Health & WellnessS


Chocolate gives people more of a buzz than passionate kisses: study

British researchers said Monday they were stunned to discover that people get more of a buzz from eating chocolate than passionately kissing their lovers.
"These results really surprised and intrigued us," said psychologist David Lewis, who led a study that recorded brain activity and heart rate from volunteers who tasted pieces of dark chocolate or kissed their partners.


Neurotic Men Die Sooner Than Their More Mellow Counterparts

While mellowing with age has often been thought to have positive effects, a Purdue University researcher has shown that doing so could also help you live longer.

Dan Mroczek (pronounced Mro-ZAK), an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue University, compared neurotic and non-neurotic men over time and tied change in the trait with mortality.

"We found that neurotic men whose levels dropped over time had a better chance at living longer," Mroczek said. "They seemed to recover from any damage high levels of the trait may have caused. On the flip side, neurotic men whose neuroticism increased over time died much sooner than their peers."


"Researchers" say: If you are a male who eats bacon and smokes, you are doomed to get lung cancer.

A US study has linked eating cured meat like bacon and hot dogs with increased risk of lung disease.

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and examines the link between frequent consumption of cured meats and impaired lung function in terms of the increased odds of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), of which emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common form (and often co-exist), is characterized by swelling of the airways.

According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the US and more women now die from it than men. In 2003 it claimed 122,283 American lives.


Hundreds of Thousands of Iraq Veterans have Sustained Brain Injuries - With Little to No Treatment

Colorado Springs - After the 5-ton Army truck stopped tumbling down an embankment in Iraq, Gary Watts found himself standing on his head, upside down in the cab of the truck.

"All I had was a sore neck and a bad, bad headache," Watts said.

He rested for a couple of days after the July 24, 2003, accident, then went back to work. He would listen to his commander's directions but hear only pieces of sentences. Twice, he ended up in the wrong convoy in Iraq, driving a truckload of supplies to the wrong place. His bosses chewed him out, and fellow soldiers made fun of him.


Gender and ethnicity affect court rulings and prison terms

New research in the Department of Sociology at the University of Haifa found that the gender and ethnicity of judges, defendants and victims effect court rulings and prison terms. A Jew who is found guilty of attacking an Arab has a 14% chance of receiving a prison term if an Arab judge presides over the case. In the opposite case, but also heard by an Arab judge, if an Arab is convicted of attacking a Jew, he has a 77% chance of being sent to jail. Female judges send 94% of guilty defendants to jail while male judges send 84% to jail.

The research, which was conducted at the Center for the Study of Crime, Law and Society at the University of Haifa by Dr. Hagit Turjeman, under the direction of Prof. Gideon Fishman and Prof. Arye Rattner, examined 1200 cases of violence that were heard in the district courts in Haifa and Nazareth between the years of 1985 and 1999. Cases that were related to terror attacks were not included in the study. The judicial process was examined to see if the gender or ethnicity of the defendant, judge or victim affects the court ruling or punishment. The cases evaluated were grouped according to severity of the crime and criminal history of the defendant.

On a positive note, the study revealed that gender and ethnicity do not affect the probability of conviction of a crime. However, in cases where a defendant was found guilty, consistent differences were found in the sentences given by male and female and Jewish and Arab judges.


No sign that ethnic groups' genes cause diabetes, international research team says

A study by U.S. and Australian researchers is helping dispel the 40-year-old "thrifty genotype theory," which purports that certain minority groups are genetically prone to diabetes.

The study, co-authored by UC Irvine anthropologist Michael Montoya, along with an epidemiologist and population geneticist, analyzed existing genetic studies published across a variety of disciplines. The team found no evidence to support the widely held thrifty genotype theory, which suggests that cycles of feast and famine early in human history created a gene that helps the body use scarce nutrients - a gene that leads to obesity and diabetes in comfortable, sedentary modern lifestyles.


Guns In Homes Strongly Associated With Higher Rates Of Suicide

In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of suicide in the U.S., researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that suicide rates among children, women and men of all ages are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the April 2007 issue of The Journal of Trauma.

"We found that where there are more guns, there are more suicides," said Matthew Miller, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at HSPH and lead author of the study.

Suicide ranks as one of the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S.; among persons less than 45 years old, it is one of the top three causes of death. In 2004, more than half of the 32,439 Americans who committed suicide used a firearm.


Mozart doesn't make you clever

Passively listening to Mozart - or indeed any other music you enjoy - does not make you smarter. But more studies should be done to find out whether music lessons could raise your child's IQ in the long term, concludes a report analysing all the scientific literature on music and intelligence, which was published last week by the German research ministry.

The ministry commissioned the report - surprisingly the first to systematically review the literature on the purported intelligence effect of music - from a team of nine German neuroscientists, psychologists, educationalists and philosophers, all music experts. The ministry felt it had to tackle the subject because it had been inundated with requests for funding of studies on music and intelligence, which it didn't know how to assess.

Magic Wand

Wired For Sound: How The Brain Senses Visual Illusions

In a study that could help reveal how illusions are produced in the brain's visual cortex, researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine have found new evidence of rapid integration of auditory and visual sensations in the brain. Their findings, which provide new insight into neural mechanisms by which visual perception can be altered by concurrent auditory events, will be published online in the April 12 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

When subjects were shown a single flash of light interposed between two brief sounds, many subjects reported seeing two distinct flashes of light. Investigating the timing and location of the brain processes that underlie this illusory effect -- the illusion of seeing two flashes in the presence of two auditory signals, when only one flash actually occurs -- can reveal how information from different senses are integrated in the brain.

The study of 34 subjects was carried out in the laboratory of Steven A. Hillyard, Ph.D., UCSD professor of neurosciences. "This type of perceptual illusion has been described before," said first author Jyoti Mishra, graduate student in the Hillyard lab. "The surprising finding we made is that the illusion depends on a rapidly timed sequence of interactions between the auditory and visual cortical areas."


Male And Female Brain Patterns Differ During Reaching

Men's and women's brains "fire" differently when they are planning how to reach for something, so rehabilitation after brain injuries such as strokes may need to be tailored to the sex of the person, says a new study by York University researchers.

Associate professor Lauren Sergio and recent PhD graduate Diana Gorbet, of the Faculty of Health's School of Kinesiology, found differences in patterns of brain activity in men and women preparing to do visually-guided actions related to tasks such as using a computer mouse or driving a car. Their findings were published online recently by the European Journal of Neuroscience.

"We found that in females there were three major brain areas involved in visually-guided movement and they showed activity on both sides of the brain in most of the exercises in the study," says Sergio. "In contrast, male brains lit up on both sides only for the most complex exercise."