Showing posts from October, 2014

Scatching Makes It Itch More

It's probably happened to you.  A mosquito bite starts itching, and the minute you scratch, it itches more.  It may sound like an oxymoron but scratching actually does make it itch more.

According to a new study by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that scratching causes the brain to release serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation, reports.

 Scientists have known for decades that scratching creates a mild amount of pain in the skin, the Web site quotes senior investigator Zhou-Feng Chen, PhD, director of Washington University’s Center for the Study of Itch. That pain can interfere with itching — at least temporarily — by getting nerve cells in the spinal cord to carry pain signals to the brain instead of itch signals.

“The problem is that when the brain gets those pain signals, it responds by producing the neurotransmitter serotonin to help control that pain,” Chen explained. “But as serotonin spreads from the…

Maggots Gross You Out? You Could Be a Conservative

Would you believe that our brain's response to disgusting images can tell whether we're a Republican or Democrat?

I didn't say disgusting images of Republicans (sorry, all you conservatives out there!), but apparently, a new study has found, how much your brain responds to pictures of maggot infestations, rotting carcasses, unidentifiable gunk in the kitchen sink, could predict whether you are liberal or conservative.

 Say what? 

An international team of scientists led by Virginia Tech reports that the strength of a person’s reaction to repulsive images can forecast their political ideology, according to

“Disgusting images generate neural responses that are highly predictive of political orientation even when those neural responses don’t correspond with an individual’s conscious reaction to the images,” the Web site quotes Read Montague, a Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute professor who led the study. “Remarkably, we found that the brain’s resp…

New Link Between Diet and Cancer

Diet.  Inflammation.  Cancer.

There's a link. 

A connection between inflammation and cancer has been found, and diet and nutrition contribute to not only colitis but colitis-associated colon cancer. Chronic inflammation appears to play a key role in the development of cancer, along with heart disease and diabetes. Now a new study presented today suggests that eating a diet high in sugar, saturated fats and others foods that promote inflammation increases the risk of premature death from any cause, including cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

A connection between inflammation and cancer has been recognized for over a hundred years, according to  This connection is particularly evident in colon carcinogenesis, because patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have a higher incidence of colon cancer than the general population.

The Web site reports that a new study has found that there's increasing evidence that inflammation contributes to the ear…

Missing the Boy as the Man Emerges

Missing The Boy as the Man Emerges
Here's what I miss about having a teenage boy.

More Women, More Sex, Less Prostate Cancer

Back in the 70s, when free love was everywhere, no one thought much about having multiple partners.  Then in the 80s, with the ugly appearance of AIDS, that pretty much went away.  In the years since, the 70s never really came back.  People were more responsible and chose partners appropriately.

But now a shocking new study has found that the more female sexual partners a man has had, the lower his risk of prostate cancer.

Unfortunately, the same does not hold true for men with many male sexual partners.  

According to, compared to men who have had only one partner during their lifetime, having sex with more than 20 women is associated with a 28% lower risk of one day being diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to researchers at the University of Montreal and INRS - Institut Armand-Frappier. However, having more than 20 male partners in one's lifetime is associated with a twofold higher risk of getting prostate cancer, compared to those who have never slept…

Is Positive Thinking a Negative?

Can positive thinking be bad for us?

A new study says it can.  

According to The New York Times, it in fact may have the opposite effect.  A survey it cited asked some women who wanted to lose weight to imagine themselves succeeding and looking good, while other women were asked to imagine cheating on the diet.  Guess which group succeeded?  The ones who imagined themselves cheating.

Experts say this happens because once we imagine something positive, we think the work is done.  I, for one, can dispute that.  I've imagined myself in a bikini for years and I've succeeded at losing 20 pounds.  However, that bikini?  Maybe too much positive thinking.

Anyway, while experts acknowledges that dreaming about the future does calm us down, and measurably reduces our blood pressure, it can also "drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals."

I'd have to say I'm somewhere in between optimist and pessimist.  Overall, I have a pretty good outl…

Guess Who's Most Civil? Millennials!

We're used to thinking of them as selfish, and coming back home to roost.

But Millennials are more hopeful than we are about civility in society.

