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Smoking linked to brain changes in youngsters

A new study has revealed that young smokers may experience changes in the structures of their brains due to cigarette smoking, dependence and craving.
The study done by the researchers of UCLA has found that the brain changes can occur in those who have been smoking for relatively short time and the neurobiological changes could be the reason behind cigarette dependency in adults.

The study found that there were differences among younger smokers and non-smokers in the insula, a part of the brain's cerebral cortex that is involved in monitoring internal states and making decisions. The researchers, by measuring the cortical thickness of the insula, found that the amount of cigarette exposure was negatively related to the thickness in the right side of the insula.

Edythe London, a professor of psychiatry and of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and David Geffen School of Medicine, said that although its uncertain whether the findings represent the effects of smoking or a genetic risk factor for nicotine dependence, but the results may reflect the initial effects of cigarette smoking on the brain.
London said that the findings may also contribute to the understanding of why smoking during this developmental stage has such a profound impact on lifelong smoking behavior.

Treatment for binge eating comes closer to reality

A professor of psychology have got one step closer to finding the genetic causes, and eventually a treatment, for binge eating.

In her latest research, MSU professor of psychology Kelly Klump decided to use rats to help identify different biological and genetic factors that contribute to binge eating. Klump and her team studied two different strains of rats – Sprague-Dawley and Wistar rats – to determine if one strain was prone to binge eating. For two weeks, Klump and colleagues ran a feeding experiment with 30 Sprague-Dawley female rats and 23 Wistar rats.

The rats were given their usual meal of “chow” (like chicken and vegetables for humans) and intermittently, vanilla frosting.

Britny Hildebrandt, a graduate student in the Klump lab said that they only gave the rats the vanilla frosting every other day as that mimics human binge eating habits.What Klump and her team found was that the rate of binge eating on vanilla frosting was much higher in Sprague-Dawley female rats.

Klump said that now that they e know that the Sprague-Dawley rats are prone to binge eating, this helps narrow the scope of the thousands of possible genes that could contribute to this disorder. She said that they can now study the strain to identify the genes that might contribute to the disease, asserting that from there, they can map these genes in humans. Klump said that if they can narrow down to 20 or so genes, then we are one step closer to finding an effective treatment for binge eating.

Kids with ADHD likelier to become obese and inactive

A new study suggests that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to become obese and sedentary teenagers.

Previous studies have suggested a link between ADHD and obesity, but whether one leads to the other is unclear. One way to better understand the link is to follow children through to adolescence.

The new study from Imperial College London, which followed almost 7000 children in Finland, found that those who had ADHD symptoms at age eight had significantly higher odds of being obese at age 16. Children who had ADHD symptoms were also less physically active as teenagers.

ADHD affects two to five per cent of school-aged children and young people in the UK and is related to poor school performance. The main symptoms are inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD is complex to diagnose, but screening questionnaires can give an indication of a probable diagnosis, based on a child’s behaviour.

Conduct disorder, a condition related to ADHD and linked to tendencies towards delinquency, rulebreaking and violence, was also found to increase risk of obesity and physical inactivity among teens. The nine percent of children in the study who had positive results on an ADHD screener at age 8 were at higher risk of obesity at age 16.

“Obesity is a growing problem that we need to watch out for in all children and young people, but these findings suggest that it’s particularly important for children with ADHD,” Senior author, visiting Professor Alina Rodriguez, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said.

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