Archive | Consumption

Lack of Brain 'plasticity,' Addiction Link

BORDEAUX, France, June 29 (UPI) — Impairment of the brain’s ability to react to changes — synaptic plasticity — may be linked to addiction, researchers in France said.

Study leaders Pier Vincenzo Piazza and Olivier Manzoni and colleagues at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux, a unit of the Institut national de la sante et de la recherche medicale, said impairment of synaptic plasticity caused new learning to cease. Behavior became more rigid and drug consumption became more compulsive.

The study, published in Science, used rats — mammals that share with humans the proclivity to self-administer cocaine. However, only a small number of rodents — or humans — actually become addicted.

The researchers said drug taking changed to genuine addiction when the brain no longer reacted to drug caused changing conditions. In some, this loss of plasticity happened after only short term cocaine use. However, all who used the drug long-term did lose plasticity.

“Understanding the biological mechanisms which enable adaptation to the drug and which help the user to maintain a controlled consumption could provide us with the tools to combat the anaplastic state that leads to addiction,” the study authors said in a statement.

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Most Have Some Concern over Gulf Seafood

MINNEAPOLIS, June 28 (UPI) — Most U.S. adults express at least some concern over the possible effects of the oil spill on Gulf of Mexico seafood, a survey indicates.

The survey, part of an ongoing weekly consumer confidence poll conducted by The Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota conducted jointly with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, says 99 percent of respondents say they were aware of the oil spill, while 85 percent say they are following the news closely.

The survey says 89 percent acknowledge at least some concern over the gulf’s seafood, while 50 percent say they are extremely concerned.

Fifty-nine percent say the possible effects of the spill will have some impact on their consumption of seafood, while 44 percent of that group say they will only eat seafood they know does not come from the Gulf of Mexico and another 31 percent say they will eat less seafood regardless of where it comes from.

“Given the amount of news coverage the oil spill has received, these results may not be surprising, but it does show that consumers are connecting the event to food safety,” Dennis Degeneffe, a research fellow at The Food Industry Center, said in a statement.

The ongoing study continuously tracks consumers’ perceptions about food safety and the food supply, via telephone surveys of about 175 people each week. The total sample for the six-weeks since the beginning of the oil spill is 1,076.

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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FDA Examining Genetically Engineered Fish

WASHINGTON, June 26 (UPI) — Salmon genetically engineered to grow twice the normal rate could end up on dinner plates if U.S. regulators give the go-ahead, The New York Times reported.

The salmon would become the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption, capping a decade-long effort by the fast-growing fish’s developer, the Times said.

AquaBounty Technologies, based in Waltham, Mass., developed the salmon, which would be raised on fish farms. The genetically altered Atlantic salmon has a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon and a genetic “on-switch” from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon.

The company said salmon normally do not make growth hormone in cold weather but the Chinook salmon switch keeps production going all year, enabling the fish to grow to market size in 16-18 months instead of three years. Ultimately, though, it’s no bigger than a normal salmon.

AquaBounty, which is publicly traded in London, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had given its OK to five of the seven sets of data required to show the fish was safe for consumption and the environment, the Times said.

Ronald L. Stotish, AquaBounty’s chief executive, said it would take two or three years after FDA approval for the salmon to reach grocery store shelves.

The FDA confirmed it was reviewing the genetically engineered salmon but declined further comment, citing confidentiality rules.

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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90 Percent of Americans Eat Too Much Salt

ATLANTA, June 25 (UPI) — U.S. adults consume more than twice the current recommended sodium limit for most Americans, federal health officials said.

Fewer than 10 percent of U.S. adults restrict their daily salt consumption to the recommended levels — less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reported.

However, lead author Janelle Peralez Gunn, a public health analyst with CDC’s division for heart disease and stroke prevention, said most people — nearly 70 percent of the U.S. adult population, which includes those with high blood pressure, all middle-age and older adults and all African-Americans — should limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.

The study is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, that included 24-hour dietary recall data.

One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure and it is estimated 90 percent of U.S. adults will develop high blood pressure in their lifetime, the report said.

An estimated 77 percent of salt comes from processed and restaurant foods, but many of these products like breads and cookies, may not even taste salty.

“Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it’s difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits,” Gunn said 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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High Fructose, Trans-fats Up Liver Disease

CINCINNATI, June 25 (UPI) — A diet high in fructose, sucrose and trans-fats increases obesity risk as well as fatty liver disease with scar tissue, U.S. researchers warn.

The study’s main author Dr. Rohit Kohli, a gastroenterologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues conducted the study in a mouse model of obesity and liver disease that closely models human disease.

“Fructose consumption accounts for approximately 10.2 percent of calories in the average diet in the United States and has been linked to many health problems, including obesity, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” Kohli said in a statement. “We’ve developed a mouse model that is very close to human disease, allowing us to better understand the process involved in the development and progression of obesity-related fatty liver disease.”

