Latest research news

February 14, 2007

Afternoon naps cut risk of dying from heart attack by up to 64%
Taking a siesta could significantly cut the chance of dying from a heart attack, a major study has found. Researchers who examined more than 23,000 men and women in Greece found that the those who took a midday nap of 30 minutes or more at least three times a week had 37 per cent less risk of heart-related death, over a period of about six years, than those who did not nap. And among working men the health benefits appeared even more profound, with the chance of death from coronary heart disease some 64 per cent lower. The researchers suggested taking a siesta might have a "stress-releasing" effect which was particularly profound for those in hectic jobs.
The Scotsman, The Times, The Independent

One "bad apple" spoils the whole office
One "bad apple" can spread negative behaviour like a virus to bring down officemates or destroy a good team, according to a new study examining conflict in the workplace. Negative behaviour outweighs positive behaviour, so a bad apple can spoil the whole barrel, but one or two good workers can't "unspoil" it, researchers at the University of Washington said in the current issue of the journal Research in Organizational Behaviour . "Companies need to move quickly to deal with such problems because the negativity of just one individual is pervasive and destructive and can spread quickly," said co-author Terence Mitchell, a professor of management and organisation.
The Scotsman

New cancer drug to save a thousand lives a year
More than a thousand women a year will survive breast cancer thanks to a type of drug that improves survival rates by 17 per cent, new research shows today. A study of 4,742 post-menopausal women found that switching from the present gold-standard breast cancer treatment tamoxifen to the new drug exemestane after two or three years resulted in the dramatic fall in death rates. The study followed the progress of women who were treated for a total of five years and monitored for a further three.
The Times, The Independent

Inner ear implant may bring balance back
People who have lost their sense of balance could one day be fitted with an inner ear implant modelled on the body’s own balance organs, say researchers. Current designs are successful in animals, but two new studies promise a smaller, more accurate device, with a longer battery life – the crucial prerequisites for use in humans. The sense of balance is controlled by the vestibular portion of the inner ear. It keeps track of the motion and position of the head using three fluid-filled hoops, called semicircular canals.
New Scientist

Virus in the frame for prion diseases
Viruses, not prions, may be at the root of diseases such as scrapie, BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, researchers say. If true, the new theory could revolutionise our understanding of these so-called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and potentially lead to new ways of treating them. The widely accepted theory of what causes infectious prion diseases – such as vCJD, scrapie and “mad cow disease” – is that deformed proteins called prions corrupt other brain proteins, eventually clogging and destroying brain cells. However, this theory has not been definitively proven.
New Scientist

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