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Updated: 36 min 16 sec ago

Fluoride Exposure in Pregnancy Tied to ADHD Symptoms in Kids

15 hours 18 min ago

Pregnant women with higher levels of fluoride in their urine may be more likely to have school-age children with certain symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as inattentiveness and cognitive problems, according to a new Canadian study led by researchers at the University of Toronto and York University.

The findings are published in the journal Environment International.

“Our findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence suggesting that the growing fetal nervous system may be negatively affected by higher levels of fluoride exposure,” said Dr. Morteza Bashash, the study’s lead author and researcher at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

The study analyzed data from 213 mother-child pairs in Mexico City who are enrolled in the Early Life Exposures in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) project. The project recruited pregnant women from 1994 to 2005 and has continued to follow the women and their children ever since.

Tap water and dental products have been fluoridated in communities in Canada and the United States (as well as milk and table salt in some other countries) by varying amounts for more than 60 years with the goal of preventing cavities.

In recent years, fierce debate over the safety of water fluoridation — particularly for children’s developing brains — has led researchers to investigate the issue and provide evidence to inform national drinking water standards.

The research team included experts from the University of Toronto, York University, the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, University of Michigan, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Harvard School of Public Health. The team analyzed urine samples that had been obtained from mothers during pregnancy and from their children between six and 12 years of age to reconstruct personal measures of fluoride exposure for both mother and child.

The team then looked at how urinary fluoride levels related to the child’s performance on a variety of tests and questionnaires that measure inattention and hyperactivity, and provide overall scores related to ADHD.

The researchers adjusted for other factors known to impact neurodevelopment, such as gestational age at birth, birth weight, birth order, sex, maternal marital status, smoking history, age at delivery, education, socioeconomic status and lead exposure.

“Our findings show that children with elevated prenatal exposure to fluoride were more likely to show symptoms of ADHD as reported by parents. Prenatal fluoride exposure was more strongly associated with inattentive behaviors and cognitive problems, but not with hyperactivity,” said Bashash.

This work adds to previous research the team published on this population demonstrating that higher levels of urine fluoride during pregnancy are associated with lower scores on tests of IQ and cognition in the school-age children.

ADHD is the most common psychiatric disorder diagnosed in childhood, affecting between five and nine per cent of all school-aged children.

“The symptoms of ADHD often persist into adulthood and can be impairing in daily life,” said Dr. Christine Till, associate professor of psychology at York University and co-author on the study.

“If we can understand the reasons behind this association, we can then begin to develop preventive strategies to mitigate the risk,” said Till, who is also the principal investigator of another National Institutes of Health-funded grant examining fluoride exposure in a large Canadian sample of pregnant women.

Source: University of Toronto

Diabetic Patients at Higher Risk of Death from Alcohol, Accidents and Suicide

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 9:00am

Diabetic patients are more likely to die from alcohol-related factors, accidents, or suicide, according to a new study.

The study’s findings suggest that the increased risk of death from these causes may be related to the mental health of patients, which may be adversely affected by the psychological burden of living with and self-treating the debilitating disease, with potentially serious complications.

Type-1 and type-2 diabetes are highly prevalent diseases, causing millions of deaths every year around the globe.

It is known that diabetic patients have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and kidney disorders, which can lead to earlier death.

However, more recently diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of depression, but how poor mental health may affect diabetics has not been fully investigated, the researchers pointed out.

In a nationwide Finnish study, Professor Leo Niskanen and his research team from the University of Helsinki and Tampere and Helsinki University Hospital, assessed the alcohol-related, suicides, or accidental causes of death of more than 400,000 people, some with diabetes, some without the disease.

The study found that people with diabetes were much more likely to die from alcohol-related factors, accidents, or suicide, especially patients that required regular self-injections of insulin.

“We know that living with diabetes can lead to a mental-health strain,” Niskanen said.

“Having to monitor their glucose levels and inject themselves daily with insulin has a huge impact on daily life. Simply eating, moving, and sleeping all affect blood glucose levels. This strain, combined with the anxiety of developing serious complications like heart or kidney disease, may also take their toll on psychological well-being.”

The researchers plan to carry out a more in-depth investigation of the risk factors and mechanisms underpinning these findings to help identify strategies to avoid future deaths.

The influence of drugs such as antidepressants, the occurrence of diabetic complications such as low blood glucose, or the socioeconomic status of patients will also be considered, the researchers noted.

The study was published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

Source: European Society of Endocrinology

Does Heart Valve Surgery Affect Older Adults’ Cognition?

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 8:14am

In a new review, researchers looked over previous studies conducted on open heart surgery patients to determine whether these individuals tend to experience a difference in cognition after the procedure. Specifically, they looked into two types of heart valve surgeries, mitral and aortic, to see if each was associated with better or worse cognitive outcomes.

Their findings are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Most people who need aortic valve surgery are over the age of 65, and the number of older adults with aortic stenosis is expected to double by 2050. Understanding how heart valve surgery may affect an older adult’s cognition is very important.

For the study, researchers reviewed 12 previous studies that included hundreds of people who had received heart valve surgery. In each of the studies, participants had been tested before and after surgery to determine their ability to remember, think, and make decisions.

The findings reveal that within the first month after valve surgery, patients in the studies experienced some cognitive decline compared to their pre-surgery state.

Up to six months after surgery, however, patients’ cognitive health had mostly returned to normal. One-third of the studies included in this review even showed small improvements in cognition half a year after surgery.

The most common condition to require valve surgery is aortic stenosis. The aorta is the heart valve that controls blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic stenosis happens when the aortic valve doesn’t allow blood to flow out of the heart properly.

The researchers found that aortic valve surgery was associated with more early cognitive problems than mitral valve surgery.

Patients who had undergone mitral valve surgery experienced a mild decline from their one-month check-up to their check-ups from two to six months after surgery. But those who had received aortic valve surgery experienced poorer cognitive function the month after surgery, although they tended to improve after that.

