research

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The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014

Published July 1, 2014 by Tony

– Highly Cited Researchers –

 

Through “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014, the Thomson Reuters IP & Science, in collaboration with Shanghai J. Tong university and Academic Ranking of World Universities,  shows those who are the best and brightest scientific minds of our time.
It’s an analysis report of the top researches around the globe who earned their distinction by publishing the highest number of articles that rank among those most frequently cited by fellow researches.
The 2014 list of the hottest researches was identified by tabulating citations that were recorded during the calendar year 2013 for papers published between 2011 and 2013.
These scientists will receive a recognition, a kind of brand and a logo that they can put on their websites.
Among the 3200 most cited researchers in the world, coming from 21 different fields of research, 55 are Italian.  Among the most influential scientists, Italians amounted to 2%, and in some field are really leader. In particular – as usual – they are so for what concerns the medical sciences, an area in which we record as many as 15 appearances. This is followed by other fields of research in which notoriously Italy stands out, such as technological research, astrophysics, pharmacology, agricultural science. 5 out of 55 are women.
A slight disappointment, however, comes from particle physics, a field of research in which Italians have a high school degree and an established tradition – just think of the constant presence of Italian researchers at CERN in Geneva. This is because from the rankings have been expunged those publications produced by many hands, which include some of the most important studies of which are parts of Italian researchers.

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PESSIMISM

Published January 6, 2014 by Tony

– A new search about –

 And I myself who believed to have a short life because anxious and tending to be a pessimist!
Pessimistic and anxious rejoice now!
A group of German researchers saw that pessimism may lead to longer and healthier life!
Older people who have low expectations for a satisfying future may be more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who see brighter days ahead, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
Our findings revealed that being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade,” said lead author Frieder R. Lang, PhD, of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.
Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.”
The study was published online in the journal Psychology and Aging.

To stay on topic, a search of the North Dakota State University has determined that “rethink the good old past days can help to overcome loneliness and anxiety.” It is a kind of “psychological comfort” which is a way to manage and control stressful situations.

SEX BENEFITS

Published December 15, 2013 by Tony

20 REASONS TO HAVE SEX

After reading this article you’ll realize that sexual activity is comparable to a sport, better than a drug, but more fulfilling and without side effects. One of the latest scientific studies on sex, led by Barry Komisaruk (University of New Jersey), who for ten years has been studying how neurons affect pleasure, says that an orgasm works better than a sudoku or other mental exercises, avoiding their degradation.
In the light of the findings conducted to date, it seems that sex is the panacea for many ailments, especially those due to aging, from the immune system to the heart, from the skin to the bone, and… up your mood!
And, in light of all these researches, old and new, in the points listed below you find 20 good reasons not to give up sex, and indeed to have it more frequently.

1 . ENHANCES FERTILITY
One more intense sexual activity improves the quality of male sperm. Similarly, sex also regulates female hormones, increasing the chance of conceiving.

2 . FIGHTING THE COLD
Having sex a couple of times a week increases 30% the levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that protects against infections.

3 . KEEPING YOUNG
According to a study by David Weeks of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, men and women, with an active sex life, look from 5 to 7 years younger than their biological age.

4 . A NATURAL LIFTING
Sex increases the production of estrogen, a hormone that helps to keep the skin young. Hormone that unfortunately decreases after menopause.

5 . IMPROVE FITNESS
Sexual activity increases 5 times the levels of the natural hormone DHEA, which is considered the hormone of youth.

6 . LIFE EXPECTANCY
An Australian research suggests that three orgasms a week reduces mortality more than in people having one orgasm a week.

7 . MITIGATE THE PAIN
In many women, sexual activity reduces muscle tension of the uterus, relieving pain due to the menstrual cycle.

8 . LOWER THE PRESSURE
As in any sport or physical activity, even sex fights hypertension in both sexes.

9 . PREVENTS HEART ATTACK
A regular sexual activity (three times a week according to the Queen’s University of Belfast), remove cardiovascular problems and prevents stroke. Another Israeli study indicates that in women more sexually active the risks of myocardial decrease by 30%.

10. INCREASES THE SEDUCTION
The frequent sexual activity promotes the production of pheromones, chemicals that, like in animals, help to attract a partner.

