Cancer survival linked to government spending
New research concludes there is a direct correlation between a government’s spending on health care and the number of deaths from cancer in that country. This relationship is especially strong with breast cancer, researchers found.
The research, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, was just presented to the 2013 European Cancer Congress.
Researchers from the Breast European Adjuvant Studies Team (BrEAST) analyzed data on populations, cancer incidence and mortality from the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They compared different countries’ wealth and health expenditure indicators with their own estimates of the proportion of patients dying after they were diagnosed with cancer.
Countries that spend less than the equivalent of $2,000 in U.S. dollars per capita in health care see about 60 percent of patients die after a diagnosis of cancer (including Romania, Poland and Hungary); countries that spend between $2,500 and $3,500 see about 40 percent (including Portugal, Spain and the U.K.), and countries that spend around $4,000 see fewer than 40 percent (including France, Belgium and Germany.)
The research does not analyze the reasons why Western European countries see a higher incidence of cancer than Eastern European countries. However, it might be partially caused by the greater number of effective preventive measures in Western European countries, such as cancer screening programs.
The researchers said the findings are significant because they show that funding for health systems is crucial to ensure that cancer patients avoid tragic outcomes.
Texting linked to sleep problems
The amount of time spent sending text messages could have an effect on sleep quality, according to a new study.
Research was conducted by Karla Murdock, a Washington and Lee University psychology professor and was published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
In her study, Murdock had first-year college students answer questions that measured academic and social burnout, emotional well-being and sleep problems. She also asked the participants to reveal how many text messages they send and receive on an average day. The self-reported data were estimations, and the study did not include a margin of error.
Murdock assessed the students’ sleep quality using a widely-used instrument called the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, with some modifications to fit the study sample. The method measured sleep duration, amount of time it takes to fall asleep, amount of time spent sleeping, sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness.
Results showed that a higher number of daily texts corresponded with more sleep problems, which adds to a body of research that has shown cell-phone use to be correlated with poor sleep, especially in adolescents, young adults and first-year college students.
The exact reason why a correlation exists between texting and sleep quality is uncertain, but Murdock suggested that students might feel pressured to respond to texts regardless of time of day or night, or students might be awakened by texts if they sleep near their phones.
Findings also showed that texting was not only associated with poorer sleep, but that frequent text messaging was also associated with greater vulnerability to interpersonal stress. The implication is that text messaging is a poor method of communication when it comes to coping with stress in relationships, Murdock said.
Breast health tied to eating peanut butter
Teenage girls who eat peanut butter and nuts could be lowering their risk for developing breast cancer as adults, according to a study pub
Girls who eat peanut butter as teenagers may be significantly less likely to develop breast cancer as adults than girls who don’t eat it, concludes a study partially funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Previous studies have shown that diets rich in vegetable fats, including those present in peanut butter, nuts, soy and other beans and lentils, can lower risk for breast cancer. However, the new study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, is the first of its kind to follow up experiments during adolescence with cases of diagnosed disease in adulthood–as opposed to asking adult women to recount their diet during teen years.
In the study, researchers analyzed data of more than 9,000 American adolescent girls between 1996 and 2001 and between 2005 and 2010, when they were 18 to 30 years old.
Findings showed that participants who consumed peanut butter or nuts twice a week were 39 percent less likely to receive a diagnosis for benign breast disease than participants who didn’t eat any peanut butter or nuts.
It is worth noting that the study only examined the correlation between peanut butter and benign breast disease, which includes non-cancerous lumps or tender spots of tissue and/or cysts. But because benign breast disease can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, researchers said that the findings suggested that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in the long run.
Wine glass size determines how much you drink
The amount of wine you drink could vary depending on the size of your glass, a new study suggests.
A standard wine pour is 5 oz., but the study at Iowa State University found that participants, when given a wide wine glass, poured themselves 12 percent more wine than when they were given a standard wine glass. The findings were published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.
This 12 percent difference means that people could be drinking as many as two or three servings, when they think they’ve only had one, the researchers said.
Laura Smarandescu, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State University, said that the results could be due to the fact that most people tend to focus more on vertical measures of liquid than horizontal ones, which explains why most people drink less when using a narrow glass.
The researchers also found that when using a clear glass, study participants poured themselves 9 percent more white wine than red wine, suggesting that the contrast of the wine against the glass also can play a role in how much wine people pour. And participants also poured more wine if someone was holding the glass, compared to when it was resting on a table.
Scientists discover brain circuits tied to overeating
New research shows that an area of the brain, when wired in a particular way, could lead to overeating, whether a person is hungry or not.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine said their study could provide insight into how obesity and eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, could be partially caused by neurological factors.
This discovery adds to a finding 60 years ago that electronically stimulating brain cells in mice could cause them to eat when they were not hungry.
The new study, published in the journal Science, focused on a specific cell type called gaba neurons, which live in the nucleus of a part of the brain’s amygdala (the brain’s emotion center) called the BNST. Researchers activated BNST cells in the brains of specifically bred mice using a method involving fiber optic cables, genetically engineered proteins and light.
They found that even though the mice were well-fed before the experiment, they appeared unusually hungry and ate approximately half of their daily caloric intake in about 20 minutes after their BNST cells were stimulated. The researchers said the mice demonstrated an especially strong preference for high-fat foods.
The link between the BNST and overeating was further strengthened by the finding that when the BNST cells were de-activated, the mice didn’t seem to want to eat, even if they were food-deprived.
The study suggest that humans with “faulty wiring” in their BNST cells could have abnormal hunger cues, which could lead to people eating or avoiding food regardless of hunger levels, or it could lead to the development of eating disorders.