Antibiotics from mangroves?

Researchers at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Malaysia have conducted a study on the mangrove ecosystem to search for actinomycetes bacteria. The mangrove ecosystem is known as a highly productive habitat for isolating actinomycetes, which has the potential of producing biologically active secondary metabolites.The UiTM study focused on eight different mangrove sites in Malaysia, which were chosen at random to isolate and screen actinomycetes from soil samples. A total of 53 possible marine actinomycetes were isolated and it was found that a three percent concentration of sodium chloride was sufficient to support the growth of marine actinomycetes.Among the isolated filamentous bacteria, five isolates showed antimicrobial activity from direct culture broth against at least one of the test organisms. Meanwhile, four extracts of ethyl acetate showed activity against Gram-positive test organisms. The results revealed that marine actinomycetes is a potential source for producing antibiotics.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Unplanned pregnancy remains high among young Australian women

Despite high rates of contraceptive use, unwanted pregnancies resulting in terminations remain high among young women.In an article in the April issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Danielle Mazza from Monash University, and colleagues, examine the paradox of high rates of contraceptive use, over the counter availability of emergency contraception and unplanned pregnancy.”The emergency contraceptive pill has been available to women for over-the-counter purchase since 2004,” Professor Mazza said.”Together with high rates of contraceptive use, this should result in lower rates of unplanned pregnancies for Australian women, but it has not.”Although women have a high level of awareness of the emergency contraceptive pill, their knowledge about how and when to use it, and where to obtain it, remains inadequate.”Further research is needed to better understand the role of GPs in helping women to understand their contraceptive options and reduce unplanned pregnancy.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Key chocolate ingredients could help prevent obesity, diabetes

Improved thinking. Decreased appetite. Lowered blood pressure. The potential health benefits of dark chocolate keep piling up, and scientists are now homing in on what ingredients in chocolate might help prevent obesity, as well as type-2 diabetes. They found that one particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels. The report appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.Andrew P. Neilson and colleagues explain that cocoa, the basic ingredient of chocolate, is one of the most flavanol-rich foods around. That’s good for chocolate lovers because previous research has shown that flavanols in other foods such as grapes and tea can help fight weight gain and type-2 diabetes. But not all flavanols, which are a type of antioxidant, are created equal. Cocoa has several different kinds of these compounds, so Neilson’s team decided to tease them apart and test each individually for health benefits.The scientists fed groups of mice different diets, including high-fat and low-fat diets, and high-fat diets supplemented with different kinds of flavanols. …

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‘3-D’ test could reduce reliance on animals for testing asthma and allergy medications

To determine whether new medicines are safe and effective for humans, researchers must first test them in animals, which is costly and time-consuming, as well as ethically challenging. In a study published in ACS’ journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, scientists report that they’ve developed a simple, “3D” laboratory method to test asthma and allergy medications that mimics what happens in the body, which could help reduce the need for animal testing.Amir Ghaemmaghami and colleagues note that respiratory conditions, such as asthma and allergies, are becoming more common. These conditions affect the lungs and the airway leading to the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Every year, respiratory symptoms lead to expensive hospital visits, as well as absences from work and school. Better drugs could provide relief, but before giving new medicines to people, researchers must first test them in animals — a costly and laborious process. Sometimes, researchers will use “2D” tests in which they apply the drug to a layer of human cells in a lab dish instead, but this isn’t an adequate way to tell how a medicine will work in a whole animal or a whole person. So, Ghaemmaghami’s team developed a new, 3D alternative.Their test includes three types of human cells that are typically in a person’s airway. In the body, these cells are close together and are involved in the development of respiratory conditions. The 3D “model” reacted just like a real person’s airway when they exposed it to allergens and bacterial extract. They say that the model has the potential of reducing the need for some animal testing of new drugs for respiratory conditions.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. …

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Mosquito season unpredictable; year-round heartworm prevention is best

Although it may not feel like spring yet, it’s time to start thinking about protecting your pets from spring pests, particularly mosquitoes, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian.Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor of the university’s Veterinary Health Center, says mosquitoes carry heartworm, a blood parasite that can be deadly when spread to cats and dogs. Almost 100 percent of dogs exposed to heartworm will develop the disease. While that number is not as high for cats, it is often more fatal for felines.”Cats are sometimes a little less obvious with their heartworm disease,” Nelson said. “It can be just a little weight loss or lethargy, but we can also see asthma-type signs in cats. They can have trouble breathing, develop a cough, chronic gagging and vomiting.”It only takes one or two worms to cause significant harm to a cat and unlike dogs, there is no treatment for heartworm once cats are infected. That’s why it is important to use prevention tools.”We really want to preach prevention for our pets because it’s so much easier and so much cheaper for them, especially since treatment is hard on them,” Nelson said.Nelson also stresses that prevention year-round is key to protecting your pet because just like the weather, mosquito season is unpredictable.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Kansas State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child: Show causal understanding of 5-7 year old child

