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Some Supplements May Help Treat Anxiety

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 (UPI) — A systematic review by U.S. researchers finds some nutritional and herbal supplements can be effective to treat anxiety without serious side effects.

Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vieira of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation — a non-profit organization in Los Angeles that advocates for advancement of neurological and mental health patient welfare, education and research — says the research indicates strong evidence that extracts of passionflower, or kava, and combinations of L-lysine and L-arginine can help alleviate anxiety.

The researchers pooled the results of 24 studies involving more than 2,000 participants. Included in the review were 21 randomized-controlled trials, and of these 15 showed positive effects from either a nutritional or herbal remedy. Any reported side effects were mild to moderate, the researchers say.

“Our review and summary of the literature on herbal remedies and dietary supplements for anxiety should aid mental health practitioners in advising their patients and provide insight for future research in this field,” the researchers say in a statement. “We found mixed results — while passionflower or kava and L-lysine and L-arginine appeared to be effective, St. John’s Wort and magnesium supplements were not.”

However, for the kava, L-lysine and L-arginine supplements, more research needs to be done to establish the most effective dosage and to determine whether this varies between different types of anxiety or anxiety-related disorders, the researchers add.

The findings are published in the Nutrition Journal.

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Skin Color Cited in Mexican Inequality

AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 6 (UPI) — A U.S. study says skin color leads to profound social inequality in Mexico despite state-promoted ideology denying the existence of such prejudice.

The study from the University of Texas at Austin found individuals with darker skin tones have less education, have lower status jobs, are more likely to live in poverty, and are less likely to be affluent, a university release said Wednesday.

The study by Andres Villarreal, an associate professor of sociology, was published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review.

The study showed a high level of agreement among respondents of a nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 participants about who belongs to three basic skin color categories: blanco/guero, or white; moreno claro, or light brown; and moreno oscuro or dark brown.

Respondents who are light brown have 29.5 percent lower odds of having a college education compared with those who are white. Those who are dark brown have 57.6 percent lower odds.

Respondents in the lowest occupational categories, such as domestic workers, manual workers, drivers, and security guards, were much more likely to be in the dark-brown category and less likely to be in the white category than were respondents in the highest status occupations such as office supervisors, professional workers and employers, the study found.

“These differences in socioeconomic outcomes are, of course, insufficient to demonstrate the persistence of discriminatory practices against individuals based on the color of their skin,” Villarreal said.

“However, the fact that differences in occupational status across skin color categories cannot be fully explained by other factors suggests that Mexicans with darker skin tones may in fact face discrimination in the labor market.”

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No Downside if All Try for College

MANHATTAN, Kan., Oct. 6 (UPI) — There is nothing wrong with encouraging students — even less academically promising students — to pursue college, U.S. researchers say.

Chardie Baird, a Kansas State University assistant professor of sociology, and John Reynolds, a Florida State University professor of sociology, used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health — both national data sources — for their study.

They challenge many social-psychological theories that suggest if people do not realize their plans, they’re likely to be depressed.

“The big story is that we shouldn’t really discourage students from shooting for the stars,” Baird says in a statement. “At least in terms of mental health, there are no real consequences for trying and failing to meet educational plans.”

The researchers coined the term “adaptive resilience,” which means people will adapt their reactions to prevent depression if they don’t meet their educational plans.

“Considering that there are material and psychological rewards for getting more education, there is just no reason to discourage students or your children from trying, even if it looks like they don’t show academic potential,” Baird says.

The findings, published in the American Sociological Review.

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Condoms Used in 1/4 of U.S. Intercourse

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Oct. 5 (UPI) — Twenty-five percent of acts of vaginal intercourse are condom protected in the United States — one in three among singles, a study finds.

“These data, when compared to other studies in the recent past, suggest that although condom use has increased among some groups, efforts to promote the use of condoms to sexually active individuals should remain a public health priority,” Michael Reece, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University’s School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in Bloomington, says in a statement.

Condom use is higher among black and Hispanic-Americans than among white Americans or those from other racial groups. U.S. adults age 40 and older have the lowest rates of condom use, the study says.

“People may not be as concerned about pregnancy, but the finding suggest the need to enhance education efforts for older people regarding sexually transmitted infection risks and prevention,” Reece says.

“The findings show that condoms are used twice as often with casual sexual partners as with relationship partners, a trend that is consistent for both men and women across age groups that span 50 years,” Debby Herbenick, associate director of the CSHP, says.

The findings, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, used data from 5,865 adolescents and adults ages 14-94.

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Special Training Needed to Treat Self-harm

NOTTINGHAM, England, Sept. 29 (UPI) — British researchers say there is a need for additional special training to handle self-harm — patients who cut themselves or try to commit suicide.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham in England say healthcare professionals lack appropriate training and support needed to help self-harmers.

The analysis, published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, covered all aspects of self-harm, from patients who cut themselves to those who try to commit suicide. Jo McHale and Anne Felton studied 19 papers from several countries that covered the views of 1,300 nurses, other healthcare professionals and service users.

“Research has historically shown that people who have self-harmed often have negative experiences because of the attitudes of the healthcare professionals employed to help them,” McHale says in a statement.

McHale and Felton say better education and clinical supervision can improve attitudes — especially when it is supported by government guidance.