Importantly, however, aortic valve patients were, on average, a decade older than mitral valve patients (68 years vs. 57). As such, the increased age of aortic valve surgery patients might have affected their greater cognitive decline.

The researchers concluded that heart valve surgery patients are at risk of cognitive problems up to six months after surgery. Patients undergoing aortic valve surgery — the majority of whom are older adults — are at greater risk of early cognitive decline within the first month after surgery than those having mitral valve surgery. However, cognitive health in both groups appears largely to return to what it was before surgery within the six months after surgery.

Source: American Geriatrics Society

Signs of Lying May Be Confused With Truth-Telling Signs

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 8:09am

A new study has found that people are skilled at identifying commonly displayed cues, such as hesitations and hand gestures, that tell them someone is lying.

Unfortunately, these signs are produced more often when someone is telling the truth, say researchers at the University of Edinburgh.

The study also found that liars are skilled at suppressing these signals to avoid detection.

For the study, researcher Dr. Jia Loy created a computerized two-player game in which 24 pairs of players hunted for treasure. Players were free to lie at will.

The game helped psychologists assess the types of speech and gestures speakers produce when lying, and which clues listeners interpret as evidence that a statement is false.

Researchers coded more than 1,100 types of speech produced by speakers against 19 potential cues to lying, such as pauses in speech, changes in speech rate, shifts in eye gaze, and eyebrow movements.

The cues were analyzed to see which ones listeners identified, and which cues were more likely to be produced when telling a lie.

The researchers found listeners were efficient at identifying these common signs. In fact, listeners made judgments on whether something is true within a few hundred milliseconds of encountering a cue.

However, the researchers also found that the common cues associated with lying were more likely to be used if the speaker is telling the truth.

Researchers say the study helps understand the psychological dynamics that shape deception.

“The findings suggest that we have strong preconceptions about the behavior associated with lying, which we act on almost instinctively when listening to others,” said lead researcher Dr. Martin Corley of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

“However, we don’t necessarily produce these cues when we’re lying, perhaps because we try to suppress them.”

The study was published in the Journal of Cognition.

Source: University of Edinburgh

Harsh Parenting Can Fuel Kids’ Antisocial Behaviors

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 6:00am

A new study of identical twins found that the child who experienced harsher behavior and less parental warmth was more aggressive and exhibited more callous-unemotional traits, such as a lack of empathy and a moral compass.

In a study of 227 identical twin pairs, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University analyzed small differences in the parenting that each twin experienced to determine whether these differences predicted the likelihood of antisocial behaviors. They found that the twin who experienced stricter or harsher treatment and less emotional warmth from parents had a greater chance of showing aggression and callous-unemotional (CU) traits.

“Some of the early work on callous-unemotional traits focused on their biological bases, like genetics and the brain, making the argument that these traits develop regardless of what is happening in a child’s environment, that parenting doesn’t matter,” said Dr. Rebecca Waller, an assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Psychology, who led the study.

“We felt there must be something we could change in the environment that might prevent a susceptible child from going down the pathway to more severe antisocial behavior.”

The work is the latest in a series of studies from Waller and her colleagues using observation to assess a variety of aspects of parenting. The initial research, which considered a biological parent and child, confirmed that parental warmth plays a significant role in whether CU traits materialize.

A subsequent adoption study of parents and children who were not biologically related turned up consistent results.

“We couldn’t blame that on genetics because these children don’t share genes with their parents,” Waller said. “But it still didn’t rule out the possibility that something about the child’s genetic characteristics was evoking certain reactions from the adoptive parent.”

In other words, a parent who is warm and positive may have a hard time maintaining those behaviors if the child never reciprocates, she explained.

Knowing this led Waller and University of Michigan psychologist Dr. Luke Hyde to team with Dr. S. Alexandra Burt, co-director of the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Using 6- to 11-year-old participants from a large, ongoing study of twins that Burt directs, the team turned its attention to identical twins.

For 454 children — 227 sets of identical twins —  parents completed a 50-item questionnaire about the home environment. They also established their harshness and warmth levels by rating 24 statements such as “I often lose my temper with my child” and “My child knows I love him/her.”

The researchers assessed child behavior by asking the mother to report on 35 traits related to aggression and CU traits.

“The study convincingly shows that parenting — and not just genes — contributes to the development of risky callous-unemotional traits,” said Hyde, an associate professor in Michigan’s Department of Psychology. “Because identical twins have the same DNA, we can be more sure that the differences in parenting the twins received affects the development of these traits.”

According to Waller, a potential next step is to turn these findings into interventions for families trying to prevent a child from developing these traits or to improve troubling behaviors that have already begun.

“From a real-world standpoint, creating interventions that work practically and are actually able to change behaviors in different types of families is complicated,” she said. “But these results show that small differences in how parents care for their children matters.

“Our focus now is on adapting already-successful parenting programs to include specific interventions focused on callous-unemotional traits as well.”

Though an intervention with parents could succeed, the researchers stress that the work isn’t blaming parents for their child’s CU or aggressive behaviors.

“Our previous work with adopted children also showed that genes do matter, and so there is a back and forth,” Hyde said. “Some children may be more difficult to parent. The most important message is that treatments that work with parents likely can help, even for the most at-risk children.”

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to the study. For example, it skews heavily toward two-parent families, meaning the findings may not be as generalizable to single-parent homes. It also assesses parenting measures and twin behaviors based solely on parenting reports.

Despite these drawbacks, the researchers say the work broadens the understanding of how different forms of antisocial behavior, like aggression and callous-unemotional traits, emerge.

“This provides strong evidence that parenting is also important in the development of callous-unemotional traits,” Hyde said. “The good news is we know that treatments can help parents who may need extra support with children struggling with these dangerous behaviors.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

Nice People May Be at Greater Risk of Financial Hardship

Sat, 10/13/2018 - 7:00am

Nice people may be at greater risk of bankruptcy and other financial hardships compared to those who are less agreeable, according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The findings show that agreeable people simply care less about money and therefore are at greater risk of money mismanagement.

