Employee distrust is pervasive in U.S. workforce

WASHINGTON — Despite the rebound in the U.S. economy and an improving job market, nearly 1 in 4 workers say they don’t trust their employer and only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey released today.

While almost two-thirds (64 percent) of employed adults feel their organization treats them fairly, 1 in 3 reported that their employer is not always honest and truthful with them. “This lack of trust should serve as a wake-up call for employers,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “Trust plays an important role in the workplace and affects employees’ well-being and job performance.”

“The layoffs, benefit cuts and job insecurity that accompanied the recession put a strain on the employee-employer relationship and people aren’t quick to forget,” added Ballard. Workers reported having more trust in their company when the organization recognizes employees for their contributions, provides opportunities for involvement and communicates effectively.

Although a majority of workers reported being satisfied with their job overall, less than half said that they are satisfied with the growth and development opportunities (49 percent) and employee recognition practices (47 percent) where they work. More than a quarter (27 percent) of U.S. workers said they intend to seek new employment in the next year.

The gender pay gap may also be at play, with employed women being less likely than employed men to report that they receive adequate monetary compensation (42 percent of women versus 54 percent of men). The survey was conducted online among 1,562 U.S. workers from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4, 2014, on behalf of APA by Harris Poll.

The survey also found that workers who feel valued by their employer are more likely to be engaged in their work. Employees who feel valued were significantly more likely to report having high levels of energy, being strongly involved in their work and feeling happily engrossed in what they do. Additionally, those who felt valued by their employer were more likely to report being satisfied with their job (92 percent of those who felt valued versus 29 percent of those who do not) and to say they are motivated to do their best (91 percent versus 37 percent) and to recommend their employer to others (85 percent versus 15 percent).

Employees who felt valued were also less likely to say they feel stressed out during the work day (25 percent versus 56 percent of those who do not feel valued) and more likely to report being in good psychological health (89 percent versus 69 percent of those who do not feel valued).

While more than 6 in 10 employed adults (61 percent) say they have the resources to manage the work stress they experience, almost one-third (31 percent) report typically feeling tense or stressed out during the workday. The most commonly cited sources of work stress were low salaries (51 percent say that it is a significant source of stress) and lack of opportunity for growth and advancement (44 percent). Unclear job expectations, job insecurity and long hours were also among the top five most frequently cited sources of work stress.

“The emphasis in recent years on employee wellness is a step in the right direction, but the psychological factors are often overlooked,” says Ballard. “It’s clear that an organizational culture that promotes and supports openness, honesty, transparency and trust is key to a healthy, high-performing workplace.”

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Aspirin can reduce colorectal cancer risks for some

The humble aspirin may have just added another beneficial effect beyond its ability to ameliorate headaches and reduce the risk of heart attacks: lowering colon cancer risk among people with high levels of a specific type of gene.

The extraordinary finding comes from a multi-institutional team that analyzed data and other material from two long-term studies involving nearly 128,000 participants. The researchers found that individuals whose colons have high levels of a specific gene product — 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH) RNA — dramatically reduce their chances of developing colorectal cancer by taking aspirin. In contrast, the analgesic provides no benefit to individuals whose colons show low levels of 15-PGDH.

The findings appear in the April 23 edition of Science Translational Medicine. While previous trials and prospective studies had indicated that aspirin could reduce colorectal cancer risk, this retrospective study provides the first evidence to help explain why aspirin benefits some people, but not others.

The research team included researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

“If you looked at the folks from the study who had high 15-PGDH levels and took aspirin, they cut their risk of colon cancer by half,” said senior author Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD, Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “If you looked at the folks from the study that were low for 15-PGDH, they did not benefit at all from taking aspirin. These findings represent a clean Yes-No about who would benefit from aspirin.”

Funded in part by the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA), the discovery represents precisely the kind of advancement that Katie Couric and her colleagues sought when they founded the initiative in 2000. She lost her 42-year-old husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998 and has been a steadfast advocate for colon cancer prevention efforts in the years since.

“Prevention, early detection and effective treatments are key to conquering cancer,” Couric said. “This finding that aspirin can prevent colon cancer in certain individuals is an easy and cost-effective addition to our arsenal in the fight against the second-leading cancer killer. I am proud to see this valuable research advancing patient care for those at risk of colon cancer resulting from NCCRA support.”

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, with predictions that 137,000 Americans will develop the disease and 50,000 will die from it in 2014. Thanks to regular screenings, the death rate from colorectal cancer has dropped in the past 20 years, and members of this research team have been dedicated to finding additional measures to help reduce risk and ultimately eradicate the disease.

In this latest effort, the scientists sought to build on earlier research that indicated that regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, reduces the chances of developing colon cancer for some individuals, but not in all. Their question: Why? What is different between those helped by aspirin, and those who saw no effects?

Markowitz, also the head of the Cancer Genetics Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and a medical oncologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center joined lead co-senior author Andrew T. Chan, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General to explore whether the presence of 15-PGDH led to different outcomes in terms of which individuals developed colon cancer.

Their goal: to see whether it is possible to develop a test that would help guide physicians and patients in determining whether an aspirin regimen would be of benefit.

The team examined tissues of 270 colon cancer patients culled from 127,865 participants followed for over three decades in the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). Previous reports from the Massachusetts General/Dana-Farber team indicated that participants in these studies who regularly took aspirin had a lower risk of colorectal cancer. In earlier research, the Case Western Reserve investigators, along with Monica Bertagnolli, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, had found that the presence of 15-PGDH appeared to enhance the ability of celecoxib, an anti-inflammatory medication commonly known as Celebrex, to prevent colon tumors in mice and in 16 humans tested. But when 15-PGDH was low or not present, celecoxib did not prevent colon tumors in mice or humans.