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U.S. Marriage Rate Continues to Decline

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) — The rate of married U.S. adults ages 25-34 dropped by 10 percent in the last 10 years, a non-profit organization calculated using U.S. Census data.

Mark Mather and Diana Lavery of the Population Reference Bureau in Washington say more young couples are delaying marriage or forgetting marriage altogether — most likely a result of the economic downturn and decline in the housing market.

However, the trend to forgo marriage has been a long-term trend. For all U.S. adults, 57 percent were married in 2000, but that dropped to 52 percent in 2009 — the lowest percentage recorded since information on marital status was first collected by the U.S. Census Bureau about 100 years ago, the analysis says.

In the mid-1960s about 80 percent of U.S. men and women ages 25-34 were married, but starting in the 1970s, the marriage rate began to decline as divorces rose, more women joined the workforce, more women attained education and delayed marriage, and cohabitation gained favor, the analysts say.

From 2000 to 2009, U.S. adults ages 25-34 who are married dropped from 55 percent to 45 percent, the study authors say.

However, the marriage gap has reversed — prior to the 1990s, marriage rates among those who graduated or dropped out of high school were higher than those with a four-year college degree, the analysis says.

However, today higher proportions of young, highly educated adults marry, while fewer with a high-school degree and less education get hitched.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Students Should Slow Down, Savor Reading

DURHAM, N.H., Sept. 29 (UPI) — With little or no progress in U.S. student reading proficiency, a U.S. English professor suggests students may be reading too fast.

Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire in Durham says students would get more enjoyment and have greater success if they slowed down when reading.

“We can gain some pleasures and meanings no other way,” Newkirk says in a statement. “Schools need to take a stand for an alternative to an increasingly hectic digital environment where so many of us read and write in severely abbreviated messages and through clicks of the mouse.”

A confessed slow reader, Newkirk says there is real pleasure in slowing down.

“We can gain some pleasures and meanings no other way,” he says.

Newkirk suggests students take time to learn “by heart” some of their favorite passages and advises continuing the practices of reading aloud beyond elementary school.

“Memorizing enables us to possess a text in a special way,” Newkirk suggests.

Newkirk makes the case for slow reading in an article published in Education Leadership.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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College Students Wild for Wildflower

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Sept. 23 (UPI) — A survey of U.S. college students in plant-related disciplines indicates a deep interest in native wildflowers.

Researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville suggest incorporating wildflowers may help in promoting educational programs, gardening, landscaping and re-vegetation projects.

The study, published in HortTechnology, concludes students may have a generally low awareness of native wildflowers, but they expressed high levels of interest in learning more about the identification, cultivation and uses of native wild species.

“An opportunity exists for educators and the industry to couple this enthusiasm for wildflowers with multiple experiences in wildflower education and exposure,” study corresponding author Hector Eduardo Perez says in a statement.

Students also say they would prefer purchasing native wildflower seeds or finished plants from local retailers.

“The retail environment seemed to be remarkably important; students indicate that they would prefer to purchase seeds or plants from local retailers rather than through the Internet by an overwhelming majority,” the study authors say in a statement.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Many Teens Don't Get Birth Control Info

HYATTSVILLE, Md., Sept. 15 (UPI) — More than 95 percent of U.S. teens got formal sex education, but a much smaller percentage received instruction on birth control methods, health officials say.

Using data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds 96 percent of females and 97 percent of males received sex education before age 18.

Sixty-two percent of male teens and 70 of females said they received information on birth control.

Ninety-two percent of male and 93 percent of female U.S. teens report being taught about sexually transmitted diseases and 89 percent of male and 88 percent of female teens reported receiving instruction on how to prevent HIV/AIDS, the report says.

Eighty-one percent of male and 87 percent of female teens say they received formal sex education on “how to say no to sex,” the report says.

More than two out of three male teens and almost four out of five female teens reported talking with a parent about at least one of six sex education topics including: “How to say no to sex”; methods of birth control; STDs; where to get birth control; how to prevent HIV/AIDS; and how to use a condom.

The report contains data involving face-to-face interviews conducted with 7,356 females, 1,381 of them ages 15-19, and 6,139 males, 1,386 of whom were 15-19.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Study: Restroom Hand Washing on Rise

BOSTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) — Americans are getting better about hand washing in public restrooms, an observational study announced at a Boston conference shows.

The study, sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute, indicates 85 percent of adults washed their hands in public washrooms, up from 77 percent in 2007, the organizations’ releases Tuesday reported.

The percentage was the highest observed since the studies began in 1996, the organizations said.

The results were announced at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a four-day infectious disease meeting sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology that winds in Boston Wednesday.

Harris Interactive of New York, on behalf of ASM and ACI, observed 6,028 adults in public restrooms in August to see if people washed their hands. The studies were conducted at the following locations: Atlanta (Turner Field), Chicago (Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium), New York City (Grand Central Station and Penn Station), and San Francisco (Ferry Terminal Farmers Market), the release said.

“The message is that people are getting the message. Between mom’s common sense advice and the recent pandemic scare, people now seem to realize the importance of when and how you wash your hands,” said Nancy Bock, ACI’s vice president of consumer education.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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