“We were interested in understanding whether having a nice and warm personality, what academics in personality research describe as agreeableness, was related to negative financial outcomes,” said Sandra Matz, Ph.D., of Columbia Business School in New York and lead author.

“Previous research suggested that agreeableness was associated with lower credit scores and income. We wanted to see if that association held true for other financial indicators and, if so, better understand why nice guys seem to finish last.”

For the study, the researchers looked at data collected from more than 3 million participants using multiple methods: two online panels, a national survey, bank account data and publicly available geographic data.

They looked into whether the reason agreeable individuals were more likely to experience financial hardship was because of their more cooperative negotiation style or because of the lower value they assign to money.

“We found that agreeableness was associated with indicators of financial hardship, including lower savings, higher debt and higher default rates,” said co-author Joe Gladstone, Ph.D., of University College London.

“This relationship appears to be driven by the fact that agreeable people simply care less about money and therefore are at higher risk of money mismanagement.”

The findings show that not all agreeable people were equally likely to suffer financially — income plays a very important role in this association.

“Not every agreeable person is at equal risk of experiencing financial hardship,” Gladstone said. “The relationship was much stronger for lower-income individuals, who don’t have the financial means to compensate for the detrimental impact of their agreeable personality.”

One surprising finding was that even when agreeableness was measured in childhood, it still predicted greater financial hardship later in life. The study included survey data from a cohort study, following the same individuals over more than 25 years.

To further illustrate the link, the researchers compared publicly available personality and financial data from two areas in the United Kingdom that both had similar per-capita income levels. The city that scored significantly higher on agreeableness also had 50 percent higher rate of bankruptcy.

“Our results help us to understand one potential factor underlying financial hardship, which can have serious implications for people’s well-being,” said Matz. “Being kind and trusting has financial costs, especially for those who do not have the means to compensate for their personalities.”

Source: American Psychological Association


How to Appear Confident, But Not Arrogant

Sat, 10/13/2018 - 6:30am

New research from the University of Notre Dame shows how people can reap the rewards of confidence without risking the social penalties of overconfidence.

The study finds that when a person expresses confidence nonverbally through the use of eye contact, gesturing, adopting an expansive posture or speaking in a strong voice, the individual can enjoy the social benefits of expressing confidence while simultaneously reducing the risk of being punished for arrogance.

The research involved a series of experiments in which participants met potential collaborators or advisers and decided which person — the confident or cautious — they trusted and wanted to work with most.

Overall, participants strongly preferred the confident candidate; however, once they learned that the person was overconfident and the cautious person was well-calibrated, caution won.

“Interestingly, though, we found that if the overly confident candidates expressed their confidence nonverbally, they remained the most trusted and desirable choice, even when revealed to be over-the-top,” said Nathan Meikle, Ph.D., postdoctoral research and teaching associate in the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

The findings demonstrate how politicians, business leaders and others are able to retain their status and influence even when they are potentially exposed as being overconfident: by using “plausible deniability” — the ability to deny responsibility due to a lack of concrete evidence.

“The plausible deniability hypothesis explains why overconfidence sometimes, but not always, is punished,” Meikle said. “For example, verifiably overconfident claims, void of plausible deniability, will face consequences. However, there are a number of ways people can create plausible deniability.”

The researchers use President Donald Trump as an example.

“One strategy is to make audacious claims about future events,” Meikle said. “President Trump frequently makes bold claims, such as he alone can bring coal mining jobs back to West Virginia.”

“Future claims necessarily enjoy some degree of plausible deniability because they cannot be proven wrong in the moment. Thus, individuals boasting about future events would be expected to enjoy the benefits of expressing confidence while simultaneously sidestepping the potential costs.”

“However, even if overconfident claims are eventually proven false, people can still create plausible deniability by undermining the messenger, such as calling it ‘fake news’,” said Meikle.

On the other hand, there are those who make bold, specific claims with little hope of plausible deniability coming to the rescue — such as a coach boasting his team will go undefeated.

For example, Ken Adelman, writing for the Washington Post in 2002, claimed, “I believe demolishing [Saddam] Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.”

“Adelman invokes some plausible deniability by making a confident prediction about the future,” Meikle said. “However, he simultaneously undermines the plausible deniability by using the word ‘cakewalk,’ as there’s virtually no plausible deniability when using that particular word to describe a war. If one person dies, it can be argued that it was not a cakewalk — let alone the 500,000 people who actually died.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Source: University of Notre Dame

Wider Gap Between Male, Female Personalities in Most Gender-Equal Countries

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 6:15am

Male and female personalities are more polarized in countries with higher levels of gender equality, according to new findings by Swedish researchers from the University of Gothenburg, University West and the University of Skövde.

The researchers say that as countries become more progressive and equal, men and women tend to gravitate toward traditional gender norms.

For the study, more than 130,000 people from 22 different countries completed a validated personality test. The test measured the “big five” personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism), regarded as the most accepted categorization method within personality research.

The average differences between male and female personality scores were calculated for each country and then compared with the country’s gender equality level as measured by the World Economic Forum.

Confirming past research, the findings revealed that higher levels of gender equality were tied to greater differences in personality between the sexes. Countries with very high levels of gender equality, such as Sweden and Norway, showed differences in personality between the sexes that were around twice as large as countries with substantially lower levels of gender equality, such as China and Malaysia.

In general, women rated themselves as more social (Extraversion), inquisitive (Openness), caring (Agreeableness), worried (Neuroticism) and responsible (Conscientiousness) than did men, and these relative differences were larger in gender-equal countries.

“Insofar as these traits can be classified as stereotypically feminine, our interpretation of the data is that as countries become more progressive men and women gravitate towards their traditional gender norms,” says first author Erik Mac Giolla, Ph.D., from the Psychology department at the University of Gothenburg and a psychology lecturer at University West.

“But, we really don’t know why it is like this, and sadly our data does not let us tease out the causal explanations.”

A combination of social role theory and evolutionary perspectives may ultimately be needed to explain these findings, according to the researchers.