11. CONTRASTING TO DEPRESSION
Similarly to the sport, sexual activity causes the release of endorphins and serotonin, neurotransmitter and hormone that have to do with pleasure and satisfaction.

12. BOOSTS THE SELF-ESTEEM
One University of Texas study shows that one of the psychological benefits of sex is to increase people self-confidence.

13. REDUCES THE INCONTINENCE
Sexual activity strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor (urinary-genital area). Typically, these muscles relax with age and after menopause.

14. PREVENTS HEADCAHE
Sex also has an analgesic effect due to increased levels of oxytocin. The same hormone that helps to decrease the pain of childbirth.

15. FIGHTS INSOMNIA
Oxytocin, released during and after sex, gives a relaxing effect helping to sleep.

16. STRENGTHEN BONES
The increase of estrogen, resulting from a regular sexual activity, helps to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

17. PREVENT PROSTATE CANCER
A constant sexual activity after age 50, it decreases the risk of prostate cancer.

18. IMPROVES MOOD
According to dr. Debby Herbenick, sex in the morning does improve mood during the whole day.

19. ANTI-STRESS
A study of “Psychological Journal” states that sexual activity causes the decrease of cortisol, the stress hormone.

20. Finally, if all this is not enough for you, please know that 30 minutes of sex burns about 100 grams of calories, and most importantly, if you are imaginative and change positions in bed, it is as if you are doing physical activity, toning your body’s muscles.

CIRCUMCISION

Published June 30, 2013 by Tony

CUT or UNCUT?

In Africa, where HIV cases are very numerous and for years the contagion takes its toll without stopping, years ago a study among subjects circumcised and uncircumcised pointed out that circumcision led to a lower risk of infection.
The news went around the world and since then many doctors of any nationality, without posing the question, sided in favor of circumcision recommending it to all, as a method of HIV prevention and other urinary infections. Among them, the American Academy of pediatric that from long recommends all families the circumcision for all males newborn.
Fortunately, a lot of pediatricians and urologists, as Italians, have a different view and practice circumcision for therapeutic purposes only and exclusively for the correction of Phimosis, a common children pathology characterized by an abnormal narrowing of the foreskin, and only as a last-resort when the conventional medical therapies are not successful.
I say “fortunately” and there’ll explain why.
Apart from the fact that not all of us live in Africa or in countries where HIV is so widespread, to defend themselves effectively by this disease, there are also other better methods. Most HIV infections in Africa are transmitted by contaminated injections and surgical procedures. In  the studies, the effects of other variables that would influence HIV infection were not considered, and critical data were omitted. For example, the HIV status of the female partners of the men was not determined. It was not known which infections were heterosexually transmitted, the effect of circumcision on the rate of heterosexually transmitted HIV could not actually be determined. There are at least 17 observational studies that have not found any benefit from male circumcision in reducing HIV transmission. Among developed countries, the United States has the highest circumcision rate and the highest rate of heterosexually transmitted HIV. Other countries have lower rates of HIV infection than the United States and do not practice circumcision.
In addition, we must consider that the Postectomia surgery is not without risks, and although the incidence is low (0.1 to 35%) there may be complications such as pain, difficulty urinating, local edema, bleeding, flaws, fistula and complications to the penis.

Beyond HIV, circumcision was already widespread in some countries for religious reasons, but this is another story also questionable.
Our Lord has created us as we are and there was no reason to include some organ that was a simple plus. From an evolutionary and physician perspective, every organ in the human body has its specific task and nothing is to be considered as superfluous, beyond what the different cultures and religions suggest or require.
Therefore, the foreskin of the penis was not put there by accident and has its own importance.
One of the major side effects that many
circumcised people complain, it is the reduction of overall sensitivity, due to the loss of erogenous tissue. There is a less manageability of the penis, masturbation difficulties, numbness of the glans (which remaining exposed, it is no longer protected from rubbing on clothing), and of the frenulum (for many the most important for the purposes of pleasure), resulting in difficulty orgasmic. Refractory periods (recovery time) become longer and it’s necessary a stronger stimulation of the tissues, which “stressed” can make painful and frustrating the sexual intercourse and masturbation.