New Caledonian crows may understand how to displace water to receive a reward, with the causal understanding level of a 5-7 year-old child, according to results published March 26, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Sarah Jelbert from University of Auckland and colleagues.Understanding causal relationships between actions is a key feature of human cognition. However, the extent to which non-human animals are capable of understanding causal relationships is not well understood. Scientists used the Aesop’s fable riddle — in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out-of reach-reward — to assess New Caledonian crows’ causal understanding of water displacement. These crows are known for their intelligence and innovation, as they are the only non-primate species able to make tools, such as prodding sticks and hooks. Six wild crows were tested after a brief training period for six experiments, during which the authors noted rapid learning (although not all the crows completed every experiment). The authors note that these tasks did not test insightful problem solving, but were directed at the birds’ understanding of volume displacement.Crows completed 4 of 6 water displacement tasks, including preferentially dropping stones into a water-filled tube instead of a sand-filled tube, dropping sinking objects rather than floating objects, using solid objects rather than hollow objects, and dropping objects into a tube with a high water level rather than a low one. However, they failed two more challenging tasks, one that required understanding of the width of the tube, and one that required understanding of counterintuitive cues for a U-shaped displacement task. According to the authors, results indicate crows may possess a sophisticated — but incomplete — understanding of the causal properties of volume displacement, rivalling that of 5-7 year old children.Sarah Jelbert added, “These results are striking as they highlight both the strengths and limits of the crows’ understanding. In particular, the crows all failed a task which violated normal causal rules, but they could pass the other tasks, which suggests they were using some level of causal understanding when they were successful.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Not only is she thinner than you, her muscles work better, too: Role of muscle function in maintaining weight

We all know the type: The friend or colleague who stays slim and trim without much effort and despite eating the same high-calorie fare that causes everyone else to gain weight. As it turns out, the way the muscles of the inherently thin work may give them the edge.Daily physical activity is an inherited trait with a strong association to how fat or thin a person is. Chaitanya K. Gavini et al. previously found that aerobic capacity is a major predictor of daily physical activity level among humans and laboratory animals. In their new study, they compared female rats with high aerobic capacity (genetic tendency toward leanness) or low aerobic capacity (genetic tendency toward obesity) to investigate how muscle physiology affects leanness.Though the rats in each group were similar in weight and lean body mass, the rats with a high aerobic capacity were consistently more active than the low capacity rats. While all the rats had similar energy expenditures when at rest, big differences in energy expenditure (calorie burn) occurred during mild exercise. The researchers found the muscles of rats with lean genes demonstrated “poor fuel economy,” meaning that they burned more calories when performing the same exercise as those with fat genes. This may be due to more lean rats having higher levels of proteins that support energy expenditure and lower levels of proteins that encourage energy conservation and/or an increased sympathetic nervous system role in powering the muscles of lean rats.According to the researchers: “This has implications for how we consider metabolism when attempting to prevent or treat obesity. Targeting of pathways maximizing skeletal muscle energy use during physical activity may take advantage of already existing mechanisms that are endogenously employed to a greater extent in naturally lean people.”The article “Leanness and heightened nonresting energy expenditure: role of skeletal muscle activity thermogenesis” is published in the March 2014 issue of the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Physiological Society. …

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Bees capable of learning feats with tasty prize in sight