“A possible explanation is that people in more progressive and equal countries have a greater opportunity to express inherent biological differences,” says second author Petri Kajnoius, associate professor from the Social and Behavioural Studies department at University West, and the department of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Skövde.

“Another theory is that people in progressive countries have a greater desire to express differences in their identity through their gender.”

Source: University of Gothenburg

Physical Activity May Benefit Smokers’ Lungs, Regardless of Air Pollution

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 5:30am

A new European study finds that physical activity is tied to better lung function among smokers, regardless of air pollution levels.

Among non-smokers, however, the findings are less clear, and some of the data suggests that exercise benefits may be reduced among never-smokers living in cities with high levels of air pollution.

The study is published in the journal Environment International.

“Many forms of physical activity occur outdoors, such as cycling, walking or running, and active transport is promoted as a method to reduce both air pollution levels and sedentary lifestyle,” says Judith Garcia-Aymerich, senior author and head of the Non-Communicable Diseases and Environment Programme at the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal).

“Thus, understanding the relationship between air pollution, physical activity and lung function is essential for decision making in the fields of public health and urban planning.”

The research, which involved more than 4,500 people from nine European countries, was led by ISGlobal. The study was conducted as part of the “Ageing Lungs in European Cohorts” (ALEC) project, coordinated by Imperial College London in the U.K.

An earlier study from the same project found that regular physical activity was linked to better lung function among smokers, but exposure to air pollution was not analyzed.

The new study investigated whether residential exposure to air pollution — estimated as the annual average concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 — alters the effect of physical activity on lung function, both in current smokers and in people with no history of smoking.

The researchers looked at data from 2,801 non-smokers and 1,719 smokers from nine European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The participants (ages 27 to 57 at the study’s onset) were followed for 10 years. During this time, they were classified as being active if they exercised at least one hour two or more times a week. Pulmonary function was assessed using spirometry, a lung assessment test which measures how much air a person inhales and exhales and how quickly the air is exhaled.

The study findings show that regular physical activity is associated with higher levels of lung function among current smokers, regardless of air pollution levels. Among never-smokers, physical activity appears to have benefits for lung function in areas with low or medium levels of air pollution, but the results are less clear in more polluted urban areas.

First author Elaine Fuertes emphasizes that “the results reinforce the message that physical activity is beneficial for health, including respiratory health.”

“However, our data suggest that the benefits of physical activity may be reduced among non-smokers living in cities with high air pollution levels. If confirmed, this means that policies aimed at controlling air quality levels would maximise the benefit of physical activity promotion policies,” Fuertes says.

Source: Barcelona Institute for Global Health

More Evidence Links Diet to Depression

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 7:00am

Although the evidence is preliminary, a unique study suggests consumption of fast foods may be linked to depression. In a new review, Australian researchers studied Torres Strait Islanders, indigenous people living on islands in the area of the Torres Strait.

In a natural experiment, James Cook University researchers found that among the Islander people, the amount of fish and processed food eaten is related to depression.

A JCU research team led by Professors Zoltan Sarnyai and Robyn McDermott looked at the link between depression and diet on a Torres Strait island, where fast food is available, and on a more isolated island, which has no fast food outlets.

Dr. Maximus Berger, the lead author of the study, said the team interviewed about 100 people on both islands.

“We asked them about their diet, screened them for their levels of depression and took blood samples. As you’d expect, people on the more isolated island with no fast food outlets reported significantly higher seafood consumption and lower take-away food consumption compared with people on the other island,” he said.

The researchers identified 19 people as having moderate to severe depressive symptoms: 16 were from the island where fast food is readily available, but only three from the other island.

“People with major depressive symptoms were both younger and had higher take-away food consumption,” said Berger.

The researchers analyzed the blood samples in collaboration with researchers at the University of Adelaide and found differences between the levels of two fatty acids in people who lived on the respective islands.

“The level of the fatty acid associated with depression and found in many take-away foods was higher in people living on the island with ready access to fast food, the level of the fatty acid associated with protection against depression and found in seafood was higher on the other island,” said Berger.

Berger explains that the concentration and type of fatty acids is an important variable.

Contemporary Western diets have an abundance of the depression-linked fatty acid (n-6 PUFA) and a relative lack of the depression-fighting fatty acid (n-3 LCPUFA).

“In countries with a traditional diet, the ratio of n-6 to n-3 is 1:1, in industrialized countries it’s 20:1,” he said.

Sarnyai shares that depression affects about one in seven people at some point in their lives. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are disproportionately affected by psychological distress and mental ill-health compared with the general population.

“Depression is complex, it’s also linked to social and environmental factors so there will be no silver bullet cure, but our data suggests that a diet that is rich in n-3 LCPUFA as provided by seafood and low in n-6 PUFA as found in many take-away foods may be beneficial,” he said.

Sarnyai said with the currently available data it was premature to conclude that diet can have a lasting impact on depression risk but called for more effort to be put into providing access to healthy food in rural and remote communities.

“It should be a priority and may be beneficial not only to physical health but also to mental health and well-being,” he said.

Source: James Cook University

In Men, Physical Strength May Be Tied to Political Views

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 6:30am

A new Danish study finds that men with large upper-bodies have a tendency to favor inequality in society and limited redistribution of resources.

The researchers say the new results may help explain the paradox of why some men with limited financial resources still favor financial inequality although they would in fact benefit from a greater redistribution of resources.

“Our analysis suggests that these men expect to be able to rise in the hierarchy on their own. And once they reach the top of the hierarchy, an unequal society will increase their chances of maintaining that position,” said Associate Professor Lasse Laustsen from the department of political science at Aarhus University in Denmark.

“This logic was adaptive under the conditions of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, as stronger men here would have been able to secure resources on their own. But it’s an irrational way of dealing with modern day political resource conflicts.”

“Today, physical strength is highly unlikely to affect how big a share of society’s resources you are able to acquire. However, our data shows that physical strength nonetheless continues to affect men’s political attitudes towards redistribution.”

