Enjoy black coffee? You may be a psychopath

Black coffee_759_Petr Kratochvil_Wikimedia Commons According to the research, bitter-taste preferences were linked to malevolent personality traits. (Source: Petr Kratochvil/Wikimedia Commons)

A fondness for bitter-tasting food and drinks, such as black coffee, may be a sign of dark personality traits, including Machiavellianism, sadism and narcissism, according to a new study.

Christina Sagioglou, study author and psychologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and her colleague Tobias Greitemeyer, studied how bitter taste preferences may be associated with antisocial personality traits. About 1,000 participants with an average age of 35 were analysed in two experiments. In the first experiment, 500 men and women were shown a long list of foods with equal numbers of sweet, salty, sour and bitter, and were asked to rate them on a six-point scale ranging from “dislike strongly” to “like strongly”.

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The participants then completed four separate personality questionnaires that measured their levels of aggression by asking them to rate statements that resonated with them, such as “Given enough provocation, I may hit someone”.

For the second half of the experiment, participants were asked to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements that assessed personality traits of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism — which is characterised by a cynical disregard for morality and a focus on self-interest and personal gain. The participants were also asked to answer questions relating to the “big five” personality traits — extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotionality stability, the ‘Medical Daily’ reported.

Everyday sadism was assessed by the Comprehensive Assessment of Sadistic Tendencies. The second experiment assessed their preferences for food tastes, except the list was reduced to 20 items — sweet and bitter. The participants also had the choice to choose “I don’t have an option” to each of the food items.

Based on both experiments, the researchers concluded bitter-taste preferences were linked to malevolent personality traits. “General bitter taste preferences emerged as a robust predictor for Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, and everyday sadism,” the researchers said.
For people with sadistic traits, the consumption of bitter foods was comparable to a roller-coaster ride, where they enjoyed things that induced fear, according to Sagioglou. The study was published in the journal Appetite.

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Diabetic? Daily glass of red wine can improve heart health

Both red and white wine can improve sugar control, depending on alcohol metabolism genetic profile. Both red and white wine can improve sugar control, depending on alcohol metabolism genetic profile.

A glass of red wine every night may help people with Type-2 diabetes manage their cholesterol and cardiac health, suggests new research. People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing cardiovascular diseases than the general population and have lower levels of “good” cholesterol, the study said.

“Initiating moderate wine intake, especially red wine, among well-controlled diabetics, as part of a healthy diet, is apparently safe, and modestly decreases cardio-metabolic risk,” the study said.

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Additionally, both red and white wine can improve sugar control, depending on alcohol metabolism genetic profile, the findings showed.

While slow alcohol-metabolisers who drank wine achieved an improvement in blood sugar control, fast alcohol-metabolisers (with much faster blood alcohol clearance) did not benefit from the ethanol’s glucose control effect. The study led by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheba, Israel aimed to assess the effects and safety of initiating moderate alcohol consumption in diabetics, and sought to determine whether the type of wine matters.

The two-year trial was performed on 224 controlled diabetes patients (aged 45 to 75), who generally abstained from alcohol. They gradually initiated moderate wine consumption, as part of a healthy diet platform, and not before driving. “Red wine was found to be superior in improving overall metabolic profiles, mainly by modestly improving the lipid profile, by increasing good (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) cholesterol, while decreasing the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol,” the study said.

“The differences found between red and white wine were opposed to our original hypothesis that the beneficial effects of wine are mediated predominantly by the alcohol,” principal investigator Iris Shai said.

“Approximately 150 ml of the dry red or white tested wines contained approximately 17 g ethanol and approximately 120 kilocalorie, but the red wine had seven-fold higher levels of total phenols and four to 13-fold higher levels of the specific resveratrol group compounds than the white wine,” Shai pointed out, underlining the effects of non-alcoholic constituents of red wines.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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India may have 60 mn osteoarthritis cases by 2025

arthritis-main India may become the osteoarthritis capital of the world with over 60 million cases of the disease by 2025, doctors say. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

India may become the osteoarthritis capital of the world with over 60 million cases of the disease by 2025, doctors say.

