Showing posts from August, 2014

Can Your Toothbrush Give You Cancer?

Want to truly be grossed out?

Scientists now say that hollow head toothbrushes contain 3,000 more times bacteria than solid head toothbrushes, according to

Microbial counts were lower in the solid-head toothbrush group than in the two hollow-head toothbrush groups in 9 out of 10 comparisons, in the study.

“Toothbrushes can transmit microorganisms that cause disease and infections. A solid-head design allows for less growth of bacteria and bristles should be soft and made of nylon,” said lead author and professor at the University of Texas Health School of Dentistry, Donna Warren Morris, R.D.H., M.Ed. at the Web site. “It is also important to disinfect and to let your toothbrush dry between uses. Some power toothbrushes now include an ultraviolet system or you can soak the head in mouthwash for 20 minutes.”

The study was conducted over a three-week period where participants brushed twice daily with one out of three randomly assigned power toothbrushes. Participan…

Want To See How Good A Parent You'll Be? Play With Dolls

Want to know how good a parent you'll be?

Play with dolls.

Not just any dolls but ones that having expectant parents role-play interacting with an infant using a doll can help predict which couples may be headed for co-parenting conflicts when their baby arrives, reports.

Researchers videotaped 182 couples in the third trimester of pregnancy while they played with a doll that they were told represented the baby they were about to have. Researchers analyzed how the couple interacted with each other around the doll.

The couples were videotaped again nine months after the birth of their baby to see how they actually played together.

Results showed that couples acted as similarly toward each other with the real baby as they did with the doll – in both positive and negative ways.

“The extent to which couples support or undermine each other’s interactions with the doll predicts their co-parenting behavior a year later,” said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of th…

Where Do You Get Your Health Information? If You're Young and College-Educated, The Web

Let's face it.  The Internet has become a wonderful resource to look up symptoms and treatment and other health concerns.

But a group of people is taking it too seriously, without making sure of its credibility or accuracy.  Who are they?  Younger, college-educated men and women.

A new study says consumers are increasingly turning to forums, video-sharing sites, and peer support groups to gather anecdotal information and advice, which may distract them from more reliable and trustworthy sources, according to

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago, I immediately went online the minute it was even suspected I might have it.  Days before my diagnosis, I learned that what was spotted on my mammogram -- calcification -- is 80% of the time completely benign.  It didn't really help me relax all that much, but when it turned out to be malignant instead, I was horribly upset (probably more because of the diagnosis than the information accuracy!).


Do You Eat A Lot of Ramen Noodles? Maybe Lay Off

Here's a scary thought.  Did you know eating too many ramen noodles might give you a heart attack?

A new study says this is especially true for women (figures).

Significant consumption of the convenient food product – ramen included – may increase a person’s risk for cardiometabolic syndrome, especially in women, reports.

This means diabetes, stroke, or heart disease risk.

 Because ramen consumption is relatively high among Asian populations, the research focused primarily on South Korea, which has the highest per-capita number of instant noodle consumers in the world. In recent years, South Koreans have experienced a rapid increase in health problems, specifically heart disease, and a growing number of overweight adults. Such changes could lead to increased mortality due to cardiovascular disease, as well as increased health care costs, according to the Web site.

The researcher, Dr. Hyun Joon Shin, who led the study on behalf of the Baylor Heart and Vascular…

Shy? You Probably Use Facebook More Than Anyone

This is kind of surprising.  Shy people use Facebook longer, but disclose less on it.

According to a new study, it’s the quiet ones who are logging in longer, says an assistant professor in the Communications Arts Department at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) at

“The shy people spend more time on Facebook, but they disclose less information,” says Dr. Pavica Sheldon, who has done several studies on use of the social media site by university students.  "I'll poke you. You'll poke me!" Self-disclosure, social attraction, predictability and trust are important predictors of Facebook relationships, says another expert.

Makes sense to me.  I must confess, I'm a bit of a coward when it comes to confronting people.  But I do it well on the Web.  It's much easier to say things (but sometimes unwise) in writing than face-to-face.  I don't think I'd ever break up with someone by texting but I hear it's been done.  A lot.


Do You Care If Someone Is Treated More Unfairly Than You? Study Says, Probably Not

A new study has found that humans are probably less concerned than previously believed about the inequity of others, according to

Research revealed that, "strongly influenced by their self-interest, humans do not protest being overcompensated, even when there are no consequences, researchers in Georgia State University’s Brains and Behavior Program have found."

These findings suggest humans’ sense of unfairness is affected by their self-interest, indicating the interest humans show in others’ outcomes is a recently evolved propensity, the Web site reports.

