Posts tagged with "Study Finds"

A dose of diaper duty can lengthen a grandparent’s life

October 16, 2020

Live long and prosper—by helping others. Especially your grandchildren. Those are the findings of a study conducted by researchers from the University of Basel (Switzerland), Edith Cowan University (Australia), the University of Western Australia, the Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany), and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Germany).

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, found that grandparents who provide care for their grandkids live longer than grandparents who aren’t as involved. Similarly, older people who help take care of their peers live longer than those who don’t.

To reach their conclusion, researchers evaluated 500 people between thee ages of 70 and 103 years old, using data from the Berlin Aging Study collected between 1990 and 2009. Grandparents who were primary caregivers for their grandchildren—and who, therefore, had a much heavier load to carry—were not taken into account for the study, according to a report by Study Finds.

Indeed, ha;f of the grandparents who took care of their grandchildren were still alive about ten years after the first interview in 1990. The same applied to participants who did not have grandchildren, but who supported their children—for example, by helping with housework. In contrast, about half of those who did not help others died within five years.

Older adults who had no children, but aided others in their social network lived about three years longer than those who didn’t.

“But helping shouldn’t be misunderstood as a panacea for a longer life,” Ralph Hertwig, Director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development said in a release from the University of Basel. “A moderate level of caregiving involvement does seem to have positive effects on health. But previous studies have shown that more intense involvement causes stress, which has negative effects on physical and mental health.”

So, for grandparents who want to stick around longer just to watch their grandkids achieve milestones in their lives—make sure you’re an active part of their upbringing and you’ll have a greater shot at being there for them as adults, too.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

New urine test assesses whether your diet is right for your body in just five minutes

July 1, 2020

Many of us can’t help but be confused by the constant barrage of dietary advice emanating from friends and family, doctors and wellness sources, social media, and advertising. But now, there’s a new type of urine test—designed by researchers at Imperial College London—that may help us to determine just what kind of diet would be best specifically for our own bodies, Study Finds reports.

The test takes only five minutes and measures a variety of metabolites present in urine. These metabolites can reveal important information about our diet, including consumption of citrus fruit, fructose (fruit sugar), glucose, vitamin C, red meats, and chicken.

Another key piece of information that the test reveals is whether the patient has a health condition. For example, the test measures salt intake, which is linked to obesity and high blood pressure.

“Diet is a key contributor to human health and disease, though it is notoriously difficult to measure accurately because it relies on an individual’s ability to recall what and how much they ate,” explains researcher Joram Posma in a statement.

“For instance,” Posma notes, “asking people to track their diets through apps or diaries can often lead to inaccurate reports about what they really eat. This research reveals this technology can help provide in-depth information on the quality of a person’s diet, and whether it is the right type of diet for their individual biological make-up.”

The researchers believe that the new technology can provide an individual urine “fingerprint” which varies from person to person. This information can then be used by dieticians to tailor dietary recommendations. The fingerprint helps to create a personal score, known as a Dietary Metabotype Score, or DMS—for each individual.

In their experiments, the authors instructed a group of 19 people to adhere to one of four diets, which ranged from very unhealthy to very healthy. They then calculated DMS scores for each individual. While higher DMS scores correspond with healthier diets and lower DMS scores signal not-so-healthy ones, researchers report variations in scores among people who strictly followed the same diet. These findings suggest that people metabolize the same food in different ways, and that these differences affect DMS scores.

Looking ahead, the researchers plan to examine how DMS scores are related to the risk of health conditions such as obesitydiabetes, and high blood pressure.

“We show here how different people metabolize the same foods in highly individual ways. This has implications for understanding the development of nutrition-related diseases and for more personalized dietary advice to improve public health,” co-author John Mathers  of Newcastle University explains.

The study is published in Nature Food.

Research contact: StudyFinds

Gut feelings: Happiness may guard against deadly gastrointestinal infections

June 16, 2020

Those who are blessed with good cheer also are apt to have good digestion. In fact, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have found evidence that serotonin—the brain chemical responsible for feelings of happiness and well–being—may stop harmful intestinal pathogens from causing deadly infections, Study Finds reports.

