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Safe practices for over-the-counter pain medications

At the first sign of a headache or sore back, many of us reach for a bottle of over-the-counter pain medication. Advil, Tylenol and aspirin are commonplace in many of our medicine cabinets, and because they are over-the-counter medications, we think they are safer than prescription medications. As a result, we often overlook the recommended dosages on the back of the pill bottle.

According to Jean Moon, Pharm.D., assistant professor in the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, over-the-counter pain medications can be just as harmful to your body as prescription medications when used incorrectly.

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Why does my breath stink?

It’s date night. You stay away from garlic and onions at dinner, and pop a mint to be safe, but you’re convinced there’s a funky smell lingering on your breath. In fact, it seems like your breath leans towards cringe-worthy more often than not. Is something more going on inside the mouth?

Possibly, says Patricia Lenton, M.A., director of the Oral Health Research Clinic at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Her research expertise is in breath odor.

While dietary choices can play a role in breath odor, she says bacteria are usually to blame.

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UMN expert: More global mental health and substance abuse research needed

Photo: CC, fo.ol,

In a recent review published in Nature, Mustafa al’Absi, Ph.D., director of the Duluth Medical Research Institute at the Medical School, Duluth campus, and other authors, outlined recommendations to shape the global mental health agenda.

“Mental health and substance abuse disorders have profound effects on overall health,” al’Absi said. “They are becoming a pressing global and local burden.”

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Research Snapshot: Why are obstetric units in rural hospitals closing their doors?

New research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health shows obstetric units in rural hospitals are closing their doors, due to difficulty in staffing, low birth volume, and financial burdens. As the annual birth volume decreases, additional rural hospitals will be vulnerable to obstetric unit closure in the future.

The study findings were published in the Health Services Research. Doctoral student and lead author, Peiyin Hung M.S.P.H., and her colleagues gathered hospital discharge data as well as conducted interviews to identify factors associated with unit closures between 2010 and 2014. The analysis found 7.2 percent of rural hospitals in the study closed their obstetric units. These units were typically small in size and located in communities with fewer resources including lower family income, fewer obstetricians and fewer family physicians.

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Research snapshot: UMN study identifies mechanism in drug target that helps block HIV’s ability to spread

Photo: NIAID via Flickr CC (

University of Minnesota researchers have identified the mechanism of a potential HIV drug target, which could be more cost-effective than currently used HIV drugs.

The study expanded upon previous UMN research, which identified that the nucleoside 5-azacytidine (5-aza-C) blocked HIV’s ability to spread. 5-aza-C triggers lethal mutagenesis, a process in which HIV mutations speed up to a point that the HIV essentially wears itself out.

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Research snapshot: New tools could help prevent relapse behavior in opioid addiction

Photo: CC, David Goehring,

Opioid addiction is a crippling problem in society, with an estimated 9 percent of Americans abusing opiates at some point in their life. In Minnesota, opiate overdose deaths have more than tripled since 2000.

Overcoming addiction is extremely challenging, and the risk of relapse persists. A new study from the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Neuroscience identified a potential target for preventing morphine relapse in mice, which brings researchers closer to providing a way for recovering addicts to stay drug-free.

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