The study had some mice fed a normal diet of rodent chow and some a 16-week diet of fructose, sucrose-enriched drinking water and trans-fat solids.

The study found mice fed the normal calorie chow diet remained lean and did not have fatty liver disease, but mice fed trans-fat alone or a combination of trans-fat and high fructose became obese and had fatty liver disease.

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 Shows Turning off Car A/C Saves Fuel

ZURICH, Switzerland, June 24 (UPI) — Swiss researchers say they’ve found the use of car air conditioning systems can account for up to 30 percent of a vehicle’s fuel consumption in hot climates.

Even in Switzerland, with its temperate climate, the scientists at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research said the use of air conditioning systems is responsible for about 5 percent of total fuel usage, rising to about 10 percent in urban traffic.

The scientists said car air conditioning systems require energy to compress the cooling agent, and the greater the degree of cooling required the more fuel they use.

The researchers noted air conditioning systems in cars with automatic transmissions only turn themselves off when the external temperature drops below about 40 degrees, when the cooling system could ice up. That occurs because air conditioning systems not only cool the air before blowing it into the vehicle’s interior, but also dry it to avoid causing condensation on the windshield.

The study appeared in the June 8 early, online edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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: Coffee, Tea Cut Heart Disease Risk

UTRECHT, Netherlands, June 19 (UPI) — A large study in the Netherlands found moderate consumption of coffee or tea cuts the risk of heart disease significantly, researchers say.

Dr. Yvonne van der Schouw of the University Medical Center Utrecht said the multiyear study suggests coffee and tea drinking do not increase the risk of death from any cause, The Daily Telegraph reported. She and her colleagues tracked 37,514 people for 13 years in one of the biggest studies on the subject.

Tea had a bigger impact than coffee, van der Schouw said. Those who drank between three and six cups of tea daily were 45 percent less likely to suffer coronary disease than those who drank less than one cup, while with heavy drinkers — more than six cups — the risk was reduced by 36 percent.

The risk of heart disease was cut by 20 percent among those who drank two to four cups of coffee. The researchers noted coffee drinkers are more likely to smoke.

Van der Schouw believes antioxidants in coffee and tea are responsible for the health benefits.

The study was published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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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Tea Drinkers May Up Arthritis Risk

ROME, June 19 (UPI) — Women who drink tea may increase their risk of rheumatoid arthritis, U.S. researchers say.

Drinking any amount of tea was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis but the researchers found no increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women who drank coffee. Neither the method of coffee preparation — filtered vs. unfiltered — nor the presence or lack of caffeine showed any significant associations with rheumatoid arthritis.

“It is surprising that we saw such differences in results between tea and coffee drinkers,” Christopher Collins of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, said in a statement. “This does make us wonder what it is in tea, or in the method of preparation of tea that causes the significant increase in risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.”

The study — involving 76,643 women ages 50-79 taken from the 15-year Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study database — used statistical hazard models to determine whether tea or coffee consumption was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system harms the body’s own healthy cells.

The findings were presented at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome.

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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A Little Alcohol May Lower Arthritis Risk

ROME, June 18 (UPI) — Dutch researchers suggest small amounts of alcohol may lower the risk of developing several arthritic conditions.

Researchers at Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands, associate low alcohol consumption — drinking less alcohol than those in the control group — with a significantly lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ratisteoarthritis, spondylarthropathy, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis.

Lead author Dr. Annekoos Leonoor Huidekoper said another interesting finding was the degree of systemic inflammation in patients was shown to increase as the amount of alcohol consumed decreased.

The researchers say there may several explanations for their findings, including the possibility some alcohol in low amounts could help protect against the development of systemic inflammation.

“We know from previous research that alcohol consumption may confer a protective effect against developing rheumatoid arthritis, our data have shown that this effect may apply to other arthritic conditions too,” the study authors said in a statement. “What intrigues us now is that the findings related to systemic inflammation, further research into the inflammatory pathways involved is needed to determine the exact nature of the association.”

The finding was presented at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome.

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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Scientist Gives Human Extinction Warning

CANBERRA, Australia, June 18 (UPI) — A respected Australian scientist says a population explosion and unbridled consumption will drive the human race to extinction in 100 years.

Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, direly predicted “homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years,” Britain’s Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

“It’s an irreversible situation,” Fenner told The Australian newspaper. “I think it’s too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.”

Since the era of industrialization, Fenner said, humans have had an effect on the planet rivaling any ice age or comet impact.

Fenner, 95, says climate change will be the main factor in the demise of humanity.

“We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island,” he says.

“Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we’re seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.”

A colleague of Fenner says such deep pessimism may be premature.

“Frank may well be right,” retired Professor Stephen Boyden said, “but some of us believe there will come about an awareness of the situation (with the resulting) revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability.”

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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