They may have tiny brains, but bumblebees are capable of some remarkable learning feats, especially when they might get a tasty reward, according to two studies by University of Guelph researchers.PhD student Hamida Mirwan and Prof. Peter Kevan, School of Environmental Sciences, are studying bees’ ability to learn by themselves and from each other.In the first study, published in February in Animal Cognition, the researchers found bees capable of learning to solve increasingly complex problems.The researchers presented bees with a series of artificial flowers that required ever-more challenging strategies, such as moving objects aside or upwards, to gain a sugar syrup reward.When inexperienced bees encountered the most complex flower first, they were unable to access the syrup reward and stopped trying. Bees allowed to progress through increasingly complex flowers were able to navigate the most difficult ones.”Bees with experience are able to solve new problems that they encounter, while bees with no experience just give up,” said Mirwan.She and Kevan consider the study an example of scaffold learning, a concept normally restricted to human psychology in which learners move through increasingly complex steps.In a second study recently published in Psyche,the researchers found bees learned by watching and communicating with other bees, a process called social learning.Mirwan made artificial flowers requiring the bees to walk on the underside of a disk to get a sugar syrup reward. These experienced bees foraged on the artificial flowers for several days until they became accustomed to feeding at them.To see whether other bees could learn from the experienced foragers, Mirwan confined inexperienced bees in a mesh container near the artificial flowers where they could observe the experienced bees. When the nave bees were allowed to forage on the artificial flowers, they took just 70 seconds to get the reward.Control bees that had not observed the experienced bees could not access the syrup.”Social learning in animals usually involves one individual observing and imitating another, although other kinds of communication can also be involved,” said Mirwan.”They could try for up to 30 minutes, but most gave up before then.”In a final test, Mirwan placed experienced bees in a hive with naive bees. When the naive bees were allowed to forage on the artificial flowers, they gained the syrup in just 3.5 minutes.Behavioural scientists usually assume that observation and imitation are at the heart of social learning, but social insects such as bees can also transmit information through touch, vibration and smell.The researchers said the communication method used by the bees is still a mystery.”We can’t quite explain how bees that had never even seen an artificial flower were able to become adept so quickly at foraging on them, but clearly some in-hive communication took place,” said Kevan.”It suggests that social learning in bumblebees is even more complex than we first expected.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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If you think you have Alzheimer’s, you just might be right, study suggests

A recent study suggests that self-reported memory complaints might predict clinical memory impairment later in life. Erin Abner, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, asked 3,701 men aged 60 and higher a simple question: “Have you noticed any change in your memory since you last came in?”That question led to some interesting results. “It seems that subjective memory complaint can be predictive of clinical memory impairment,” Abner said. “Other epidemiologists have seen similar results, which is encouraging, since it means we might really be on to something.”The results are meaningful because it might help identify people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease sooner. “If the memory and thinking lapses people notice themselves could be early markers of risk for Alzheimer’s disease, we might eventually be able to intervene earlier in the aging process to postpone and/or reduce the effects of cognitive memory impairment.”Abner, who is also a member of the faculty in the UK Department of Epidemiology, took pains to emphasize that her work shouldn’t necessarily worry everyone who’s ever forgotten where they left their keys.”I don’t want to alarm people,” she said. “It’s important to distinguish between normal memory lapses and significant memory problems, which usually change over time and affect multiple aspects of daily life.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kentucky. The original article was written by Laura Dawahare. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Skin tumor vaccine shows promise in wild mice, rising hope for transplant patients

Papillomaviruses (linked to cervical cancer when they infect the mucosal tissue in the female reproductive tract) can also infect normal skin, where they cause warts and possibly non-melanoma skin cancer, mostly in immune-suppressed organ transplant patients. An article published on February 20th in PLOS Pathogens suggests that vaccination might prevent virus-associated benign and malignant skin tumors.Transplant recipients need to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. Among the side effects of these drugs, widespread abnormal skin growths have large impact on the patients’ quality of life. These can also progress to skin cancer, for which transplant patients have a 250-fold elevated risk. Sabrina Vinzn and Frank Rsl, from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, and colleagues sought to test whether papillomavirus vaccination around the time of transplantation could prevent the skin lesions seen in patients.They used a rodent species (the multimammate mouse) as a unique pre-clinical model in which skin papillomaviruses are present and usually transmitted to young offspring. This mimics the situation in humans–most of us are infected with skin papillomaviruses as children and carry the virus in skin cells for the rest of our lives. However, these animals are more sensitive to the virus than humans with an intact immune system: most of them spontaneously develop benign skin tumors as well as malignant ones.The scientists made a vaccine against the rodent skin papillomavirus that was modeled on the highly efficient and widely approved HPV vaccine against human papillomaviruses that protects against cervical cancer and genital warts. When they tested that vaccine in their animals, they found that vaccination completely prevented the appearance of benign and malignant skin tumors.Vaccination does not eliminate the virus, but virus numbers in skin cells are much lower in the vaccinated animals, so the vaccine succeeds in educating and boosting the immune system in a way that it can keep the virus in check. Importantly, it can do so even in mice treated with immune-suppressive drugs.Given that the vaccine works even when given to already infected animals, and continues to suppress the virus even when they are treated with immune-suppressive drugs–conditions that are similar to immunosuppressed patients who were infected with papillomaviruses as children–the scientists conclude that “these findings provide the basis for the clinical development of potent vaccination strategies against cutaneous [skin] HPV infections and HPV-induced tumors, especially in patients awaiting organ transplantation.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Food packaging chemicals may be harmful to human health over long term

The synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage, and processing of foodstuffs might be harmful to human health over the long term, warn environmental scientists in a commentary in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.This is because most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat, they say.Despite the fact that some of these chemicals are regulated, people who eat packaged or processed foods are likely to be chronically exposed to low levels of these substances throughout their lives, say the authors.And far too little is known about their long term impact, including at crucial stages of human development, such as in the womb, which is “surely not justified on scientific grounds,” the authors claim.They point out that lifelong exposure to food contact materials or FCMs — substances used in packaging, storage, processing, or preparation equipment — “is a cause for concern for several reasons.”These include the fact that known toxicants, such as formaldehyde, a cancer causing substance, are legally used in these materials. Formaldehyde is widely present, albeit at low levels, in plastic bottles used for fizzy drinks and melamine tableware.Secondly, other chemicals known to disrupt hormone production also crop up in FCMs, including bisphenol A, tributyltin, triclosan, and phthalates.”Whereas the science for some of these substances is being debated and policy makers struggle to satisfy the needs of stakeholders, consumers remain exposed to these chemicals daily, mostly unknowingly,” the authors point out.And, thirdly, the total number of known chemical substances used intentionally in FCMs exceeds 4000.Furthermore, potential cellular changes caused by FCMs, and in particular, those with the capacity to disrupt hormones, are not even being considered in routine toxicology analysis, which prompts the authors to suggest that this “casts serious doubts on the adequacy of chemical regulatory procedures.”They admit that establishing potential cause and effect as a result of lifelong and largely invisible exposure to FCMs will be no easy task, largely because there are no unexposed populations to compare with, and there are likely to be wide differences in exposure levels among individuals and across certain population groups.But some sort of population-based assessment and biomonitoring are urgently needed to tease out any potential links between food contact chemicals and chronic conditions like cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurological and inflammatory disorders, particularly given the known role of environmental pollutants, they argue.”Since most foods are packaged, and the entire population is likely to be exposed, it is of utmost importance that gaps in knowledge are reliably and rapidly filled,” they urge.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Beauty and bacteria: Slim, attractive men have less nasal bacteria than heavy men

Do attractive traits tell us anything about a person’s reproductive health? New research in the American Journal of Human Biology reveals a link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and the amount of bacteria colonizing noses. The results show that heavier men harbor more potentially pathogenic species of bacteria in their nose, compared with slimmer, more traditionally attractive men.”According to an evolutionary point of view, traits related to attractiveness are supposed to be honest signals of biological quality,” said Dr. Boguslaw Pawlowski. “We analyzed whether nasal and throat colonization with potentially pathogenic bacteria is related to body height and BMI in both sexes.”103 healthy females and 90 healthy males participated in the study. Heights and weights were self-reported, while waist and hip circumferences were measured. Six potentially pathogenic bacteria were isolated and identified from nasal and throat swabs. The results showed that ‘colonized’ men were found to have a higher BMI than non-colonized males, although no differences were found in females.”To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to study body morphology traits related to physical attractiveness in relation to bacterial colonization in young people,” said Pawlowski. “The results confirmed our hypothesis, but only for BMI in males.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Elevated brain aluminium, early onset Alzheimer’s disease in an individual occupationally exposed to aluminium

