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Friday, January 30, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

Heavy drinking in middle-age may increase stroke risk more than traditional factors

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 02:03 PM PST

Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day in middle-age raised stroke risks more than traditional factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Heavy drinking in mid-life was linked to having a stroke about five years earlier in life irrespective of genetic and early-life factors.

FDA approves first-of-kind device to treat obesity

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 02:03 PM PST

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Maestro Rechargeable System for certain obese adults, the first weight loss treatment device that targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach that controls feelings of hunger and fullness.

Is this the year you join the top one percent? Affluence more fluid than once thought

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 01:09 PM PST

Here's some good news for the New Year: According to new research, there's a 1 in 9 chance that a typical American will hit the jackpot and join the wealthiest 1 percent for at least one year in her or his working life. And now the bad news: That same research says only an elite few get to stay in that economic stratosphere -- and nonwhite workers remain among those who face far longer odds.

Complex environments push 'brain' evolution

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 01:08 PM PST

Little animations trying to master a computer game are teaching neuroscience researchers how the brain evolves when faced with difficult tasks. Neuroscientists have programmed animated critters that they call 'animats.' The critters have a rudimentary neural system made of eight nodes: two sensors, two motors, and four internal computers that coordinate sensation, movement and memory.

Privacy challenges: Just four vague pieces of info can identify you, and your credit card

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 01:08 PM PST

Just four fairly vague pieces of information -- the dates and locations of four purchases -- are enough to identify 90 percent of the people in a data set recording three months of credit-card transactions by 1.1 million users. If someone had copies of just three of your recent receipts -- or one receipt, one Instagram photo of you having coffee with friends, and one tweet about the phone you just bought -- would have a 94 percent chance of extracting your credit card records from those of a million other people. This is true, the researchers say, even in cases where no one in the data set is identified by name, address, credit card number, or anything else that we typically think of as personal information.

Powerful tool promises to change the way scientists view proteins

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:16 PM PST

Life scientists now have access to a publicly available web resource that streamlines and simplifies the process of gleaning insight from 3-D protein structures. Aquaria, as it's known, is fast, easy-to-use and contains twice as many models as all other similar resources combined.

Erectile dysfunction drugs could protect liver from sepsis-induced damage

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:16 PM PST

Drugs that are on the market to treat erectile dysfunction could have another use: they might be able to protect the liver from damage caused by sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response to infection, say researchers.

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:16 PM PST

Building a protein is a lot like a game of telephone: information is passed along from one messenger to another, creating the potential for errors. Enzymatic machines proofread at each step, and scientists have uncovered a new quality control mechanism along this path. But in a remarkable role reversal, the proofreading isn't done by an enzyme. Instead, one of the messengers itself has a built-in mechanism to prevent errors.

First-ever view of protein structure may lead to better anxiety drugs

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

When new medicines are invented, the drug may hit the intended target and nullify the symptoms, but nailing a bull's eye -- one that produces zero side effects -- can be quite elusive. New research has, for the first time, revealed the crystal structure of a key protein, TSPO, which is associated with several forms of anxiety disorders.

Individuals may fail to navigate complex tradeoffs in privacy decision-making

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Researchers have detailed the privacy hurdles people face while navigating in the information age, and what should be done about privacy at a policy level, in a new review.

Key element in circadian clock speed discovered

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

In a discovery that may lead to new treatments for sleep disorders, jet lag and other health problems tied to circadian rhythms, researchers have identified a determinant of the circadian clock's period.

New minimally invasive test identifies patients for Barrett's esophagus screening

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

A new minimally invasive cell sampling device coupled with assessment of trefoil factor 3 expression can be used to identify patients with reflux symptoms who warrant endoscopy to diagnose Barrett's esophagus, according to a new study.

Public and scientists express strikingly different views about science-related issues

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Despite similar views about the overall place of science in America, the general public and scientists often see science-related issues through a different lens, according to a new pair of surveys.

New clues about a brain protein with high affinity for valium

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:29 AM PST

Valium, one of the best known antianxiety drugs, produces its calming effects by binding with a particular protein in the brain. But the drug has an almost equally strong affinity for a completely different protein. New studies revealing atomic level details of this secondary interaction might offer clues about Valium's side effects and point the way to more effective drugs.