In all countries where circumcision is uncommon (like Europe, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela), there was not an increase of HIV cases that can be attributed to lack of circumcision. American researchers tend to avoid studying or acknowledging the sexual and psychological harm associated with circumcision. This pro-circumcision bias in American medicine reflects the pro-circumcision bias in American culture. The United States is the only country in the world that in most cases circumcises some of its male infants for non-religious reasons.

circumcision

Here are ten compelling arguments against circumcision:

Argument #1
The foreskin is natural, necessary and important.
Far from an unnecessary extra flap of skin, the foreskin is actually a highly sensitive and functional organ that serves several important purposes. First, the glans or head of the penis is meant to be an internal organ and the foreskin covers and protects it from harm in much the same way as the eyelid protects the eye. In circumcised males, the glans becomes hardened or keratinized by constant exposure and irritation, which reduces sensitivity. The foreskin itself is a highly sensitive erogenous zone and has more nerve receptors and a greater variety of nerve receptors than any other part of the penis.

Argument #2
Most medical experts do not recommend neonatal circumcision.
There is no medical justification for routine infant circumcision. The purported correlations between an intact foreskin and various diseases and problems that circumcisers have used for years to convince parents to let them cut their newborns have been gradually disproved or shown to be insignificant.
A detailed breakdown of the connections— or lack thereof—between circumcision and conditions such as penile and prostate cancer, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, phimosis, balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO) and even cervical cancer in female partners, is beyond the scope of this article, but parents should be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that, “The existing scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision,” and the Canadian Paediatric Society confirmed their stance in 1996 that, “Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.”

Argument #3
The penis is naturally self-cleaning and proper hygiene is easy to teach and perform.
The foreskin protects the glans from contaminants and debris. An intact foreskin can also produce a natural moisturizing substance with antibacterial and antiviral properties called smegma, which helps keep the glans soft and the penis clean and healthy.
When a baby boy is born, the foreskin is actually attached to the glans to shelter the developing glans from harm. Some doctors still suggest that parents should forcibly retract a baby’s foreskin in order to clean it, but there is no need to do so. The foreskin will naturally detach from the glans as the boy ages and eventually he’ll be able to retract it. Pulling back the foreskin in the shower or bath and rinsing it with warm water is all the cleaning an adult requires in this area. Surgical alteration is hardly necessary to keep the penis clean when warm water and soap are readily available.

Argument #4
Circumcision affects sexual function and desensitizes the penis.
Removing a highly sensitive organ like the foreskin will logically reduce sensation in the genital area. In fact, this point was touted in Victorian times as a benefit of the operation. Masturbation was then thought of as a grave sin and a serious health risk, to blame for nearly all diseases. Since circumcised boys would receive less pleasure from sexual stimulation, they would be less likely to engage in the evil of masturbation.
The foreskin facilitates sexual intercourse by allowing the penis to move in and out of the vagina in its own double-layered sheath of movable skin. Circumcised males lack the self- lubricating properties of the foreskin, which creates friction during intercourse that can result in small tears and bleeding in both the man and woman. Artificial lubricants have been developed largely to make up for the function of the foreskin in circumcised men. The long-term effects of these chemical lubricants are not known.

Argument #5
He doesn’t need to be cut to fit in.
Much has been made of the idea that an uncircumcised boy in our modern society could find himself ridiculed by other circumcised boys in locker rooms, causing serious psychological damage. Boys will find any excuse to make fun of each other and if it’s not the appearance of his penis, it will be something else. Providing a child with a combination of education, honesty and confidence is the best defense against this sort of teasing.
The rate of infant circumcision has been falling steadily since the 1980s, so an uncircumcised boy today may actually find himself in the majority. In 1996, the rate of circumcision in Canada was between three and six percent, falling from a high of 46 percent.
Another pro-cutting argument is the desire of the circumcised father to have his son look the same as him, but this is not so much for the benefit of the son as it is for the father. A boy will be capable of understanding the difference and the reason for it and may someday even thank his parents for giving him the choice his father never had.

Argument #6
Circumcision is painful and traumatic for babies.
Many circumcisers try to convince parents that babies are incapable of experiencing pain and even if they do feel it, they won’t remember it. In fact, scientific evidence proves that babies do feel pain and may feel it even more acutely than adults. Yet most circumcisions are performed without general anaesthesia, which is dangerous for children, and frequently without local anaesthesia in the form of shots or creams that cannot completely eliminate the pain anyway.
The pain of circumcision can have serious repercussions on the body of a newborn baby. Babies are known to scream hysterically, stop breathing, lose consciousness, vomit and defecate during the operation. The shock of the surgery can even cause ruptures of the heart, lungs and stomach.
The effects of this trauma can continue after the surgery is completed. Some babies experience severely disrupted sleep patterns, breastfeeding complications and interruptions of the infant- mother attachment process after circumcision.

