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on the mind

5/16/14 5:30pm

Study Shows That Some Brains Are More Wired Towards Sex

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According to a new study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, some people's brains are actually more sensitive to sexual cues than others, leading them to desire more sex.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles had students view 225 images of pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant things. The pleasant category included pictures of people kissing as well as explicit sex, and researchers measured the students' brain reactions with an EEG brain scan. The researchers also took note of how many sexual partners the students had over the past year.

The results showed that students with more sexual partners had stronger brain reactions to all intimacy-related images regardless of how explicit or non-explicit they were. Also, the gender of the students didn't change how their brains reacted to the intimate imagery, meaning that men and women are equally sensitive to sexual stimuli.

But does this research mean that the students found to be especially motivated by sexual imagery are hard-wired to be sex addicts? “People may be more sensitive to sexual cues and engage in behaviors that aren’t helpful for them, but this study suggests you don’t need to use the label of addiction to describe that,” said researcher Nicole Prause, explaining that these people aren't chasing a "high," but are simply more biologically sensitive.

“Being aware that if you are going out, and there is the possibility of having a new partner, and thinking about ways to not get too excited may sound silly, but managing that rather than ignoring it may help with better ways to control risky sexual behavior,” Prause said.

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By Bryan Le

drugs and iran

5/16/14 3:30pm

Women Drug Addicts on the Rise in Iran

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According to statistics from the United Nations, Iran has the highest percentage of addicts in the world, with anywhere between three and four million adults in a nation of approximately 80 million addicted to heroin or crystal meth.

At least 700,000 of these individuals are women, who make up 10 percent of Iran’s addicts, a number that has doubled over the last two years alone. The country has sought to address the problem through anti-drug public awareness campaigns, and more than 600 private and government-run rehabilitation centers, the majority of which cater to male clients. Women addicts in Iran face much greater opposition to their problems from the culture itself, thanks in part to societal stigmas associated with female substance abuse.

Until recently, government officials largely believed that women with addiction issues simply did not exist, until the rising numbers forced them to recant their position. However, they have instead sought to blame the epidemic of women addicts on western attempts to disrupt the Islamic lifestyle.

Adding to this atmosphere of disinformation was a lack of support from the families, friends, and employers of women addicts. Those that did summon the strength to admit their problem and seek treatment found it near-impossible to find a facility that would provide treatment; in the past, rehab counselors were forced to set up tents outside of the capital city of Tehran and spread the news about their operations through word of mouth.

Though a 12-step program akin to Narcotics Anonymous has proven helpful in breaking the physical and spiritual maladies of addiction, women participants face an even greater uphill battle once they exit treatment. They must return to a society that treats them with disdain and a living situation that, in many occasions, forces them to exist in the same homes or neighborhoods where they scored drugs due to marriage or familial relationships.

Addicts and treatment workers alike hope that any progress, no matter how small, will prove beneficial to recovery. As a treatment center director noted, “There is starting to be some recognition that addiction is a disease, not a crime,” she said. “But changing minds takes time.”

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By Paul Gaita

on second thought

5/16/14 1:00pm

Red Wine and Dark Chocolate Won’t Extend Your Life, Study Says

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Not so fast. Shutterstock

Bad news for the gourmand. A new study shows that resveratrol, the compound found in red wine, dark chocolate, and grapes, is not the disease-fighting, life-saving magic bullet that has been hailed by various alternative health organizations and pharmaceutical companies over the years.

Research conducted by medical professionals and educators in America and Europe and published in JAMA Internal Medicine appears to put the “French paradox” – which attributes the low incidence of coronary heart disease in France to regular consumption of resveratrol in red wine – into question by noting that the compound’s presence in Western diets did not have significant impact on health or mortality risk.

The study was conducted on 783 test subjects, all from the Chianti region of Italy and at least 65 years old, who provided a urine sample and dietary surveys over a period of 11 years. At the conclusion of the study, researchers discovered that there were no differences in rates of death, heart disease, or cancer between individuals who showed a high level of resveratrol in their systems and those who showed little or none.

