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Talking therapy: ‘little help’ for schizophrenics

A new study has revealed that talking therapies offer “little benefit” to people with schizophrenia.

A team of scientists at University of Hertfordshire analysed over 50 studies on the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) from around the world and found that it only had a "small therapeutic effect" on schizophrenic symptoms, the BBC reported.

The study led by Keith Laws, professor of cognitive neuropsychology at the University of Hertfordshire, found that CBT did have a small benefit in treating delusions and hallucinations - which are characteristic symptoms of the disease.

However, according to the researchers, who looked at 52 studies carried out over the last 20 years, even this small effect disappeared when only studies using 'blind testing' were taken into account.

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Acupuncture ineffective in treating breast cancer

A new study has found that acupuncture is ineffective in treating hot flashes, joint pain, and other menopausal symptoms.

Forty-seven female breast cancer patients were treated with eight weeks of either real or fake acupuncture as a way to reduce the side effects of an anti-cancer medication.

Twenty-three patients were given real acupuncture (placing needles on carefully-selected points on the body), and 24 were given sham acupuncture, where needles were placed (but not actually inserted into) the skin at random locations.

The treatment’s effectiveness was determined by patient-reported symptoms, and the study was double-blinded (meaning that neither the patients nor the researchers knew who got the real acupuncture treatment).

Both the real and fake acupuncture improved the patient’s symptoms, which came as no surprise to the researchers because of the placebo effect. When a patient is given a treatment and told that it will help him or her, often it will — even if there’s no active ingredient. A person’s expectation that they will feel better can make them feel better subjectively.

The study, led by Dr. Ting Bao of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, found no difference in symptom relief between the two treatments, Discovery News reported.

Exercise makes you choose low fat food over fatty ones

Scientists have discovered that exercising could make low-calorie food appear more appetizing.

Scans taken after volunteers jogged for an hour showed that the brain’s “reward centres” lit up when they were shown images of low-fat diet foods. But the same brain regions showed reduced activity when volunteers looked at pictures of calorie-dense fatty food, News.com.au reported.

The findings, by a team of researchers at the University of Birmingham, suggest that exercise has the power to help change eating habits as well as shed fat.

Although it has long been known that working out can curb hunger pangs by adjusting the balance of hormones in the body, there has been little research into its effects on the central regulation of appetite by the brain.

The Birmingham team asked 15 young, healthy men to jog gently on a treadmill for up to an hour.

The subjects then underwent an MRI scan to analyse activity levels in areas of the brain associated with rewards, first when shown images of low-calorie healthy foods and then with fatty takeaways.

The experiment was then repeated but this time after the men had relaxed for an hour.The results showed that neuron cells in regions of the brain that become more active when they sense a “reward” responded more to low-fat food images after exercise than when volunteers did nothing.

One such region - known as the ventral pallidum - is thought to be involved in processing thoughts related to rewards such as food.

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