Serotonin is almost always thought of as a brain chemical, but about 90% of it is actually produced in the gastrointestinal tract. There also are trillions of bacteria living in the stomach and, while the vast majority of those bacteria are beneficial, some pathogenic bacteria also make their way to the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, it can lead to serious and sometimes fatal gut infections.

Gut bacteria, like any other form of bacteria, are quite susceptible to their living environment. With this in mind, the study’s authors wondered if levels of serotonin being made in the gut affected these pathogens in any way, according to Study Finds.

To study this possible relationship, researchers focused on Escherichia coli O157, a type of bacteria known to cause semi-frequent outbreaks of sometimes deadly food-borne infections. Some samples of these bacteria were grown by the team in a lab setting and then exposed to serotonin. Notably, gene expression tests conducted after this exposure reveal that the serotonin had indeed significantly reduced the “expression” of genes within the bacteria that cause infections.

Furthermore, when human cells were exposed to the serotonin-weakened bacteria, that bacteria was no longer capable of inflicting “infection-associated lesions.” So, just add some serotonin and the bacteria loses its ability to produce an infection.

Moving forward, the researchers were eager to test their idea on living subjects. They gathered a group of mice and studied how serotonin influenced the viral capabilities of Citrobacter rodentiumwhich is pretty much the rodent equivalent of e.coli for humans. Some of the mice were genetically modified to produce more serotonin than usual. Others were modified to produce less than normal.

The mice that were producing more serotonin were much less likely to develop an active Citrobacter rodentium infection, and/or experience significant symptoms after being exposed to the bacterium. Conversely, mice with low levels of serotonin developed serious infections and many even died, Study Finds reports.

Mice given fluoxetine (Prozac) to raise their serotonin levels also didn’t become infected after exposure to the bacterium.

Additional experiments helped the research team pinpoint the serotonin receptor within both E. coli and C. rodentiumthe protein known as CpxAThis protein is actually common among gut bacteria, so it seems likely that serotonin has a big effect on overall gut health.

The study’s authors want to continue their work on this subject, and are hopeful serotonin can be used as a legitimate treatment option for bacterial gut infections. As of now, there are very few available antibiotics that are effective against E. coli O157.

“Treating bacterial infections, especially in the gut, can be very difficult,” says study leader Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, in a statement. “If we could repurpose Prozac or other drugs in the same class, it could give us a new weapon to fight these challenging infections.”

The study is published in Cell Host and Microbe.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

‘Not tonight’: Study finds no ‘sexual heat,’ as people monitor fevers during COVID-19 lockdown

May 19, 2020

It turns out that a global pandemic doesn’t serve as much of an aphrodisiac—and certainly not as an incentive to start a family, researchers at the University of Florence recently discovered.

Many have speculated that couples who are stuck at home 24/7 would spend at least a little of their time “schtupping”— leading to an influx of new births over the coming year.

However, the academic researchers conducted 1,482 online interviews on parenthood desires and beliefs during this pandemic, according to a report by Study Finds—and over 81% of respondents said they are not looking to conceive while COVID-19 is wreaking havoc across the globe.

But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t considering starting a family before the virus struck: Moreover, 268 of the respondents admitted that before COVID-19 emerged on the world stage they had been planning on having a new child. Now, however, 37.3% of that group have shelved that idea for the time being.

Fully 58% are worried about the future economy and another 58% expressed concern about possible coronavirus-related pregnancy complications.

The survey, which comprised 944 Italian women and 538 Italian men, was carried out during the southern European nation’s third week of lockdown. All respondents were between the ages of 18 and 46, and had been in a stable heterosexual relationship for at least one year.

Dr. Elisabetta Micelli, the study’s main author, speculates that mental health is playing a big role in many peoples’ decision to delay having a child.

“The impact of the quarantine on general population’s perception of their stability and peacefulness is alarming. In our study sample, the majority of participants gave significantly higher total scores to their mental well-being before the pandemic, while lowest scores were reported in the answers referred to the COVID-19 period,” she says in a statement. “We aimed to evaluate if pandemic-related concerns and worries are affecting the desire for parenthood in couples who were already planning to have a child or if quarantine is encouraging reproductive desire.

“Interestingly, although almost half of the people referred no interruption in their job activity and no variations of salaries, probably due to the ‘smart working’ adapting strategy, over 40% of participants reported a worrying reduction of monthly profits. Remarkably, the fear of imminent and future economic instabilities led those who were searching for a pregnancy to stop their intention in 58% of cases,” she explains.