Research at Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, has shown for the first time that an individual who was exposed to aluminum at work and died of Alzheimer’s disease had high levels of aluminum in the brain.While aluminum is a known neurotoxin and occupational exposure to aluminum has been implicated in neurological disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, this finding is believed to be the first record of a direct link between Alzheimer’s disease and elevated brain aluminum following occupational exposure to the metal.In 2003 a 58-year-old Caucasian male with no previous medical history of note was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Ten years previous to this the man, from the north-east of England, began to work with the preparation of a novel material (DARMATT KM1) used as insulation in the nuclear fuel and space industries. This work exposed him to aluminum sulphate ‘dust’ on a daily basis over 8 years. An ‘ordinary’ dust mask was supplied to protect against inhalation of the materials. Within a short time of starting this work the man complained of headaches, tiredness and mouth ulcers. By 1999 he started to show problems in relation to memory and suffered depression.Following his death, aged 66, in 2011, a neuropathological examination confirmed advance stage Alzheimer’s disease. There then followed the most comprehensive investigation ever of the aluminum content of the frontal lobe of a single individual with 49 different tissue samples being measured for aluminum.Professor Chris Exley, of The Birchall Centre, at Keele University, said: “The results showed unequivocally that the frontal lobe contained an average aluminum content which was at least four times higher than might be expected for an age-matched control brain.”The observation that air-borne aluminum dust was most likely responsible for the elevated levels of aluminum in the brain must then heavily implicate the nose and possibly the lungs as the main routes of entry of aluminum into the body and the brain.”Overall, these results suggest very strongly that occupational exposure to aluminum contributed significantly to the untimely death of this individual with Alzheimer’s disease.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Keele University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Fathers drinking: Also responsible for fetal disorders?

Maternal exposure to alcohol in-utero is a known risk and cause of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. FAS children suffer significant problems such as retarded intellect, stunted growth and nervous system abnormalities, social problems and isolation. Until now Fathers have not had a causal link to such disabilities. Ground breaking new research has been revealed which shows Dads may have more accountability.Published in Animal Cells and Systems, researchers studied male mice exposed to varying concentrations of alcohol and one control group exposed only to saline. After exposure the mice were mated and resulting fetuses examined. The findings revealed previously unknown and riveting evidence that paternal alcohol consumption can directly affect fetal development.A number of fetuses sired by males exposed to alcohol suffered abnormal organ development and or brain development. Those in the saline group were normal. So, can developmental abnormalities be predetermined at fertilization? This research proves so. The authors believe alcohol consumption affects genes in sperm which are responsible for normal fetal development.Until now fathers’ lifestyle choices have not seen any repercussion on their unborn children. …

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Ancient reptile birth preserved in fossil: Ichthyosaur fossil may show oldest live reptilian birth

An ichthyosaur fossil may show the earliest live birth from an ancient Mesozoic marine reptile, according to a study published February 12, 2014 in PLOS ONE by Ryosuke Motani from the University of California, Davis, and colleagues.Ichthyosaurs were giant marine reptiles that evolved from land reptiles and moved to the water. Scientists report a new fossil specimen that belongs to Chaohusaurus (Reptilia, Ichthyopterygia), the oldest of Mesozoic marine reptiles that lived approximately 248 million years ago. The partial skeleton was recovered in China and may show a live birth. The maternal skeleton was associated with three embryos and neonates: one inside the mother, another exiting the pelvis-with half the body still inside the mother-and the third outside of the mother. The headfirst birth posture of the second embryo indicates that live births in ichthyosaurs may have taken place on land, instead of in the water, as some studies have previously suggested.The new specimen may contain the oldest fossil embryos of Mesozoic marine reptile, about 10 million years older than those indicated on previous records. The authors also suggest that live births in land reptiles may have appeared much earlier than previously thought.Dr. Motani added, “The study reports the oldest vertebrate fossil to capture the ‘moment’ of live-birth, with a baby emerging from the pelvis of its mother. The 248-million-year old fossil of an ichthyosaur suggests that live-bearing evolved on land and not in the sea.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Love is good for the heart, cardiologist says

With Valentine’s Day just one day away, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute cardiologist Julie Damp, M.D., says being involved in a healthy, loving relationship is good for the heart.”There are different theories behind why that might be,” Damp said.Most of the theories seem to be related to the fact that people who are married or who are in close, healthy relationships tend to be less likely to smoke, are more physically active and are more likely to have a well-developed social structure. Along with that, they may have lower levels of stress and anxiety in their day-to-day lives, may seek medical attention more quickly, and may be more likely to take preventive medications.A recent study from Finland showed that married men and women had a significantly lower risk of both having heart attacks and dying from a heart attack compared to people who were single.”There is also a theory that people who are in loving relationships may experience neuro-hormonal changes that have positive effects on the body, including the cardiovascular system,” she said, explaining that there are certain hormone levels in the body that vary depending on the level of an individual’s stress and anxiety.”This has not been proven, but the idea is that being in a relationship that is positive may have positive effects on your cardiovascular system over long periods of time,” Damp said. In fact, studies have shown that relationships that involve conflict or negativity are associated with an increase in risk for coronary artery disease.Giving your loved one a box of dark chocolates and a bottle of red wine won’t hurt either. Studies suggest they are good for the heart, as well.Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants have positive effects on many different body systems including the cardiovascular system. The high concentration of cocoa in dark chocolate appears to be what offers the flavonoid benefit.”Dark chocolate has been shown to be associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and improvement in the way your blood vessels dilate and relax,” Damp said.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Mechanism elucidated: How smell perception influences food intake