According to, "Although Americans are unanimous about the bleak state of civility, the Millennial generation seems less convinced of a more uncivil future. Nearly one in four Millennials (23 percent) – two to four times the percentage of other generations – believe civility will improve in the next few years. In their relatively short lifetimes, Millennials have experienced more uncivil behavior than any other generation, yet they are America’s most hopeful adults when it comes to tomorrow’s civility"

Who knew?

“The Millennial generation – 83 million people strong – is an economic and game-changing powerhouse that outnumbers the generations that came before it,” the Web site quotes Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick. “The only adult generation to have grown up with cyber-bullying is also the only g…

Uncertainty? Guess What? It's Motivating

A new study has found that uncertainty can be motivating.

Say what?  For years experts have thought that uncertainty was disconcerting and was hurting the markets and the economy.

But now they're seeing that, when they compared the time, money and effort that people put into wining a certain reward versus an uncertain reward, they found that the uncertain reward was more motivating.

The researchers ran several experiments that established this motivation. For example, in one study they asked college students to drink a large amount of water in two minutes. Some were told they would receive $2 for completing the task, while others were told they would receive either $1 or $2. They found that more people finished the water to receive the uncertain amount of money

Here's why: making the unknown known — that is, figuring out what is in a wrapped package or finding out which reward one has earned — is a positive experience. Because people are excited to find out what they …

We're Making Lots of Mistakes When Giving Our Kids Meds

Pretty scary.  A new study says most of us make mistakes when giving our kids medicine.

One child is affected every eight minutes, usually by a well-meaning parent or caregiver unintentionally committing a medication error, according to

The most common medication mistakes in children under the age of six occur in the children’s home, or another residence and school. The most common medicines involved are painkillers and fever-reducers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, the Web site reports.

“This is more common than people may realize,” said Huiyun Xiang, MD, MPH, PhD, director of the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, principal investigator at the hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. “The numbers we report still underestimate the true magnitude of these incidents since these are just cases reported to national poison centers.”

Instances in which these mistakes can occur include caregivers giving one child the s…

Soda with 250 Calories? Walk Five Miles to Burn it Off

I remember hearing that you have to walk a football field to burn off one M&M. (Not true.)

But not too far from it.

Adolescents who saw printed signs explaining the number of miles they would need to walk to burn off the calories in a sugary drink were more likely to leave the store with a lower calorie beverage, a healthier beverage or a smaller size beverage, according to new Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health research.

The study says this adds to the growing evidence suggesting that simply showing calorie counts on products and menus isn’t enough to break Americans from their bad eating habits. With calorie counts expected on menus in chain restaurants with more than 20 outlets by early next year the Affordable Care Act, the researchers say policymakers may need to rethink how that information is communicated.

 “People don’t really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories,” says study leader Sara N. Bleich, PhD, an assoc…

Facebook and Loneliness? A New Connection

Does Facebook make you lonely?  For me, it does when I see all the parties I'm not invited to.  But beyond that, a new study has found that only the lonely use it the most.

Not so surprising, but, according to, a new study has found that, though social media was supposedly developed to bring people closer together, it may just be the people who are the most distanced from others who are drawn to it.

There is a relationship between Facebook use and loneliness. The researchers concluded that relationship exists because the feeling of loneliness brings its users to Facebook, rather than because Facebook makes people lonely.

The researchers chose to focus on Facebook because it is by far the most popular online social media site, with people using it to share personal information, meet people and develop friendships, according to the study. The use of Facebook – at home and at work – accounts for 54 percent of users’ time online globally and 62 percent of their ti…

Definite Link Between Oral Sex, Tobacco and Cancer

As if you needed another reason to quit smoking. . .

Now there's definitive proof it's linked to oral cancer.

According to, researchers have found a link between tobacco and the virus that causes this kind of cancer.

Johns Hopkins scientists have shown a strong association between tobacco use or exposure and infection with oral human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16), the sexually transmitted virus responsible for mouth and throat cancers worldwide. The numbers of such cancers have increased 225 percent in the United States over the past two decades.

HPV16 is found in 80 percent of cancers located in the back of the throat and is transmitted through oral sex.   Remember Michael Douglas?