In this latest study, the investigators combined forces in a much larger study to examine whether 15-PGDH levels might also be associated with the colon cancer-preventing benefits of aspirin, which is already taken by many individuals and does not have the cardiovascular side effects of celecoxib . The Massachusetts General and Dana-Farber team dissected normal colon tissue from the pathology specimens of NHS/HPFS participants who developed colon cancer over the studies’ follow-up period. The team at Case Western Reserve then analyzed these colon tissues to identify which among them had high or low levels of colon 15-PGDH. The investigators at Massachusetts General and Dana-Farber examined how the data on participants’ aspirin use and levels of 15-PGDH related to the risk of colorectal cancer to address the question the larger group had set out to answer: Were individuals who developed colorectal cancer while taking aspirin more likely to have low or high levels of colonic 15-PGDH?

The study is among the first examples of the type of test that could allow more personalized decisions about treatment to prevent colorectal cancer. It also allows those whose 15-PGDH levels indicate aspirin would have little impact to avoid the potential gastrointestinal challenges — such as stomach ulcers — that can accompany aspirin use.

Additional researchers involved in the study included first authors Stephen Fink, PhD, an instructor at Case Western Reserve; Mai Yamauchi, PhD, and Reiko Nishihara, PhD, research fellows at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and senior authors Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, and Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, MS, also from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Chan is a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The researchers’ next steps are two-fold: first, the development of a cost-effective and accessible test for measuring 15-PGDH in the colon, and second, a prospective clinical trial to further confirm these findings. Chan and Markowitz both consider the first step well within reach of current medical practice.

“During a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist could easily and safely take an additional biopsy from the colon in individuals for whom preventive aspirin treatment might be appropriate,” Chan said. Added Markowitz, “There would be no reason why a good hospital pathology laboratory could not establish the test for 15-PGDH.”

The study authors are also hopeful that publication of these findings will draw the interest from funders and other researchers in developing a confirmatory randomized, prospective clinical trial in which high-risk patients would be identified, treated with aspirin or a placebo, depending on their 15-PGDH levels, and monitored for development of colorectal tumors.

The mechanisms of action in the 15-PGDH gene and in aspirin make them key players in the colon cancer discussion. Prostaglandins promote development of colon cancer, and aspirin helps prevent colon cancer development by preventing prostaglandins from being generated. 15-PGDH also helps prevent colon cancer development by catalyzing the reaction that “chews up” prostaglandins. Markowitz refers to 15-PGDH as the body’s genetic form of aspirin. The study shows that both aspirin and 15-PGDH must work together to effectively prevent colon cancer, with aspirin benefitting most individuals who also have high levels of 15-PGDH.

“This study highlights the benefits of the relatively new practice of molecular pathological epidemiology, or MPE,” said co-senior author Ogino of Dana-Farber, an Associate Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. “The molecular pathology part relates to analysis of 15-PGDH gene expression level in normal colon to classify cancer based on molecular pathogenesis, while the epidemiology part relates to collection and analysis of aspirin use data in population. MPE is an integration of these analyses.”

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Marijuana use may increase heart complications in young, middle-aged adults

Marijuana use may result in cardiovascular-related complications — even death — among young and middle-aged adults, according to a French study reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“In prior research, we identified several remarkable cases of cardiovascular complications as the reasons for hospital admission of young marijuana users,” said Émilie Jouanjus, Pharm.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a medical faculty member at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in Toulouse, France. “This unexpected finding deserved to be further analyzed, especially given that the medicinal use of marijuana has become more prevalent and some governments are legalizing its use.”

Researchers analyzed serious cardiovascular-related complications following marijuana use that was reported to the French Addictovigilance Network in 2006-10. They identified 35 cases of cardiovascular and vascular conditions related to the heart, brain and limbs.

Among their findings:

Most of the patients were male, average age 34.3 years.
Nearly 2 percent (35 of the 1,979) marijuana-related complications were cardiovascular complications.
Of the 35 cases, 22 were heart-related, including 20 heart attacks; 10 were peripheral with diseases related to arteries in the limbs; and three were related to the brain’s arteries.
The percentage of reported cardiovascular complications more than tripled from 2006 to 2010.
Nine patients, or 25.6 percent, died.

Researchers note that marijuana use and any resulting health complications are likely underreported. There are 1.2 million regular users in France, and thus potentially a large amount of complications that are not detected by the French Addictovigilance System.

“The general public thinks marijuana is harmless, but information revealing the potential health dangers of marijuana use needs to be disseminated to the public, policymakers and healthcare providers,” Jouanjus said.

People with pre-existing cardiovascular weaknesses appear to be more prone to the harmful effects of marijuana.

“There is now compelling evidence on the growing risk of marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in young people,” Jouanjus said. “It is therefore important that doctors, including cardiologists, be aware of this, and consider marijuana use as one of the potential causes in patients with cardiovascular disorders.”

Surveillance of marijuana-related reports of cardiovascular disorders should continue and more research needs to look at how marijuana use might trigger cardiovascular events, she said.

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Co-authors are Maryse Lapeyre-Mestre, M.D., Ph.D., and Joelle Micallef, M.D., Ph.D. There are no author disclosures.

The study was funded by French InterMinisterial mission for the fight against drugs and addiction, MILDT (Mission interministérielle de lutte contre les drogues et toxicomanies) and the French drug agency ANSM (Agence Nationale de Sécurité des Médicaments).

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Drowsy driver detection: there’s a new app for that

SPOKANE, Wash.—Researchers at Washington State University Spokane have developed a new way to detect when drivers are about to nod off behind the wheel.