To be fair, of the 268 people who said they were planning on having a child, 60% are still trying to conceive. The research team theorize that fear of infertility in the future is probably why that group hasn’t allowed COVID-19 to stop their immediate dreams of starting a family.

Additionally, just because most people don’t want to have a child right now, that doesn’t mean they’ve dropped the idea altogether. In fact, 11.5% (140) of respondents said they want to have a baby in the future more than ever before. Most of that group was female, and when asked why they want to have a baby more than before the pandemic, 50% cited “the will for change” and 40% said “the need for positivity.” However, only 4.3% of those 140 participants are actively trying to become pregnant during lockdown.

“Again, fear of consequences on pregnancy in addition to the economic impact on families are probably the reasons why almost the whole group of couples who unexpectedly started to express a desire for parenthood during quarantine did not translate this dream into a concrete attempt,” comments study co-author Dr. Gianmartin Cito.

What about overall sexual activity? Are couples spending more time between the sheets these days? For the most part, it seems sex frequency has gone unchanged; 66.3% of respondents who were not interested in having children before or during this pandemic indicated that their bedroom habits haven’t changed

Research contact: Study Finds

Let the music move you: The way you dance is as unique as your fingerprints

January 29, 2020

In cities such as Beijing or London, it’s hard to go anywhere without being caught on security cameras—and a new study has established that, if you boogie, tango, shimmy, or tap, you actually will be easier to identify than people who simply walk. In fact, researchers at the University of

in Finland have found that every single person has his or her own unique way of dancing— and computers are able to ascertain the identity of dancers with startling accuracy.

According to a report by Study Finds, regardless of the type of music, from jazz to reggae, the vast majority of people maintain a uniform uniqueness to their dancing style. (Think of Elaine Benis on Seinfeld.) It’s this ever-present personality in each of our dance moves that makes it easy for computers to ID dancers.

Over the past few years, the study’s authors have been using motion capture technology to analyze people’s dance moves, and to infer what they can tell us about the individual. And that’s a whole lot of information—including whether he or she is extroverted, neurotic, happy or moody, and even how this person  empathizes with others.

Humorously enough, the research team hadn’t initially set out to use computers to identify dancers. The original plan was to use machine learning to determine the musical genre participants were dancing to at a particular moment.

“We actually weren’t looking for this result, as we set out to study something completely different,” explains first study author Dr. Emily Carlson in a  press release. “Our original idea was to see if we could use machine learning to identify which genre of music our participants were dancing to, based on their movements.”

In total, 73 dancers took part in the experiment. Each participant was motion captured as they danced to eight different genres: rap, reggae, blues, country, electronic dance, jazz, and heavy metal. They were told to dance in whatever way felt natural.

“We think it’s important to study phenomena as they occur in the real world, which is why we employ a naturalistic research paradigm,” said Professor Petri Toiviainen, the senior author of the study.

Rather surprisingly, the machine learning algorithm actually wasn’t very good at identifying the musical genres, only offering a correct guess about 30% of the time. However, the computer was much better at identifying the dancers based on their movements. Among the 73 participants, the computer accurately determined who was dancing 94% of the time.

“It seems as though a person’s dance movements are a kind of fingerprint,” says Dr. Pasi Saari, another study co-author and data analyst. “Each person has a unique movement signature that stays the same no matter what kind of music is playing.”

“We have a lot of new questions to ask, like whether our movement signatures stay the same across our lifespan, whether we can detect differences between cultures based on these movement signatures, and how well humans are able to recognize individuals from their dance movements compared to computers. Most research raises more questions than answers,” Dr. Carson concludes, “and this study is no exception.”

The study has been published in The Journal of New Music Research.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

‘Meat and greet’: White sharks meet up with ‘pals’ regularly for dinner parties

November 5, 2019

Ever since the release of the movie, Jaws, in 1975, great white sharks have become a cultural icon—representing vicious, scary manhunters. But at the end of the day, they just want to get together with some friends and socialize like the rest of us, according to results of research recently conducted in Australia.

In fact, Study Finds reports, although they hunt and travel alone, white sharks get together a few times each year with the same group of friends for a hearty meal of baby seals.