The new study involves humans, but the overall theory stems from the findings of well-documented animal research showing that physical strength shapes the conflict behavior of animals. In other words, when animals are larger and stronger than their rivals, they are more likely to assert themselves in the struggle for status and resources. But when they are weaker than their competitors, they are more likely to pull away from the conflict.

According to the new study, the same logic applies to modern men when they reason about political conflicts regarding the redistribution of resources in society.

Importantly, the researchers cannot say with absolute certainty that the effect is purely one-way — that physical strength leads to political attitude. The effect can also go the other way.

“We cannot rule out that men with right-wing attitudes are also more prone to go to the gym. That being said, however, there are strong indications that attitudes are actually shaped by physical strength and not the other way round,” said Professor Michael Bang Petersen from the department of political science.

Previous studies have shown that men tend to become more aggressive as their physical strength increases. Research has also found a link between men’s physical strength and their attitudes towards inequality even when exercise habits are taken into account.

Similarly, in the new study, researchers conducted an experiment with a group of men who trained their upper-bodies for two months. During this period, these men became more positive towards inequality.

Overall, the study builds on data from 6,349 people of different nationalities. 1,875 of the respondents are Danish, and the rest are Belarussians residing in Lithuania, Americans, Venezuelans, Ukrainians and Poles.

The data was gathered between 2012 and 2017. During this period, when conducting studies on various political attitudes, the researchers also measured and asked respondents about their physical strength.

Earlier studies have investigated the link between men’s physical strength and their attitude towards the level of equality in society. However, those findings pointed in different directions. In a previous study, for example, Petersen found that physical strength only increased support for inequality among wealthy men, while it decreased support for inequality among men of limited financial means.

The data was pulled from 12 studies that applied a variety of research methods. Some studies relied on questionnaires and participants were asked to evaluate their own strength compared to others of the same sex. Other studies took place in the laboratory and researchers were able to obtain objective measures of, for example, chest strength and handgrip strength.

“The objective laboratory studies actually show a stronger correlation between physical strength and political attitudes than the respondents’ own subjective evaluations. This supports that raw physical strength is indeed the decisive factor,” Laustsen said.

The study involved both men and women, but no link was found between physical strength in women and their political attitudes.

The study is published in the journal Political Psychology.

Source: Aarhus University


Young Refugees, Immigrants in Canada Face Barriers to Primary Care for Mental Health

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 7:30am

A new Canadian study finds that young refugees and immigrants may face barriers to accessing mental health services through primary care.

The study, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), looked at the emergency department (ED) visits of adolescents and young adults (ages 10- 24) in Ontario for mental health issues or self-inflicted harm.

According to the findings, there were 118,851 youth who visited an emergency department with a mental health concern during the five-year study period (2010-2014).Of these, 1.8 percent (2,194) were refugees and 5.6 percent (6,680) were non-refugee immigrants.

For many of these young people, their ED visit was their first physician contact for mental health services. Rather than presenting first to primary care, 61.3 percent of refugee youth, 57.6  percent of non-refugee immigrants and 51.3 percent of non-immigrant youth came to the ED with a mental health crisis.

Among immigrants, newcomers (fewer than five years in Canada) and refugees had the highest rates of first contact in the emergency department. The findings are important as having a family doctor who practices as part of a team (versus a walk-in clinic model of care) is associated with better rates of receiving outpatient mental health care prior to presenting in crisis to the emergency department.

“Our study highlights that immigrants face barriers to using mental health services from a physician on an out-patient basis, but there is variability within immigrant groups by country and region of origin as well as by duration of residence in Canada,” says Dr. Natasha Saunders from the department of pediatrics at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES).

“The results are consistent with those of other studies of adults that show immigrants and refugees may not have the same access to mental health services by physicians in the community compared with non-immigrants,” she says.

The results demonstrate the importance of understanding what barriers and enabling factors influence the use of mental health services and access to care. The authors say that efforts should focus on reducing stigma and identifying mental health problems early, before a crisis occurs.

“This is particularly important for refugee and newcomer youth and immigrants from Africa and Central America where we saw the highest rates of first contact in the emergency department,” write the authors in CMAJ.

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal

Adults with ADHD Tend to Excel at Creative Originality

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 7:00am

Adults with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are likely to excel at creative work-related tasks, according to a new study at the University of Michigan (U-M). The findings show that those with ADHD are more flexible in tasks that require inventing something totally new and less likely to rely on examples and previous knowledge.

Study author Dr. Holly White, a researcher in the U-M Department of Psychology, said many individuals with ADHD are inclined to resist conformity and the usual way of doing things, and this can work to their advantage in fields that value innovative and nontraditional approaches such as marketing, product design, technology and computer engineering.

The study compared a group of college students with ADHD to those without the disorder on tasks of creativity. The imagination task, called the “alien fruit” invention task, involved creating an example of a fictional fruit that might exist on another planet but is different from a fruit known to exist on Earth.

In doing this task, non-ADHD participants often modeled their creations after specific common fruits, such as an apple or strawberry. Those creations were less innovative, said White. Participants with ADHD, on the other hand, were more likely to create totally original alien fruits that differed significantly from typical fruits on Earth.

The second task required participants to create labels for new products in three categories without copying the examples provided. The ADHD group created labels that were more unique and less similar to the examples provided, compared to the non-ADHD group.

Read our exclusive interview with Dr. Holly White about the results of this study.

White said the findings suggest that people with ADHD may be more flexible in tasks that require creating something new, and less likely to rely on examples and previous knowledge.

“As a result, the creative products of individuals with ADHD may be more innovative, relative to creations of non-ADHD peers,” she said.

People with ADHD may be less prone to “design fixation,” which is the tendency to get stuck in a rut or stick closely to what already exists when creating a new product, White said.

“This has implications for creative design and problem solving in the real world, when the goal is to create or invent something new without being overly constrained by old models or ways of doing things,” she said.

ADHD, commonly diagnosed during childhood, is a brain disorder characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity that interferes with functioning and development.

The findings appear in the Journal of Creative Behavior.

