.)
Then, going back to the bad news came an article warning those of us who have trees to move raked leaves well away from the house, or get rid of them entirely.
Why? A recent study found that ticks love to live in leaf piles. Folks with decomposing leaves can be exposed to contracting Lyme disease.
The fourth article says that a University of Louisville study found that the bacteria behind chronic gum disease may migrate to the brain.  This bacterium, with the colorful name Porphyromonas gingivalis, can attack areas of the brain which can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The final article, if you’re still feeling okay, is a survey by the British Skin Foundation that concluded that psychological support should be part of caring for skin problems.
A clinical psychologist spokesman said that psychological treatment can address emotional and behavioral reactions that can aggravate skin conditions. (Such as scratching.)
I moved on after those articles. The rest of the magazine was generally much more cheerful.
Or, dare I say, easier for a reader to digest.
Visit columnist Jim Smart’s web site at jamessmartsphiladelphia.com.


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