Scientists have known for some time that large groups of white sharks feast together on prey sporadically, but up until now they had assumed these dinner parties were a completely random result of individual sharks traveling to areas filled with food.

Now, a research team led by behavioral ecologist Stephan Leu of Macquarie University in Sydney has discovered that many of these sharks actually know each other and have been getting together for years.

Working in collaboration with researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide, the Fox Shark Research Foundation in Port Lincoln, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, France; Leu and his team took photographs of nearly 300 white sharks for four and a half years, according to Study Finds.. The sharks were photographed meeting close to a seal nursery off the coast of the Neptune Islands in the Great Australian Bight.

Through the use of photo identification and network analysis technology, researchers were able to identify and keep track of each individual shark that visited the area. To their surprise, they noted that many of the same sharks were observed in close proximity to each other time and time again over the course of the observation period. So much so, that researchers say there is no way it was simply a coincidence.

“Rather than just being around randomly, the sharks formed four distinct communities, which showed that some sharks were more likely to use the site simultaneously than expected by chance,” Dr Leu comments in a release.

“The numbers varied across time, and we suggest that sex-dependent patterns of visitation at the Neptune Islands drive the observed community structure. Our findings show that white sharks don’t gather just by chance, but more research is needed to find out why.”

On a related note, it seems sharks aren’t the only aquatic animals with a penchant for get-togethers; another recent study conducted at Macquarie University found that manta rays regularly form close-knit and structured relationships that could also be described as communities.

The study findings have been published in the journal, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Research contact: @StudyFinds

If memory serves: Women have better ‘episodic recall’ than men

September 16, 2019

If a husband and his wife are leaving home to do some errands, chances are that he will not remember where he put the keys to the car, but she will not remember where the car is parked.

When it comes to specific events, a new study conducted by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden backs the claim that women have better recall, according to a report by Study Finds.

But researchers say memories come in many forms, and men do have some advantages. While a female may have the edge when it comes to remembering a conversation or where she put her eyeglasses, a male is more likely to remember the directions to the mall. That’s because women fare better when it comes to episodic memory.

Episodic memory is the ability to remember events, such as what we did last week or whether we took our medication this morning. One of the most sensitive memory systems, it is impacted by lack of sleep, depression, and aging.

The researchers looked at numerous episodic memory studies conducted over three decades to uncover the truth behind the anecdotal reports of men being unable to remember as well as women such matters as whom they met, who said what, or where they last saw a missing object.

“The results show that there is a slight female advantage in episodic memory, and that advantage varies depending on which materials are to be remembered,” says lead study author Martin Asperholm, a doctoral student at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the university, in a statement.

The research group’s meta-analysis included 617 studies that were conducted between 1973 and 2013, and included more than 1.2 million participants.

Study authors explain that their results indicate women do have the edge when verbal processes are involved in memory making. This includes memories involving words, texts, objects, locations of objects and movies. Women are also better at remembering faces and recalling sensory memories, such as smells.

Men, on the other hand, are keen at remembering information involving spatial processing, such as how to find their way back from one location to another and also recollecting abstract images.

So if she tells you, “I told you so,” believe her. And if he tells you, “This is the right way,” follow him.

Findings are published in the journal, Psychological Bulletin.

Research contact: @StudyFindsorg

Road zombies: 27% of Americans admit to sometimes ‘driving on autopilot’

July 2, 2019

Have you ever pulled into your parking spot at work—and realized that you don’t remember exactly what you did behind the wheel on the way there? You are not alone. Many of us “zone out” when we are navigating a familiar road, especially when we have a lot on our minds.

In fact, a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. drivers sponsored by Columbus, Ohio-based Root Insurance has revealed that more than one-quarter (27%) of Americans say they sometimes are “zombie drivers,” according to a report by Study Finds.

What’s more, fully 55% said they often feel like they are driving on autopilot. On average, drivers said they lose concentration about four times per week, and it happens more often during longer drives.

When asked why zombie driving occurs so often, 49% said it happens when they have a lot on their minds, 42% feel it occurs when they drive tired, and 40% tend to daydream while driving on familiar roads. Surprisingly, despite all of this absent-minded driving, 90% of respondents said they consider themselves good drivers.

