Being Overweight Can Increase The Rate Of Developing Cancer

A meta-analysis of more than 200 studies shows that being overweight could increase cancer, including colon, breast, pancreas and ovary cancer.  Based on previous figures from two leading charities, in 2035, almost ¾ of people are expected to be overweight and 700,000 new cases of obesity-related cancer in 20 years time.

A recent study proves that there is a strong link between excess body fat and an increased risk of 11 cancers: colon, rectum, endometrium, breast, ovary, kidney, pancreas, gastric cardia, biliary tract system and certain cancers of the oesophagus and bone marrow.

Marc Gunter, a co-author of the research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer said, “I think now the public and physicians really need to pay attention to obesity with respect to cancer. Telling people to avoid being overweight not only reduces their risk of, say, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it also reduces their risk of many different cancers.”

Another meta-analysis on Continue reading “Being Overweight Can Increase The Rate Of Developing Cancer”


The Impact Of Pregnancy On Mother’s Brain

121916_ls_pregnancy-brain_mainPregnancy can have so many impacts on the mother’s life, including her brain. Pregnancy selectively shrinks gray matter to make a mom’s brain more responsive to her baby and based on the report in Nature Neuroscience, it can last for years.

Lissa Galea, the neuroscientist of the University of British Columbia in Vacounver stated that several studies, including this one suggested that a women’s reproductive history can have long-lasting, possibly permanent changes to her brain health.

For this study, the participants consist of 25 women who wanted to get pregnant with their first child. A detailed anatomy scans were performed on them, before they got pregnant and two months after they gave birth. Pregnancy has so much impact to the point where researchers could predict whether woman had been pregnant based on the changes of their brain.

The results had shown that a women who had carried and given birth had less gray matter in certain regions of their brains compared to 20 women who had not been pregnant, 19 first-time fathers and 17 childless men. These changes will still remain two years after pregnancy.

A shrinking brain might appear as something bad however, “reductions in gray matter are not necessarily a bad thing.” Elseline Hoekzema, the co-author of the study of the study, neuroscientist at Leiden University, Netherlands stated. This is because the same thing will occur during adolescence as it is essential for a normal cognitive and emotional development. “Following those important teenage years, pregnancy could be thought as a second stage of brain maturing.” She added.

More research has been conducted and they had suggested that pregnancy sculpts the mother’s brain in a very specific way to make women more responsive to their helpless infants. The region that shrunk the most were parts of the frontal and temporal corticles as well as the midline, these regions are thought to be a part of taking other people’s mental perspectives. Thus, the shrinkage could occur with the purpose to help the mother to be a better care for the baby. The brain regions that changed the most also showed large responses to the pictures of their infants and even on questionnaires on their attachment to their baby, the scores for the women whose brains changed the most are higher.

First-time fathers appears to not have any changes on their brain, thus the effects on the mother’s brain is suggested not to be the cause by the seismic social upheaval of becoming a parent. Instead, these changes were caused by pregnancy hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. “Pregnancy is a time of exposure to massive amounts of hormones that get into their brain.” said John Russell, neuroendocrinologist of University of Edinburgh. However, he also points out that when the changes occur is still unsure as they only studied the brains before and after pregnancy but not during pregnancy. The extreme hormonal drop that comes during birth may also reshape the brain.

Why Girls Are Most Likely To Be Depressed Than Boys

A new study had shown that girls as 12 years old are more likely to be depressed than boys and this is most likely due to their appearance. As they grow older, their rate of depression increased to the point where women are twice as likely as men to be depressed.

As they reach adolescence, girls tend to worry about their body appearance. This had been proven by a study conducted by Betty Merten and Peter Lewinsohn, psychologists at the Oregon Research Institute in Portland who studied 802 high school students.

”If adolescent girls felt as physically attractive and generally good about themselves as boys their age do, they would not experience so much depression,” Dr. Lewinsohn said.

Although depression rates before puberty are the same in boys and girls, ”at around age 12 girls start to have higher rates,” said Dr. Myrna Weissman, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Columbia University.

Another study by Dr. Lewinsohn of 1,7000 high school students shows that at the age of 14, the rate of depression for girls are twice of boys. He also found that 1.7% of the boys and 3.9% of the girls were currently depressed.

Not only that, a study of psychiatric disorders which studied 5,595 high school students found that 9% suffered from mild or severe depression, either currently or in the past. It also claimed that it was the most prevalent emotional disturbance of all.

