Energy drinks can change heartbeat
Consuming caffeinated energy drinks may detrimentally alter heart function, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany studied the effects of energy drinks on 17 people using a heart imaging process. The participants consumed a drink with caffeine and a drink with taurine, a chemical commonly found in energy drinks—the levels of caffeine that were up to three times higher than those of coffee or soda.
The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, showed that the participants’ hearts were contracting harder than normal an hour after consuming the energy drinks.
The researchers said that they are uncertain about the long-term effects of consuming energy drinks. Children and people with an irregular heartbeat should avoid the drinks, they advised.
Nanoparticles show potential as pills of the future
Orally-administered nanoparticles may one day be used in developing new treatments for a range of conditions, according to a new study.
Currently, nanoparticles—microscopic particles whose sizes are measured in nanometers—are currently available only in injectable form. Depending on the type of disease being treated, scientists insert chemotherapy or other types of drugs into the nanoparticles, which are then used to directly treat diseased areas of the human body, such as tumors.
Researchers from M.I.T and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have discovered a way to deliver nanoparticle treatments orally—which has previously been a challenge because researchers didn’t know how to make the nanoparticles travel through the barrier of cells in the intestines and into the bloodstream.
In the new study, researchers coated nanoparticles with something that could pass through this barrier of cells—proteins called Fc proteins. Using this method, researchers tested insulin that was orally administered into mice’s bloodstream. The findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that the nanoparticles were able to pass through the cell barriers by essentially latching on to the Fc proteins, and the insulin successfully lowered the mice’s blood sugar levels.
Using this method of drug delivery, researchers said they hope to develop nanoparticle pills for treating conditions such as arthritis, high cholesterol and different types of cancer.
Implants increase weight loss in mice
A genetic implant may help trigger feelings of fullness that prevent the body from wanting to overeat, according to new research.
Researchers from the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel, Switzerland created an implant mainly from human gene components. It works by monitoring fat levels in the bloodstream. When those levels become excessive, the implant releases an appetite-suppressing hormone, which makes the person feel full.
The implant was tested on obese mice that had been fed a high-fat diet. The results showed that when the implants detected high levels of fat and released the appetite-suppressing hormone, the mice stopped eating. Researchers also found that the mice actually lost weight despite a high-fat, high-calorie diet.
Additional studies may lead to non-invasive weight-loss methods as alternatives to surgical procedures. The development of such treatments for humans, however, would likely take years, the researchers acknowledged.
Newlyweds can have conflicting gut feelings about mates
Whether newlyweds have positive or negative gut feelings about their spouses may help predict long-term marital satisfaction, according to a new study.
In the study, published in the journal Science, psychologists showed 270 individuals who had gotten married in the last six months photos of their spouses–but very quickly–followed by a series of positive and negative words, such as “delightful” or “disgusting.” Each participant then pushed a button to indicate whether the word was good or bad—researchers called these responses an automatic attitude, which is an unfiltered response that can sometimes conflict with conscious thoughts. Newlyweds then filled out questionnaires about their marital satisfaction.
Researchers continued this process at six-month intervals over four years. The findings showed that the more time that passed, the more the participants’ initial automatic attitudes started to match up with their self-reported marital satisfaction.
However, it is still difficult to explain the correlation between gut feelings as newlyweds and longer-term marital satisfaction from this specific study, researchers said.
Cholesterol “fuels” breast cancer
Cholesterol may cause breast cancer cells to grow and spread, according to new research.
Researchers from Duke University Medical Center studied the correlation between a cholesterol by-product, called 27HC, and tumors in mice. They found that the mice whose diets were high fat had higher levels of the cholesterol by-product than mice whose diets were low fat.
The findings also showed that the mice with higher levels of the cholesterol by-product developed tumors that were 30 percent larger than in the mice with lower levels of the cholesterol by-product.
The results, published in the journal Science, provide an explanation for previous studies that have shown there to be a connection between obesity and breast cancer. Researchers found that the cholesterol by-productmimics the hormone estrogen and may cause breast cancer to spread and grow. These findings provide more evidence that lowering cholesterol may help reduce the risk of breast cancer.