Their recently patented technology is based on steering wheel movements—which are more variable in drowsy drivers—and offers an affordable and more reliable alternative to currently available video-based driver drowsiness detection systems.

“Video-based systems that use cameras to detect when a car is drifting out of its lane are cumbersome and expensive,” said Hans Van Dongen, research professor at the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center. “They don’t work well on snow-covered or curvy roads, in darkness or when lane markers are faded or missing.

“Our invention provides an inexpensive and user-friendly technology that overcomes these limitations and can help catch fatigue earlier, well before accidents are likely to happen,” said Van Dongen, who developed the technology with postdoctoral research fellow Pia Forsman.

The science behind the invention was published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention. Researchers analyzed data from two laboratory experiments conducted at WSU Spokane.

Twenty-nine participants were on a simulated 10-day night shift schedule that caused moderate levels of fatigue, as assessed by their performance on a widely used alertness test known as the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT). During each night shift, participants spent four 30-minute sessions on a high-fidelity driving simulator, which captured data for 87 different metrics related to speed, acceleration, steering, lane position and other factors.

Data analysis indicated that the two factors that best predicted fatigue were variability in steering wheel movements and variability in lane position.

Researchers then showed that data on steering wheel variability can be used to predict variability in lane position early on, making it possible to detect driver drowsiness before the car drifts out of its lane.

“We wanted to find out whether there may be a better technique for measuring driver drowsiness before fatigue levels are critical and a crash is imminent,” Van Dongen said. “Our invention provides a solid basis for the development of an early detection system for moderate driver drowsiness. It could also be combined with existing systems to extend their functionality in detecting severe driver drowsiness.”

The solution uses inexpensive, easy-to-install parts—including a sensor that measures the position of the steering wheel—and could be included as part of a factory installation or as an aftermarket accessory.

A patent for this method of measuring driver drowsiness has been assigned to WSU under patent number 8676444, with Van Dongen and Forsman as the inventors.

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The paper describing their work was published in Vol. 50 of Accident Analysis & Prevention with Forsman—now with the University of Helsinki in Finland—as the lead author. Coauthors include Van Dongen; WSU researchers Bryan Vila and Robert Short; and Christopher Mott of Pulsar Informatics, a private firm that develops behavioral alertness technology.

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Multimillion dollar study about hope, optimism launches

Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. – A grant from the John Templeton Foundation will fund a new research project called “Hope and Optimism: Conceptual and Empirical Investigations,” to be co-directed by Cornell philosophy professor Andrew Chignell and Notre Dame philosopher Samuel Newlands.

The three-year interdisciplinary effort will explore the theoretical, empirical and practical dimensions of hope, optimism, and related states by supporting new research in the social sciences, philosophy, and religion.

“Grants of this size in the humanities are unusual,” said Chignell, associate professor in Cornell’s Susan Linn Sage School of Philosophy. “Grants that range across the humanities and social sciences and are shared between two universities are extremely rare. So this is an exciting project that offers new opportunities for everyone involved.”

Newlands, the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Collegiate Associate Professor of Philosophy in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters and co-director of the Center for Philosophy of Religion, agreed: “I am very excited about this project. There are not a lot of topics in academia that have such broad appeal and invite careful, specialized research at the same time.”

The $3.8 million research grant from the Templeton Foundation is the largest received by the philosophy departments of the universities to date, according to Chignell. With additional funding from Cornell and Notre Dame, the cost of the collaborative venture will total $4.5 million.

Grant activities will include three separate research initiatives (social sciences, philosophy, and philosophy of religion) with residential and non-residential fellowships for faculty, post-docs, and grad students. Many of the visiting fellows will be hosted by Cornell’s Program in Ethics and Public Life.

The grant will also sponsor a weeklong collaborative conference for all grant participants in the summer of 2016, as well as other major conferences, publications, and a series of workshops and other informal collaborations.

As part of an effort to reach out beyond academia, the grant will also provide $60,000 in funding for playwriting and amateur video competitions. Selection criteria will include both artistic merits and success in depicting hope and/or optimism in an innovative and compelling way.

The grant will sponsor the premiere of the winning play in Ithaca, NY, and will make the winning videos available on the project website.

Hope and optimism play fundamental roles in human psychology, said Chignell. “Let’s suppose hope involves the belief that something you desire is really possible, and perhaps a willingness to act in certain ways given that belief and desire,” he said. “It’s clear that hope of this sort —the belief that at least some of the things you desire have not been ruled out — is essential to our psychological health and ability to keep going. But we’re interested in taking the analysis further, and in making connections to some of the big questions in epistemology, ethics, action theory, economics, and the philosophy of history.”

According to Chignell and Newlands, numerous studies have shown significant correlations between optimism and overall physical and psychological well-being, but more research on their nature and sources is needed.

“Optimists tend to have longevity, be very healthy, have great life satisfaction, and be successful. And this is holding fixed for economic, religious, and socio-status measures,” said Newlands.

The project will involve an advisory board of scholars and scientists, including Cornell professors Hirokazu Miyazaki (anthropology) and David Pizarro (psychology). A planning workshop in 2013 brought together many of these leaders to discuss recent research.

“For the last decade hope has become a significant subject of social scientific investigation,” said Miyazaki. “The ‘Hope and Optimism’ project will offer a truly integrative approach to this notoriously slippery and yet profoundly crucial aspect of humanity.”

Michael Scheier, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, attended the workshop and looks forward to further work on the initiative. “The hope and optimism project promises to facilitate interaction between scholars and researchers of diverse disciplines to further our understanding of optimism and hope in significant ways,” he said.

