it on the MOON
rates are affected by the moon and changes in seasons, according to researchers.
A study of 1400 suicides found that people were more likely to make an
attempt on their life when there was a new moon. The study, carried out
by the Finnish National Public Health Institute, also suggested that suicide
rates increased as winter turned into spring and summer turned into autumn.
Dr. Timo Partonen, a researcher at the Institute, suggested that the peaks
in suicide when the seasons change could be linked to changes in light
and temperature which disturb the human body clock. The same phenomenon
was found as summer gave way to autumn where light levels decreased but
temperatures were variable. Dr. partonen said a higher rate of suicide
was also linked to phases of the moon. [And you only thought that Hollywood
made this stuff-up.]
Taste Becomes Your Taste
to researchers with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, exposure to flavors either through amniotic fluid or in
breast milk can influence a child's food preferences. The study adds to
a body of research showing that the food tastes of animals are also developed
in the womb. This
finding suggests a mechanism by which the fetus receives information about
foods that are safe and available, according to Dr. Julie A. Mennella,
one of the study's authors. It is also a way for a fetus or young child
to learn about the culture. "Very
early flavor experiences may provide the foundation for cultural differences,"
Mennella said. "Mother's milk reflects the culture in which the child
is born." One
group drank 300 milliliters (ml) of carrot juice four days a week for
three consecutive weeks during their last trimester and again during the
first two months of breast-feeding. Another group drank water during pregnancy
and carrot juice during lactation and a third group drank water during
both pregnancy and lactation. According
to results, infants who had been exposed to the flavor of carrots through
amniotic fluid or breast milk ate more of the carrot-flavored cereal than
infants who were not exposed to the flavor of carrots. These infants also
appeared to enjoy the carrot-flavored cereal more, according to the mothers.
[And you thought that mom's influence included heredity only!]
this mean wino's will live forever?
believe they have unlocked the mystery of how an antioxidant found in
grapes and red wine fights cancer. A published study concludes that the
compound resveratrol, which acts like an antibiotic to protect grapes
from fungus, may turn off a protein that guards cancer cells from cancer-fighting
therapies such as chemotherapy. A few years ago, researchers found that
resveratrol kept cells from turning cancerous and stopped the spread of
malignancies. Resveratrol also blocked cell inflammation, which is linked
to arthritis, heart disease, and other diseases. Resveratrol can be found
in dozens of foods, including mulberries and peanuts. All wines have some
resveratrol, but red wine seems to be it's richest source. Discovering
the mechanisms of resveratrol is important to developing the compound
as a cancer-preventive agent for humans, said John Pezzuto, a University
of Illinois at Chicago researcher who first reported resveratrol's link
to red wine and fighting cancer in 1997. [Eating more organically grown
fruit, especially red grapes, should work to counter many degenerative
diseases, even though all the reason are still somewhat of a Health Mystery.]
known as therapeutic touch, prayer on someone's behalf and other kinds
of "distance healing" may have a positive effect on patients, according
to a University of Maryland School of Medicine researcher. John A. Astin,
Ph.D., assistant professor in the school of Medicine's Complementary Medicine
Program, analyzed 23 clinical studies involving prayer, a technique called
non-contact therapeutic touch, as well as other unconventional forms of
spiritual intervention in which there is no physical contact between the
practitioner and the patient. Dr. Astin says 57 percent of the studies
showed a positive impact on the patients, such as less pain or a faster
than expected recovery time. "Statistically speaking, the figure of 57
percent is highly significant," says Astin, who considers himself an "open-minded
skeptic." [ Whether the pointy heads can determine how it works doesn't
really matter as long as good vibrations continue to be sent for all the
Boy, Head South?
of giving birth to a boy increases as you head south, according to researchers.
They studied birth rates across Europe and found the proportion of boys
over girls rose with the temperature. The research team at St. Luke's
Hospital in Malta could not suggest why this might be the case, but suggested
warmth might affect fertility and gender ratios. It is known that the
female fetus, is less fragile than the male fetus, which is more prone
to the effects of the environment on pregnant women. [At least now we
know who's the stronger of the two genders.]
