Brewing evidence for tea’s heart benefits

TeaBlack or green, hot or iced, tea is gaining in popularity. Many cities and shopping malls feature specialty tea shops, and bottled teas vie for space on store shelves. The Tea Association of the U.S.A. says the tea market has quadrupled over the past two decades.

Tea’s purported health benefits—many of which are linked to the heart and blood vessels—may be fueling this trend. Just how might tea help your heart, and how strong is the evidence?

Tea is a good source of compounds known as catechins and epicatechins, which are thought to be responsible for tea’s beneficial health effects,” says Dr. Howard Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. These compounds belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. Research suggests that flavonoids help quell inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries. Green tea has slightly higher amounts of these chemicals than black tea. Both black and green teas also contain modest amounts of caffeine, ranging from about 20 to 45 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. That’s roughly half the amount of caffeine in the same amount of coffee.

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Beta blockers may lead to new novel triple negative breast cancer treatments

New research published in the March 2016 issue of The FASEB Journal, shows that a commonly prescribed class of high blood pressure drugs may have the potential to slow the growth of triple negative breast cancer tumors. These drugs, called “beta blockers” work by counteracting the pro-growth effect caused by adrenaline by affecting the the beta2-adrenoceptor.

“Previous studies have linked increased stress with accelerated onset of metastasis in some forms of breast cancer,” said Michelle L. Halls, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Drug Discovery Biology Theme at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University in Parkville, Victoria, Australia. “By understanding how stress accelerates invasion in aggressive breast tumor cells, this work will inform future studies into whether beta-blockers could be a useful adjuvant therapy in the treatment of some aggressive breast cancers.”

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Major breakthrough in fighting antibiotic resistance

In what is being heralded as a groundbreaking discovery, scientists led by Monash and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher, Thomas Naderer and James Vince, have shown that drugs, originally developed to kill cancer cells, can also prevent infectious diseases that are difficult to treat with common antibiotics.

The team led by Dr Thomas Naderer, from the Monash University Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Dr James Vince from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, used  imaging technology to watch, in real time, how pathogens (in this case the Legionella bacteria) infect the of the immune system.

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Study points to cannabis’ effect on emotion processing

CannabisThe complex biochemistry of cannabis and how it affects the brain is only beginning to be understood. Lucy Troup, assistant professor of psychology at Colorado State University, has set out to answer specifically how, if at all, cannabis use affects one’s ability to process emotions.

A study published Feb. 29 in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that cannabis does, in fact, significantly affect users’ ability to recognize, process and empathize with human emotions like happiness, sadness and anger. But the results also suggest that the brain may be able to counteract these effects depending on whether the emotions are explicitly, or implicitly detected.

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Why the ‘Johnny Depp Effect’ doesn’t always work

800px-Johnny_Depp_2011New psychology research from the University of Otago, Warwick Business School, and University of California, San Diego, is helping explain why male faces with feminine features are considered attractive in some contexts but not others.

The study findings provide a new explanation for why the “Johnny Depp Effect” – which involves women tending to prefer men with more feminine faces – holds in some contexts, but not in others.

The international research team has found that when people are asked to rate the attractiveness of gender-blended face morphs they tend to judge them as less appealing if they are first asked to classify the face as male or female.

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Study finds consistent link between violent crime and concealed-carry gun permits

photodune-648357-gun-holster-and-45-pistol-xs (2)The first study to find a significant relationship between firearm crime and subsequent applications for, and issuance of, concealed-carry gun permits has been published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

The paper, “Firearm Violence and Effects on Concealed Gun Carrying: Large Debate and Small Effects,” found there is a consistent link between violent crime — especially crimes that involve guns — and an increase in the number of people issued carry permits over two time periods examined in the study, said Jeremy Carter, an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

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