Texting may be more suitable than apps in treatment of mental illness

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:11 AM PST

Texting may be a more suitable treatment aid for those with mental illness than mobile applications.This is the key finding of a new study led by researchers from Clemson University in collaboration with researchers from Indiana University and the Centerstone Research Institute. The study was published in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing.

Genetically engineered antibody-based molecules show enhanced hiv-fighting abilities

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:29 AM PST

Capitalizing on a new insight into HIV's strategy for evading antibodies -- proteins produced by the immune system to identify and wipe out invading objects such as viruses -- researchers have developed antibody-based molecules that are more than 100 times better than our bodies' own defenses at binding to and neutralizing HIV, when tested in vitro. The work suggests a novel approach that could be used to engineer more effective HIV-fighting drugs.

Added fructose is a principal driver of type 2 diabetes, experts argue

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:29 AM PST

Recent studies have shown that added sugars, particularly those containing fructose, are a principal driver of diabetes and pre-diabetes, even more so than other carbohydrates. Clinical experts challenge current dietary guidelines that allow up to 25 percent of total daily calories as added sugars, and propose drastic reductions in the amount of added sugar, and especially added fructose, people consume.

Crucial protective role observed for farnesoid-x receptor in cholestatic liver injury

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:28 AM PST

The farnesoid-X receptor (FXR), also known as the chief regulator of bile acid metabolism, is thought to play a role in some hepatobiliary and gastrointestinal disorders. A recent study has demonstrated dysfunctional intestinal FXR-signaling in a rat model of cholestatic liver injury, accompanied by intestinal bacterial translocation (BTL) and increased permeability and inflammation. Notably, a highly potent, selective FXR agonist obeticholic acid (INT-747) counteracted these effects, suggesting a potential new therapeutic avenue for liver disease.

Walking on ice takes more than brains: 'Mini-brain' in spinal cord aids in balance

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:28 AM PST

Scientists have discovered how a "mini-brain" in the spinal cord aids in balance. Much of the balancing act that our bodies perform when faced with a task such as walking on an icy surface happens unconsciously, thanks to a cluster of neurons in our spinal cord that function as a "mini-brain" to integrate sensory information and make the necessary adjustments to our muscles so that we don't slip and fall, researchers report.

Common pesticide may increase risk of ADHD

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

A new study provides strong evidence, using data from animal models and humans, that exposure to a common household pesticide may be a risk factor for ADHD.

Infants create new knowledge while sleeping

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

There is no rest for a baby's brain -- not even in sleep. While infants sleep they are reprocessing what they have learned. Researchers have discovered that babies of the age from nine to 16 months remember the names of objects better if they had a short nap.

Parkinson's gene linked to lung cancer

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

A gene that is associated with lung cancer has been identified by researchers. Through whole exome sequencing, they identified a link between a mutation in PARK2, a gene associated with early-onset Parkinson's disease, and familial lung cancer.

Among gut microbes, strains, not just species, matter

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

Sophisticated genomic techniques now allow scientists to estimate the strains, not just the species, in samples of the human gut's microbe collection. Differences in the strains of microorganisms present might account for the variable influence the gut's microbe community has on human health and disease. Understanding the effects of various strain combinations on such functions as metabolism, immunity and drug reactions might suggest ways to manipulate the gut microbiome to improve health.

Ancient 'genomic parasites' spurred evolution of pregnancy in mammals

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:55 AM PST

Large-scale genetic changes that marked the evolution of pregnancy in mammals have been identified by an international team of scientists. They found thousands of genes that evolved to be expressed in the uterus in early mammals. Surprisingly, these genes appear to have been recruited from other tissue types by transposons -- ancient mobile genetic elements sometimes thought of as genomic parasites. The study sheds light on how organisms evolve new morphological structures and functions.

Cancer fear can impact screening uptake

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

People who worry about cancer are more likely to want to get screened for colon cancer, but feeling uncomfortable at the thought of cancer makes them less likely to actually go for the test, finds new research.