Weaving is Good
do we go when we dream? According to a leading expert on the subject,
the human brain is the real 'Dreamweaver,' adding shape and color to the
stuff of daily life to create those magical, sometimes scary 'home movies'
in our heads. "They're the short stories we tell ourselves, picture-stories,
"said Dr. G. William Domhoff of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
"I think dreaming is a form of thinking that's going on during sleep,'
he explained, 'but it's a pictorial form of thinking." Psychology giants
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung dominated dream theory for most of the previous
century, holding that dreams represented an expression of 'unconscious'
fears and desires suppressed in walking life. "For long, when I was first
involved in dream research we tested those theories-in the 1960's. And
we finally gave up on them, Domhoff said. "The parts of the brain that
we use the most in waking aren't used at all in dreaming." Instead, research
is now focusing on a 'neurocognitive' theory of dreams, which holds that
various parts of the brain work in concert to turning emotionally-charged
thought processes into dreams. [Happy dreams to you, and may you meet
AMA (American Mystery Association) Struggles to Attract Bro
Medical Association is asking doctors to become salespeople to boost it
flagging membership. Only about a third of the nation's 800,000-plus physicians,
medical residents and medical students belong. According to the AMA, it's
declining membership has been attributed largely to doctors' reluctance
to pay the relatively high association fee for what they get in return.
[ These power mongers will never get it.... will they?]
Me, Feel Me, Give Me Great IQ
need to give premature babies as much stimulation as possible to reduce
the chance of learning difficulties later. Ensuring babies born weighing
very little are given mental stimulation can stave off the danger of them
having language and learning problems in later life. [Don't forget to
stroke those future Einstein's.]
poison, get well!
tarantula spider may help save the lives of people suffering heart attacks
and brain tumors. A chemical in the Chile Rose's venom has been found
to block a basic mechanism in cells important to a wide range of biological
functions. Researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York found
that part of the venom blocked the action of pores in the membrane around
cells through which electrically charged particles travel. First there
was leeches now we have tarantulas. Someday, might we see more more insects,
creepy crawly creatures and less doctors? Now there's a Health Mystery
many would appreciate.
Organs on different time zones
Experiments involving rats suggest that the body's liver, muscles, and
lungs all have separate internal 'clocks'. This could explain why jetlagged
travelers or workers changing shifts patterns feel genuine aches and illnesses
because of the time differences. The researchers discovered, that the
clock in the brain re-set itself within just one revolution of the circadian
cycle, while the clocks in the muscle and lung took six cycles to re-set,
and the liver took more than 16. As well as fatigue, jetlagged people
can often have upset stomachs and aching muscles. (The clock thing is
the Health Mystery, but everyone knows cramped spaces, contaminated air
and stale sugared peanuts are enough to give anyone stomach and muscle
The brain of a seasoned cab driver.
A study published in the proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences
reports that the human brain structure changes to accommodate functional
demands. This work analyzed the size and shape of cab drivers' brains
and found a definite enlargement of the posterior hippocampus. This part
of the brain is associated with spatial memory. It appeared to be especially
prominent in the more seasoned drivers. However, to make room for this
enlargement, their brains became smaller in the anterior Hippocampus;
there are little data to indicate the function of that area. Other studies
have found adapted brain structure changes in musicians. I predict that
one day there will be an instrument read out, letting us know what each
part of the brain is trying to communicate. Take for example cab drivers
having smaller Hippocampus. It is obvious this message is not getting
through because many become large and over weight due to the excessive
Babble: The universal language.
The sound babies make when they talk or babble could hold the key to understanding
how language developed. According to the journal Science, two researchers
from the University of Texas have found that four common world patterns
which are used by babies, often turn into the first actual words they
ever speak. The way we speak has developed in a certain way because of
the natural movements of our mouth. Sounds that we make most easily are
produced when we move our lower jaw up and down. These sounds could hold
the key to the way language developed. The researchers from the University
of Texas found there are four patterns of words, common to baby babbling.
Sounds like; 'ma-ma', 'da-da', 'ba-ba', 'ta-ta', are used frequently in
many languages. In addition, they make up the first words that young children
learn when they start to speak. According to a professor Locke, it is
entirely probable that early human babies produced the same sounds as
modern babies, and as language developed, these sounds were used. The
mystery of language continues.
Chew on this Health Mystery
Japanese researchers suspect that memory loss can be minimized by the
action of chewing. They don't know quite why, but their studies of mice
indicate that something about the chewing motion stimulates the hippocampus
and helps mice perform better on memory tests as they age. Happy chewing!
Bring on Beethoven!
Gentle melodies strummed on a 6-foot tall harp lift into nurseries where
critically ill newborns cling to life at Vanderbilt University Medical
Center. "It just puts them in a more restful state," says student musician
Betty-Ashton Andrews, who is experimenting with music to help infants.