Doctors say osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis in India, affecting over 15 million adults every year.

“In the last few decades, Indians in the age-group of 30 to 50 years are falling prey to osteoarthritis and it continues to have serious impact on the lives of elderly people,” said Mudit Khanna, consultant Orthopedics at Wockhardt Hospital. (Also read – Dealing with arthritis: 4 ways to keep fit)

He said though the south Asian nations also have a high number of osteoarthritis cases, they are only the a fourth of the cases in India.

“Such diseases lead to complete disability of the knee. If the pain is not relieved by medication or physiotherapy for long, a person may be bedridden in the long run. So, surgery is advisable,” he said.

Osteoarthritis occurs when there is damage in and around the joints that the body cannot fully repair. The exact causes are not known but there are several factors thought to increase the risk of developing the condition.

According to doctors, though the current solution for osteoarthritis is surgery — transplant — only 10 percent of the Indians undergo it due to fear of late recovery.

Nirad vengsarkar, consultant orthopedic joint replacement surgeon at the Lilavati and Breach Candy Hospital, said: “Women are more prone to suffer from osteoarthritis because of weaker bone and muscle strength in women.”

“Come 2025 and India is likely to notice an endemic of osteoarthritis with about 80 percent of the 65 and above population in the country suffering with wear and tear of joints. Forty percent of these people are likely to suffer from severe osteoarthritis, which will disable them from daily activities.”

The reason behind the onset of this endemic is said to be increasing longevity of Indians. By 2020, the number of 65 and above population in India is likely to be about 177 million, whereas India had 100 million people in this age group in 2010.

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Dealing with arthritis: 4 ways to keep fit

Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help keep arthritis at bay. (Source: Daveynin/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Do you have joint pain or experience stiffness after sitting for long hours in the office? Do you find it really difficult to climb stairs because of that stiffness in your knees and other aches in your joints? Chances are that you could be suffering from arthritis.

Arthritis, a very common health problem in today’s world, sends over 14 per cent of the Indian population to their doctors for help every year. “Earlier, arthritis was believed to be associated with age-related degeneration. However, with sedentary lifestyles, imbalanced diet and poor work-life balance, more and more people in the early 30s are visiting the doctor’s clinic,” says Dr Bharat Bhushan Kukreja, a Guwahati-based orthopedic surgeon.

There are over 100 types of arthritis identified in the medical world. However, broadly, the condition can be divided into two types: osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), which is mostly common with older people and relates to the wear-and-tear of the cartilage. The second type is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic progressive disease that causes inflammation in the joints, resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet and ankles. RA can affect people of any age, including children under 16.

Though analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs are common medications to help reduce the pain and inflammation, changes to ones lifestyle and inclusion of a healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial while dealing with the pain or even trying to delay its on-set. The latter is actually a better option since “the regular, chronic use of these types of medications (for arthritis aches and pains) are associated with significant, and very serious, side effects such as kidney and/or liver damage,” says Dr Kukreja.

In such a scenario, here are some effective measures that can provide some relief to people suffering from arthritis:

1) Watch your weight. Exercise: One of the main reasons for arthritis pain is excessive weight. The more pressure you put on your joints, the faster your tissues will wear off. Start with low-impact exercises like walking. According to a research at Boston University, walking an hour a day will go a long way to keep you fit. “Walking not only builds muscle strength and flexibility, it also helps reduce arthritic pain,” says the study.

2) Keep a balanced diet: Sticking to a well-balanced diet is an absolute must. Explains Dr Kukreja, “Apart from adding more green vegetables and fruits to your diet, eat more fibre-rich foods to maintain a healthy weight. Limiting fat and white carbs is also a good idea.”

3) Top up on Vitamin D: Also called the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D deficiency is a one of the most common problems in India today. The vitamin is also responsible for maintaining calcium homeostasis to prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone health in the body, which is why Dr Kukreja says that keeping one’s Vitamin D levels up is a good way to prevent arthritis or strengthen your joints.