Scientists have long known that humans show sensitivity when they are at a disadvantage by refusing or protesting outcomes more often when they are offered less money than a social partner.   But the new study showed that humans, who participated  do not show any sensitivity when they are overcompensated. They conclude that humans are more interested in their own outcomes than those of others.

 “A tru…

Guess What? Cheaters Never Change

It would seem pretty obvious, but a new study has found, once a cheater, always a cheater.

According to, this study showed that people who had sex outside their relationships once were 3.7 times more likely to report sexual infidelity again in their next relationships. Victims of infidelity in the past were also more likely to report being cheated on again.

Now, that's depressing!

The study examined 484 unmarried 18-to-34-year-olds who were in at least two relationships during the time of the study.

Researchers also found patterns within physically or psychologically aggressive relationships.

“Respondents who reported being aggressive in relationships were three times more likely to be aggressive in their next relationship – regardless of how aggressive their partner is,” says University of Denver psychology graduate student Kayla Knopp, who led the study.

“We were surprised to see that it wasn’t something you could blame on the couple’s relationship, that they …

Depressed? Go For a Run!

You really wanted to get out and do that run this morning but oh, that bed was so warm and cozy.

Don't blame yourself.  Blame your brain.

A new study has found that an area of the brain could control a person’s motivation to exercise and participate in other rewarding activities – potentially leading to improved treatments for depression.

 Scientists have discovered that a tiny region of the brain – the dorsal medial habenula – controls the desire to exercise in mice. The structure of the habenula is similar in humans and rodents and functions similarly in both species in mood regulation and motivation.

“Changes in physical activity and the inability to enjoy rewarding or pleasurable experiences are two hallmarks of major depression,” Dr. Eric Turner, a principal investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Integrative Brain Research,Turner said at “But the brain pathways responsible for exercise motivation have not been well understood. …

Want to Get Pregnant? Reconsider Using The Pill To Prevent It Before

If you are ever thinking of becoming pregnant, you might not want to take the pill.

That's because a new study has found that not only does it shrink your ovaries, it also reduces the number of eggs you will have for the rest of your life.

According to, the birth control pill significantly affects ovarian reserve— or the number of immature eggs in a woman’s ovaries— which can be a predictor of future fertility.

A team in Denmark, who reported this to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting last month, said that two markers for ovarian reserve are markedly suppressed after prolonged birth control pill use, and ovaries are also markedly shrunken after prolonged pill use.

“During the last three years we have counseled 900 women, and 300 men, about their ability to conceive naturally,” team leader Kathrine Birch Petersen told Bioscience Technology via email. “The proportion of oral contraceptive users was 28 percent. We were surpri…

Don't Panic But Children's Colds Can Lead to Stroke

Yet one more thing to worry about.

Doctors are now finding that children's colds may lead to a risk of stroke.

According to, a new study suggests that colds and other minor infections may temporarily increase stroke risk in children.

 But before you panic, doctors say, don't.

“While the study does show an increased risk, the overall risk of stroke among children is still extremely low,” said Lars Marquardt, MD, DPhil, of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, who wrote a corresponding editorial. “Minor infections are very common in children while strokes are thankfully very rare. Parents should not be alarmed whatsoever if a child catches a simple cold.”

The study found that the risk of stroke was increased only within a three-day time frame between doctors’ visits for signs of infection and stroke, when it studied children who had colds which led to  strokes. A total of 10 of the 102 children who had a stroke had a doctor visit for an infectio…

Small Wedding = Divorce?

We had 10 people at our wedding.

Now a new study says the more people who witness your union, the better your chances for a happy marriage.

Uh oh.

(Disclaimer: we've been married 20 years.)

The study found that the more people who attend your wedding to share in the launch of your marriage, the better the chances you will be happily married years down the road. And, somewhat counter-intuitively, the more relationships you had prior to your marriage, the less likely you are to report a high-quality marriage, according to

 "The study challenges the idea that 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' – the general notion that what happens in one’s younger years, before marriage, stays there and doesn’t impact the remainder of one’s life," newswise reports.

How people conduct their romantic lives before they tie the knot is linked to their odds of having happy marriages, the study’s authors argue. Past experiences, especially when it comes to love…

Risk -- Even Just The Thought of It Hurts Women More Than Men

A new study has found that women see risk a lot more negatively than men.

According to, "Risky situations increase anxiety for women but not for men, leading women to perform worse under these circumstances."

“On the surface, risky situations may not appear to be particularly disadvantageous to women, but these findings suggest otherwise,” the Web site quotes study author Susan R. Fisk, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Stanford University, who defines a risky situation as any setting with an uncertain outcome in which there can be both positive or negative results, depending on some combination of skill and chance.

