Leaks from the lab

Drug helps users kick the habit

A new study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine has found that heavy-drinking smokers were much less likely to drink after taking the drug varenicline — sold to them as a tool to quit smoking — than those who took a placebo. Members of the former group reported experiencing fewer cravings for alcohol and feeling less intoxicated when they did drink. The study found no adverse effects associated with combining varenicline with alcohol.

Anger predicts sudden cardiac arrests

A study led by Rachel Lampert, associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, has lined electrical changes induced by anger to a greater susceptibility for future arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrests. The team studied 62 patients who were administered a mental-stress test in which they were asked to recall a situation in which they experienced anger. Those in the group that experienced more electrical instability in the heard — induced by anger — were more likely to experience arrhythmias a year after the study than those in the control group.

Dieticians may exhibit a weight bias

Yale researchers have found that even those studying to be dieticians hold discriminatory attitudes toward the obese. The research, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found nearly half of such students reported that they believe obese individuals are lazy, lacking in willpower and self-indulgent, while the majority agreed that obese individuals have poor self-control, overeat, are insecure and have low self-esteem — despite the fact that the obese patients were described as healthy adults. A study by the same researchers published in January 2009 had found a similar weight bias to exist among a wide variety of public and private figures, including employers, educators, health-care providers, family members and romantic partners.

Shedding new light on Ice Age

Yale geologists have published data supporting new theory to explain the massive ice growth that occurred in Antarctica about 34 million years ago that may shed new light on future climate change. The research counters the prevailing hypothesis that the ice growth spurred little to no global temperature changes — showing that there was in fact a drop of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius in the surface-water temperature during the climate transition. The study also disproves the long-standing theory that the Northern Hemisphere also experienced an ice growth, using evidence from glacier formation patterns in that region.

Youth with negative stereotypes of the elderly more prone to heart problems

Young people who hold strong negative stereotypes about the elderly are more likely to experience strokes, heart attacks and other heart problems in their old age, according to a study published at the Yale School of Public Health. The effects of negative age stereotyping were found to exist even controlling for a number of other factors, including blood pressure, family health history, depression and education.

Stress causes synaptic changes

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have found that the changes in the brain’s structure — specifically, the loss of synaptic connections between brain cells in the hippocampus — precede the helpless behavior characteristic of psychological disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. To document this, the team, led by associate research scientist Tibor Hajszan, studied helpless behavior in rats, using electron microscopy to analyze accompanying changes in the synapses of the hippocampus.

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