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Prostate cancer treatment times and synthetic pot's effect on the kidneys: In health news today

The synthetic form of marijuana has been linked to serious kidney damage in a new study.
The synthetic form of marijuana has been linked to serious kidney damage in a new study.
David McNew/Getty Images

In today's health news:

Shorter treatment times may be on the horizon for patients with prostate cancer, reports the New York Times. A new study found that men with a high-risk form of the disease who were treated for 18 months with hormone therapy live just as long as those treated for the standard 36 months. Shorter treatment times mean less unpleasant side effects, noted researchers.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has filed a petition with federal food regulators asking the agency to identify a safe level for added sugars in beverages. USA Today says the Food and Drug Administration currently classifies high-fructose corn syrup and other sugars as safe, while the filers of the petition contend that it's the levels at which these sugars are used that makes them harmful.

A new study appearing in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests that parents are more accepting of their daughters' using the pill than any form of contraception, including intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants – even though the latter are the most effective forms of birth control. Researchers thought that "myths" from the 1970s about IUDs causing infection and infertility may have influenced the way parents thought about them.

Synthetic marijuana may be dangerous to the kidneys, say researchers, who directly linked the drug to serious kidney damage in case studies. HealthDay notes the study's authors couldn't confirm that the connection because they couldn't analyze the marijuana used by the people in the case studies, or blood and urine samples from those people.

The order in which people are born may affect their risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure, suggests a new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. First-born children had a more difficult time absorbing sugars into the body, and had higher daytime blood pressure, prompting researchers to say that although it's not a "predictor," being the eldest child "can contribute to a person's overall risk" of those conditions.

An analysis of Medicare records showed that sometimes the treatment is worse than the disease. According to the Washington Post, older people with small kidney tumors were far less likely to die within five years when doctors monitored them instead of operating right away – even though nearly all of those tumors turned out to be cancerous. While the tumors were rarely fatal, operations almost doubled patients' risk of developing complications, some of which were deadly.

Some ways of praising your children are better than others, say researchers. TIME reports on a study which says praise that focuses on the efforts, actions and work of the child is better than simply praising the child – in other words, "You've done such a good job" is better than "You're such a smart girl."

Speaking of parenting: Another study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies indicates that the college students with "helicopter parents" – that is, parents who hover or are overly attached and involved in their children's lives – are more likely to be depressed, since they feel as if their autonomy and competence are being violated.

Folic acid has a reputation for reducing the risk of birth defects – now, Science World Report has news on research that suggests it could be a way for expectant mothers to lower the risk of autism in their newborns by up to 40 percent.

And finally: Too much calcium isn't a good thing – at least, that's according to a new study appearing in BMJ, which says women with higher calcium intake seem to have a higher risk of death from all causes, but double the risk of death from heart disease in particular.