And it doesn't have to be whether it's only just when you consider jumping out of an airplane with only a parachute on your back.  

According to Fisk, people often think of an extreme physical or financial risk when they think about a “risky situation.” Yet, in reality, people encounter risky situations all of the time. Fisk cites…

Study Says Women and Men Cheat for the Exact Same Reason: Boredom

I don't know if we should find this surprising but middle-aged women have affairs for passion and sex, not to leave their husbands.

According to a new study, women missing passion and sex in their marriages have affairs -- but no intention of divorcing their husbands.

I guess we like to have our cake, and eat it, too?  Sorry.  I couldn't resist.  But why not?  Men have been having it like this for years, if you believe the stats (of course, we do it, too).

“Being happy in marriage is far different than being happy in bed,” quotes Eric Anderson, a professor of masculinity, sexuality, and sport at the University of Winchester in England and the chief science officer at, a popular Web site for those interested in having extra-marital affairs.

In their study, Anderson and his co-authors focus on 100 heterosexual, married, females between the ages of 35 and 45, and their conversations with potential suitors on, in hopes of dete…

Guess What? Companies Like Men Who Try to Balance Work/Life Better Than Women

Doesn't it just make you want to laugh (or cry)?  A new study has found that men who try to balance their work/home lives are viewed more favorably than women.

Say what?

According to, while some suggest that flexible work arrangements have the potential to reduce workplace inequality, a new study finds these arrangements may exacerbate discrimination based on parental status and gender.

Among those who made flexible work requests, men who asked to work from home two days a week in order to care for a child were significantly advantaged compared to women who made the same request. Study author Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at Furman University, also found that both men and women who made flexible work requests for childcare-related reasons were advantaged compared to those who made the same requests for other reasons. 

For her study, Munsch used a sample of 646 people who ranged in age from 18 to 65 and resided in the U.S. Participants we…

Want To Get Pregnant? Be Careful What You Clean With

You might want to reconsider what you're cleaning with. A new study has found that chemicals in certain cleaning products have led to reproductive problems in mice.

According to, Virginia Tech researchers who were using a disinfectant when handling mice have discovered that two active ingredients in it cause declines in mouse reproduction.

Although the chemicals responsible for the declines are common in household cleaning products and disinfectants used in medical and food preparation settings, including hand sanitizers, academic scientists have never published a rigorous study, until now, on their safety or toxicity.

“If these chemicals are toxic to humans, they could also be contributing to the decline in human fertility seen in recent decades, as well as the increased need for assistive reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilization,” said Dr. Terry Hrubec, a research assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiolog…

Enjoy Your Salt -- Too Little's As Bad As Too Much

Maybe it comes from growing up with an English mother but we never used salt much in my house, growing up.

So that's probably why I don't like too much salt in my food (and why my mother-in-law says my food is tasteless -- but that's a story for another day!).

Now a new study is saying that too little salt can do as much damage as too much.

According to, researchers have shown that the effects of increasing sodium intake on raising blood pressure – a risk factor for heart attack, heart failure, stroke and other problems – become dramatically worse as salt intake rises above 5 grams (.17 of an ounce) per day, especially among people who already have high blood pressure, or who are older than 55, or both.

“While there has been much focus on reducing salt in the diet, an important and ignored approach to lowering blood pressure is increasing the amount of potassium consumed. A balanced approach is what is likely to have the greatest benefit in lowering blo…

Share Housework = No Sex? Maybe Not!

Who knew?  Sharing housework doesn't mean less sex.

At least, not according to a new study. reports that the authors of a 2013 study would say yes, it does, but new research done by Georgia State sociologists suggests otherwise.

The previous study examined data from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, says Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Carlsonid. But he and his colleagues used data from a 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey (MARS) that sampled low-to-moderate income couples with a minor child.

Their results show an equal division of labor in the home does not lead to a decrease in sexual frequency and satisfaction. Egalitarian couples have similar and sometimes better sex lives than their conventional counterparts.

 Both arrangements are sexy for people,” Carlson says at “You can find high quality relationships in both types of relationships. Neither are detrimental.”

Carlson believes this new research proves Americans have grown to favo…

Want to Be Scared Out of Your Pants? Keep Kids Away From Wireless Devices, REALLY

Ready to be scared about cell phones all over again?  A new study has found that wireless devices ARE a safety risk for children.

According to, a scholarly article on wireless safety reports that children and fetuses are the most at risk from neurological and biological damage that results from microwave radiation emitted by wireless devices, due to the higher rate of absorption of microwave radiation by children than by adults.