Source: University of Michigan


Justice Dept. Calls ‘Sextortion’ Biggest Cyberthreat to Kids

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 6:30am

The U.S. Department of Justice has called “sextortion” the most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children, with more minor victims per offender than all other child sexual exploitation offenses.

Sextortion is the threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent. It is usually for the purpose of getting more images, sexual acts, money or something else.

Sextortion in children made headlines in 2012 with the suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd from British Columbia. After years of online stalking, public humiliation, and cyberbullying associated with sextortion, she took her own life.

Despite increased public interest in sextortion, there have been no studies to empirically examine this behavior among adolescents.
Now, researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have completed a study that explored sextortion prevalence behaviors among a nationally representative sample of 5,568 middle and high school students in the U.S. between the ages of 12 to 17 years.

Results from the study reveal that 5 percent of these youth had been the target of sextortion, and 3 percent admitted that they had done it to others. While these percentages do not seem high, they constitute a meaningful proportion when extrapolated to a U.S. population of teens.

Males were significantly more likely than females to have participated in sextortion both as a victim and as an offender.
The findings appear in the journal Sexual Abuse.

“Our finding that males are more likely to be a victim of sextortion was somewhat surprising given that most attention has focused on female victims,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author, a professor in FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“We also found a connection between offending and victimization, with those involved in one role being more likely to also be involved in the other.”

Other findings showed that adolescents who identified as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be the victim of sextortion. This finding is consistent with other forms of online abuse, including cyberbullying and electronic dating violence, which research has shown is more common among those who do not identify as heterosexual.

The researchers found no differences by race and age, although 15 year old’s were generally more likely to be involved compared with other groups.

The study also found that most sextortion experiences occurred within the context of an existing friendship (romantic or otherwise). It was relatively rare that the person targeted by someone was not well known to the target.

Victims of sextortion were harmed in a variety of ways, including being stalked or harassed (9.7 percent of males and 23.5 percent of females), being contacted repeatedly online or by phone (42.9 percent of males and 40.9 percent of females), or having a fake online profile created about them (11.2 percent of males and 8.7 percent of females).

Most notably, 24.8 percent of males and 26.1 percent of females who were sextorted said the offender posted the sexual image of them online, while 25.5 percent of male victims and 29.6 percent of female victims said the offender sent the sexual image of them to someone else without their permission.

“In short, threats that were made were ultimately carried out in some way, and some of these instances may indeed be more accurately characterized as ‘revenge porn,’ another behavior involving the unauthorized distribution of explicit images,” said Hinduja.

“Revenge porn is less colloquially known as ‘non-consensual pornography.’ However, the primary difference between revenge porn tends to be public while sextortion is usually private, unless threats are ultimately carried out.”

Few victims of sextortion reported the experience to parents or other adult authorities, although significantly more females informed their parents than did males. In addition, very few sextortion victims reported it to the site or app where the situation occurred.

“Besides a general distrust or lack of faith in adults, adolescents also fear retaliation, struggle with shame, wish to keep sextortion a secret, attempt to minimize the incident, and don’t know where to turn to or who they can count on to truly come through for them,” said Hinduja.

Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D., co-author, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, advise youth to continue to be cautious when it comes to how much trust they can extend to others.

They also suggest that parents and other adults who work with teens should cultivate them in a healthy dose of skepticism about the sharing of personal, sexual content to anyone in their circle; the research makes clear that sextortion rarely involves strangers.

“Youth may fall prey to victimization more readily than adults because of the naiveté that stems from a simple lack of experience in the ways of life and love,” said Hinduja.

Source: Florida Atlantic University
Photo: Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author, a professor in FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within the College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. Credit: Florida Atlantic University.

For Many in NYC, Winter Means ‘Heat or Eat’

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 7:30am

A new survey finds that nearly one-third of responding residents in the Washington Heights community of New York City report problems with lack of heat in the winter and/or difficulty with paying their electric bills.

The findings, published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, show that these individuals are more likely to have breathing problems, mental health issues and poor sleep.

Researchers at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health analyzed data collected as part of the Washington Heights Community Survey conducted at the request of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The telephone-based survey of 2,494 households in English and Spanish in 2015 focused on socio-demographic characteristics, health care access, health risk behaviors, and current health status and medical conditions.

More than a quarter of respondents lived in energy insecure households with nearly 14 percent of their households meeting criteria for severe energy insecurity and nearly 13 percent meeting the criteria for moderate energy insecurity. Energy insecure households were more likely to have children under 18 years of age in the home and a lower household income, compared to energy secure households.

Black and Latino households had more than double the risk of being threatened with energy shut-off for not paying bills after controlling for income compared to white households. Long-term “pre-gentrification” neighborhood residents were more likely to be energy insecure than newer residents.

Gentrification occurs when more affluent residents move into and renovate deteriorated urban neighborhoods. This is a common and controversial topic in politics and in urban planning.

Severely energy insecure households had twice the odds of lifetime asthma, and nearly five times the odds of pneumonia in the past year, compared to energy secure households. Similarly, severely energy insecure households had twice the risk of depression and 60 percent greater chance of having poor-quality sleep.

In addition, one in four higher-income respondents also reported experiencing energy insecurity. Periodic building-wide heat shut-offs are not uncommon for middle-class New Yorkers, particularly those living in older buildings, the researchers said. In this context, solutions to energy insecurity should protect against the unintended consequences of energy efficiency upgrades that act to heighten housing disparities and fuel “green gentrification.”

“Community-based energy programs that help low- and middle-income make their homes more energy efficient are badly needed, across New York City and nationwide,” said Diana Hernández, Ph.D., lead author and associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia Public Health.

“Because households with children are particularly at risk for energy insecurity, energy efficiency and energy assistance programs should be supplemented by referrals to food-related aid such as free or reduced meals at schools to reduce the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma.”

