Latest research news

January 10, 2007

Why dithering gets you nowhere
Trust your gut instincts when decision-making gets tough, a study published today suggests. The research, published in the journal Current Biology , shows that, in some cases, snap decisions are more reliable than endless pondering using higher-level cognitive processes. Participants were asked to pick the odd one out on a screen covered in more than 650 identical symbols, including one rotated version of the same symbol. They performed better when given no time to linger and were forced to rely on their subconscious. Dr Li Zhaoping, of University College London, said: "You would expect people to make more accurate decisions when given the time to look properly.
The Daily Telegraph

Milk wrecks the health benefits of tea
Those looking for an antidote to holiday overindulgence may have added “drink more tea” to their lists of New Year’s resolutions, given past studies linking the drink to health benefits. But new research indicates this could all be in vain if you add a splash of milk. German researchers have found that the relaxing effect of a few cups of ordinary black tea on the arteries is completely wiped out by milk. After water, tea is the most widely drunk beverage in the world, and is increasingly popular in countries such as the US after reports that people who drink more tea have less cardiovascular disease and cancer. But these effects have been seen most clearly in east Asia, not in tea-loving countries such as the UK.
New Scientist, The Scotsman, The Times

£8m medical research funds create posts
New medical research posts have been created at Edinburgh University after a multi-million-pound funding boost for studies into cures for serious diseases. Almost £8 million has been released by the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration to support new projects in Scotland. Scientists will study a range of therapeutic areas including cardiovascular and metabolic disease, the central nervous system, oncology, inflammation, and women's health. Around 40 new jobs have been created in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow universities as a result. And 50 jobs are projected for the core laboratory in Dundee.
The Scotsman

Anti-clotting drug linked far higher stroke rate
A dramatic rise in the number of hemorrhagic strokes in the US during the 1990s may be linked to increased use of the anti-clotting drug warfarin. A new study estimates the rate of such strokes increased fivefold across the decade, a period in which the distribution of warfarin also soared. Researchers say that the findings should make doctors more cautious about prescribing the medication to those elderly patients at high risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Patients suffering from an irregular heart rhythm, also known as atrial fibrillation, commonly receive warfarin to prevent the formation of blood clots.
New Scientist

Researchers see bias in private-funded studies
Research into the health benefits of drinks including fizzy pop, juices and milk may be severely biased in favour of food industry funders, American doctors say today. A survey of research on the nutritional value of drinks found that studies funded entirely by food and drink companies were approximately eight times more likely to produce results favourable to their funders, compared with studies which had no industry funding. The findings threaten to revive the row which started in the pharmaceutical industry about how independent scientists can be when they receive funding from a commercial source.
The Guardian, The Financial Times, New Scientist

Folic acid might help to combat Alzheimer's
The risk of developing Alzheimer's might be lowered by the consumption of a higher level of folic acid through diet and supplements, say researchers. A study of around 1,000 elderly people found that those with higher than normal levels of the B vitamin are less likely to suffer mental deterioration. It adds to mounting evidence that folic acid plays an important role in preventing or alleviating many disorders including heart disease and strokes. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York looked over six years at the diet and progress of 965 healthy people who had an average age of 75.
The Daily Mail

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