Learn More:

* Hope and Optimism website http://hopeoptimism.org
* Andrew Chignell page: http://www.chignell.net
* Sam Newlands page: http://samnewlands.com
* John Templeton Foundation: http://www.templeton.org
* Ethics and Public Life: http://philosophy.cornell.edu/epl

Posted in Human Behavior: Hope, Human Behavior: Humility, Human Behavior: Optimism, Human Behavior: Relationships | Leave a comment

Iron consumption can increase risk for heart disease

A new study from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington has bolstered the link between red meat consumption and heart disease by finding a strong association between heme iron, found only in meat, and potentially deadly coronary heart disease.

The study found that heme iron consumption increased the risk for coronary heart disease by 57 percent, while no association was found between nonheme iron, which is in plant and other non-meat sources, and coronary heart disease.

The study was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Nutrition. Along with first author Jacob Hunnicutt, a graduate student in the school’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the study’s co-authors are Ka He and Pengcheng Xun, faculty members in the department.

Hunnicutt said the link between iron intake, body iron stores and coronary heart disease has been debated for decades by researchers, with epidemiological studies providing inconsistent findings. The new IU research, a meta-analysis, examined 21 previously published studies and data involving 292,454 participants during an average 10.2 years of follow-up.

The new study is unique because it looks at the associations of total iron consumption as well as heme and nonheme iron intake in comparison to the risk of coronary heart disease. The only positive association involved the intake of heme iron.

The body treats the two kinds of iron differently. It can better control absorption of iron from vegetable sources, including iron supplements, but not so with iron from meat sources.

“The observed positive association between heme iron and risk of CHD may be explained by the high bioavailability of heme iron and its role as the primary source of iron in iron-replete participants,” the researchers wrote in the journal article. “Heme iron is absorbed at a much greater rate in comparison to nonheme iron (37 percent vs. 5 percent). Once absorbed, it may contribute as a catalyst in the oxidation of LDLs, causing tissue-damaging inflammation, which is a potential risk factor for CHD.”

Iron stores in the body increase over time. The only way to reduce iron in the body is by bleeding, donating blood or menstruation. Some dietary choices, such as coffee and tea, also can inhibit iron absorption.

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Powdered alcohol coming soon?

We are excited by the approval of our powdered alcohol product, Palcohol. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) actually approved it some time ago. However, we were caught off guard by the TTB making some of our approved labels public which we now know is standard procedure. As a result, people visited this website that we thought was under the radar because we had not made a formal announcement of Palcohol.

There was a page visible on this site where we were experimenting with some humorous and edgy verbiage about Palcohol. It was not meant to be our final presentation of Palcohol. Also posted were labels that were incorrect.

After seeing countless stories on Palcohol, it’s amazing how many news outlets have so many facts wrong about Palcohol. “News” organizations seem to copy what another organization reports. The first stories about Palcohol didn’t get the facts right…and then almost all succeeding stories, “copied” from the first ones got the facts wrong also. Some mistakes were: That we were surprised that we didn’t know Palcohol was approved and quickly changed the wording on our website (we knew it was approved) or that a package has 65% alcohol by volume (it has 10-12%) and many more mistakes. And most organizations are quoting things out of context just to make the story sound more sensational.

For instance, outlets copied some of that old verbiage about taking Palcohol into venues to avoid high drink prices. But what they didn’t include in their stories is that we mentioned on that same page, that you should check with the stadiums first to make sure they allow it because Palcohol shouldn’t be used illegally. We know there are a lot of people opposed to Palcohol and that’s their right. All we’re asking is that the media present a fair and balanced story.

Even though the old verbiage was a bit edgy, we clearly stated then, and still remain adamant, that Palcohol should be used in a responsible and legal manner.

Everything you need to know about Palcohol

1. Who created it and what exactly is it? Mark Phillips created it. Click on the link above for information about Mark.

Imagine a Margarita on a counter. And then imagine if you could snap your fingers and it would turn into powder. That’s Palcohol….without the magic. Palcohol is just a powder version of vodka, rum and four cocktails….with the same alcoholic content.

2. Why create Palcohol? Mark is an active guy…hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, etc. After hours of an activity, he sometimes wanted to relax and enjoy a refreshing adult beverage. But those activities, and many others, don’t lend themselves to lugging heavy bottles of wine, beer or spirits. The only liquid he wanted to carry was water.

So he thought? Wouldn’t it be great to have alcohol in powder form so all one had to do is add water? Since powder is light and compact, it wouldn’t be a burden to carry.

Mark searched for powdered alcohol and it wasn’t available. So he began his quest to create it. After years of research, experimentation and consultation with scientists around the world, he finally came up with powdered alcohol and called it Palcohol.

Now Palcohol is here. A great convenience for the person on the go. One package weighs about an ounce and is small enough to fit into any pocket.

It’s not just for the sportsperson. Palcohol can be transported in your luggage without the fear of bottles breaking. In any situation where weight and breakage is an issue, Palcohol provides the answer. That’s why we say, “Take your Pal wherever you go!”

3. What is the alcoholic content when consuming it? Palcohol, when used as directed, by adding five ounces of liquid to it, is equal to a standard mixed drink.

4. What’s in it? It varies per version but basically, alcohol….and in the cocktail versions, natural flavorings and Sucralose as a sweetener. The ingredients of each version are listed on the front of the package. Palcohol is gluten free.

5. How is it made? If we told you, we’d have to shoot you. We are in the process of patenting it and it is currently patent pending.

