For kids, small soda taxes don’t make a big difference

Small scale increases in the cost of soda likely have little impact on childhood obesity, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs. Soda taxes have been proposed as a means for fighting obesity by several prominent health researchers, and some public health officials have sparked controversy by advocating for steep …

In high-risk men, drug may help prevent prostate cancer

A four-year study of more than 8,000 men between the ages of 50 to 75 who had an elevated risk for developing prostate cancer found that those who took the drug dutasteride (sold as Avodart) were less likely to develop prostate cancer than those taking a placebo. What’s more, study participants taking dutasteride were significantly less …

How timing of feedback impacts how well you perform

How soon your performance will be rated may influence how well you do, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science. In the study, researchers Keri L. Kettle and Gerald Häubl from the University of Alberta set out to determine whether the timing of feedback—how soon you learn of your grade, or get your …

Manipulating moral judgments… in the lab

Adding to a growing understanding of the underlying brain functions involved in moral decision-making, a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University—including neuroscientist Marc Hauser, author of the 2006 book Moral Minds— found that manipulating activity in a certain brain region …

Court rules against patenting human genes

In a decision that could have broad ramifications for future genetic research and medical practice, United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet ruled Monday that patents on two genes linked to ovarian and breast cancer, BRCA-1 and BRCA-2, were invalid. The case brought by a group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the …

Understanding junk food “addiction” in lab rats

Exploring the hypothesis that deficits in reward processing may contribute to obesity by making it difficult for certain individuals to stop eating once their energy needs are met—either because they are prewired with faulty reward systems or because “excessive consumption of palatable food can drive reward dysfunction”—researchers …

Nearly everyone drives poorly when talking on the phone

Nearly everyone—97.5% of us—is pretty bad at multitasking behind the wheel, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Utah. Most of us get a lot more sloppy with our driving when also carrying on a phone conversation: an analysis of about 200 people asked to talk on the phone (on a hands-free device) while also …

Rise in oral cancer linked to HPV

According to a commentary published this week in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), despite a slight overall decrease in head and neck cancers worldwide, there has been a recent surge in one particular form of the disease—oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma—that may be due to the spread of the human papillomavirus (HPV) through …

Grinning for a longer life?

Previous research has found that people who generally have more positive emotions tend to experience a broad range of benefits—more stable marriages, better social skills and just greater happiness overall—compared with those who are more dominated by negative emotions. One measurement that researchers use when assessing emotions is …

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