"It makes it easier to grow and heal." There is only budding scientific
proof that such therapy helps newborns, but that does not dissuade Andrews,
from conducting her once-weekly concerts at the hospital's newborn intensive
care unit. Nurses and parents say they note subtle changes in the babies
when Andrews plays the most welcome balm for a trying time. For the babies,
it muffles the frightening sounds of machines and unusual voices, and
soothes them to sleep when their mother cannot. Neonatal infant care unit
manager Diane Deslauries said the babies' heart rates seem to go down
and they seem to rely less on their respirators when they hear harp music.
This Health Mystery seems like a sound massage of sorts!
Women have longer warranties
Women have a natural genetic advantage over men, which allows them to
live longer. Despite the less healthy lifestyles of men in the past, experts
have still been slightly puzzled as to why the average life span of a
woman approaches 80 years, while the average man lives some four or five
years less. The secret they say lies in the chromosomes in each cell,
which hold all the genetic instructions to make the body function properly.
Although many scientists believe there is a genetic reason why woman live
longer, conventional wisdom states that there are other significant reasons
why this should be the case. In particular, men have historically smoked
more, drunk more alcohol, and engaged in more risk taking activities than
women. I am sure genetics must have a role; however, there are many other
factors to consider as well. You guessed it: a Health Mystery it is!
Got voices, get magnetized!
Using magnets to stimulate a particular area of the brain can reduce auditory
hallucinations experienced by patients with schizophrenia, report US researchers.
Approximately 50% to 70% of patients with schizophrenia report having
hallucinations, often in the form of imaginary voices. Drugs offer little
help, and these hallucinations can cause distress, disability, and leave
patients unable to control their behavior. Previous experiments have shown
that a brain area called the temporoparietal cortex, which is at the side
of the brain, is activated during auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia
patients. While other experiments have shown that applying a magnetic
field to this area reduces the activation. I wonder what the electro-shockers
and psychotropic drug pushers will have to say about this? My guess is...nothing!
After all, if this Health Mystery got out, their incomes would plummet!
South Paws be prepared!
People who are left-handed are twice as likely to suffer from bowel disease
than right-handers are, claim scientists. A study of more than 20,000
people in the UK found that the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, usually
Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis, was double in left-handed people.
Although the prevalence of left-handedness in the general population is
around one in ten, 21% of the people found to have inflammatory bowel
disease were left-handed. The research, done by a team at the Royal Free
Hospital and University College in London, comes after earlier studies
showed left-handers are at increased risk of other conditions such as
Asthma and Diabetes. "The reasons are uncertain and speculative," making
it a shoe-in for a Health Mystery!
Will your "sign" determine your illness?
The majority of children diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
first developed during the autumn school term, according to research.
Most came from the top two social classes, with half in private education.
Only one in five came from a broken home. Experts believe they may know
why heading back to school after the summer holiday can be the riskiest
time for developing CFS, and why privileged children are most likely to
fall ill. It is thought that the high stress environment of school, combined
with the arrival of infectious illnesses brought on by the winter and
the classroom environment can trigger the illness. Dr. Anita Sharma, who
is researching CFS at the University of Birmingham, said many adults diagnosed
with CFS often felt their symptoms had started after they had suffered
some sort of infection, such as influenza, glandular fever, or a stomach
upset. She added that individuals who tended to be highly-driven also
seemed more likely to develop CFS. The mysterious dreaded CFS lives on!
Doctors turning sweet on healing with honey.
Peter Molan, Ph.D., likes to tell the story of the 20-year old wound infected
with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, an abscess oozed in an English woman's
armpit long after it had been drained. Nothing seemed to help, and the
pain prevented her from working. Then in August of 1999, she read about
the remarkable wound-healing properties of honey. She convinced doctors
to apply some to the dressing to her arm, and a month later the wound
healed. Now's she's back at work. Novel as this treatment sounds, it would
have inspired yawns among doctors in ancient Egypt. Honey has been used
for centuries to treat a wide range of medical problems like wounds, burns,
cataracts, skin ulcers, and scrapes. Molam believes honey helps wounds
in several ways. However, some as-yet-unknown ingredient reduce inflammation,
while others, perhaps amino acids and vitamin C, speed the growth of healthy
tissue. This is one sweet Health Mystery.
Pokeman claims more victims.