4) Drink more water: We should not need a reason to drink water. However, in case you want one, here you go: Drinking water can prevent arthritis. One of the most important things that water does is lubing up your joints for maximum and pain-free movement. The cartilage in the joints is made up mostly of water, which is what makes it such a great cushion. If there is not enough water in your joints, bones get brittle, thereby, making it much easier to crack. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water every day.

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Diamonds can help spot cancers at early stage

Shiny diamonds on black background Attaching hyperpolarised diamonds to molecules targeting cancers the technique can allow tracking of the molecules’ movement in the body

Researchers have found a way to use diamonds to act as beacons in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and identify cancerous tumours before they become life-threatening.

Their findings revealed how a synthetic version of the precious gem can light up early-stage cancers in MRI scans. “We knew nano diamonds were of interest for delivering drugs during chemotherapy because they are largely non-toxic and non-reactive,” said David Reilly from University of Sydney in Australia.

“We thought we could build on these non-toxic properties realising that diamonds have magnetic characteristics enabling them to act as beacons in MRIs,” Reilly noted.

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The researchers turned their attention to hyperpolarising nano-diamonds, a process of aligning atoms inside a diamond so they create a signal detectable by an MRI scanner. “By attaching hyperpolarised diamonds to molecules targeting cancers the technique can allow tracking of the molecules’ movement in the body,” the study’s lead author Ewa Rej from University of Sydney noted.

“This is a great example of how quantum physics research tackles real-world problems, in this case opening the way for us to image and target cancers long before they become life-threatening,” Reilly said. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Heavy Net use may lead to high BP and weight gain in teens

Researchers say two hours a day, five days a week is good rule of thumb

Teens who spend hours on the Internet may be at risk for high blood pressure and weight gain, researchers say.
Researchers found that teens who spent at least 14 hours a week on the Internet had elevated blood pressure. Of the 134 teens described by researchers as heavy Internet users, 26 had elevated blood pressure.
This is believed to be the first study showing a link between time spent on the Internet and high blood pressure. The findings add to growing research that has shown an association between heavy Internet use and other health risks like addiction, anxiety, depression, obesity and social isolation, researchers said. The study was published in the Journal of School Nursing.
“Using the Internet is part of our daily life but it shouldn’t consume us. In our study, teens considered heavy
Internet users were on the Internet an average of 25 hours a week,” said Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow, a researcher at Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

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“It’s important that young people take regular breaks from their computer or smartphone, and engage in some form of physical activity. I recommend to parents they limit their children’s’ time at home on the Internet. I think two hours a day, five days a week is good rule of thumb,” Cassidy-Bushrow said.
Researchers analysed data compiled from 335 teens ages 14-17 enrolled in the study including a blood pressure reading taken during a physical exam. Participants also completed a 55-question survey of their
Internet use during the week leading up to their physical exam. Questions ranged from how they spent their time on the Internet and their number of email addresses to time spent on the Internet daily and for what purpose.
For their study, researchers defined Internet use as visiting websites, emailing, instant messaging, playing
games, doing homework, shopping, downloading software and creating or maintaining web pages.
The study also found that teens spent on average 15 hours a week on the Internet at either school or home and 39 per cent of girls were heavy Internet users compared to 43 per cent of boys.
Researchers found that 43 per cent of heavy Internet users were considered overweight compared to 26 per cent of light Internet users.

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Decoded: How dengue uses human enzyme to spread faster

dengue, dengue cases, dengue patients, dengue deaths, delhi dengue, delhi dengue deaths, dengue deaths delhi, delhi anti mosquito drives, anti mosquito drives, delhi govt, delhi news A bulk of these cases, at least 1,040, were reported in September. According to municipal data, three more dengue deaths have been confirmed taking the toll from the virus this year to five.

In a pioneering feat, Brazilian scientists have decoded how dengue virus binds to a human enzyme to replicate and spread faster in the body.

NS1 is one of the seven proteins composing the dengue virus and more specifically its replication machinery.

It is an abundant protein detected in the serum of infected patients and used as a target for early detection.

