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Alcohol increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer - but smoking has no impact

Drinking alcohol increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer - but smoking has no impact, researchers have found.

Scientists have calculated that a woman's risk of breast cancer rises by 6% for each extra alcoholic drink she consumes on an average daily basis (7% on international measures).

Wine

Moderate Drinking Linked to Breast Cancer

Moderate alcohol consumption, or about two drinks a day, has often been touted as heart healthy in recent years, but a new study finds the same quantity causes cancer.

Mice given the human equivalent of two drinks daily developed breast tumors that were nearly double the weight of those in their "dry" relatives.

Nearly 179,000 U.S. women will develop breast cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Even so, scientists lack a strong grasp on why one woman develops the disease and another remains cancer free.

Presented here at the American Physiological Society (APS) annual meeting, the research not only shows the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, but it proposes how that glass of wine or bottle of beer works to stimulate tumor growth.

"Alcohol [consumption] is the most important avoidable risk factor for women getting breast cancer," lead scientist Jian-Wei Gu of the University of Mississippi Medical Center told LiveScience. Genetic factors would be considered "unavoidable," since people inherit DNA from their parents.

Coffee

Your Brain And Hormones May Conspire To Make You Fat

Why do some people get fat even when they eat relatively little? What creates that irresistible urge for a bag of potato chips or a hunk of chocolate cake, as opposed to a nice crisp apple? Can food urges be irresistible?

Physiologists are unraveling the role that your hormones and brain play in urging you to eat more than you should. Some people's hormones may be signaling their brains to send messages like "Eat a lot now," and "Go for the fat and sugar."

Four physiologists will clarify the latest research on the brain's role in obesity, during the symposium, "Obesity and the Central Nervous System." The symposium will take place at the 120th annual meeting of The American Physiological Society (APS), which coincides with Experimental Biology 2007. The session will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, April 30 in Room 146B of the Washington Convention Center and is cosponsored by the London-based Journal of Physiology.

Heart

Cherries may help reduce metabolic syndrome and heart disease risk factors

Increasing intake of antioxidant-rich cherries may help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, suggests a new study(1) presented today at the Experimental Biology annual meeting.

Researchers say the animal study is encouraging and will lead to further clinical studies in humans.

"Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of traits that can greatly increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, so it's a serious condition that significantly affects public health," said study co-author Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory, where the study was performed. "Lifestyle changes have been shown to lower the odds of developing metabolic syndrome, and there is tremendous interest in studying the impact of particular foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as cherries."

Metabolic syndrome (also called insulin resistance syndrome) has become increasingly common in the United States, especially among adults in their mid-30s.

X

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.

Health

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.

Health

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.

Attention

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.