Approximately 685 Japanese children suffered seizures after watching a
Pokemon television cartoon. It triggered fears that modern cartoons and
even video games could be putting children at risk of fits. However, an
Italian Study pointed out that researchers believe that children prone
to a particular type of epilepsy had problems in one particular area of
the brain. The team from the University of Pisa found that these children's
brains were less able to distinguish between the black and white in flickering
images. Let's hope this Health Mystery doesn't one-day turn into "Brain
Heart Disease: claiming its territory.
Women age 35 and older who live in Mississippi, New York, and Virginia
are more likely to die of heart disease than anywhere else in the United
States, a study concludes. The report, based on heart disease death rates
between 1991 and 1995, also found that black women are at far greater
risk than any other group. Experts site many possible reasons for the
disparity. In fact, I counted at least eight different possible reasons
that the experts gave for the possible differences. One thing is for sure,
this will likely remain a Healthy Mystery for some time to come.
Yes, you do have ESP
When your radar picks up crankiness or attitude signals emanating from
your male or female companion (even though nothing has been admitted too)
you have just "mentalized." How did you do it? At London University College,
researchers believe they have located areas of the brain responsible for
interpreting subtle physical cues about the mental state of others. Of
course, you all ready knew this right? What a Health Mystery!
Monday, Monday, can't survive that day?
Mondays, already the most dreaded day of the week for many people, now
have another strike against them. According to a team of Scottish researchers,
more people die from heart disease on Monday than any other day of the
week. The investigators believe that the rise in deaths "may" be attributed
to increased drinking alcohol usage over the weekend or to job-related
stress. The study also found that Monday deaths were greatest in men and
women younger than 50. Why do the stress out week-end hung over people
die young? As the researchers stated, the evidence they uncovered "may"
be the reason. A Health Mystery? You bet!
And the blind shall see!
A blind man was able to read large letters and navigate around big objects
by using a tiny camera wired directly to his brain, the first artificial
eye to provide useful vision. The 62-year-old man does not see an image.
He perceives up to 100 specks of light that appear and disappear, like
stars that come and go behind passing clouds, as his field of vision shifts.
He can recognize a 2-inch tall letter from five feet away and hang a hat
on a mannequin. It is very different from the visual experience that normal
people enjoy, and it is the thing that Health mysteries are made of.
Have you had a Testosterone rush lately?
Sports fans cannot help being aggressive when their team wins, according
to a study carried out at the University of Utah and Georgia State University.
Researchers collected testosterone samples from football and baseball
fans, either watching matches at a sports stadium or on TV. Their finding
suggest that dedicated fans have a "chemical connection" with the players
in their team. Their testosterone levels surge when their team wins, and
drop when it loses. This might help explain the victory riots that are
sometimes seen after big national championships. Why testosterone cancels
out common sense is somewhat of a Health Mystery. What we know for sure
Now you're getting sleepy, and you're irritable bowel loves it.
A study conducted in the Netherlands has reinforced other studies that
found that hypnotherapy was successful in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome
(IBS). In the latest study, most of the 27 patients treated with hypnotherapy
experienced normalized bowel habits and a reduction or disappearance of
pain and intestinal gas. I can here it now, "the brain nerve's connected
to the bowel nerve, the bowel nerve's connected to the______________mystery
Pick a nostril any nostril!
Smell depends on which nostril you sniff through, scientists have discovered.
Researchers from the University Of California at Irvine found that on
average, smells were rated as more pleasant when volunteers sniffed through
the right nostril. However, the left nostril was more accurate when identifying
different odors. Just goes to show you that not all sniffers are created
equal. Most likely, this will remain a mystery!
Male gender = big head and improved number crunching!
Differences in the way men and women think may be all in the head after
all, according to brain researchers at Johns Hopkins University. A research
team led by psychiatrist Dr. Godfrey Pearlson, found a larger volume of
brain tissue among males compared to females in part of the brain used
to estimate time, judge speed, visualize three-dimensional objects and
solve mathematical problems. "Solved the mystery of why my wife is chronically
late, and it's not all in her head."
"Sick heart seeks place where Palm tree's grow."
People are more likely to die if they have a heart attack in winter than
in summer, research suggests. According to a study of almost 11,000 people
who had heart attacks in the U.K. between 1988 and 1997, they were 19%
less likely to survive if the attack occurred in winter. The increased
likelihood of dying may be due to increased blood pressure and heart strain
in lower temperatures, and the fact that cold weather increases the chances
of blood clots. Wouldn't your heart feel better knowing you didn't have
to face the bitter cold?
