Health & WellnessS


Air Force to begin to ban tobacco

The U.S. Air Force, faced with a goal of dramatically reducing tobacco use by 2010, is getting set to implement its first widespread ban on such products.

©Kent Harris / S&S
"Ciggy" shows his disdain for the plan.


People who are taking anti-depressant medications are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease

A new study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting -- which begins next week in Boston -- found that people who are taking anti-depressant medications are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than people who are not taking the medications.

Researchers said that in the year before their Parkinson's disease was diagnosed, people who were taking anti-depressants were nearly twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as those who were not taking anti-depressants, the Harvard School of Public Health said in a release.

Magic Wand

The brain is more adept at using the nose than previously realized

Brains are able to adjust automatically to the demands of distinguishing between small differences in smell, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The research, which was conducted on rats, suggests that the human brain may be more adept at distinguishing smells than previously thought. The work comes from studies in the laboratory of Leslie Kay, Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University, who is looking at the ways animals perceive sensory stimuli by focusing on the neural basis of olfactory perception and how context and experience influence it.

The research demonstrates the importance of smell as a means for people to gather information from their environment. Smell is often an undervalued sense because people are more aware of the visual aspects of their perceptions, the researchers said.

Those visual distractions lead people to ignore their ability to detect smells, something the brain is apparently well equipped to do, according to Kay and Jennifer Beshel, a graduate student at the University, who presented results of her dissertation research in the talk, "Olfactory bulb gamma oscillations are dynamically altered to adjust to task demands," at the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences in Sarasota, Florida.


Pharmacy Error Cited in 3 Deaths

PORTLAND, Ore. - A pharmacy erroneously made a drug 10 times more potent than intended, which killed three people who received it at an Oregon clinic, the state medical examiner said Friday.


Study: School Culture Affects Student Violence

Along with personality and peer relationships, a school's culture also influences whether a child resolves an issue peacefully or goes off the deep end and resorts to violence, a new study finds.

The results, reported in the March issue of the journal Youth & Society, come as attention is focused on the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, an extreme example of student aggression at its most lethal.

Though it's no magic solution , the research could help ensure and direct intervention in middle schools where students need it most, the scientists say.

Magic Wand

Gene explains why people are night owls

A genetic mutation called the "after-hours gene" may explain why some people are night owls, it is revealed in Science journal today.

It could also hold clues for pharmacologists working to develop drugs to help people adjust to shift work or jet lag. There are further implications for the study of causes of some psychiatric disorders.

The altered gene, named "after hours" or Afh, is a variant of a gene called Fbxl3, which had not been linked to the body clock that keeps our metabolism, digestion and sleep patterns in tune with the rising and setting of the sun.

The discovery involved scientists from the Medical Research Council Mammalian Genetics Unit, Oxfordshire, the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Cambridge, and colleagues based at New York University.


Report on Hogs That Ate Tainted Food

WASHINGTON - Several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans, the government said Thursday.


Chocolate linked to low blood pressure

Eating dark chocolate may be almost as effective at lowering blood pressure as taking the most common anti-hypertensive drugs, a review of studies has found. Tea, on the other hand, appears to be ineffective.

Evil Rays

Nearly all US doctors have links with drug companies: study

WASHINGTON - With the US healthcare industry under increasing scrutiny over dangerous conflicts of interest, a new study released Wednesday concludes that almost all doctors have some relationship with drug makers.


FDA use poisoned pets to spark xenophobic fears.

A month after the the probe into the poisoning of pet food began, government officials announced this week that a second contaminant had been found in protein additives that have sickened or killed hundreds of dogs and cats. The announcement came on the heels of another devastating discovery: that batches of rice protein concentrate used in pet food were also laced with the first known culprit, melamine, a nitrogen-based compound used in commercial and industrial plastics. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the chemicals may have been deliberately added to the gluten in an attempt to artificially inflate the protein levels in the products.

"We have found cyanuric acid, which is somewhat related to melamine," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. Both compounds have high levels of nitrogen, which are a measure of protein in a food product. Wheat, rice and corn gluten are forms of vegetable protein that are used as binders in soft (or wet) pet food. They can also be added to dry food to enhance the protein content, says Dave Griffin, owner of the independent pet store Westwood Pet Center, in Bethesda, Md. Griffin, who has worked in the pet industry for 35 years, adds that because of lax labeling requirements, pet food manufacturers are not required to specify the source of protein - whether it's from meat or meal.