Latest research news

March 7, 2007

Researchers pour cold water on belief in morning coffee 'caffeine buzz
Regular coffee drinkers who believe their morning cup gives them a much-needed boost might like to think again. A conference today will hear evidence is growing that the idea an early cup of caffeine-laden coffee gives you a lift is a myth. Peter Rogers, a professor of biological psychology at Bristol University, said all coffee did was ease the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. During the night, caffeine leaves the body, lowering alertness and mood and degrading performance. Professor Rogers said drinking caffeine again in the morning reversed these effects, but did not boost alertness above the normal levels.
The Scotsman

Epileptic seizures sparked by tooth brushing
Tooth brushing can induce seizures in people with epilepsy, a new case study of three people with the condition has found. “Brushing your teeth is very rhythmic. Our idea is that it causes a rhythmic over-activity in the brain, which feeds back on itself – similar to the effect of strobe lighting on people with photosensitive epilepsy,” says neurologist Wendyl D’Souza of St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, one of the team reporting the cases. Epilepsy occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain fire more rapidly than usual and in synchrony with one another. This causes seizures that range from “grand mal” seizures – the old term for extreme convulsions and loss of consciousness – to short bouts of staring that may wrongly be blamed on lack of concentration.
New Scientist

Plugging the ozone hole cut global warming too
Global warming would be much worse if the world had not put a halt to the destruction of the ozone hole above Antarctica, say researchers. They say the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which restricts the use of CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals, will cut warming by five or six times more than the Kyoto Protocol. Previous research has shown the ozone layer is recovering and the protocol was hailed by Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the UN, as "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date".
New Scientist

Psychological attacks rank high on torture list
The long-term mental anguish caused by psychological torture and humiliating treatment is comparable to that caused by physical torture, a new study indicates. The results, say the study's authors, support the prohibition of psychological torture by international law. The findings are particularly important given recent debate over how the United States defines torture. The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines it as "severe suffering, whether physical or mental".
Nature

Girls born light 'more likely to get depressed'
Girls weighing less than 2.5kg (5.5lbs) at birth are significantly more likely to be depressed as teenagers than those with a normal birth weight, according to research. Nearly four out of 10 of the underweight girls (38 per cent) developed depression between the ages of 13 and 16, against 8.4 per cent of those born weighing more. But low birthweight boys appear to be unaffected, according to the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry . The research follows several studies that have linked low birth weight with depression in adolescence and adulthood, and suggested that - the potential for depression may lie dormant in individuals with a low birthweight.
The Guardian

New medical research
Drinking caffeinated drinks protects older people against deaths from heart disease, says Brooklyn College research in the American Journal of Nutrition . The study of the health records of a large cohort of over65s suggests that the reduced risk of coronary vascular disease was most likely due to the effect of the caffeine on their blood pressure. The more they drank, the better the protection. Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of death from cancer among people who develop malignancies, says a study in Arthritis & Rheumatism . The Manchester University report says that while arthritis does not increase the risk of people developing cancer, there is a 40 per cent higher risk of death from malignancies among people with the disorder.
The Times

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