Americans seem to enjoy multitasking on the road as well; with 55% admitting to eating while driving, 51% reporting that they talk on the phone, and 36% checking for texts and notifications. One-third even have changed the music on their smartphones while behind the wheel.

Interestingly enough, when drivers are put in the passenger seat they seem to be a bit more cautious, with 49% of respondents saying they have at least one friend or family member that makes them feel unsafe as a passenger.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

Research contact: @RootInsuranceco

OM can lead to OMG: Meditation is not for everyone

May 15, 2019

Meditation has been touted by millions worldwide for its ability to lower stress, zap anxiety, and increase focus, among other mental health benefits. But a study conducted at the University College of London has found that fully 25% of those who have tried it say that they don’t feel tranquil or serene; rather, they experience fear and distorted emotions, Study Finds reports.

Of 1,232 frequent meditation practitioners (people who have meditated regularly for at least two months) surveyed by researchers at the college, more than one-quarter admit they have had at least one “unpleasant experience” while meditating.

Researchers say suffering from an unpleasant meditative experience seems to be more prevalent among specific groups—among them, those who:

  • Attend a meditation retreat,
  • Only practice “deconstructive types” of meditation such as Vipassana (insight) and Koan practice used in Zen Buddhism, and
  • Experience higher levels of repetitive negative thinking.

Conversely, women and participants with religious beliefs were less likely to have a negative experience.

“These findings point to the importance of widening the public and scientific understanding of meditation beyond that of a health-promoting technique,” says lead author Marco Schlosser, a professor in UCL’s Division of Psychiatry. “Very little is known about why, when, and how such meditation-related difficulties can occur: More research is now needed to understand the nature of these experiences. When are unpleasant experiences important elements of meditative development, and when are they merely negative effects to be avoided?”

For the study, participants were surveyed online about their meditation history, and completed assessments that measure repetitive negative thinking and self-compassion. They were also asked, “Have you ever had any particularly unpleasant experiences (e.g. anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, altered sense of self or the world), which you think may have been caused by your meditation practice?”

In all, 25.6% said they’ve had an unpleasant experience (28.5% of men, 23% of women). This was especially true for those who did not have a religious affiliation (30.6%), versus 22% who did hold religious beliefs. About 29% of people who had attended a meditation retreat reported negative experiences, compared to only 19.6% of those who had never attended one.

Researchers say the results show there needs to be a greater focus on the downside to meditating, as studies are typically centered around all the good the practice offers.

“Most research on meditation has focused on its benefits, however, the range of meditative experiences studied by scientists needs to be expanded,” says Schlosser. “It is important at this point not to draw premature conclusions about the potential negative effects of meditation.”

The study findings are published in the May 9 edition of the journal, PLOS One.

Research contact: @ucl

‘Man Flu’ may be real, after all

May 9, 2018

We all have heard of the “man cold” and the “man flu.” In fact, this condition is so widely recognized that it even has its own citation in the Cambridge English Dictionary, according to a report released on May 8 by Study Finds.

That venerated tome defines man flu as “an illness such as a cold that is not serious, but that the person has it treats as more serious, usually when this person is a man.”

But, based on a new study, men who come down with a bug may actually not be the peevish, whining babies that we all perceive.

Skeptics have brushed off the man flu as no more than a common upper respiratory ailment that men tend to exaggerate. Intrigued by this phenomenon and by the lack of research specifically on whether man flu is an appropriate or accurate term, Dr. Kyle Sue, a clinical associate professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, decided to see if the condition was real, once and for all.

Examining medical records and other related research, Dr. Sue concluded that men are more likely to be admitted to a hospital and are more susceptible to serious complications and death from respiratory diseases such as influenza than are women across all age groups.

“Men may not be exaggerating symptoms, but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women,” Dr. Sue says in a University press release. “However, there may be an evolutionary benefit to a less robust immune system, as it has allowed men to invest their energy in other biological processes, such as growth, secondary sex characteristics, and reproduction.”

While he can’t conclude for certain whether men have weaker immune systems than women, the doctor found evidence for that claim.

He says more research is needed “because it remains uncertain whether viral quantities, immune response, symptoms, and recovery time can be affected by environmental conditions.”

The study was covered by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Research contact: support@bmj.com