Argument #7
There are serious potential complications to circumcision.
The rates of complications and accidents related to circumcision is nearly impossible to determine since hospitals are not required to report these incidents, but it is estimated to range from two to 10 percent, while at least one out of every 500 circumcisions results in a serious surgical accident.
The risks of circumcision include bleeding, infection, necrosis (the penis dies and falls off), gangrene, BXO, urinary tract infection, urinary retention, meatal ulceration or stenosis (the urinary opening is damaged, scarred or contracted), urethral fistula (an abnormal tube-like passage in the urethra), hypospadias or epispadias (when the urinary opening appears along the top or bottom of the penis rather than at the tip of the glans) and lymphedema (a swelling of the skin caused by a build-up of lymph fluid).
Botched circumcisions can result in buried penis (the penis retreats inside the body), adhesions, excessive skin loss, curvature of the penis, cysts, skin tags, pitting of the glans, scarring, impotence, amputation of the glans or the entire penis and even death.

Argument #8
We don’t mutilate the genitals of our baby girls.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced in many cultures around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as two million girls each year are subjected to some sort of genital cutting, which may include amputation of the clitoris, the hood of the clitoris and/or the labia, as well as stitching closed the vaginal opening afterward. Three quarters of these cases occur in the countries of Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.
This kind of genital surgery is seen in the West as barbaric, tribal and torturous. Since the 1990s when FGM was first revealed to the North American public at large, major efforts have gone into eradicating the practice around the world. Yet we still expose our boys to similarly painful, traumatic and unnecessary surgery in North America as a matter of course.

Argument #9
I do not believe that those who have sex (hetero-or homo-) with a stranger they feel protected just because are circumcised, and should always use a condom. A nonsense. Condoms are better than 99% effective and if circumcision results in lower condom use, the rate of HIV infections will increase.

Argument #10
Religious tradition is a poor excuse to subject your baby to circumcision. The history of circumcision is a long and complicated one. As a symbolic ritual it appeared independently in many different ancient cultures around the world. It has been imbued with a variety of meanings—identifying a priestly class, indicating privilege, initiating boys into manhood and representing a commitment to God.

To conclude, I think that as in all the important choices (sexuality, religion, lifestyle, study, work, career) parents ought not take these decisions on their own and make choices that might not be shared by their children when they become adults, especially for those that are irreversible, such as circumcision.

How important the dimensions are

Published April 19, 2013 by Tony

Penis size influence male attractiveness

No doubt that the research of the ideal partner is done on an aesthetic basis, at least at first glance, because subjectively characteristics affect more than others do.
For example, according to woman preferences, in a man the physical prowess strikes more, like the size of the shoulders and musculature in general, besides the beauty of the face.
But for our ancestors, the prehistoric men, were these same princes worth?
Starting from the fact that our ancestors did not use clothes, a team of Australian biologists wondered if at that time, the male genital organ easily visible, fell within the parameters of choice of a potential partner. It’s to say if penis size interacts with body shape and height to influence male attractiveness.
It’s obvious that going around naked, the sexual organ could be evaluated and taken into account, the same way as other physical characteristics of a male subject.
In particular, the team was asking what role the penis size may have had for women in their partner choice. Given that man is the only primate to have a sexual organs bigger than other, this can be taken into consideration as an element that has been subject of evolution, that is to say that the choices that women did in the past, may have influenced the evolution of the partner, so that those who had a bigger penis was favored to the others. To see whether this kind of evolutionary heritage was still active today, the team of researchers at the University of Ottawa, has analyzed the importance that the penis traits gets in determining the level of a man’s attractiveness.
Using different animated images in 3D, full-size, about male bodies of different height, body shape and size of the penis, coming from a study of Italian men, the researchers recorded the preferences of 105 women chosen for the test.
It came out that in addition to prefer broad shoulders and narrow hips, also the size of the penis had been valued by women as a factor of attractiveness, and that in general the higher dimensions are considered more attractive, although up to certain values. Namely, the extreme dimensions (such as height or size of the penis) were no longer considered as attractive. Therefore, the size of the genital organs helps to determine the masculine appeal, and the study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). These results, furthermore, as authors say, lead to believe that in the past the women’s choices have driven the evolution to promote (genetically) bigger penis in humans, till to reach the existent average size.