Without NS1, the virus cannot replicate whereas NS1 mutation decreases virus yield.

Using a unique technique, the team found that the viral protein that NS1 binds to is well-known to any cell biologist is called “GAPDH”.

GAPDH is an enzyme involved in process where the glucose is broken down to generate energy in humans.

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The enzyme is ubiquitous and very abundant in animal cells and is also involved in non-metabolic processes such as control of gene expression.

Because GAPD is so abundant in the cell, the group also performed other complementing tests to confirm that the binding between NS1 and GAPDH is specific and not a spurious finding.

“As obligatory parasites, viruses rely on the host metabolism to obtain what they need to generate their progeny. We show that in human cells, NS1 binds to GAPDH as a way to increase energy production to be used for viral replication,” explained Dr Ronaldo Mohana Borges from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

Indeed, energy production modulation is a remarkable feature that improves the energy supply required for supporting active viral replication, he added.

The authors hypothesise that NS1 modulates the host metabolism by increasing GAPDH activity early on in the course of infection and, thus, should be considered as an important target for the development of new drugs to treat dengue.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease currently endemic in more than 10 countries, including India.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 390 million people are infected by dengue every year.

The disease can be caused by one of the four types of dengue virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypty mosquito, the main vector for dengue.

In humans, symptoms of dengue infection include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and a characteristic skin rash.

In some cases, dengue infection can take a dangerous turn and develop into a life-threatening hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

The paper has been published in the Journal of Virology.

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Be positive to keep heart disease at bay

happiness-main Higher levels of positive emotions were associated with less smoking, greater physical activity, better sleep quality and more adherence to medications at baseline (Source: Thinkstock Images)

People with a positive psychological state such as those who are enthusiastic or interested are likely to develop long-term healthy habits that are important for lowering the risk of heart disease, says a new study.

Over the course of five years, researchers tracked more than 1,000 patients with coronary heart disease. (Also read: Cheers! Two beers a week cut heart attack risk in women)

The researchers found that patients who reported higher positive psychological states were more likely to be physically active, sleep better and take their heart medications and were also less likely to smoke, compared to patients with lower levels of positive states.

“Negative emotions and depression are known to have harmful effects on health, but it is less clear how positive emotions might be health-protective,” said Nancy Sin, postdoctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University in the US. (Also read: Over 60 per cent of urban Indian women vulnerable to heart disease)

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“We found that positive emotions are associated with a range of long-term health habits, which are important for reducing the risk of future heart problems and death,” Sin noted.

The researchers assessed psychological well-being of participants at baseline and again at a five-year follow-up by asking the participants to rate the extent that they had felt 10 specified positive emotions, including “interested”, “proud”, “enthusiastic” and “inspired”.

Physical activity, sleep quality, medication adherence and alcohol and cigarette use were also measured at baseline and again five years later.

Higher levels of positive emotions were associated with less smoking, greater physical activity, better sleep quality and more adherence to medications at baseline, the study found.

They found no correlation between positive emotions and alcohol use.

“Efforts to sustain or enhance positive emotions may be promising for promoting better health behaviours,” the study said.

The findings appeared in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

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Therapy program for depression may be beneficial in the long term

Sad little girl “Even six years after the intervention,” the risk of depression was lower for adolescents who received cognitive-behavioral prevention therapy than for those who received usual care

A cognitive-behavioral prevention program to prevent depressive symptoms among at-risk youth may still be effective years later, according to a new study.

“We have already shown that the intervention was more effective than usual care but it is surprising that we are still finding a difference between groups six years later,” said lead author Dr. David A. Brent of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Over time, youngsters in the therapy group were still at risk for depression but were functioning better at work and in their interpersonal lives as a result of having more depression free days, Brent told Reuters Health by email.

The researchers randomly divided 316 at-risk teens, with prior depressive episodes of their own and with at least one parent having current or prior depressive episodes, into two groups between 2003 and 2006.