”Girls have higher rates of both mild and major depression than do boys,” said Dr. Agnes Whitaker, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, who did the study.

Studies of all youths, not just those still in school, have found even higher overall rates of depression.

The findings were then used to conduct a research to have an insight of why depression occurs in early life with the hope to find head off depression or for it to be treated more effectively in children and adolescents. As for now, there are already a few methods to cure depression in children.

”I think that adolescent girls’ preoccupation with how they look accounts for much of the jump in depression for girls at puberty,” said Dr. Merten. ”Body image is a huge part of how girls think of themselves and of their self-worth.”

The study by Dr. Merten and Dr. Lewinsohn were the first study that gives heads up on how girl’s appearance are linked to depression. The ones that were reported to have low self-esteem due to appearance were more likely to be diagnosed with depression a month later.

”Adolescence is a rough transition for girls, much rougher than for boys,” Dr. Merten said. ”Boys have different pressures; whatever problems they may create, they don’t cause such a jump in depression.”

Researchers are searching on why girls started to concern about attractiveness even before they reach adolescent. ”Thinking about their appearance is at the top of girls’ minds by age 10,” said Jeannette Haviland, a psychologist at Rutgers, who has studied emotions in teen-agers. ”It may be there even earlier, but we haven’t looked for it yet.”

For girls who are diagnosed with depression, their normal concern with looking good becomes distorted into devastating self-criticism.

”They are convinced that they’re too short or too tall, their hair is too curly or too straight, they feel too fat, or are convinced they have a terrible complexion – despite the fact that nothing is really wrong with their appearance,” said Dr. Haviland.

However, that is not the case for boys, they are most likely to be depressed due to social isolation. ”Depressed boys don’t spend times with their friends, though they have them,” said Reed W. Larson, a psychologist at the University of Illiinois. they spend a great deal of time alone in their bedroom,”

In Dr. Larson’s study, 483 boys and girls from fifth through 11th grade in Chicago carried beepers with them, and were beeped at random times through the day. Each time they filled out a report of what they were doing and how they felt.

He also found out that girls with depression doesn’t spent time alone as much as depressed boys. ”I suspect that with girls, if you’re depressed you can talk about that with your friends and be accepted,” he said. ”But that’s not true for boys. When boys talk about their feelings with each other, it makes them uncomfortable.”

The impression is shared by therapists who treat depressed teen-agers. ”Boys just don’t have the same kind of social network as girls,” said Dr. Donna Moreau, clinical director of the Children’s Anxiety and Depression Clinic at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. ”If they feel depressed, they can’t talk about it. They end up withdrawing.”

She said: ”It’s harder to tell if a boy is depressed by asking him directly, where you can with a girl. It’s both that boys are reluctant to talk about their emotions, particularly sadness, and that they are just not as aware of how they feel as are girls.”

Dr. David Shaffer, a child psychiatrist at Columbia University claimed that despite of boy’s reluctance on depression, it also has it’s own advantages. ”It may not always be such a bad thing that boys don’t own up to depression,” he added. ”Ruminating can worsen depression. For instance, if a girl gets a social slight she might take it as being proof that she is ”awful,” and talk about it with her friends, which amplifies its significance until it becomes a major blow to her self-image.”

Dr. Moreau stated that for both genders, the therapy for depression in adolescence are more successful than it may seem to parents. ”We get referred lots of depressed teen-agers, who experience their feelings so intensely it looks like something that would be very hard to treat in an adult,” she said. ”But very often a brief therapy clears it up quickly.”

A program by Dr. Lewinsohn has been designed for depressed teenagers. It is modelled on a small seminar where the teenagers meet in small groups twice a week for two months with the motive of overcoming their depression.  One of the main skills is ”constructive thinking,” a method for countering the self-defeating thoughts that obsess depressed people.

He explained: ”If one of these teens got a bad grade, he might think: ‘I’m stupid, I’ll always be a failure, I’ll flunk out.’ Instead we show them a more positive way to think about the experience: ‘I didn’t prepare as much as I could have, I’ll prepare more next time, and besides I’m not stupid; I’m doing fine in other classes.’ ”

They will also learn ”friendly skills,” which educate them to communicate better with peers and to increase their self-esteem and be more confident.