Source: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Pregnant Moms with Mental Illness History May Interpret Babies’ Emotions Differently

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 7:00am

A new pilot study finds that pregnant women with a history of depression or bipolar disorder may interpret babies’ facial expressions and emotions differently, compared to healthy controls. This occurs even when the women are not currently experiencing depressive or manic symptoms.

The findings may represent an early risk factor for the children, but the authors stress that more research is needed to confirm any long-term effects.

For the study, the researchers compared 29 pregnant women with a history of mental illness — 22 with a history of depression and 7 with bipolar disorder — to 28 pregnant women with no mental health history and 18 non-pregnant women (controls). All of the women were currently well with no symptoms.

Between the 27th and 39th weeks of pregnancy, all of the women were tested to see how they respond to a series of happy or sad faces, and to laughter and crying, of both babies and adults.

Specifically, the participants were asked to rate how happy or distressed the infants were based on their facial and vocal displays of emotion (including smiles, laughter and cries). They were also asked to identify adult facial expressions of emotion (including happiness, sadness, fear and disgust) across varying intensity levels.

“In this study, we found that pregnant women with depression or bipolar disorder process infants’ facial and vocal signals of emotion differently even when they are not currently experiencing a depressive or manic episode,” said lead researcher Dr. Anne Bjertrup from Rigshospitalet, a specialized hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“These differences may impair these women’s ability to recognize, interpret and respond appropriately to their future infants’ emotional signals.”

The researchers found that, compared to healthy pregnant women, expecting women with bipolar disorder had difficulty recognizing all facial expressions and showed a “positive face-processing bias,” where they showed better recognition of happy adult faces and more positive ratings of happy infant faces.

In contrast, pregnant women with previous depression showed a negative bias in the recognition of adult facial expressions and rated infant cries more negatively.

“This is a pilot study, so we need to replicate the findings within a larger sample. We know that depression and bipolar disorder are highly heritable, with up to 60 percent of children of parents with these affective disorders more likely to develop a mental disorder themselves,” Bjertrup said.

“Genes play a role, but it is also likely that the quality of the early interaction with the mother is important. The different cognitive response to emotional infant signals in pregnant women with a history of mania and/or depression may make it more difficult for them to relate to their child and could thus confer an early environmental risk for the child.”

“It’s worth emphasizing that this work does not say that the affected women are ‘bad mothers,'” she said. “It simply means that because of their health history, they may experience difficulties interpreting and responding appropriately to their infants’ emotional needs and that we as clinicians need to be more aware of these possible difficulties.”

Bjertrup said the findings are still early and more research is needed. Ultimately the researchers would like to develop and test early screening and intervention programs to help train mothers to interpret the signals from their children better.

This findings were presented recently at the ECNP Congress in Barcelona.

Source: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Why So Many Choose to Not Believe Scientific Research & Evidence

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 6:00am

Despite the ability to check facts and easily review research findings, a new paper looks at why many people simply choose not to believe the evidence.

This emerging pattern leads the authors to suggest social media and other alternative forums as venues for sharing research.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that even when individuals are aware of research findings supported by a vast majority of studies, they often choose not to believe them,” wrote Ernest O’Boyle, Ph.D., an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship at Indiana University, and two co-authors.

Their findings appear in the Journal of Management.

“There are reasons for growing alarm about the disbelief of scientific findings across a wide range of professional domains because it seems to reflect a much broader drop in the credibility of academics and scientists.”

In an editorial commentary, O’Boyle and two professors at the University of Iowa — Drs. Sara Rynes and Amy Colbert — explain why people often don’t believe research findings.

Some public distrust comes from a rapid rise in studies suggesting that current research findings aren’t as robust as previously thought. Reasons range from innocent causes, such as undetected analytical errors, to occasional questionable research practices.

However, the authors also point to “well-funded, concerted efforts to discredit solid scientific research for self-interested political, ideological or economic ends.” This trend affects American business and the workplace because managers are less likely to look to academic research for advice or apply empirically validated best practices.

For example, they may fail to embrace the view that intelligence is the single best predictor of job performance, which has been widely proven through research.

Organizational or cultural factors also play a role.

“Research suggesting the benefits of diversifying the labor force or promoting women or minorities into leadership positions is likely to threaten the vested interests of members of currently overrepresented groups while raising the hopes and aspirations of others,” they said.

“Many people are also likely to use motivated reasoning when evaluating research-based claims about the causes and consequences of pay inequity.”

To address these challenges, O’Boyle and his colleagues said business researchers should broaden the range of research to focus on bigger, more important problems and consider more emphasis on needs of customers, employees, local communities, the environment and society as a whole.

They need to find opportunities to co-create research with practitioners, beyond their simply providing data and other information. They also need to improve how they report and communicate about their research.

“To outsiders, the current publishing model of academic research is likely to appear strange, counterintuitive and wasteful,” they said.

“Experts have long recommended publishing findings in outlets that are more accessible.

“Many practitioners, students and members of the general population now get much of their information from sources that were barely in use little more than a decade ago, such as blogs, online videos and various forms of social media. The best opportunities to … get research evidence to the public may lie in these alternative forums.”

These forums may include TED talks, online forums and massive open online courses, known as MOOCs. O’Boyle and his co-authors also suggest that scholars need to better anticipate and address resistance to specific findings in their research.

“A lot of what we’re doing to bridge the academic-practice gap, like publishing in more accessible outlets and doing more executive training, doesn’t work unless we are able to overcome some of these natural barriers to persuasion,” O’Boyle said.

Source: University of Indiana/Newswise

Diet, Weight May Affect Response to Supplemental Bipolar Treatment

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 7:01am

A new clinical trial finds that a patient’s weight and overall quality of diet, including the consumption of anti-inflammatory foods, can affect his or her response to a particular type of supplemental treatment for bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by episodes of manic highs and depressive lows. Although current bipolar medications are useful, they are better at targeting symptoms of mania rather than depressive symptoms.

Now a team of Australian, German and American scientists have shown that patients who consume a high quality diet — including fewer inflammatory foods — and/or have a low BMI (body mass index) appear to respond better to an add-on nutraceutical treatment which was provided as part of the clinical trial.

