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February 12, 2007, 9:40 PM CT

More than meets the tongue

More than meets the tongue
Does orange juice taste sweeter if it's a brighter orange? A new study in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that the color of a drink can influence how we think it tastes. In fact, the scientists observed that color was more of an influence on how taste waccording toceived than quality or price information.

"Perceptual discrimination is fundamental to rational choice in a number of product categories yet rarely examined in consumer research," write JoAndrea Hoegg (University of British Columbia) and Joseph W. Alba (University of Florida). "The present research investigates discrimination as it pertains to consumers' ability to identify differenceor the lack thereofamong gustatory stimuli".

Hoegg and Alba are the first to look at how individual attributes -- such as color, price, or brand -- can affect which products we prefer. The scientists manipulated orange juice by changing color (with food coloring), sweetness (with sugar), or by labeling the cups with brand and quality information. They observed that though brand name influenced people's preferences for one cup of juice over another, labeling one cup a premium brand and the other an inexpensive store brand had no effect on perceptions of taste.

In contrast, the tint of the orange juice had a huge effect on the taster's perceptions of taste. As the authors put it: "Color dominated taste."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

February 12, 2007, 9:11 PM CT

Be around friends to impair your memory

Be around friends to impair your memory
Youre watching a basketball game with some buddies and decide to order pizza during the commercial. Scientists from Indiana University observed that people in a group setting exposed to brand information such as an ad for Pizza Hut -- have a hard time recalling the brands competitors. In other words, being around friends when deciding where to order takeout might cause you to forget completely about that local pizza place youve been wanting to try.

"When groups of individuals are exposed to brands in the shopping environment, their memory for other brands within the same product category is impaired," write Charles D. Lindsey and H. Shanker Krishnan (Indiana University). "The current research examines retrieval in a collaborative group setting, which is a novel context for brand memory research".

Appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, the study observed that this effect is magnified for very familiar brands. Lindsey and Krishnan argue that this happens because individuals in the group are exposed not only to the advertisement but also to mentions of the brand by other members of the group.

"The practical implications of this research imply that a group premium (over and above the standard market share premium) seems to exist for advertising brands during programming where a higher percentage of viewers are group-based," conclude the authors.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

February 11, 2007, 9:28 PM CT

Protecting Women's Mood Under Stress

Protecting Women's Mood Under Stress
German scientists have found additional evidence that the stress hormone cortisol can have positive effects in certain situations. Eventhough chronic stress, which brings long-term elevations of cortisol in the bloodstream, can weaken the immune system and induce depression, this new study adds to mounting evidence that cortisol given near in time to a physical or psychological stress may lessen the stressor's emotional impact. Psychology experts are particularly interested in what this means for preventing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder. The findings are reported in the recent issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Psychology experts Serkan Het, MSc, and Oliver Wolf, PhD, of the University of Bielefeld, enlisted 44 healthy women for a double-blind study, in which neither scientists or participants knew the condition to which the women were assigned. One hour before a psychosocial stress test, participants were given either a 30 mg. dose of oral cortisol or a placebo. That 30 mg. dose is considered high, translating to a severe stressor. Experimenters tracked participant mood through self report, and measured their cortisol levels with a simple swab check of their saliva, before and after the psychosocial stress test.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 11, 2007, 9:06 PM CT

Technology To Captures Tumors'genetic Profile

Technology To Captures Tumors'genetic Profile
A study led by scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University provides the first demonstration of a practical method of screening tumors for cancer-related gene abnormalities that might be treated with "targeted" drugs.

The findings, published online today on the Nature Genetics Web site, may help relieve a bottleneck between scientists' expanding knowledge of the genetic mutations linked to cancer and the still nascent ability of doctors to use that knowledge to benefit patients. The results constitute an important step toward the era of "personalized medicine," in which cancer treatment will be guided by the particular set of genetic mutations within each patient's tumor, the authors suggest.