6. What flavors are there? We plan on releasing six versions sold in a pouch that is the equivalent to one shot of alcohol:

V which is powder made from premium vodka distilled four times.
R which is powder made from premium Puerto Rican rum

V and R can be used two ways. One way is by adding five ounces of your favorite mixer to make a Rum and Coke, Vodka and Orange Juice, etc. Another option is adding five ounces of water to the powder and then adding a flavored drink powder to make it any flavor you want. The result is equivalent to one average mixed drink.

The four cocktail versions are:

Cosmopolitan
Mojito
Powderita – tastes just like a Margarita
Lemon Drop

Just add water to these four flavors for an instant cocktail.

7. Who owns Palcohol? Palcohol is owned by a privately held company called Lipsmark. There are no investment opportunities at this time nor do we plan on going public anytime soon.

8. Are we looking for investors, distributors or employees? No, no and no but thanks for offering. For those people who want to sell it or buy packages of it, please subscribe to our mailing list to receive that information down the road.

9. Where will it be sold? Think of Palcohol as liquor….just in powder form. It will be sold anywhere where liquor can be sold and a buyer must be of legal drinking age to buy it. It will be available both in the United States and abroad and it can also be bought online.

10. Can Palcohol be added to food? Beer, wine and spirits are often added to dishes to enhance the flavor. When you add Palcohol to food, you’re not really adding flavor to the dish, just alcohol. We’ve been experimenting with it like adding Powderita powder to guacamole, Cosmopolitan powder on a salad, V in a vodka sauce, etc. It gives the food a kick.

As Palcohol is a new product, we have yet to understand its potential of being added to food. As always, please use it responsibly. Because it adds alcohol to the dish, do not serve the dish to minors.

11. Can I snort it? We have seen comments about goofballs wanting to snort it. Don’t do it! It is not a responsible or smart way to use the product. To take precautions against this action, we’ve added volume to the powder so it would take more than a half of a cup of powder to get the equivalent of one drink up your nose. You would feel a lot of pain for very little gain. Just use it the right way.

12. When will it be available? We expect it to be for sale this fall. No samples will be released ahead of time.

14. What is the calorie content? Well, it depends on what liquid you add to it. The powder by itself is about 80 calories per bag.

And lastly, we want to emphasize again, when Palcohol is available, to use it responsibly and legally.

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Some birds are retreating northward

Bird populations in Finland have shifted northward by an average of 45 km between the 1970s and the 2010s due, in particular, to climate change. Before this, the effects of climate change have been studied through changes in the distribution of species. A new study method also takes into account regional shifts in population density.

A new study by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and the Finnish Museum of Natural History shows that northern species are retreating northward at greater speed than southern species are spreading to new areas.

Climate change has been predicted to affect the ranges of species as favourable climate conditions shift towards the poles. According to the new study, the mean weighted latitude of density of Finnish bird populations has shifted northward by an average of 45 km, as predicted.

The density of northern species has shifted more (73 km) than that of southern species (27 km). In as many as 23 species, such as black grouse, ruff, greenfinch and yellow wagtail, the mean weighted latitude of density has shifted northward by over a hundred kilometres. A southward shift of over a hundred kilometres was observed in only two species (common buzzard and common raven).

More accurate information through observation of density shifts

Unlike in previous studies, the study behind this new publication looked at the regional density shifts of species during different decades, starting from the 1970s. Density estimates provide significantly more information about species’ response to climate change than only studying their ranges, which has been standard practice in these kinds of studies until now. Such studies have concluded that species’ ranges shift northwards as the climate warms, but looking at density shifts provides more detailed information about changes in the abundance of species.

Changes in the mean weighted latitude of density were compared to distribution changes observed and recorded in bird atlases from 1974 to 2010. The comparison revealed that the range of southern species shifted more to the north on average than the mean centre of the weighted density of the species, while in northern species, density shifted more to the north than the range.

“This study shows that the populations of northern species are retreating northward at a faster rate than what studies looking at changes in range have shown in the past,” says Leading Researcher Raimo Virkkala from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). “These species are increasingly at great risk of disappearing from the Nordic countries, as the Arctic Ocean limits their shift to the north.”

A million bird observations confirm the results

The study is based on the long-term monitoring of bird populations using the same line transect method. The observational data of the study consisted of nearly a million (990,301) observations of 94 different bird species, and the results have now been published as part of the international Global Change Biology publication series.

“Census data gathered by volunteer bird watchers is invaluable for the comprehensively study of long-term changes in bird populations. Each bird monitoring count is an important part of the national and international bird monitoring network,” thanks Curator Aleksi Lehikoinen, the coordinator of the Finnish Museum of Natural History’s bird census efforts.

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Hip width and sexual behavior: a new study

Hip width and risk of birth-related trauma may play a role in a woman’s decision to have sex

In a new study, women who were more inclined to have one-night stands had wider hips, reveals Colin A. Hendrie of the University of Leeds in the UK. He is the lead author of a study into how a woman’s build influences her sexual behavior, published in Springer’s journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The study into whether hip width or waist-to-hip ratio was a better predictor of a woman’s sexual behavior was conducted among 148 women between 18 and 26 years old. The participants all had at least one sexual partner previously. Their hip width (defined as the distance between the upper outer edges of the iliac crest bones of the pelvis) was measured, as well as their hip circumference at the widest point and their waist circumference at its narrowest point. Participants also completed a questionnaire about their sexual histories, including the age at which they lost their virginity, the number of sexual partners they had had, and information about emotionally significant sexual relationships they had had.