The study describes how the fetus is particularly vulnerable to microwave radiation, which can cause degeneration of the protective myelin sheath that surrounds brain neurons.  The authors recommend that wireless toys be banned due to the serious potential health risks.

Want to be scared some more?  The paper also documents cancer registry studies showing increased brain cancer incidence. Because the average latency time between first exposure and diagnosis of a tumor can be decades, the total number of tumors induced in children may not…

So You Didn't Get into Harvard? New Study Shows It Doesn't Matter All That Much Anyway

My husband (who went to BU) is determined that our son go to Harvard.  I, a Syracuse University ("party school") graduate isn't so concerned.  Hey, at least I went to Newhouse for journalism.

In any event, a new study has found that where you go to college may not matter all that much, in the end.  That's because, according to, is it the institutions themselves that succeed in getting students through to degree completion, or is degree completion merely a result of the quality of the students entering the institutions?

It's long been thought that students should attend the most academically selective college possible, since, among other reasons, highly selective institutions graduate students at higher rates.  But now experts aren't so sure.

New research has shown that attending a more selective college, as measured by average SAT score, does not make much of a difference for a student’s chance of graduating with a bachelor’s degree, once …

Want More Kids To Graduate? Maybe Go Easy(ier) on Science and Math

It almost caused me to drop out (just kidding!) but a new study has found that schools that emphasize math and science see more of their populations drop out.

According to, as U.S. high schools beef up math and science requirements for graduation, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have found that more rigorous academics drive some students to drop out.

“There’s been a movement to make education in the United States compare more favorably to education in the rest of the world, and part of that has involved increasing math and science graduation requirements,” explained first author Andrew D. Plunk, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine.

“There was an expectation that this was going to be good for students, but the evidence from our analyses suggests that many students ended up dropping out when school was made harder for them,” he added.

Hmm...  Wonder where Common Core fall…

Breast Cancer and Breast-Feeding -- A Connection?

Did you know that the very cells produced when you're pregnant so you can breast feed can be hijacked by cancer cells to produce faster-growing, more aggressive tumors later?

 “This normal pathway ends up contributing to the progression of cancer,” says Jay Desgrosellier, PhD, assistant professor of pathology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center, and first author of the study that discovered this.

During pregnancy, certain hormones trigger specialized mammary stem cells to create milk-producing cells essential to lactation, according to The study found that mammary stem cells associated with the pregnant mammary gland are related to stem cells found in breast cancer.

Scientists have long known there's a connection between breast cancer and pregnancy, primarily because both lead to fast-growing cells.  Cancer is a mutation in a fast-growing cell.

Researchers specifically identified a key molecular pathway assoc…

Guess What? Regular Marijuana Use By Teens Really Does Fry Their Brains

Big surprise.  A new study has found that regular marijuana use is bad for teens' brains.

You think?

Frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ, according to this new study, reports.

“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, at the Web site.

Now when I was a teen, everyone smoked weed, and I mean, everyone.  You couldn't go to a party, or even a dorm room, without that sweet smoky smell in the air.  I must be the only person on the planet who only ever took one puff  (and that was with my baby sister!).  But I just never had the desire for drugs of any kind.  Maybe it was more t…

Getting Your Fruits and Vegetables? Study Says No

So you've given and added bananas to your breakfast.

But guess what?  A new study says most adults need to double their fruit and vegetable intake.

New research published in the September issue of the British Journal of Nutrition highlights a significant shortfall in fruit and vegetable consumption in people’s diets around the world, according to

Research finds the majority of adults worldwide would have to at least double their current consumption of fruits and vegetables to meet the World Health Organization’s minimum recommendation of five servings (400 grams) per day.

Additionally, the vast majority of adults worldwide – 60 to 87% across 13 geographic diet regions – are falling short of this recommendation and missing out on crucial nutrition and health benefits.

The gap between the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and what adults are actually eating also indicates that most adults worldwide are not receiving the quantity or variety of phytonutrients…

Have What You Want? Want What You Have

Did you know being happier could lead to a healthier environment?

Well, it's not quite that simple.  But a new study has found that the pursuit of true happiness can lead people to lifestyles that will not only be satisfying but will be better for the environment,according to

"For decades, consumerism has been on a collision course with the environment, with consumer appetites draining the planet of natural resources and accelerating global warming. One view is that we need to change consumption in order to save the planet,”Miriam Tatzel, PhD, of Empire State College, tells “But what if we approached it from the other way around? What if what’s good for the consumer meets what’s good for the environment?”

 Positive psychology, or the study of happiness, well-being and quality of life, provides the answers to what really brings happiness to consumers, Tatzel said. Several studies have determined that people’s basic psychological needs incl…

Hey, Your Brain Really Knows In a Split Second Whether to Trust Someone

How's this for brains?  They can judge a face's trustworthiness even without consciously seeing it.

