The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the headlines, and our daily lives, for most of this year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has unmasked.

However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.

This week, our readers have been captivated by subjects as diverse as a possible benefit of low-to-moderate drinking, what to do if you fall in a nettle patch, and the six best exercises for weight loss.

Readers have also been interested in how a new urine test could help identify the best diet for your biological type and why we shouldn’t be too concerned about a recent outbreak of bubonic plague.

Here are 10 recent stories that people may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.

1. What are the nonmedical factors most closely linked to death risk?

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What are the top nonmedical factors associated with death?

Our most-read article this week looks at new research that identifies the top 10 social and behavioral factors linked to an increased risk of dying. Smoking, alcohol misuse, and divorce feature prominently, but those who have never been married are also at risk.

Learn more here.

2. Metabolites in urine point the way to a more healthful diet

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New research suggests that we need to rethink what constitutes a healthful diet.

Almost as popular, the second article in our roundup looks at how researchers hope to develop a 5-minute urine test to determine a person’s nutritional fingerprint.

It does this by rapidly analyzing the molecules produced during cellular metabolism, some of which are present in a person’s urine and are linked to conditions such as obesity and higher blood pressure. The test will make it easier to assess the suitability of a person’s diet for their biological makeup.

Learn more here.

3. What are the best exercises for weight loss?

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Running is one of the best exercises to help lose weight.

There is no single best exercise for weight loss, as different exercises are suitable for different people. For example, although running burns more calories per minute, many people prefer to walk for a longer period.

Another option is cycling, which burns more calories than walking but can easily become part of the daily routine for those who need to travel to work. Which type of exercise appeals most to you?

Learn more here.

4. Asthma drug could serve to treat Alzheimer’s disease

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Could an asthma drug help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease?

There seem to be more and more examples of scientists repurposing established drugs for use in the treatment of other conditions. The coronavirus pandemic has seen renewed attention on decades-old medicines, such as hydroxychloroquine and dexamethasone.

This week, MNT reported on a new study that found that salbutamol, an asthma drug, prevents the formation of tangles of fibrous protein that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more here.

5. Plague in Inner Mongolia: Should we be concerned?

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Colorized scanning electron microscope image of Yersinia pestis, which is responsible for plague.

If ever there’s been a year to keep us guessing (and worrying), it’s 2020. There was concern this week over a fresh outbreak of bubonic plague in Inner Mongolia, China. MNT sought expert opinions on whether this outbreak should be of wider concern. They concluded that, in this case, any anxiety is misplaced.

Learn more here.

6. Racism in mental healthcare: An invisible barrier

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In this Special Feature, we look at how racism affects community-wide access to formal mental healthcare support.

MNT’s ongoing investigation into health inequities continues with this Special Feature. We look at how racism prevents people of color and those from marginalized ethnic backgrounds from accessing mental healthcare. It has already emerged as one of the articles that our readers spent the most time with this week.

Learn more here.

We also published this opinion piece by Dr. Wizdom Powell on the reality of racial battle fatigue for many Black Americans and the need for a commitment to radical healing by the wider community.

7. Stinging nettle rash: Side effects, prevention, and treatment

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A person may develop a rash and itchy, irritated skin if they come into contact with a stinging nettle.

Last week, we reported on how to avoid and, if necessary, treat a scorpion sting. This week, we looked at stinging nettle rash. It can be irritating and painful, but it will usually resolve within a few days. Many people will be able to relieve the symptoms using home remedies. This article is one to familiarize yourself with before going for a hike this weekend.

Learn more here.

8. What is decision fatigue?

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For people experiencing this fatigue, making the right decisions may become more difficult as the day goes on.

Have you ever been too tired to decide whether or not to do something, or found yourself buying something on an impulse without really thinking it through?

This article looks at the evidence for the existence of a “decision battery” that can become depleted through overuse. It also covers the risk factors and whether there are any effective ways to “top it up.”

Learn more here.

9. Can CBD make you fail a drug test?

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While drug tests do not screen for CBD, its presence may cause a person to fail the test.

Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained popularity over the years as a treatment for anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness. The contamination of CBD products with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, could result in an individual failing a drug test.

In this article, we take a close look at the risks and offer advice on how to choose CBD products that are less likely to produce a false-positive result.

Learn more here.

10. Low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may protect against cognitive decline

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New research adds to the evidence that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may protect cognitive health.

The production and consumption of alcohol are probably as old as civilization, but is it doing us any good? In recent years, researchers have cautiously suggested that alcohol may reduce the risk of mortality in later life.

This week, we reported on a new study involving 20,000 participants in the United States, which suggests that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may reduce cognitive decline in older adults. However, excessive drinking was associated with a decline in cognitive outcomes.

Learn more here.

We hope that this has provided a taste of the range of stories that we cover at MNT. We will be back with a new selection next week.

Coming soon: A sneak preview of what’s in our drafts folder

We publish hundreds of new articles every month. Here are some upcoming articles that may pique our readers’ interest:

  • Does sugar really cause hyperactivity?
  • Diversity in clinical trials: What can doctors and patients do better?
  • Are hearing and visual impairments linked to an increased risk of dementia?