Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Research news: Aiming truth at yule myths

The News:
Aiming truth at yule myths
Poisonous poinsettias and a high rate of suicide are disputed by researchers.
By Thomas H. Maugh IILos Angeles Times
Posted: 12/21/2008 12:30:00 AM MST
Updated: 12/21/2008 01:21:53 AM MST
Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic to people or animals, suicides do not increase over the Christmas holidays and sugar does not make children hyperactive. Also, Wales winning the rugby grand slam does not influence the death of popes.
Those are some of the conclusions of reports in the British Medical Journal's annual Christmas issue, a compilation of the weird and lighthearted papers that its editors accumulate over the year.
The supposed toxicity of poinsettias has been a subject of warnings as long as the red-and-white flowers have been associated with the Christmas holiday, but reports from poison control centers do not support the warnings, said Drs. Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine.
They reviewed nearly 900 calls to such centers reporting poinsettia consumption and found that none of the incidents resulted in serious illness. Moreover, feeding experiments in animals show no effects even at very high consumption, they found. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the British Medical Journal (BMJ)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Research News: Dinosaur dads cared for young, researchers say

The News:
Dinosaur Dads Cared For Young, Researchers Say
by Christopher Joyce
Morning Edition, December 19, 2008 · It could very well be that some of the fiercest, meat-eating dinosaurs were also attentive, caring dads.
That's the conclusion from scientists who have been studying dinosaur eggs and the bones of dinosaurs found next to, or in some cases on top of, dinosaur egg clutches.
Paleontologist David Varricchio of Montana State University says he thinks many of those nest-sitters were males. His evidence is based partly on what scientists know about modern birds, the descendents of dinosaurs.
Varricchio measured the mass of egg material in dinosaur clutches and compared it to the mass of the dinosaurs that were found with the eggs. It showed that among some species of dinosaurs — Oviraptor, Troodon and Citipati — the mass of the clutches was very big compared to the size of the parent.
Varricchio then looked for other egg-laying animals where egg mass is high compared to parent body size — and came up with ostriches, emus, kiwis and several other kinds of birds. And among all of these modern birds, the male is the primary caretaker; he broods the eggs and cares for the young.
This may be rather indirect evidence. But writing in this week's issue of the journal Science, Varricchio also notes that the dinosaur bones found at these egg sites lacked something called "medullary bone." Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Science. Also, read this commentary in Science "Who's your Daddy? "

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Research News: Study suggests nuttily simple heart helper

The News:
Study suggests nuttily simple heart helper
By Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Here's a health tip in a nutshell: Eating a handful of nuts a day for a year — along with a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish — may help undo a collection of risk factors for heart disease. Spanish researchers found that adding nuts worked better than boosting the olive oil in a typical Mediterranean diet. Both regimens cut the heart risks known as metabolic syndrome in more people than a low-fat diet did.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Research News: Flu On Campus: Avoiding Misery For $20

The News:
Flu On Campus: Avoiding Misery For $20
Richard Knox, NPR's Morning Edition
Every year, about 1 in 4 college students gets the flu — and one health expert says many arrive on campus not realizing how bad a bout of flu can be. Dr. Peter Doyle, director of Northeastern University's health services in Boston, says "true flu," as distinguished from an ordinary cold, can be two weeks of "aching joints, aching muscles, high fever, pounding headache, inability to get out of bed, shaking chills — a completely disruptive illness." Even worse, some students each year end up with dangerous cases of bacterial pneumonia that can follow on the heels of the flu. Occasionally, a previously healthy young adult dies. But Doyle says these health risks don't motivate students enough to get a flu shot. So he makes a more economic argument.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Research news: 1 in 5 young adults disturbed

The News:
1 in 5 young adults disturbed
A psychiatric study also found that fewer than a fourth of college-age Americans get help.
By Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
CHICAGO — Almost one in five young American adults has a personality disorder that interferes with everyday life, and even more abuse alcohol or drugs, researchers reported Monday in the most extensive study of its kind. The disorders include problems such as obsessive or compulsive tendencies and anti-social behavior that can sometimes lead to violence. The study also found that fewer than 25 percent of college-aged Americans with mental problems get treatment.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in Archives of General Psychiatry.