"It's universally recognized that cancer is a disease of the genome, of mutations within genes responsible for cell growth and survival, and a great deal of effort has gone into finding those mutations, to the point where several hundred to a thousand are now known," said the study's senior author, Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute. "The challenge has been how to determine which of them are involved in each of the hundreds of kinds of cancer that occur in humans -- and to develop accurate, affordable methods of detecting key mutations in tumor samples. This study suggests that such a method is feasible on a large scale".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

February 9, 2007, 4:46 AM CT

New smear test policy puts young women at risk

New smear test policy puts young women at risk
Last month, the BMJ reported a fall in the number of young women attending smear tests. Now, two senior doctors warn that a new policy not to screen women aged 20-24 may be a factor in falling coverage and could increase the risk of cancer developing in young women.

Prevalence of carcinoma in situ (a precursor to cancer known as CIN3) has increased in women aged 20-24, write consultants Amanda Herbert and John Smith. This new policy will add more than 3000 women with untreated CIN3 to the larger numbers failing to accept their invitations later on, they warn.

The authors accept that CIN may regress, that invasive cervical cancer (ICC) is rare in women under 25, and that screening does little to reduce its incidence in such young women. However, they argue that ICC can develop within a couple of years of missed cell analysis, failure to investigate cell abnormalities, or incomplete therapy, emphasising the importance of treating high-grade CIN when it is found.

Screening in the UK has been highly successful and, since 1988, incidence and mortality have fallen by more than 40% despite increased risk of disease. This has been achieved by treating high-grade CIN, especially CIN3, in young women, say the authors. The peak prevalence of CIN3 is in women aged 25-29 amongst whom the fall in coverage has been greatest.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 9, 2007, 4:40 AM CT

Abortion -- where do we draw the line?

Abortion -- where do we draw the line?
The 40th anniversary in October this year of the passing of the UK Abortion Act is certain to be marked by attempts to reopen the debate about lowering the upper limit for legal terminations. In a special report in this weeks BMJ, journalist Jonathan Gornall examines current arguments for reform.

Any challenge to the upper limit of 24 weeks poses big questions about viability, infant suffering, and the capabilities of neonatal care, writes Gornall and the danger is that this vital debate is taking place increasingly on emotional rather than scientific grounds.

The ProLife Alliance can take much of the credit for having put abortion back on the public and political agenda over the past decade. The organisation was set up in 1996 as a political party to show the reality of abortion and was also behind the ultimately failed attempt in 2003 by Joanna Jepson, a trainee vicar, to have police prosecute two doctors over the late abortion of a fetus with a cleft lip and palate.

Now the alliance has turned its attention away from pictures of dead babies to 4D ultrasound images of live ones in the womb.

The technique was pioneered by Stuart Campbell, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St Georges Hospital, London, who is convinced that his 4D images have undermined the validity of the current time limit for abortion.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 9, 2007, 4:33 AM CT

New Model for Testing and Discovery of Anti-HIV Drugs

New Model for Testing and Discovery of Anti-HIV Drugs
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine are the first to show that a mouse protein, whose human equivalent is correlation to defense against HIV-1, inhibits the infection and spread of a mouse tumor virus. The study, which appeared online January 28 in advance of its print publication in Nature, provides a new model for the discovery and evaluation of anti-HIV drugs. HIV-1, like the mouse tumor virus, is a retrovirus which infects immune system cells. However, unlike HIV-1, the mouse virus causes breast cancer in mice.

"Our study is the first to show that the mouse equivalent to the human protein, called APOBEC3, actually inhibits a retrovirus in a live animal," says lead author Susan R. Ross, PhD, Professor of Microbiology. The study is based on a mouse strain that does not have the gene for mouse APOBEC3, developed by co-author Boris Matija Peterlin, PhD, University of California at San Francisco.

