What Does Your Voice Say about You?

Everyone has at some point been charmed by the sound of a person’s voice: but can we believe our ears? What can a voice really reveal about our character? Now an international research team led by the University of Göttingen has shown that people seem to express at least some aspects of their personality with their voice. The researchers discovered that a lower pitched voice is associated with individuals who are more dominant, extrovert and higher in sociosexuality (more interested in casual sex). The findings were true for women as well as for men. The results were published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

The researchers analysed data from over 2,000 participants and included information from four different countries. Participants filled in questionnaires about themselves to measure personality and provided recordings of their voice so that the pitch could be measured using a computer programme. This is the first time that an objective digital measure of voice pitch has been used in a study of this kind, rather than subjective ratings of how “high” or “deep” a voice might sound. The researchers measured “sociosexuality” by collecting responses about sexual behaviour, attitude and desire. They also collected data to provide ratings of dominance and other character traits such as neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. The number of participants helps to confirm the robustness of the findings: the study involves the largest number to date compared to similar research in this theme.

The researchers found that people with lower pitched voices were more dominant, extroverted and higher in sociosexuality (eg were more interested in sex outside a relationship). However, the relationship between voice pitch and other personality traits (such as agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness or openness) seems less clear. It is possible that these traits are not expressed in the pitch of voices. The researchers found no difference between men and women.

“People’s voices can make a huge and immediate impression on us,” explains Dr Julia Stern, at the University of Göttingen’s Biological Personality Psychology Group. “Even if we just hear someone’s voice without any visual clues – for instance on the phone – we know pretty soon whether we’re talking to a man, a woman, a child or an older person. We can pick up on whether the person sounds interested, friendly, sad, nervous, or whether they have an attractive voice. We also start to make assumptions about trust and dominance.” This led Stern to question whether these assumptions were justified. “The first step was to investigate whether voices are, indeed, related to people’s personality. And our results suggest that people do seem to express some aspects of their personality with their voice.”

Source: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Study: Lots of Sugary Drinks Doubles Younger Women’s Colon Cancer Risk

Denise Mann wrote . . . . . . . . .

Rates of colon cancer among young Americans are on the rise, and a new study suggests that drinking too many sugary beverages may be to blame — at least for women.

Women who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, fruity drinks or sports and energy drinks per day had double the risk of developing colon cancer before the age of 50, compared to women who consumed one or fewer sugary drinks per week.

“On top of the well-known adverse metabolic and health consequences of sugar-sweetened beverages, our findings have added another reason to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages,” said study author Yin Cao, an associate professor of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The study included more than 95,000 women from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study II. The nurses were aged 25 through 42 when the study began in 1989 and provided information on their diet every four years for nearly 25 years.

Of these, 41,272 reported on what, and how much, they drank in their teen years. During 24 years of follow-up, 109 women developed colon cancer before turning 50.

Having a higher intake of sugar-sweetened drinks in adulthood was associated with a higher risk of the disease, even after researchers controlled for other factors that may affect colon cancer risk such as a family history. This risk was even greater when women consumed sodas and other sugary drinks during their teen years.

Each daily serving in adulthood was associated with a 16% higher risk of colon cancer, but when women were aged 13 to 18, each drink was linked to a 32% increased risk of developing colon cancer before 50, the study found.

But substituting sugar-sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened beverages, coffee or milk was associated with a 17% to 36% lower risk of developing colon cancer before age of 50, the study found.

“Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage intake and/or replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with other healthier beverages would be a better and wiser choice for long-term health,” Cao said.

The new study was not designed to say how, or even if, drinking sugary beverages causes colon cancer risk to rise, but some theories exist. People who consume sugary beverages are more likely to be overweight or obese and have type 2 diabetes, all of which can up risk for early-onset colon cancer. The high-fructose corn syrup in these drinks may also promote the development of colon cancer in its own right, Cao said.

The research does have its share of limitations. Participants were predominantly white women, and as a result, the findings may not apply to men or women of other ethnicities.

The study was published online in the journal Gut.

Researchers not involved with the new study are quick to point out that only an association was seen, and that more data is needed to draw any definitive conclusions about the role that sugary drinks play in promoting early-onset colon cancer.

“Clearly more research is needed before we can give this a stamp of approval and say with confidence that this association is actually causation,” said Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based gastroenterologist. “No one thinks sugar-sweetened beverages are health-promoting [and] you should reduce your sugar-sweetened beverage intake as much as possible.”

Dr. Patricio Polanco, an assistant professor in the division of surgical oncology in the department of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, agreed.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages cause a bunch of other conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and now we have more data that they could be related to colon cancer, too,” Polanco said.

Exactly why colon cancer is on the rise in younger people is not fully understood. Lifestyle factors such as higher rates of obesity and possibly greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may play a role. “We still believe there may be some genetic contribution that has not yet been characterized,” he said.

The best way to protect yourself from colon cancer is to undergo regular screening, Polanco stressed.

Due to the rise in colon cancer in young people, the American Cancer Society now recommends regular screening at age 45 for people at average risk for the disease.

Source: HealthDay

Your Blood Type Might Raise Odds for Certain Health Conditions

Certain blood types may increase a person’s risk of different health problems, a new study suggests.

