Heat may be good for the heart
Sweating seems to be good for the heart. Regular time spent sweating in a sauna has been shown in Finnish research to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and other deadly heart disease. This is great news for the sauna-addicted Swedes (and anyone lucky enough to have access to a sauna, known as “bastu” in Swedish). The study followed 2,300 middle-aged men for an average of 21 years. During the period, 929 of the men died. The mortality rate was 40 percent lower among men who “bastade” (spent time in the sauna) four to seven times each week, compared with those who bastade only once a week. Among those who spent two or three times each week in the sauna, the risk of sudden cardiac death was 22 percent lower than those who bastade once a week. The results also showed that the length of time spent sweating in the sauna made a difference: Those who regularly sauna bathed 11 to 19 minutes cut their risk of sudden cardiac death in half compared with the men who regularly bastade for a shorter time. Researchers are still determining whether the heat itself is good for the heart or if it’s a correlation with the time relaxing while in the sauna. And plans for a parallel study on women is in the works, too.

Strides in equality in the armed forces
Among some changes the Swedish Armed Forces are implementing in their policies is the addition of a gender field advisor in every unit. This has been discussed and planned for many years, but with the rise in applications from women — female soldiers now make up 20 percent of basic training recruits — the so-called Gender Focal Points (GFPs) should finally be in place by 2016. GFPs will be appointed to help develop and implement gender action plans for each unit. Workshops and seminars have already begun for educating leadership across the country on gender issues, but a lot of work remains. “We have a direct order from the government to integrate equality into our work. And as the organization whose job it is to defend our nation in the event of an attack, women's rights concern us very much. The job of the military as an organization is to defend our democratic values, so it is important that we live up to that,” said Captain Anna Björsson, who manages support in gender issues.

Dishwashers could increase allergies
In a study of 1,029 Swedish children ages 7 and 8, data was collected indicating families who wash their dishes by hand are significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever. This could be another finding that supports the "hygiene hypothesis," an evolving proposition that suggests children in first world countries are too clean and aren’t exposed to as many bacteria and other microorganisms as others: “That may make the immune system more likely to misfire and overreact in a way that leads to allergies, eczema and asthma,” says Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, who led the study. His team has been trying to identify some of the day-to-day ways we might be too clean; the research also took economic status into account in the study, and it could be that people who don't have dishwashers are alike in other ways that reduce their tendency to get allergies. Doctors aren’t ready to recommend that parents stop using their dishwashers but they might put off buying one if they’ve been thinking about it.