Every two weeks, we gather some of the most interesting, intriguing and even oddball studies from health researchers around the world. Here’s the latest:
Migrating from the classroom to the living-room couch during summer vacation can take an unhealthy toll on children and teens, who drink more soda and watch more television when school’s out, a new study found.
Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health showed that children in first through 12th grades watched an average of 20 minutes more of television per day and consumed an average of 3 more ounces of sugary beverages daily during summer break than during the school year.
At the same time, children and adolescents also exercised more during the summer than during the school year, especially high school students from higher-income families. But students at all grade and income levels fell below the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended guidelines for exercise.
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The report, published online in the Journal of School Health, used data from 6,453 children at both higher- and lower-income levels gathered from 2003 to 2008.
Intellectual activities may help shake drug addiction
People struggling with substance addiction may experience less temptation after stimulating activities such as learning and exploring – if mouse behavior is any indication.
In a study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley, mice whose daily routines included intellectual activity were less likely than their enrichment-deprived counterparts to return to a chamber where they previously had been given cocaine. The study was recently published in the journal Neuropharmacology.
One group of mice underwent a nine-day training program where they had to perform various tasks, such as digging up Honey Nut Cheerios from a pot of scented wood shavings, while another group remained in their cages without enrichment opportunities.
When the mice were set loose one month later, the subjects that had received cognitive training showed little interest in the cocaine chamber compared to their untrained counterparts.
Drug delivery targets tumors, leaves healthy cells alone
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have developed nanoparticles that deliver powerful doses of chemotherapy drugs directly to spreading tumors.
The novel delivery system could spare the rest of the body from the toxic chemicals used to kill cancer cells and greatly increase the dosage that could be directed at tumors, a university news release said.
The nanoparticles release their drugs only in the presence of enzymes that allow cancers to spread, meaning the drugs are inactive, and don’t kill normal cells, as they flow through the bloodstream toward the tumor.
In mouse trials, researchers were able to administer doses of chemotherapy drugs that were 16 times higher than those normally used in human cancer clinics. The report was published in the journal Advanced Materials on July 14.
Man’s memory lasts only 90 minutes
English psychologists have reported the unusual case of a man whose memories last only 90 minutes, meaning he wakes up every morning thinking it’s always the same day.
The man’s case is like the situation depicted in the movie “Memento,” according to a news release from the University of Leicester. University clinical psychologist Gerald Burgess described the case in an article published May 15 in the journal Neurocase.
The patient, referred to by his initials WO, lost the ability to form new long-term memories after undergoing a root-canal procedure in March 2005, when he was 38 years old. Since then, he has thought every day is the day of his dental appointment, researchers said.
The report described the way the man keeps track of his life:
“Through prompting by his wife, WO checks his computer each morning on which they have listed (and keep updated) key facts he should be aware of. Some events that have occurred since the onset of his condition in March 2005 continue to elicit genuine surprise or astonishment each time he sees or hears about them, such as the marriage of some family friends or that a family pet has since passed away.”