The results show that the number of sexual partners a woman had is largely driven by one-night stand behavior. This, in turn, correlates with a woman’s hip width and not waist-to-hip ratio. Overall, women in this study with hips wider than 36 centimeters (14.2 inches) had more sexual partners and more one-night stands than women with hips under 31 centimeters (12.2 inches) wide. More specifically, the women for whom one-night stands accounted for three out of every four of their sexual relationships had hips at least two centimeters (0.8 inches) wider than their counterparts in whose lives such fleeting relationships were not as prevalent.

The researchers, Hendrie and co-authors Victoria J. Simpson and Gayle Brewer, surmise that women with wider hips are more likely to engage in sex because the birth process is generally easier and less traumatic for them than for smaller-hipped women (below 31cm). This in turn relates back to how humans learned to walk upright and the subsequent development of narrower hips to make it easier to walk. In the process, female hips have become just wide enough to allow childbirth. Infants are born at a less developed stage than most other primates because of this restriction, and therefore need much more care and investment after birth from their mothers and fathers.

“Women’s hip width has a direct impact on their risk of potentially fatal childbirth-related injury. It seems that when women have control over their own sexual activity this risk is reflected in their behavior. Women’s sexual activity is therefore at least in part influenced by hip width,” concludes Hendrie. He added, however, that statements about causality cannot be made using the current data and it remains to be seen if these conclusions can be generalized to other populations and cultures.

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Saturated fat may raise risk of some forms of breast cancer

(Reuters Health) – Women who eat a lot of fat, particularly saturated fat, may be at higher risk of certain types of breast cancer, new research suggests.

Past studies have come to differing conclusions on a possible association between dietary fat and breast cancer. Whether the two are even linked at all remains controversial.

The new report, a second analysis of a large, long-term study, suggests that fat may play a role in the development of certain forms of the disease but not others, the authors said.

Still, it cannot prove that a high-fat diet is the reason any of the women got cancer.

“In our study we confirm that saturated fat intake was positively associated with breast cancer risk,” lead author Sabina Sieri, from the Fondazione IRCCS National Cancer Institute in Milan, Italy, told Reuters Health in an email.

“Saturated fatty acids intake should be as low as possible within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet.”

Saturated fat in the diet most often comes from meat and other animal products like butter and cheese.

The research team’s findings are based on a study of about 337,000 women from 10 European countries. They filled out questionnaires about their diet and lifestyle and were followed for an average of 11 to 12 years.

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Life stressors trigger schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and some forms of autism

Washington, DC — When mothers are exposed to trauma, illness, alcohol or other drug abuse, these stressors may activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that can go awry and activate conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and some forms of autism.

Until now, it has been unclear how much these stressors have impacted the cells of a developing brain. Past studies have shown that when an expectant mother exposes herself to alcohol or drug abuse or she experiences some trauma or illness, her baby may later develop a psychiatric disorder, including some forms of autism or post-traumatic stress disorder, later in life. But the new findings, published online in Neuron, identifies a molecular mechanism in the prenatal brain that may help explain how cells go awry when exposed to certain environmental conditions.

Kazue Hasimoto-Torii, PhD, Principal Investigator of the Center for Neuroscience, Children’s National Health System, and a Scott-Gentle Foundation investigator, is lead author of the paper. Torii was previously at Yale, whose researchers were co-authors in the report. The research was funded primarily through National Institutes of Health grants.

Researchers found that mouse embryos exposed to alcohol, methyl-mercury, or maternal seizures activate a single gene, HSF1, also known as heat shock factor, in cerebral cortex. The HSF1 “plays a crucial role in the response of brain cells to prenatal environmental insults,” the researchers reported. “The gene protects and enables brain cells to survive prenatal assaults. Mice lacking the HSF1 gene showed structural brain abnormalities and were prone to seizures after birth following exposures to very low levels of toxins.”

Even in mice where the HSF1 gene was properly activated to combat environmental insults, the molecular mechanism alone may permanently change how brain cells respond, and may be a reason why someone may be more susceptible to neuropsychiatric disorders later in life.

Innovative work with stem cells also provided findings that supported the theory that stress induces vulnerable cells to malfunction, the researchers reported. For the study, researchers created stem cells from biopsies of people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Stem cells are capable of becoming many different tissue types, including neurons. In the study, genes from the stem cells of those with schizophrenia responded more dramatically when exposed to environmental insults than stem cells from non-schizophrenic individuals.

While it has been generally accepted that exposure to harmful environmental factors increase the susceptibility of the brain to neurological and psychiatric disorders, new types of environmental agents are continuingly added to the mix, requiring evolving studies, Hasimoto-Torii says.

Hashimoto-Torii notes that autism rates have increased substantially and “more people are having these exposures to environmental stressors,” she says. While there have been many studies that have identified singular stressors, such as alcohol, there have not been enough studies to focus on many different environmental factors and their impacts, such as heavy metals as well as alcohol and other toxic exposure, she adds.

Identifying many risk factors helped Hashimoto-Torii and other researchers identify the gene that may be linked to neurological problems. “Different stressors may have different stress responses,” she says. She examined risk factors specifically involving epilepsy, ADHD, autism and schizophrenia. Eventually, it may open the door “to provide therapy in the future to reduce the risk” and protect vulnerable cells.
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Two other researchers, Masaaki Torii, PhD, and Seiji Ishii, PhD, at the Children’s National’s Center for Neuroscience also contributed to this study.

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Posted in Autism, Human Behavior: Stress, Mental Health: PTSD, Mental Health: Schizophrenia | Leave a comment

Neurotics don’t just avoid action: They dislike it

PHILADELPHIA (April 22, 2014) – That person we all seem to know who we say is neurotic and unable to take action? Turns out he or she isn’t unable to act but simply doesn’t want to.