Teens in the cognitive-behavioral prevention program attended eight weekly 90-minute group therapy sessions followed by six months of monthly sessions. The other group did not receive care other than what might have been initiated by their family members.

Some teens in each group did develop depression during the study period and over the six-year follow up period, but it was less common in the therapy group, the authors reported in JAMA Psychiatry.

Over the first nine months of the study, those in the therapy group were about 36 percent less likely to develop depression than those in the comparison group.

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“Even six years after the intervention,” the risk of depression was lower for adolescents who received cognitive-behavioral prevention therapy than for those who received usual care, the authors reported.

“This preventive effect largely was driven by the significant difference in new onsets of depression during the first nine months after enrollment,” they added, because after that point, the risk of new depressive episodes was similar in the two groups.

The therapy was most effective for kids whose parents were not depressed when the study began, the authors noted.

“Theoretically, cognitive behavioral therapy works by changing children’s thinking patterns – so that they can challenge negative thoughts and not engage in the kinds of interpretations of events in their lives that lead to depression,” said Irwin Sandler, director of the Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University in Tempe, who was not part of the new study.

The best time to begin this preventive therapy may be following a parent’s treatment for depression rather than during treatment, Sandler told Reuters Health by email.

Teens are actively learning new academic and social skills, and a person who is depressed most likely will fall behind his or her peers, he said.

“By relieving that depression, he or she will catch up to some degree and that could be reflected years later,” he said.

“Youth who have had a previous episode of depression should receive some ongoing help to keep them well, this is now standard care,” he said. “Youth who are at risk, and may have some symptoms but not full blown depression would probably benefit from getting (cognitive-behavioral therapy) earlier, prior to developing a full-blown episode.”

If a child appears to develop depressive symptoms, earlier intervention is better, he said.

Group therapy sessions cost considerably less than individual sessions, said Jeremy Pettit, professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Florida International University in Miami, who was not part of the new study.

“Even adolescents who do not respond well to this kind of program in terms of depression prevention tend to report that they benefited in some ways from the program and that they are satisfied with the program,” Pettit told Reuters Health by email.

“Prevention services are not widely available because our health system does not reimburse for them, so it’s a real problem, Sandler said. Some programs are offered through schools or other community agencies, he said.

Not everything offered as prevention really is evidence based, so parents need to do their homework and insist on programs that have been demonstrated to work and where the leaders are certified to be competent providers of the program, Sandler said.

More on health

Alcohol addiction may trigger various cancers in Indians

Dizziness after standing may signal brain diseases!

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A new app to help autistic people with technology

There is a new smartphone app that can tap into the creative juices of people with autism to find new tech solutions to some of the everyday challenges they face.

The app — called ASCmeI.T — has been developed by researchers from the Universities of Sussex, Bath and Southampton with the simple aim of involving people with autism in the development of new technologies that could help them.

It enables people with autism spectrum conditions — as well as families, teachers, professionals and anyone who supports someone with autism — to share their ideas on what kind of new technology would best help. “If you’ve ever had a moment where you wished there was a useful technology out there to help you, or someone else, with something related to autism, this is the chance to get your idea heard,” said Sarah Parsons of the Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton.

“We want to use this new app to crowd-source ideas which we can blend with latest research and development,” said Parsons.

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Through the app, users can upload a one-minute video explaining their idea, which will be shared with researchers, so that new developments in digital technologies for autism can be matched to support the needs of users. Despite there being more than half a million people living with autism in the UK (around one in every 100), this is the first time such an initiative has been piloted, researchers said.

The researchers hope it will lead to new developments — anything from technologies to support transitions, service delivery or inclusion through to learning, employment or addressing bullying — that will be uniquely suited to the needs of those with autism. “This project is totally unique and encourages ‘citizen science’,” said co-investigator on the project Mark Brosnan, from the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology.

“ASCmeI.T is a simple yet highly effective way to enable people with autism to get their voices heard and to allow the creativity of a previously neglected group to be realised,” Brosan said. “Getting developers to listen to the people on the ground is really going to make a difference for people with autism,” said Nicola Yuill, of the University of Sussex.

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