“The practice of oral sex is common, but this cancer is rare. So there must be cofactors in the process that explain why some people develop persistent HPV16 infections and HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers when most other people don’t,” says Gypsyamber D’Souza, Ph.D., M.S.,…

Don't Touch That Grocery Cart Handle!

When I have a little time, I like to scroll through the top news stories at  Now I wish I hadn't.

AARP did a study of the eight things you should never touch, and lemon wedges were right up there at the top of the list.   The article says you should never use lemons in a restaurant.  Request your drink naked, it said.  But I live on iced tea and drinking that without a lemon would be like, well, french fries without ketchup.  Pizza without cheese.  Romeo without Juliet.  You get my drift.

The article said that the reason lemon wedges are so dicey is because of all the people who don't wash their hands and then touch the food.  (Scary fact: only 15% of people wash their hands correctly after using the rest room.)

On average, an adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harboring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers and remote controls, according to AARP.

And you don't have to be a germ-o-phobe, espec…

Feeling Down? Find Someone Worse Off on Facebook

Admit it.

When you've had a bad day, don't you want to go on Facebook and see that your work friend's car slid off the driveway in the ice storm and smashed into a tree?  Or your college pal's getting a divorce?  Or the neighbor who never waves back has her windows shaving-creamed on Halloween.

OK, so maybe you have friends like I do, who only post wedding anniversaries in the Caribbean (we had our 20th at Kozi's) or children who get 1600s on their SATs. 

But a new study says, if you're in a bad mood, chances are your best bet is to head to Facebook and find someone else who's worse off, according to

When people are in a bad mood, they are more likely to actively search social networking sites like Facebook to find friends who are doing even worse than they are, the study suggests.

Researchers found that, in general, people use social media to connect with people who are posting positive and success-oriented updates.

“But when people ar…

Guess What? If You're a Woman, You're Far More Likely to be Deceived in a Negotiation

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise but men are more likely to deceive women in negotiations than other men.

The real shocker is that women do this, too.

According to a new study, women face dishonesty more in negotiations than men.  That's because it's perceived that women are easier to deceive.  By both men and women.

Researchers have found that women are usually at a real disadvantage during negotiations.

Think back to your own sessions with someone when you're trying to get something you want.  Maybe a job.  On the interview you have everything all lined up, your portfolio, background information on the company and possibly the people you will be talking to, the company's expectations and requirements for the job.  You arrive on time.  You're dressed appropriately.  You feel pretty confident.

And then the meeting starts and you're suddenly at a loss.  Or, this is what happens to me.  I go in, answer all the questions, like the interviewer and she s…

Women: Don't Be Neurotic or Moody. You May Get Alzheimer's.

We just don't get a break.

A new study is saying that worry, jealousy and moodiness in women are linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's.

Now if only the men in our lives weren't causing us to have these emotions!  Just kidding.

But it's a fairly serious finding.  Women who are anxious, jealous, or moody and distressed in middle age may be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to a nearly 40-year-long study, according to

“Most Alzheimer’s research has been devoted to factors such as education, heart and blood risk factors, head trauma, family history and genetics,” said study author Lena Johannsson, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg in Gothenburg, Sweden. “Personality may influence the individual’s risk for dementia through its effect on behavior, lifestyle or reactions to stress.”

For the study, 800 women with an average age of 46 were followed for 38 years and given personality tests that looked at their …

Depressed? Go For a Walk -- With Others

We've always been told to get out and get some fresh air.  But did you know that walking can stave off depression?

According to, a new study has found that nature group walks lead to improved health.

Now, I've never been a big fan of groups.  I've always enjoyed solo endeavors, especially in any kind of athletics (could that be because I'm a complete klutz?).  I've run for years, only once or twice with others (the only time my husband and I went running, he took off like a shot; later he said he's just always competitive -- we've never run together again!). 

One of the places I most enjoyed running was in a wooded park near our condo before we had a child.  I ran in this quiet, eerie place for over 10 years (only requiring one stitch in my knee, after a stumble).  I got through many family fights, estrangements, work disasters and trying for years to have our child, running through the peaceful stillness of those beautiful slowly changing  tre…