Functioning brain tissue grown in 3-D structure

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

Researchers have induced human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing tantalizing clues in the quest to recreate neural structures in the laboratory. One of the primary goals of stem-cell research is to be able to replace damaged body parts with tissues grown from undifferentiated stem cells. For the nervous system, this is a particular challenge because not only do specific neurons need to be generated, but they must also be coaxed into connecting to each other in very specific ways.

New deep-brain imaging reveals separate functions for nearly identical neurons

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 09:54 AM PST

New deep-brain imaging shows activity of individual, genetically similar neurons to particular behaviors of mice. Scientists watched as one neuron was activated when a mouse searched for food while a nearly identical neuron next to it remained inactive until the mouse began eating.

Blame men for political gridlock, study says

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

Men in survey and experimental data were more likely than women to avoid cross-party political discussion, to judge political arguments based solely on what party is advancing them, and to form strong political opinions about the opposite party's positions without actually listening to the other side's reasoning, researchers report.

Obesity, diabetes symptoms in mice improved by reversing brain inflammation

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:43 AM PST

Using an antioxidant to reverse inflammation in the brain caused by a high-fat diet greatly improves symptoms related to obesity and type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests. The research suggests that butein and other natural compounds that block inflammation in the brain should be vigorously investigated as novel anti-diabetic treatments, he says.

New research recommends treating elevated blood pressure during pregnancy

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:43 AM PST

Treating a woman's elevated blood pressure during pregnancy is safer for her and safe for the baby, a new study shows. The study addresses an age-old belief that reducing elevated blood pressure during pregnancy might lead to reduced growth in the womb and worse health at birth.

HIV testing yields diagnoses in Kenya but few seek care

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:43 AM PST

A sweeping effort in a rural region of Kenya to test all adults for HIV discovered 1,300 new infections, but few of the newly diagnosed people pursued treatment, a study reports.

New potential therapeutic strategy against a very aggressive infant bone cancer

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:43 AM PST

Inhibition of Sirtuin1 protein may be a future treatment option for metastatic Ewing sarcoma, researchers report. Ewing's sarcoma is the second most common bone cancer and affects children and adolescents. Currently, if diagnosed in time and there is no metastasis, it can be cured in 80% of cases but between 25% and 30% of cases are diagnosed when there is already metastasized, at which low survival to 30 %.

Hydrogen sulfide could help lower blood pressure

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:43 AM PST

A new compound, called AP39, which generates minute quantities of the gas hydrogen sulfide inside cells, could be beneficial in cases of high blood pressure and diseases of the blood vessels that occur with aging and diabetes, new research suggests.

Rapid test kit detects dengue antibodies from saliva

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:42 AM PST

Finding out whether you have been infected with dengue may soon be as easy as spitting into a rapid test kit. Researchers have developed a paper-based disposable device that will allow dengue-specific antibodies to be detected easily from saliva within 20 minutes. This device is currently undergoing further development for commercialization.

Diet, nutrition essential for mental health

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:42 AM PST

Evidence is rapidly growing showing vital relationships between both diet quality and potential nutritional deficiencies and mental health, a new international collaborative study has revealed.

How poverty may affect memory

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:41 AM PST

Investigators have studied whether working memory of children living in rural poverty is distinct from the working memory profiles of children in urban poverty. The results clearly suggest that school-aged low-socioeconomic status children exhibit both verbal and visuospatial working memory deficits, possibly due to increased levels of stress. Children in urban poverty showed symmetric working memory weaknesses, while children in rural poverty had worse visuospatial working memory than verbal working memory.

Forecasting the flu better

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:40 AM PST

Researchers say they can predict the spread of flu a week into the future with as much accuracy as Google Flu Trends can display levels of infection right now. The study uses social network analysis and combines the power of Google Flu Trends' "big data" with traditional flu monitoring data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Novel eye-tracking technology detects concussions, head injury severity

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 07:40 AM PST

New research could move the medical community one step closer toward effectively detecting concussion and quantifying its severity. Neuroscientists and concussion experts present a unique, simple and objective diagnostic tool for concussion that can be utilized in the emergency room or, one day, on the sidelines at sporting events. The study utilized a novel eye-tracking device to effectively measure the severity of concussion or brain injury in patients presenting to emergency departments following head trauma.

