A study suggests when a pregnant woman breathes in air pollution, it can travel beyond her lungs to the placenta that nourishes and guards her fetus. A novel scanning technique spotted a type of particle pollution — sootlike black carbon — on placentas donated by 28 new mothers, they reported in Nature Communications. A Hasselt University team found the particles accumulated on the side of the placenta closest to the fetus, near where the umbilical cord emerges.


Gum disease tied to hypertension risk

For a study in Cardiovascular Research, researchers combined the results of 81 studies involving more than 200,000 people. Using a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or higher as the definition of hypertension, they found that people with a diagnosis of gum disease were 20% more likely to have high blood pressure than those with healthy gums. Moderate periodontal disease was associated with a 22% increased risk, and severe gum disease with a 49% increased risk.


Coffee may lower risk of gallstones

Drinking coffee has been tied to a range of health benefits. Here’s another to add to the list: It may reduce the risk for gallstones. Danish researchers following 104,493 men and women for eight years found that every additional cup a day of coffee, up to six cups, resulted in a 3% lower risk for gallstones. Compared with people who drank none, those who drank coffee had a 7% to 23% reduced risk for gallstones, depending on how much they drank. Then they used a genetic technique that takes advantage of the randomized distribution of genetic variants. They found that people with two genetic variants known to be associated with caffeine intake had an 11% reduced risk of gallstones for each additional daily cup of coffee. The study is in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

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