Resveratrol has blossomed into a $30 million industry, thanks in part to research that has suggested the compound offers a wealth of health benefits, including the reversal of issues related to aging. But what the millions of Americans who consume the compound in pill, liquid, and skin cream form – not to mention copious amounts of red wine – may not know is that these positive attributes have been culled from clinical trials conducted solely on animals.

Previous studies appear to support the JAMA study’s findings by stating that there is no evidence to support resveratrol’s beneficial qualities in humans. Does this mean that wine and chocolate lovers should stop consuming their favorites? On the contrary: some research has indicated that chocolate, wine, and berries do appear to have some anti-inflammatory qualities.

But as Dr. Richard D. Samba of Johns Hopkins, who led the study, was quick to note, those elements are most likely due to other polyphones in those items. “These are complex foods, and all we really know from our study is that the benefits are probably not due to resveratrol,” he said.

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By Paul Gaita

smacked down again

5/16/14 10:30am

Key West's Mandatory Employment Drug Testing Ruled Unconstitutional

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Despite Florida’s best efforts to require mandatory drug testing in various capacities, federal judges continue to strike this down as unconstitutional.

The city of Key West has now been barred from requiring drug testing from all employment applicants. The issue came up when Karen Cabanas Voss was removed from consideration for a Solid Waste Coordinator position because she refused to take a drug test. U.S District Court Judge James Lawrence King ruled that the policy was a violation of the Fourth Amendment because drug testing is considered a “search” and requires reasonable suspicion that an individual is guilty of a crime.

“[T]here is no evidence in the record showing a serious problem of drug abuse amongst applicants for employment with the City, or even amongst City employees generally, which might serve to confirm the City’s assertion of a special need for a suspicion-less drug testing regime and justify a departure from the Fourth Amendment’s usual requirement of individualized suspicion,” wrote King. Last May, a federal appeals court removed a state-wide requirement that Florida employees be required to undergo drug testing.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has also continued to fight for welfare drug testing to be reinstated after a federal judge deemed it unconstitutional last December. Statistics from April 2012 showed that only 2.6 percent of the 4,086 applicants who were tested in Florida in the previous 12 months received a positive result. And rather than saving money by removing addicted workers, it actually ended up costing the state $45,780 from reimbursing the cost of the test to applicants who tested negative.

Despite this, he said in a statement last January that “we should have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use in families – especially those families who struggle to make ends meet and need welfare assistance to provide for their children.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

drugs & hip hop

5/16/14 8:30am

Eminem, Lil B Mention Drugs More Than Anyone In Hip-Hop

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Despite openly being in recovery, Eminem fuses more drug references into his songs than anyone else in hip-hop.

He joined rappers Lil B and Three 6 Mafia as being among the performers with the most gratuitous mentions of drugs. The survey was conducted by Project Know and used online database Rap Genius to filter out lyrics for drug references. Lil B made the most references to cocaine and MDMA, Eminem topped the list for mentions of prescription drugs, and Three 6 Mafia took front billing when it came to marijuana references. Lil Wayne, Lupe Fiasco, and The Roots also received honorable mentions.

Project Know explained in a statement that “prevalence in this context is the total number of rap songs containing a given phrase in a year divided by the total number of rap songs in that year.” The survey also did not include “slang phrases that are often used in other contexts,” such as “boy” being used as a reference to heroin.

Eminem’s frequent mentioning of painkillers is particularly fitting because it was an addiction to prescription medication that nearly killed him. He took dozens of pills every day at one stage, until a nearly fatal overdose put him in the hospital in 2007. He’s now been sober for several years and frequently sports 12-step medallions on stage, even titling his 2010 album Recovery.

"I had to regain motor skills, I had to regain talking skills. It's been a learning process, I'm growing,” he said in the 2013 film How to Make Money Selling Drugs. "I couldn't believe that anybody could be naturally happy without being on something. So I would say to anybody ‘It does get better.’”

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

5/16/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: May 16, 2014

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Back with less addiction. Photo via

By Shawn Dwyer

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