In this study, normal mice and mutant mice were injected with mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV). Using a sensitive test for virus infection, the scientists observed that lymph nodes from mutant mice were more infected than normal mice. At six days after injection, the lymph nodes near the injection site in mutant mice had four times more of the breast cancer-causing virus. By 18 days after infection, the virus had spread to other sites in the mice, and spleen cells from the mutant mice were seven-fold more infected by MMTV than spleen cells from normal mice. The research team is currently waiting to see if mutant mice develop breast cancer at a greater rate than normal mice.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

February 9, 2007, 4:25 AM CT

Benchmark fetal surgery study

Benchmark fetal surgery study
It's one of the biggest controversies in fetal surgery and the cause of heated debate among surgeons and maternal-fetal medicine physicians around the world: What's the best way to treat twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), one of the most common conditions requiring fetal surgery and the leading cause of mortality in twins?

The benchmark, NIH-funded study on TTTS, conducted at 17 centers in the United States, will be presented February 9 at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in San Francisco, and it won't likely resolve the question of which is the best procedure. The study, led by Timothy Crombleholme, M.D., director of the Fetal Care Center of Cincinnati, shows that the question isn't which surgical procedure is better, it's when the procedure is done.

Dr. Crombleholme issued a clarion call to fetal care specialists around the world. "The earlier in gestation TTTS is diagnosed, the more severe the syndrome tends to be," says Dr. Crombleholme, who is also a pediatric surgeon at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "We have to shift attention to diagnosing this earlier in the progression of the syndrome and being more aggressive about intervention. We can't conclude that one treatment is better than another, but it's apparent that we're going to compromise survival if therapy isn't initiated before it gets to be severe".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 9, 2007, 4:23 AM CT

African-American mothers more likely to deliver prematurely

African-American mothers more likely to deliver prematurely
African-American women are three times more likely to deliver babies three to 17 weeks prematurely than Caucasian women, as per a review of Missouri birth statistics by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

In addition, African-American women are more likely to deliver babies prematurely in subsequent pregnancies.

The scientists analyzed data from the Missouri Department of Health's maternally linked database of all births in Missouri between 1989 and 1997, adjusting for such variables as socioeconomic status, education level, cigarette smoking and maternal medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and eclampsia. Full-term birth is considered to be between 37 weeks and 42 weeks of gestation.

Results of the analysis appear in the recent issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The data showed that 8.8 percent of births to African-American women were between 20 weeks and 34 weeks gestation, or nearly three times the 2.95 percent of premature births to Caucasian women. In addition, African-American women were nearly four times as likely to deliver babies between 20 weeks and 28 weeks gestation than Caucasian women.

African-American women also were nearly 5.5 times more likely to have recurrent preterm births than Caucasian women.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 8, 2007, 10:06 PM CT

Lung Cancer Rates Among Female Nonsmokers

Lung Cancer Rates Among Female Nonsmokers
Not all lung cancer is due to a lifetime of smoking cigarettes. Sometimes the diagnosis is a mystery, and the stigma surrounding the disease makes it hard for patients to talk about. Now, scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Northern California Cancer Center have taken the first steps toward analyzing why people who never smoked get lung cancer.

Their data, would be reported in the Feb. 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, shows that never-smokers get lung cancer more often than thought, with women even more at risk than men.

"People tend to banter about this number of 10 to 15 percent of lung cancer cases being in people who have never smoked," explained lead author Heather Wakelee, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford. "But when you actually try to find the hard data to show that, it's very limited".

The team of scientists used multiple collections of data from both the United States and Sweden that, in total, tracked the occurence rate of lung cancer in more than 1 million people from the ages of 40 to 79. They calculated the lung cancer incidence rates in terms of new cases per person-year, representing every year that someone was included in the study.

They observed that for women, the lung cancer incidence rate in never-smokers ranged from 14.4 to 20.8 cases per 100,000 person-years. In men, it ranged from 4.8 to 13.7 incidents. For current smokers, the rates were about 10 to 30 times higher. To put these numbers in perspective, Wakelee pointed out that the rates for cervical and thyroid cancer in women of the same age range are comparable, at 15.4 and 17.3 cases per 100,000 person-years, respectively.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Archives of health news blog

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