According to, “Our findings suggest that the brain automatically responds to a face’s trustworthiness before it is even consciously perceived,” explains Jonathan Freeman, an assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Psychology and the study’s senior author.

Haven't you proven it?  Just by looking at someone, sometimes getting a sense to be wary?

“The results are consistent with an extensive body of research suggesting that we form spontaneous judgments of other people that can be largely outside awareness,” adds Freeman, who conducted the study as a faculty member at Dartmouth College.

 The study showed people photos of faces that were both real and artificially created, judging them for trustworthiness in a brief few seconds.  An earlier group had been shown the photos for a longer period of time.

This rapid exposure, together with a…

Your Kid Texts While Driving? Look in the Mirror

So it's our fault.  Did you know that teens talking on their cells while driving are most likely talking to. . . us?

A new study claims that parents are part of the problem.  Now, I have a few more years to go before my son starts driving.  And if his current behavior is any predictor, I won't have to worry.  He hates talking on the phone.  Especially to me.  (We won't get into "Whose voice is that??!" the one time he did pick up the phone.)

But the study found that more than half of teens talking on cellphones while driving were conversing with their mother or father.  And guess what?  They watch us do it, too.

Researchers interviewed or surveyed more than 400 teen drivers, ages 15 to 18, from 31 states to find out why they continue to talk and text behind the wheel, despite warnings about the serious hazards of distracted driving, according to

“Teens said parents expect to be able to reach them, that parents get mad if they don’t answer their…

Are You a Narcissist?

Are you a narcissist?  Have someone ask you that question. reports that a new study has found that, if you are, you will, duh, willingly admit it.

“People who are willing to admit they are more narcissistic than others probably actually are more narcissistic,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

“People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don’t see narcissism as a negative quality – they believe they are superior to other people and are fine."

But that's not always a good thing.  Understanding narcissism has many implications for society that extend beyond the impact on the individual narcissist’s life, adds Sara Konrath of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (formerly of the University of Michigan).   “For example, narcissistic people have low empathy, and empathy is one key motivator of philanth…

Why the "Silent Treatment" is a Commitment Killer

When our son was small, my husband and I used to fight all the time.  Who fed him last?  Who changed him?  Whose turn was it to go off by themselves for a while?  A lot of the time we yelled at each other until someone just gave up and walked away.

But the most damaging fights were the ones when we stopped talking to each other.  Now a new study has found that the “silent treatment” can ruin a relationship.

As a child, my mom pulled the same sort of thing.  She was great at withdrawing.  When I was older, I learned that it was from depression and numbing herself with alcohol and painkillers.  But she just wasn't there.  I learned to get around it but I'd have to say it affected me for life.

They say you marry your mother (even women), and my husband, sad to say, used to share a lot of qualities with her.  It didn't take much to make him mad, and when it did, he would retreat into silence for sometimes days. I think we even went for a week once.

He'd slam doors and cabi…

Are Animals Fair?

The other night I was watching a bear rip the flesh off another bear and it was pretty awful.  Turns out the male bear wanted to mate with a female bear but she was fending him off while another female bear cozied up to him. The female bear he wanted got mad at the other female, so she charged her, and when the male bear got wind of this, he killed the other female.  Then the first female decided to mate with him.  Guess she likes her bears manly.


None of that seemed fair to me.  Yet a new study has found that humans aren’t the only species to react strongly to actions they consider unfair. A similar drive for fairness in monkeys and some dogs has been observed, reports. Notice, they don't say bears.

Domestic dogs are more concerned with the quantity of treats doled out by a trainer than whether the trainer distributes them fairly, according to Alexandra Horowitz, PhD, of Barnard College. In her study, dogs had to select a “fair” or “unfair” trainer. Older dogs were …

Succed Too Early And Hate It? Yes, You Can

You've finally got an agent for your novel.  Then she gets a publisher for your book.  It's something you've dreamed of all your life.  Your book will be out next year.

Sadly, I came close to this but no cigar.  But a new study says that success might not feel like success if  the script (or the novel) isn't followed the way you thought it would, and you learn too soon that you will accomplish what you set out to do?

 The study finds that the positive reaction one would have when succeeding is lessened if it doesn't follow the expected course, according to

I guess that means if I was in the library one day and saw my novel on the shelf, I would hate it?

I doubt it.

But researchers found that when people learned, for example, that they would win a game, get a job offer or be accepted to college before their predetermined time, "the experience was muted twice — when they learned early, and then when the goal was achieved."

"We basicall…