Brain anticipates how an object will move.
Thinking about how an object could move stimulates the motion-sensing
areas of the brain, even before the object moves, according to researchers.
The study used a relatively new technique called functional magnetic resonance
(MRI). The findings suggest that the brain anticipates moving objects
as we cross a street, return a tennis serve, or catch a falling child,
according to researchers from Washington University School of Medicine
in St. Louis Missouri.
Heart patients receiving prayer therapy fare better.
Heart patients who had someone praying over them without their knowledge
suffered 10 percent fewer complications, according to new research. After
four weeks, the prayed-for patients had suffered about 10 percent fewer
complications, ranging form chest pain to cardiac arrest, researchers
reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Obesity is picking favorites
A new study confirms that being overweight can shorten a person's life
with one surprising exception: Black women. Although Black women had higher
rates of death from all causes, including obesity related diseases for
unknown reasons, being overweight did not add to the already higher risk
of death for Black women. That's a Health Mystery!
We hear you loud and clear!
Unconscious patients could overhear surgeons' words during operations,
a psychologist warned. The new research shows that even under general
anaesthetic, people undergoing surgery can hear and remember what is happening
around them. Lead researcher Dr. Andrade had this to say, "What we think
is happening is that surgery involves tissue damage which increases the
release of adrenaline, and it's the adrenaline that enables people to
learn even when they are unconscious." What researchers believe, and what
is really happening is yet another reason why this one qualified as "The
Health Mystery of the Week."
Let's do the time warp again!
People who are good at planning their time and who overestimate how fast
time passes make the best time managers, according to psychologists. The
British Journal of Psychology suggests that people, who were more accurate
at estimating how long a task would take and tended to think time passed
more quickly than it did, were the best at getting tasks done on schedule.
Maybe some people are just born with an innate clock, or perhaps they
simply develop more time discipline. Whether it is nature or nurture,
it is likely to remain a mystery!
Increase your odds of having a baby boy: lose your stress!
Women who experience severe psychological stress at or near the time of
conception may be more likely to have a baby girl, Danish researchers
reported. According to their findings, the closer the traumatic event
was to conception, the lower the odds of having a male baby. In addition,
the researchers suggest that stressful situations may trigger the body
to spontaneously abort a male fetus, resulting in an apparent increase
in the number of girls born. Exactly how stress affects the sex ratio
of babies is unclear, and that is why we called it our Health Mystery!
Eating relatively small amounts of fish helps to protect against several
types of cancers, especially those of the digestive tract, according to
findings from an Italian study. The studied subjects who ate fish once
a week had a 20% to 30% less risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus,
stomach, pancreas, colon, and rectum than those who ate fewer than one
serving of fish a week. The studied subjects, who ate even more fish,
had even lower risks of these cancers.
The researchers are not exactly sure, but they speculate that omega-3
fatty acids in fish are responsible for the cancer-protecting effect.
On the other hand, if a person eats more fish, they are less likely to
eat beef and pork. This one will probably remain a Health Mystery for
quite some time to come.
Cancer has a natural enemy?
While a researcher was testing one theory, he discovered something else
much more important. It is one more instance that (almost) proves what
we have suspected: that breastfed babies (literally fed from the breast)
are protected from many cancers.
"When Catharina Svanborg and her research associates began mixing mothers'
milk and cancer cells together seven years ago, they weren't looking for
a cure for cancer; she was after a way to fight germs. Nevertheless, the
physician and immunologist at Lund University in Sweden have discovered
that a previously taken-for-granted component of ordinary human breast
milk causes every type of cancer cell tested--to die." This is one more
example of why NOT being breastfed increases a person's risk of developing
cancer. Thank God for this Health Mystery!
Walking exercises my brain?
Do you ever get the feeling your brain is turning to mush from watching
162 channels of mind-numbing television? You may just be right. New research
indicates that men and women who sit around doing little or nothing can
find their mental powers slipping away. A study published in the journal
Nature says that walking is a wonderful stimulant for brainpower. A rapid
45 minute stroll three days a week. When dealing with something as mysterious
as the brain, why question something as simple as walking, which can restore
brainpower? The fact is, it works. I can see it now, when I go to complain
to another doctor about my failing memory. I might expect to hear, "Take
two walks around the block and call me in the morning".