Health Highlights: Jan. 18, 2017

Earth Hits Record High Temperature for Third Straight YearFormer President George H.W. Bush HospitalizedHot Chili Peppers May Extend Life: Study

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Earth Hits Record High Temperature for Third Straight Year

For the third year in a row, the Earth set a record high temperature in 2016, scientists said Wednesday.

This is further proof that the planet is heating up, and many experts believe temperatures are moving toward levels that will threaten both the natural world and human civilization, according to The New York Times.

"A single warm year is something of a curiosity," Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said.

"It's really the trend, and the fact that we're punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we're undergoing big changes," he told The Times.


Former President George H.W. Bush Hospitalized

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is in a Texas hospital after complaining of shortness of breath.

The 92-year-old was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Saturday and is responding well to treatment, spokesman Jim McGrath said in an email to the Associated Press.

Bush is expected to go home within a couple of days, his chief of staff, Jean Becker, told the Houston Chronicle and KHOU-TV.

The former president was admitted to the intensive care unit to "address an acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia," McGrath said.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush has also been hospitalized as a precaution after experiencing fatigue and coughing.

Bush, who served as the 41st president from 1989 to 1993, has Parkinson's disease. He was hospitalized in 2015 after breaking a bone in his neck in a fall, was hospitalized the previous December for about a week for shortness of breath, and spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues, the AP reported.

Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump in Kennebunkport, Maine, his summer home. He led a group of 40 wounded warriors last summer on a fishing trip at the helm of his speedboat, the news service reported.

Son George W. Bush served two terms as president until 2008. Another son, Jeb, a former Florida governor, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.


Hot Chili Peppers May Extend Life: Study

Eating hot chili peppers may extend your life, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 16,000 Americans who were followed for an average of nearly 19 years and found that hot red red chili pepper consumption was associated with a 13 percent lower risk of death, CBS News reported.

The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

Since this was an observational study, it offers no proof of a cause and effect relationship, but does add to the growing body of evidence that spicy foods may have health benefits that can help people live longer, according to the University of Vermont researchers.

Previous studies have suggested that a spice component called capsaicin may have anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anti-cancer benefits. The authors of this new study say capsaicin may also act as an antimicrobial, CBS News reported.

The University of Vermont team called for further research to investigate the benefits of other spices and the effects of certain chili pepper subtypes.

"Such evidence may lead to new insights into the relationships between diet and health, updated dietary recommendations, and the development of new therapies," they wrote.

But spicy dishes aren't suitable for everyone, particularly those with gastrointestinal problems.

"For those who are affected by digestive disorders such as a stomach ulcer, I would be cautious about eating spicy foods," Lu Qi, Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told CBS News.

Qi was lead author of a 2015 study that found regular consumption of spicy food is associated with a lower risk of death.