A study of nearly 4,000 college students in 19 countries has uncovered new details about why neurotic people may avoid making decisions and moving forward with life. Turns out that when they are asked if action is positive, favorable, good, they just don’t like it as much as non-neurotics. Therefore persuasive communications and other interventions may be useful if they simply alter neurotics’ attitudes toward inaction.

These findings come the study “Neuroticism and Attitudes Toward Action in 19 Countries.” It is published in the Journal of Personality and was written by Molly E. Ireland, Texas Tech University; Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Hong Li, Battelle Center for Analytics and Public Health; and Dolores Albarracín –the principal investigator of the study– from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.

“You’re so neurotic!” It’s a phrase that’s tossed about casually, but what exactly is neuroticism? It is a personality trait defined by the experience of chronic negative affect – including sadness, anxiety, irritability, and self-consciousness – that is easily triggered and difficult to control. Neurotic people tend to avoid acting when confronted with major and minor life stressors, leading to negative life consequences.

The researchers sought to determine whether and under what conditions neuroticism is associated with favorable or unfavorable representations of action and inaction. They investigated whether depression and anxiety would decrease proactive behavior among neurotic individuals, and whether a person’s collectivistic tendencies – considering the social consequences of one’s behavior before acting – would moderate the negative associations between neuroticism and action/inaction. The study found neurotics look at action less favorably and inaction more favorably than emotionally stable people do.

“People who are less emotionally stable have less positive attitudes towards action and more positive attitudes toward inaction,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, anxiety was primarily responsible for neurotic individuals’ less positive attitudes toward action. The link between neuroticism and less positive attitudes toward action was strongest among individuals who endorsed more collectivistic than individualistic beliefs.” So, your neurotic friend who explicitly dislikes action is probably collectivistic –favoring social harmony, family and friends.

“People who are interested in reducing the harmful consequences of neuroticism in their own lives should think about how their attitudes toward action might be affecting their behavior. By learning to value action, they may be able to change many of the negative behaviors associated with neuroticism and anxiety – such as freezing when they should act, or withdrawing from stress instead of dealing proactively with it,” the authors concluded, suggesting that attitudes about action and inaction goals have broad consequences for behavior across diverse contexts and cultures. “These findings lay the groundwork for finding new methods of studying and ultimately preventing the negative consequence of neurotic action avoidance. Specifically, increasing exposure to action may be sufficient to combat tendencies to avoid proactive behavior.”

This is a continuation of a study on attitudes. A study published last year of population in the same countries looked at action-inaction balance in cultural values.

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Biting into whole foods can make children rowdy

There’s a new secret to get your child to behave at the dinner table—cut up their food and they’ll relax.

A new Cornell study published in Eating Behaviors, found that when 6-10 year old children ate foods they had to bite with their front teeth— such as drumsticks, whole apples, or corn on the cob— they were rowdier than when these foods had been cut. “They were twice as likely to disobey adults and twice as aggressive toward other kids,” said Brian Wansink, Professor and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

During a 4-H summer camp, 12 elementary children were observed for this 2-day study. On the first day, half of the children were seated at one picnic table and were given chicken on the bone that had to be bitten into with their front teeth; the other half were seated at a nearby picnic table and given chicken cut into bite sized pieces. On the second day, the conditions were reversed. Each day, two camp counselors instructed the children to stay inside a circle with a 9-foot radius. Both meal sessions were videotaped and evaluated by trained coders who indicated how aggressive or compliant the children were, and if they exhibited any atypical behaviors, such as jumping and standing on the picnic tables.

Results from both the counselors and coders observations indicated that when children were served chicken on the bone, they acted twice as aggressively, and were twice as likely to disobey adults, than when they were served bite sized pieces of chicken. Furthermore, the children who were served chicken on the bone left the circle without permission more frequently and were more likely to jump and stand on the picnic tables.

Along with Wansink, the research was conducted with Guido Camps now at Wageningen University and Research Center; Francesca Zampollo now at Auckland University of Technology; and Mitsuru Shimizu, now at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

In conclusion, the researchers note that when children need to bite into food with their front teeth, they are more likely to get rowdy! The bottom line for parents is this “If you want a nice quiet, relaxing meal with your kids, cut up their food,” according to Wansink. He had different bottom line advice for school lunchroom staff, “If drumsticks, apples or corn on the cob are on the menu, duck!”

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Posted in Nutrition: Portion Sizes, Pediatric Health | Leave a comment

Lower birth weight, less breastfeeding linked to adult inflammation and disease

EVANSTON, Ill. — Individuals born at lower birth weights as well as those breastfed less than three months or not at all are more likely as young adults to have higher levels of chronic inflammation that contributes to cardiovascular disease, according to a new Northwestern University study.

Based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Northwestern researchers evaluated how levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key biomarker of inflammation, linked back to birth weight and breastfeeding duration for nearly 7,000 24- to 32-year-olds.

The research not only showed both lower birth weights and shorter duration of breastfeeding predicted higher CRP levels in young adults, and thus higher disease risk. The research also found dramatic racial, ethnic and education disparities. More educated mothers were more likely to breastfeed and to give birth to larger babies, as were whites and Hispanics.

The data points to the importance of promoting better birth outcomes and increased duration of breastfeeding to affect public health among adults. Such awareness could make a difference in eroding the intractable social disparities in adult health outcomes associated with inflammation, according to the study.

“The findings about breastfeeding and birth weight are particularly illuminating,” said Thomas McDade, professor of anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and faculty fellow, Institute for Policy Research, at Northwestern and lead author of the study.

“The rates for many adult diseases completely mirror rates of low birth weight and low breastfeeding uptake and duration,” he said.

McDade also is the director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research and of Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health, which is part of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research.