The research confirms some previous findings and reveals new links between blood types and diseases, according to the authors of the study published April 27 in the journal eLife.

“There is still very little information available about whether people with RhD-positive or RhD-negative blood groups may be at risk of certain diseases, or how many more diseases may be affected by blood type or group,” said first author Torsten Dahlén, a doctoral student at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

To help fill that gap, the researchers investigated the link between blood types, RhD status and more than 1,000 diseases. (A person who is RhD positive has a protein called the D antigen on their red blood cells; RhD negative means the protein is absent.)

The analysis of health data from more than 5 million people in Sweden identified 49 diseases linked to blood types, and one associated with the RhD group.

The findings showed that people with type A blood were more likely to have blood clots; those with type O blood were more likely to have a bleeding disorder; and women with type O blood were more likely to develop pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (“hypertension”).

The investigators also found a new link between type B blood and a lower risk of kidney stones, and noted that women who are RhD-positive are more likely to develop pregnancy-induced hypertension.

More research is needed to confirm these findings and to learn more about the links between blood type and disease risks, according to the study authors.

“Our findings highlight new and interesting relationships between conditions such as kidney stones and pregnancy-induced hypertension and blood type or group,” said senior author Gustaf Edgren, associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute.

“They lay the groundwork for future studies to identify the mechanisms behind disease development, or for investigating new ways to identify and treat individuals with certain conditions,” Edgren added in a journal news release.

Source: HealthDay

Study: Lower Rates of COVID in U.S. States That Mandated Masks

States that required people to mask up last year had lower rates of COVID-19 than those with no mask requirements, a new study finds.

Researchers examined data from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to assess mask policies, people’s self-reported use of masks in public, and COVID rates from May through October 2020.

They factored in a one-month delay between mask wearing and its subsequent potential effect on COVID infection rates.

“States with the lowest levels of mask adherence were most likely to have high COVID-19 rates in the subsequent month, independent of mask policy or demographic factors,” the Boston University team recently wrote on the preprint server medRxiv, before their findings had been peer-reviewed.

Charlie Fischer of Boston University’s School of Public Health led the study. The final reviewed findings were published April 14 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study classified COVID rates topping 200 cases per 100,000 residents as high — and the researchers reported that 14 of 15 states that didn’t require people to wear masks in public were in that category.

They found that none of the eight states with 75% or higher self-reported public mask use had a high COVID rate.

Those eight states had an average infection rate of 109.26 per 100,000 residents in the following month, compared with 249.99 per 100,000 in states with less than 75% public mask use.

“This protective effect of mask wearing was evident across four months of the pandemic, even after adjusting the associations for mask policy, distance policy and demographic factors,” Fischer and her colleagues said in a journal news release.

States have had differing policies on mask use, and the authors said understanding the link between mask use and COVID rates could help guide policies to reduce pandemic-related pressure on health care systems, economic instability and death.

They suggested that policies and public health efforts to reduce the spread of COVID should include a focus on increasing mask use nationwide.

Source: HealthDay

COVID Vaccines Might Not Protect Certain Cancer Patients

People with cancers of the blood, bone marrow or lymph nodes are at an increased risk of not making protective coronavirus antibodies after COVID-19 vaccination, a new study warns.

The risk is particularly high for those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The researchers urged these patients and those who interact with them to get vaccinated but to keep wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

“As we see more national guidance allowing for unmasked gatherings among vaccinated people, clinicians should counsel their immunocompromised patients about the possibility that COVID-19 vaccines may not fully protect them against SARS-CoV-2,” said senior author Dr. Ghady Haidar, a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) transplant infectious diseases physician.

“Our results show that the odds of the vaccine producing an antibody response in people with hematologic malignancies are the equivalent of a coin flip,” he said in a university news release.

Haidar added that a negative antibody test does not necessarily mean the patient isn’t protected from COVID-19.

Patients with blood cancers have more than a 30% risk of dying if they get COVID-19 and so they should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination, the researchers added.

These patients were excluded from COVID-19 vaccine trials, so there’s no data on the vaccines’ effectiveness in this vulnerable population.

For the study, 67 patients with hematologic malignancies who had been vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines had their blood tested three weeks after the second shot.

The researchers found that more than 46% of the patients had not made antibodies against the virus.

Moreover, only 3 of the 13 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia made measurable antibodies, even though 70% weren’t having any cancer therapy.

“This lack of response was strikingly low,” said researcher Dr. Mounzer Agha, a hematologist at UPMC’s Hillman Cancer Center. “We’re still working to determine why people with hematologic malignancies — particularly those with CLL — have a lower antibody response and if this low response also extends to patients with solid tumors.”

No link between cancer therapy and antibody levels was found that could affect antibody response to the vaccine. But it’s known that older patients are less likely to produce antibodies than younger patients, researchers said.

“It’s critically important for these patients to be aware of their continued risk and to seek prompt medical attention if they have COVID-19 symptoms, even after vaccination,” Agha added in the release. “They may benefit from outpatient treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, before the illness becomes severe.”

The findings, which haven’t yet been peer-reviewed, were published online on the preprint server medRxiv.

Source: HealthDay