Nutraceuticals include compounds derived from foods such as vitamins or minerals that can help treat or prevent a disease or disorder.

“If we can confirm these results, then it’s good news for people with bipolar disorder, as there is a great need for better treatments for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder,” said lead researcher Melanie Ashton of Deakin University in Australia.

A total of 133 participants were randomly assigned to take a combination of nutraceuticals, including the anti-inflammatory amino acid n-acetylcysteine (NAC), or NAC alone, or a placebo for 16 weeks.

Patients were given nutraceuticals in addition to any mood-stabilizing treatments they were already taking. Researchers measured BMI at the beginning of the study, and then measured depression and how each patient was able to function in their day to day life.

Researchers also rated whether a participant was improving and, if so, how much, over the next 20 weeks.

Participants completed diet questionnaires which allowed researchers to calculate a diet quality score — good diets included healthy foods with lots of fruit and vegetables, whereas poorer-quality diets had more saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and alcohol. The diets were then categorized as either anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory based on foods known to affect inflammation.

“We found that people who had a better-quality diet, a diet with anti-inflammatory properties, or a lower BMI, showed better response to add-on nutraceutical treatment than did those who reported a low-quality diet, or a diet including foods that promote inflammation, or who were overweight,” Ashton said.

“There are some points we need to note about this study. This is a randomized, controlled trial, but what we found were exploratory outcomes; in other words, it wasn’t the main result that we were testing. Our result is statistically significant, but because the study wasn’t specifically designed to test the effect of diet quality,”

The new findings were presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Source: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Teen Cannabis Use Linked to Impaired Cognitive Development

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 8:24am

A new study shows that the lasting effects of adolescent cannabis use can be observed on important cognitive functions and appear to be more pronounced than those observed for alcohol.

Beyond acute intoxicating effects, alcohol and cannabis misuse has been associated with impairments in learning, memory, attention and decision-making, as well as with lower academic performance.

“While many studies have reported group differences in cognitive performance between young users and non-users, what had yet to be established was the causal and lasting effects of teen substance use on cognitive development,” said Jean-François G. Morin, co-author and a Ph.D. student at the Université de Montréal.

According to senior author Dr. Patricia Conrod, from the Department of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal, the study was “unique in that it followed a large sample of high school students from 7th to 10th grade using cognitive and substance-use measures. Using this big-data approach, we were able to model the complex nature of the relationship between these sets of variables.”

The research team followed 3,826 Canadian adolescents over a period of four years. From this sample, they hoped to understand the relationship between alcohol use, cannabis use and cognitive development among adolescents at all levels of consumption: abstinent, occasional consumer or high consumer.

Using what they called a “developmentally sensitive design,” the researchers investigated relationships between year-to-year changes in substance use and cognitive development across a number of cognitive domains, such as recall memory, perceptual reasoning, inhibition and working memory.

Multi-level regression models were used to simultaneously test vulnerability and concurrent and lasting effects on each cognitive domain, the researchers explained.

The study found that cannabis and alcohol use in adolescence was associated with generally lower performance on all cognitive domains.

“However, further increases in cannabis use, but not alcohol consumption, showed additional concurrent and lagged effects on cognitive functions, such as perceptual reasoning, memory recall, working memory, and inhibitory control,” Conrod said.

“Of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviors, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions.”

“Some of these effects are even more pronounced when consumption begins earlier in adolescence,” Morin added.

The study’s findings highlight the importance of protecting youth from the adverse effects of cannabis and alcohol consumption through greater investment in drug-prevention programs, the researchers noted.

“It will be important to conduct similar analyses with this cohort or similar cohorts as they transition to young adulthood, when alcohol and cannabis use become more severe,” Conrod said.

“This might be particularly relevant for alcohol effects. While this study did not detect effects of teen alcohol consumption on cognitive development, the neurotoxic effects may be observable in specific subgroups differentiated based on the level of consumption, gender or age.”

“We also want to identify if these effects on brain development are related to other difficulties, such as poor academic performance, neuroanatomical damage, and the risk of future addiction or mental health disorders,” Morin concluded.

The study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Source: University of Montreal

Income, Behavioral Factors May Drive Cancer Death Disparities

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 6:30am

In recent decades, fewer Americans overall are dying from cancer, and yet major disparities in cancer mortality rates still exist and continue to grow across the nation.

In a new study, Yale researchers have identified specific socioeconomic and behavioral factors that may be contributing to these widening cancer death disparities in the United States. The key factors include food insecurity, smoking, physical inactivity and quality of health care.

For the study, the researchers looked at publicly available data documenting cancer mortality rates by county and compared the rates of cancer deaths in low-, medium-, and high-income counties. Using a novel method known as mediation analysis, the researchers confirmed that there are significant county-level disparities in cancer deaths, ranging from 186 deaths per 100,000 persons in high-income counties to 230 deaths per 100,000 persons in low-income counties.

“The most important of these factors appear to be food insecurity, smoking, physical inactivity, and the quality of health care that is provided in the counties,” said first author Jeremy O’Connor, M.D., who conducted the research while he was a National Clinician Scholar at Yale School of Medicine.

The findings show that cancer death disparities can be attributed to a mix of factors that involve both income and behavior. “The paper suggests all of these factors are interplaying to lead to disparities,” O’Connor noted. “It’s not just health behaviors or quality of care; it’s all of the factors together.”

As part of their methodology, the researchers also created maps that illustrate the cancer death disparity rates. This approach will allow public health officials in different parts of the country to identify specific factors that affect their counties, and respond accordingly.

“Instead of every county addressing all eight factors, they can target their public health programs to the factors that are most important to their community,” said O’Connor.

The study also highlights the fact that while overall cancer death rates are affected by advances in cancer treatment, much of the disparities in death rates might be attributable to issues outside of treatment, such as smoking and obesity, the researchers said.

In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Between 1990 and 2014, the overall cancer death rate has fallen 25 percent in the United States.

The new findings are published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Source: Yale University