Health Updates 16 March 2012

  • Deeper voices win over voters, study finds: “Politicians may want to keep the pitch of their voices low when asking for votes, because people appear to prefer candidates with deep voices, scientists have found.  The study included dozens of men and women who listened to recordings of high- and low- pitched voices saying, ‘I urge you to vote for me this November’.  Both male and female participants ‘elected’ the candidates with the lower-pitched voices, regardless of the speaker’s gender.  The findings suggest that biology – not just political beliefs – can affect voters’ choices, according to the study published March 14 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. ‘We often make snap judgments about candidates without full knowledge of their policies or positions.   These findings might help explain why,’ Rindy Anderson, a biologist at Duke University, said in a university news release.  ‘It’s clear that our voices carry more information than the words we speak,’ she said.  ‘Knowing this can help us understand the factors that influence our social interactions and possibly why there are fewer women elected to high-level political positions’.” (HealthDay)
  • Fetal exposure to cellphone radiation tied to ADHD-like symptoms in mice: “In experiments involving mice, fetal exposure to cellphone radiation appeared linked to symptoms in offspring that resemble attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in human children, Yale researchers report.  Moreover, these problems with attention, hyperactivity and memory continued when the mice became adults and were worse the longer they were exposed to cellphone radiation in the womb, the researchers said.  ‘The hypothesis was the developing brain might be more susceptible to these types of insults,’ said senior researcher Dr. Hugh Taylor, a professor and the chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.  ‘We found they seem to have behavioral changes like ADHD.  I don’t want to sensationalize this – mice don’t have ADHD – but they had problems with memory, impulsiveness and hyperactivity,’ he explained.” Experts warn that studies involving animals are useful but they often fail to produce the same results in humans. “The findings cannot therefore be directly extrapolated to women, but they do indicate that cellphone exposure during pregnancy may have effects, Taylor said. ‘We need to start thinking about how much is safe in humans and limit that exposure,’ he said.  ‘I think we need to be careful about radio-frequency exposures in pregnant women….The radiation may have consequences for the developing brain’.” (
  • Warming, rain raise risk of waterborne disease: Global warming is apparently behind an increase in storms delivering torrential rains resulting in contamination of drinking water – so much so that there has been an increase in diseases caused by waterborne pathogens, according to a new report.  More than half of all outbreaks of waterborne diseases in the US occur in the aftermath of heavy rains, which are only increasing as the world is getting warmer, according to a report issued Thursday by the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists.  Temperatures have climbed by an average of 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 50 years, and rainfall has increased as well, the report said.  Warmer air can hold more water vapor, meaning that when it rains, it rains more….Every region in the US has seen an increase in heavy rains over the past 5 decades….’Climate change, because it likely causes heavier storms, could threaten our already vulnerable water supply and lead to more cases of gastrointestinal illness,’ said Marc Gorelick, MD, division chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee.  Heavy rain can overwhelm drinking water purification systems, leading to contamination of drinking water with sewage, petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides, and waste from farm animals, wildlife and pets.  Old pipes only add to the problem as water is carried underground and into homes, further exposing it to contaminants and pathogens following heavy rains, said Gorelick.” (Emily P. Walker, MedPage Today)
  • Could trans fats make you cranky? “Eating a diet high in trans fatty acids, an ingredient found in fried foods, baked goods and other prepared meals and snacks, might be associated with negative – and even aggressive – behavior, new research suggests.  In conducting the study, researchers…analyzed the diet and behaviors of 945 men and women.  They also considered other possible contributing factors, such as the participants’ history of aggression as well as alcohol and tobacco use.  The study…found that people who consumed more trans fats were more likely to demonstrate negative behaviors, such as impatience, irritability and aggression.  Study leader Dr. Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor in the UC San Diego department of medicine, explained in a university news release that higher levels of trans fatty acids in the diet were ‘significantly associated with greater aggression, and were more consistently predictive of aggression and irritability, across the measures tested, than the other known aggression predictors that were assessed’.” While association is not necessarily cause, Golomb concluded, “If the association between trans fats and aggressive behavior proves to be causal, this adds further rationale to recommendations to avoid eating trans fats, or including them in foods provided at institutions likes schools and prisons, since the detrimental effects of trans fats may extend beyond the person who consumes them to affect others”. (HealthDay)

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