In animals, as in humans, hunger mechanisms are known to stimulate food intake. Hunger triggers a set of mechanisms that encourage feeding, for example by increasing sensory perceptions such as the sense of smell. The researchers have now succeeded in revealing what links hunger and increased smell perception in the brain, and the resulting urge to eat.The researchers have discovered how this mechanism is initiated in the endocannabinoid system in mice. This system interconnects receptors located in the brain and involved in different sensations such as euphoria, anxiety, or even pain, that are also sensitive to cannabinoid substances, such as cannabis.The researchers discovered that the CB1 cannabinoid receptors control a circuit that connects the olfactory bulb (the region in the nervous system that initially handles olfactory information, located above the nose) to the olfactory cortex (higher structures of the brain). When the sensation of hunger is felt, it triggers the activity of the cannabinoid receptors, which in turn activate the olfactory circuit, which then becomes more responsive.It is therefore this biological mechanism that brings about the increased sensitivity to smell during hunger, explaining one of the reasons for food intake and attraction to food.The researchers expect that the circuit involved in the olfactory system is altered in obese or anorexic patients, and that sensitivity to smell may be more or less strong compared to normal. Elucidation of the biological mechanism will allow better management of these types of pathologies.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by INSERM (Institut national de la sant et de la recherche mdicale). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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How to tell when bubbly goes bad before popping the cork

In the rare case that New Year’s revelers have a bottle of leftover bubbly, they have no way to tell if it’ll stay good until they pop the cork and taste it at the next celebration. But now scientists are reporting a precise new way for wineries — and their customers — to predict how long their sparkling wines will last. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.Montserrat Riu-Aumatell and colleagues explain that the shelf life of various sparkling wines, from champagne to prosecco, depends on environmental factors such as temperature. Currently, wineries detect the so-called browning of bubbly by measuring its “absorbance,” or its absorption of light at a particular wavelength. It’s a fast and easy technique but not very sensitive. Researchers exploring the chemistry of sparkling wine are turning to the food industry for alternatives. Food manufacturers can measure a compound called 5-HMF, which builds up in food as it goes bad, to tell when to toss a product out. Riu-Aumatell’s team decided to see if they could use the compound, which is also found in bubbly, to predict the shelf life of sparkling wines.They tested levels of this browning compound in several bottles stored over two years at different temperatures: room, cellar (61 degrees Fahrenheit) and refrigerator (39 degrees Fahrenheit). Their study found that 5-HMF is a good indicator of freshness, and also that refrigerating sparkling wines almost completely prevented browning. To make their results more practical for wineries, the researchers came up with a mathematical model that predicts how long products will stay drinkable at varying storage temperatures.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. …

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Educational toolkit did not improve quality of care or outcomes for patients with diabetes

An educational toolkit designed to improve care of patients with diabetes was not effective, Baiju R Shah and colleagues (University of Toronto) found in a cluster randomized trial conducted in 2009-2011. During 10 months of follow-up, patients of Canadian family physicians who had been cluster-randomized to receive the toolkit did not receive improved care and their outcomes did not differ compared with patients of physicians who did not receive the toolkit.All 933,789 people aged ≥40 years with diagnosed diabetes in Ontario, Canada, were studied using population-level administrative databases and evaluated for the primary outcome in the administrative data study, death or non-fatal myocardial infarction. This composite outcome occurred in 11,736 (2.5%) patients in the intervention group and 11,536 (2.5%) in the control group (p = 0.77). Additional clinical outcome data was collected from a random sample of 1,592 high risk patients.The primary outcome in this clinical data study was use of a statin; this occurred in 700 (88.1%) patients in the intervention group and 725 (90.1%) in the control group (p = 0.26). Other secondary outcomes, including other clinical events, were also not improved by the intervention.In a few cases the educational toolkit was actually associated with slightly worse process-of-care outcomes. A limitation was that a very high proportion of the high risk patients in the clinical study group were already prescribed statins. The authors conclude, “The results of this study highlight the need for a rigorous and scientifically based approach to the development, dissemination, and evaluation of quality improvement interventions.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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