Cancer center to study role of peer-to-peer services

Dr. David Sells, assistant professor of psychology and a member of the Yale Cancer Center, has received a grant to study the benefits of one-to-one peer-based services to patients newly diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Sells has researched the benefits of such services in psychiatry — where it encourages patients to eat better, exercise more regularly and spend more time with loved ones — and he believes that a similar model can be applied to cancer. The study will match 24 participants — 12 recently diagnosed with cancer, and the other 12 three months out of treatment for cancer — with past cancer survivors, who will provide physical and emotional support to aid their recovery.

Facial movements affect perceptions of sound

Yale researchers have found that the way in which facial muscles around an individual’s mouth are positioned and stretched contributes the way in which he or she perceives and hears sounds. The research team, led by Takayuki Ito, a senior scientist at Yale-affiliated Haskins Laboratory, used a device to stretch the skin around participants’ mouths in various ways and examined its relationship to the sounds participants heard. For instance, listeners were played a computer-generated continuum between “head” and “had.” The study found that, when their skin was stretched upward, they perceived the sound to be “head,” while, with a downward stretch, it sounded like “had.” The timing of stretching also had an effect on perception.

Aspirin protects against liver damage

Yale research suggests that aspirin may prevent the side-effects of common drugs, such as alcohol, that impact the liver. The study, published in the Jan. 26 edition of Journal of Clinical Investigation, shows that injecting aspirin into mice reduces the probability of mortality resulting from an overdose of Tylenol. The study also documented the similarities between aspirin and molecules called TLR antagonists, which blocks receptors that incite inflammation. Hence, the scientists postulate that aspirin can be used to treat liver damage in a similar way, by reducing inflammation.

Study will investigate impact of air pollution on newborns

The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies has been awarded a nearly $3 million grant to study the effects of air pollution on newborns. The five-year study will examine whether a woman’s exposure to air pollution during pregnancy affects the health of her unborn child, such its birth weight and the likelihood of its pre-term delivery. While women take many health precautions during pregnancy, they cannot usually control environmental factors like air pollution, Michelle Belle, associate professor of environmental health at the environment school and co-principal investigator of the study, said in a recent environment school press release.