Body & Brain

Sight restored after 55 years, plus hockey-checking injuries, statins' diabetes link and more in this week's news

Youth-hockey checking injuries
Hockey players exposed to body checking for the first time at age 13 don’t incur any more injuries from later checking than kids exposed to the hits at an earlier age, researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada report. But novices to checking seem to incur more severe injuries. Alberta allows checking at age 11, but Quebec bans it until 13. Of 13- and 14-year-old players, about one-fourth were injured during the 2008–09 season in each province, with roughly equal rates of concussions. But the Alberta players were one-third less likely to sustain an injury that kept them off the ice for a week, the scientists report online June 20 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. —Nathan Seppa

Barrett’s esophagus and cancer
Damage to the esophagus might pose less risk of becoming cancerous than had been previously assumed, a study reported online June 16 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows. Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland tracked the progress of more than 8,500 patients who had Barrett’s esophagus, in which acid splashing up from the stomach damages the tube. While earlier work suggested an annual esophageal cancer rate of up to 3 percent among Barrett’s patients, the seven-year study in Northern Ireland found only a 0.22 percent annual rate of the malignancy among patients. —Nathan Seppa

Sight restored 55 years later
A man blind in one eye after being hit by a rock in his youth has regained enough sight in that eye to count fingers displayed five meters away, researchers report June 16 in the Journal of Medical Case Reports. The 63-year-old man showed up at a clinic with glaucoma, marked by pain, pressure and bleeding inside the eye. After medication to stabilize eye pressure and slow blood vessel growth in the eye, doctors removed some fluid from it. Surgery to reattach his retina was successful, restoring some vision. Doctors at the Eye and Ear Infirmary, who teamed with other New York City eye experts in treating the man, say this may be the first case of vision recovery in someone with long-term retinal detachment from trauma. —Nathan Seppa

Possible statin link to diabetes
People taking high doses of anti-cholesterol drugs called statins appear to have a slightly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers report in the June 22/29 Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers amassed data from five trials of statins that included more than 32,000 people who didn’t have diabetes at the trial outset. Compared with people getting a moderate-dose statin prescription, those receiving a high dose were on average 12 percent more likely to develop diabetes during the average five years of follow-up in the trials. But high-dose statin recipients were 16 percent less apt to have heart problems. The statins used were atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor). —Nathan Seppa

More Stories from Science News on Health & Medicine