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ADOLESCENTIAL LOVE AFFAIRS ARE RISKY

Published March 29, 2013 by Tony

MIDDLE SCHOOL DATERS & ACADEMIC PERFORMACE

Sometimes there are studies that seem to discover the hot water!
I read about a new research from the University of Georgia (UGA) concerning a survey on some students (from sixth grade to twelfth grade in six different school districts) to check the difference in academic performance between those who were already dating.
In summary, the results of the research reveal that students who date during this study period, have worse overall academic performance.
Wow! Amazing!
Weird, I was just convinced of the contrary!
In fact, it is well-known that wonks have always been the students who date earlier and more.

Sarcasm aside, I think no need to set up such researches to become aware that a student who begins flirting during adolescence, then will have another thing to think beyond the study.
Basically, an adolescent who begins to date and carry on an affair, only leads us to know that he/she is probably more “mature” than others. Where for “mature” I mean an adolescent who already feels a physical attraction (and not only) to the opposite sex.
Such maturity (including mental one) is the result of various influences, genetic, temperamental, social and environmental, while physical aspect and stage of sexual development also have their own considerable weight. On the other hand, all this is what, from time immemorial, differentiate unattractive/wimp/introvert teenagers from cool/lively/smart peers.
The research also highlights how emotional difficulties, bullying, depression, and anxiety are linked to higher rates of smoking, drinking, and drug use. Also, another recent University of Toronto study showed that children of divorced parents are 13 times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
It was to be expected! Or were you thinking differently?
As mentioned ahead, family and social environment affect a lot on children’s behavior. I do not believe we’ve to be psychologists to understand it.

All things hackneyed. Researches or studies that may be, they have their cost. So I say, why researchers do not engage in something more useful, like trying to find ways to decrease divorces, bullying, anxiety, and so on and so forth?!
But, it is evidently easier to conduct a research, like those, to have the confirmation of things we already knew.

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An Italian research on Cancer opens new perspectives

Published March 26, 2013 by Tony

Molecule miR-335: a valuable aid against tumor development

Continuing discoveries of 2010, Dr. Roberta Benetti with colleagues at the University of Udine, found that some molecules block the proliferation of the tumor. These cells only attack diseased cells and have therefore targeted as a possible cure. In addition, since these molecules are produced directly by the body, are completely natural and do not have side effects. This discovery could be a key in the treatment of cancer, becoming a viable alternative to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, that have many serious side effects.

The study was published in the renowned journal Cancer Research of the American Association for Cancer Research. A statement of the University of Udine says:
‘In particular, this research has for the first time demonstrated that one of microRNA molecules, precisely the miR-335, is directly responsible for the control, the generation and functions dell’onco-suppressor Rb, gene involved in the protection of the development of tumors. In addition, the study shows that the expression of miR-335 affects directly in balancing the delicate balance of protection against tumor development, because it also strikes on the tumor suppressor p53 through an indirect influence, the effects of two basic proteins known to be deregulated in tumorigenesis.”

The research was conducted with the support of the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC), and with the collaboration of Michael Scarola (PhD student), Stefan Schoeftner (an expert researcher Austrian) and Claudio Schneider, Professor of Biology at the University of Udine and director of the National Laboratory of the Interuniversity Consortium for Biotechnology (CIB).
In a message, Dr. Benetti states: “In terms of therapeutic applicability, the study on miR-335 is still far from clinical trials and none of us has ever dared to say that could replace chemotherapy. The steps to evaluate its effects are very long and we are now experimenting on mice. Of course, we followed up the discoveries of 2010, also deepening its role in stem cells and publishing a recent paper in which we find associated with this new miRNA a new pathway which seems especially active in tumors of germinal origin. We really hope to continue in the right direction but we absolutely are not to the point to be able to do promises.”

That said, we are glad that it’s an Italian research and hoped that these clinical trials really give the results that we are all waiting for years, against this disease to which we are powerless and that for centuries continues to claim millions of victims.

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