Nearly 2,500 women could benefit from mitochondrial donation in UK

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:43 AM PST

Almost 2,500 women of child-bearing age in the UK are at risk of transmitting mitochondrial disease to their children, according to the most recent estimates. Experts say that these women could benefit from mitochondrial donation.

Feelings of loneliness, depression linked to binge-watching television

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:43 AM PST

It seems harmless: getting settled in for a night of marathon session for a favorite TV show, like House of Cards. But why do we binge-watch TV, and can it really be harmless? A recent study has found that the more lonely and depressed you are, the more likely you are to binge-watch.

Outbreak of rare respiratory virus could be linked with paralysis in 12 Colorado children

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:42 AM PST

A cluster of children from Colorado in the USA have been treated for muscle weakness or paralysis that may be connected to a nationwide outbreak of a usually rare respiratory virus called enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses, experts report.

Can synesthesia be taught? Colored letters, tasty sounds?

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:42 AM PST

Can synesthesia have cognitive benefits and can it be taught? There are over 60 known types of synesthesia, a condition in which stimulation of one sense, such as taste, leads to automatic, involuntary experience in a second sense. People with synesthesia tend to perform better on memory tasks, particularly involving color, abstract patterns or words and this can also be transferred to creative disciplines such as music.

Ultrasound technology made to measure

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:42 AM PST

The range of uses for ultrasound is gigantic; the applied technologies are just as diverse. Researchers are now covering a wide range of applications with a new modular system: From sonar systems to medical ultrasound technologies and all the way to the high frequency range – such as for materials testing.

School failure linked to higher use of computers at home, Spanish study shows

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:42 AM PST

Researchers have analyzed the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by secondary school students, by using a sample of 5,538 students. The study, based on surveys taken in the 2010/2011 academic year, finds links between school failure and an elevated use of computers at home.

She thinks friends, he thinks sex

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:41 AM PST

Men and women constantly misunderstand each other when it comes to the difference between being friends or sexual partners. But is that also true in a sexually liberal country where gender equality is strong -- like Norway? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

Love and intimacy in later life: Active sex lives common in the over 70s

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:41 AM PST

Older people are continuing to enjoy active sex lives well into their seventies and eighties, according to new research. More than half (54%) of men and almost a third (31%) of women over the age of 70 reported they were still sexually active, with a third of these men and women having frequent sex.

Nanomedicines of the future will build on quantum chemistry

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:41 AM PST

Quantum chemical calculations have been used to solve big mysteries in space. Soon the same calculations may be used to produce tomorrow's cancer drugs, experts say.

Ebola leads to hunger in Africa's rice belt

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:41 AM PST

It was Christmas Eve, but the streets of Freetown – the capital of Sierra Leone – were eerily silent. Families and friends did not meet for the traditional dinner to feast on Jollof Rice, a national dish that is served in all the ceremonies across the country. In December 2014, the government of Sierra Leone banned all public celebrations to prevent the further spread of Ebola in the worst-affected country. But even before this drastic step was taken, people living in the countries hit hardest by the deadly virus – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea –had little to cheer about. Although there was a glimmer of hope for an end in sight to the Ebola epidemic, these countries were reported to be on the brink of a major food crisis.

3D printing makes heart surgery safer for children

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:39 AM PST

A cardiac surgeon in the United States recently used a 3D printed heart as a model to plan a life-saving procedure for his young patient. The 3D printed heart was used as a model to plan a life-saving procedure for the patient who was born with a rare, life-threatening cardiac defect.

Child maltreatment not a clear path to adult crime

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:39 AM PST

Research has long made a connection between childhood abuse and neglect and crime in adulthood. But a new study found that when other life factors are considered, that link all but disappears.

Many religious people view science favorably, but reject certain scientific theories

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:39 AM PST

A new study finds that many U.S. adults -- roughly one in five -- are deeply religious, know a lot about science, and support many practical uses of science and technology in everyday life, but reject scientific explanations of creation and evolution.

Gender roles: Men and women are not so different after all

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 06:38 AM PST

Gender is a large part of our identity that is often defined by our psychological differences as men and women. But a researcher says in reality men and women are more alike than we may think.

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