Daily News

Pets are more than just mood boosters

Pet owners have long known or rather, have felt that spending time with their beloved animal companion lowers stress and improves mood. In fact, a review concluded that pets should be part of patient care plans because of their valuable contribution to people's mental health and well-being. Now, new research adds more scientific credibility to these claims examining how interacting with pets affects cortisol levels among college students. "Students in the study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone. What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress in a less subjective way. And it did, which is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health." Says, Patricia Pendry. Overall, the analysis revealed that the students who interacted with the animals had significantly lower cortisol levels after the intervention. These effects occurred regardless of whether the participants' initial cortisol levels were very high or very low at the start of the study. (Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)

Role of metabolic factors in Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is a complex and serious illness, affecting 0.9–4.0% of women and 0.3% of men. A Nature Genetics paper describes how they identified eight genes with a strong link to anorexia nervosa. Some of the genes have significant links with other psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As a cause of death, suicide is more common in women with anorexia than in women with other types of psychiatric illness. Many people with anorexia die of metabolic collapse and starvation, while others die by suicide. For the recent study, Prof. Bulik and colleagues brought together data from several sources. The total dataset came from 16,992 people with anorexia nervosa and 55,525 people of European ancestry who did not have the condition. "Metabolic abnormalities seen in patients with anorexia nervosa are most often attributed to starvation, but this study shows they may also contribute to the development of the disorder," says co-senior author Gerome Breen, Ph.D. “A failure to consider the role of metabolism may have contributed to the poor track record among health professionals in treating this illness." Says Prof. Cynthia M. Bulik.

(Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com)