brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(6):913

Sugar highs may actually be energy lows, according to the results of a study published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental. The night before the study, 10 healthy adults were restricted to five hours of sleep. An hour after eating a light lunch the next day, participants were given a low-caffeine, high-sugar energy drink or an identical-tasting placebo that contained neither caffeine nor sugar. Next, the researchers asked them to complete a 90-minute test that would assess their level of sleepiness and their ability to concentrate. The study participants who were given the energy drink had slower reaction times, and they had much more trouble concentrating during the test compared with the participants who had consumed the placebo. Furthermore, the researchers found that the energy drink did not make the participants less tired; rather, they concluded that the energy drink seemed to boost sleepiness. (Hum Psychopharmacol, July 2006)

Think twice before you bring home the bacon, suggests a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The authors reviewed 15 studies spanning 40 years that investigated the relationship between stomach cancer and the consumption of processed meat. They found that eating more processed meats, such as sausage, bacon, or smoked ham, increased a person’s risk of developing stomach cancer by 15 to 38 percent if consumption increased by 1 oz per day (one half of an average serving). However, the researchers stress that other possible factors may have contributed to the link between stomach cancer and processed meats and cannot be ruled out. (J Natl Cancer Inst, August 2, 2006)

A trip to the emergency department is never what a person should expect on his or her birthday—or is it? A study published in Neurology proposes that visits to the hospital because of a stroke are far more common on a patient’s birthday than on any other day, which includes other holidays or special events. Researchers analyzed data from 24,315 patients with acute stroke who were admitted from the hospital’s emergency department. The researchers found that the number of patients who had a stroke and were admitted to the hospital on their birthday was higher than the expected number of admitted patients on a typical day—87 patients versus 67 patients, respectively. Overall, strokes and heart attacks were 27 percent more likely to occur on a patient’s birthday. Researchers also suggest that a birthday may represent an acute psychosocial stressor for some people, possibly inducing emotional, physical, and mental changes. (Neurology, July 2006)

Order another sandwich, guys! A study published in the British Journal of Psychology suggests that men who are hungry tend to be more attracted to shapely women than are men who are full or who have overeaten. Sixty-one male college students were recruited by the researchers as they entered or exited a campus dining hall during dinner time. Researchers asked the men to rate how hungry they were and then showed them photographs of 50 women of various weights, all within a healthy range. The men were asked to rate the attractiveness of the women. The researchers found that the 30 men who were hungry when viewing the photos were more attracted to women with a higher body weight compared with the 31 sated participants. The authors conclude that when food is scarce, a woman with a higher body weight may be the ideal mate. (Br J Psychol, August 2006)

Cat owners, you may be more like your pet than you think! A study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences suggests that infection with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that is commonly found in cats, may alter a person’s ego, perception of material possessions, or work ethic. Although the parasite usually remains dormant in the human brain and other tissues, it also is associated with different, often opposite, behavioral changes in men and women, but both sexes exhibit neuroticism. The author found that Western nations with a high rate of T. gondii scored higher in “neurotic” cultural dimensions of “masculine” sex roles and uncertainty avoidance. As well as having cats as pets, the researchers note that serving undercooked meats and practicing poor hygiene also can increase exposure to infection. (Proc Biol Sci, [published online] August 1, 2006)

Continue Reading

More in AFP

Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See for copyright questions and/or permission requests.