”We show them how to defuse a potential argument with their parents,” said Dr. Lewinsohn. They learn how to compromise when negotiating using the car, keeping their room clean, or being home at a certain time.”

Other than that, they also get to learn technique on how to relax in a tense situation and making an enjoyable hobbies to do once a week.

”We’ve treated over a hundred depressed kids from 14 to 18,” he said. ”After two years, three-quarters haven’t been depressed since. That’s better than you see in therapy with depressed adults.”


Can we implant false memory?

nov14_d02_ramirezliu-main-jpg__800x600_q85_crop_subject_location-30571514Is it possible to implant false memory? This study has proven that it is possible for false memories to be implanted. This is because memories can be altered by existing knowledge, new information, other memory interfering with the formation of new ones, head injury, and the power of ‘suggestion’. It is also hypothesized that memories disrupt each other and this is referred to as what psychologist call ‘interference’. There are two type of interference; proactive interference where old memory disrupt new memory and retroactive memory where new information incorporated into the recollection, adding and altering memory.

For this particular study conducted by Loftus and Pickrell, they are interested in retroactive memory by investigating whether is it possible to implant an entire false memory. There were 24 participants, aged 18 to 53 taken by the students from University Of Washington where 12 students were asked to find a pair of individual each and the pair have to be related to each other and must know about their childhood stories.

For the study, interviews with participant’s relative was conducted to obtain three true events that happened to participants between the age of 6 years old and these events cannot be folklore or traumatic events that would easily be remembered by the participants. After that, the participants were told that they were participating in a study on childhood memory and research is looking into how and why people remember some things and not others. The participants were then sent a five paged booklet, containing four short stories where there are three true events and one fake story. The false story involved the participant being lost in a Mall for an extended period around the age of 5 and found by an elderly woman before reunited with family.

In the booklet, for each page there will be one paragraph on details of each events at the top and the rest of the page are used for the participants to fill in as much detail that they can remember about the event. After the booklet is filled, they were sent back to the researcher. After one to two weeks, they were called for an interview. For the interview, they were asked to recall on the things that they have written in the booklet and to rate clarity and confidence rating on the events. The second interview was conducted one to two weeks after the first interview, using the same procedures.

The findings shows that 68% of participants remembered the true events across the booklet while only 24% remembered the false event. Thus, this suggests that to some extent, false memories can be implemented. It is also proven that some people can be led to believe the entire events happened to them only through suggestions. Therefore, memory can be altered just by suggestions.


How to stop craving for foods?


Why do we always crave for foods after a tiring mental activity? Some researchers have claimed that it is because thinking takes a lot of energy from the brain and since the capacity to store fuel has it’s limits, the brain needs more calories to keep going and this can results in body hunger. Maybe this is why students tend to eat more during examination periods and college students are more likely to gain more weight.

Thus, an experiment has been conducted by the scientist of University Of Alabama, Birmingham guided by Gary Hunter who is an exercise physiologist in U.A.B. on exercise to counter such post-study food binges. Hunter claimed that tough activities both increases the amount of blood sugar and lactate which is a byproduct of intense muscle contradictions that is circulating in the blood and increases the blood flow to the head. As the brain uses sugar and lactate as a fuel, researchers wanted to find out if the if the increased flow of fuel-rich blood during an exercise could supply energy to an exhausted brain.

For this study, there were 38 participants which consist of 38 healthy college students. They were invited to U.A.B’s exercise lab and were then measured on their fitness and metabolic rates and to also state what their favourite pizza was.

During the first 35 minutes of the study, participants sat quietly before they were given as much of their favourite pizza as they wanted. This is to create a baseline measure of self-indulgence.  At a later date, the students returned and spent 20 minutes addressing options from college and graduate-school exams. Hunter claimed that this is to increase mental fatigue and hunger. After that, the participants were divided into half. Half of the students sat quietly for 15 minutes before they were given pizza while the other half spent 15 minute doing intervals on treadmill, repeating the process of 2 minutes of running and one minute of walking for five times. This measure is to make the sugar and the lactate to be released into the blood stream. After they finished, they were also given pizza.

The results were surprising, they didn’t overeat. It turns out that the non-exercisers consumed more calories than the one who exercise. It appeared that the exercisers consumed 25 fewer calories than they did during their baseline session while nonexercisers about 100 calories more. When the researcher factored in the calories expended on running, they found out that the  students consumed 200 fewer calories after the brain workouts than the resting students.