Breastfeeding is known to provide nutritional and immunological support to infants following delivery and affects immune development and metabolic processes related to obesity — two potential avenues of influence on adult CRP production.

“This research helps us understand and appreciate the importance of breast feeding, especially for low-weight infants,” said Alan Guttmacher, M.D., director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “The results suggest that breast feeding may reduce a major risk factor for heart disease, well into adulthood.”

An innovation of the study is the use of sibling comparison models, which control for many of the factors that may bias previous estimates of the impact of birth weight and breastfeeding on adult health outcomes. In these models, sibling differences in birth weight and sibling differences in breastfeeding duration are used to predict differences in adult CRP across siblings.

Each pound of additional birth weight predicted a CRP concentration that was 5 percent lower. Three to 12 months of breastfeeding predicted CRP levels that were 20 to 30 percent lower compared with individuals who were not breastfed.

In fact, breastfeeding had the same or greater effect as drug therapies that reduce CRP in young adults, as measured in previous clinical studies.

“The research makes a strong case about the need to invest in interventions early in life to reverse the relatively intractable social disparities we see in adult health in the United States,” McDade said.

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The study, “Long-term effects of birth weight and breastfeeding duration on inflammation in early adulthood,” will be published online April 23 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

In addition to McDade, co-authors include Molly W. Metzger, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis; Laura Chyu, Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health, Institute for Policy Research; Greg J. Duncan, School of Education, University of California, Irvine; Craig Garfield, Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health, Institute for Policy Research and Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University; and Emma K. Adam, Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health, Institute for Policy Research and Program on Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University.

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New spitefulness scale developed

PULLMAN, Wash.—Some of the world’s nastiest behavior grows out of spite, the dark art of hurting an opponent even when it comes at a price to yourself.

Divorcing couples often go out of their way to hurt each other and even their kids, skirting the more peaceful path to moving on.

Tax evaders can grow so vengeful over a penalty that they’ll double down on their cheating.

Terrorists can be so keen to hurt their enemies, they commit suicide in the process.

Spitefulness can even elevate a small slight, like lurking in wait for a parking space, into a vengeance worthy transgression.

“There are those tiny, little instances of spite that probably happen on a day-to-day basis,” said David Marcus, a Washington State University professor of psychology. “There were actually some researchers who did some parking lot research a while back and found people take longer leaving a space when they see someone waiting for the spot.”

Test measures spitefulness

In spite of spite’s large and small impacts, and the obvious power it can hold on the human psyche, it has been “virtually ignored” by social, personality and clinical psychologists, Marcus said in a recent paper, “The Psychology of Spite and the Measurement of Spitefulness,” in the journal Psychological Assessment. Along with graduate student Alyssa Norris and colleagues at Oakland University and the University of British Columbia, he has attempted to remedy that oversight by measuring spitefulness with a test similar to those used for other personality traits.

In general, spite differs from aggression, which can be exercised at little risk to an aggressor. Spite carries a cost, as if one were calculating that a loss is worthwhile if it takes a toll on one’s opponent as well.

Behavioral economists have explored this with ultimatum games in which one player gets to divide a set amount of money in whatever way he or she wishes and if the other recipient rejects the offer, no one gets anything. A purely self-interested recipient will take even the small sum. Money is money, no matter the amount. But some players will turn it down out of spite.

Aligns with other negative traits

To develop a “spitefulness scale,” Marcus and his colleagues surveyed more than 1,200 people at two universities and through an online system that drew older participants. Their spitefulness was graded on how much they agreed with 17 scenarios, like, “If my neighbor complained that I was playing my music too loud, then I might turn up the music even louder just to irritate him or her, even if it meant I could get fined,” and, “I would rather no one get extra credit in a class if it meant that others would receive more credit than me.”

Participants were also surveyed with a variety of other personality tests measuring traits like aggression, psychopathy, narcissism, self-consciousness, self-esteem and Machiavellianism, the willingness to be manipulative and deceitful.

As with other personality traits, said Marcus, spitefulness occurred to varying degrees among the survey participants. And to a certain extent, he said, it lined up pretty consistently with other personality traits one might think would be prone to spitefulness.

It was greatest among people high in psychopathy, who are particularly callous, unsympathetic and unemotional.

“Some people call it ‘meanness,’” Marcus said.

Rounding out the “dark triad” of negative personality traits, spitefulness was also greater in people who scored high in narcissism and Machiavellianism.

Future focus: Relational behavior

People with higher levels of guilt, which is a concern for other people and a fear of violating social norms, scored lower on spitefulness, while shame, which is more a sense of inadequacy and failing, scored higher.

Men tended to be more spiteful, possibly because they also tend to score higher on the dark triad traits, said Marcus. But he also wonders if he and his colleagues used more “male spiteful” scenarios than the types of relationship-focused situations that women might be more prone to focus on.

“One item that we may want to look at in the future,” said Marcus, “is something like, ‘After a bad breakup, do you then go out and sleep with the person’s friend even though you’re not attracted to that person.’ That would be classic relational spiteful behavior.”

Kids, elders less spiteful

There were a few bright spots.

In an extensive search of the scholarly literature, Marcus saw research that found children will pick up on an injustice that often prompts spite, but won’t necessarily react spitefully.

Like adults, they will reject unfair offers in ultimatum games, “but they’ll also reject unfair offers that are in their favor,” he said. “It’s like at a very early age, for the kids it’s all about the fairness. So if they divide up candy and they get more candy than the kids they’re playing against, they’re like, ‘Nope, neither of us is going to get anything.’”

In his own research, Marcus found older people were less spiteful than younger people.

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Posted in Divorce, Human Behavior: Negativity, Spitefulness | Leave a comment