Science and Medicine

Treatments for Gambling Addiction

The bullet passes through the brain at such high velocity that it sends a shock wave to the brain,” Alexander said

Pathological gambling addiction is surprisingly common in the US, afflicting as many as 3.4 percent of all adults. Like other addictions, it is highly disabling both to the individual and to society, often leading to suicide, job loss, and criminal behavior. It affects more men than women and can become worse over time.

Scientists have found that a wide range of drugs can be effective for treating this disorder in the short term, including Naltrexone, used to treat alcohol addiction. Now, psychiatrist Prof. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine is recommending an extended treatment regimen for optimal results.

For best success in kicking the gambling habit, Prof. Dannon says, drug therapy with Naltrexone should last for at least two years and be complemented with other treatments, including group therapy. Prof. Dannon presented preliminary results from his new clinical findings at the EPA 2011: 19th European Congress of Psychiatry this March.

Two years to stick

Earlier studies reported that after six months of treatment, a majority of the gamblers would not go back to gambling. Prof. Dannon believes that a longer course of treatment is more effective.

“The initial results were too optimistic,” Prof. Dannon said.

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Fossil Provides Hints to Earth’s First Flowers

Scientists from the United States and China have discovered the first intact fossil of a mature eudicot, a type of flowering plant whose membership includes buttercups, apple trees, maple trees, dandelions and proteas. (Credit: Zhiduan Chen)

A 125-million-year-old fossil of an intact eudicot, a flowering plant family that includes buttercups and dandelions, has researchers arguing for an earlier origin of the eudicots—and perhaps flowering plants in general.

“This fossil opens up a new way of thinking about the evolution of some of the first flowering plants,” says Indiana University biologist David Dilcher, a co-author of the paper in Nature. “We are also beginning to understand that the explosive radiation of all flowering plants about 111 million years ago has had a long history that began with the slower diversification of many families of eudicots over 10, perhaps 15 million years earlier.”

Dilcher and his Chinese colleagues Ge Sun and Hongshan Wang (Shenyang Normal University) and Zhiduan Chen (Chinese Academy of Sciences) named the fossilized plant Leefructus mirus in honor of Li Shiming, a non-scientist who donated the fossil to Ge Sun’s new museum of paleontology in Liaoning Province, China. Ge Sun was the project’s principal investigator.

The fossil shows the above-ground portion of a mature plant. A single stem leads to five leaves, and one leads to a fully developed flower. The entire fossil is about 16 cm (6.3 in) tall. Leaves are innervated by branching veins, and the small, cup-shaped flower has five petals.

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U.S. Obesity Epidemic Now Requiring Fatter Crash Test Dummies

Crash test dummies are having to be enlarged in response to the country's obesity epidemic.

The super-sizing of all forms of American transit continues apace: First ambulances, then buses, and now crash test dummies are having to be enlarged in response to the country’s obesity epidemic.

Current child safety seats for kids between one and four years old are tested up to a maximum of 40 pounds, while belt-positioned booster seats, which protect kids weighing more than 40 pounds, are only safe for taller children aged four and above. The problem is that overweight and obese toddlers are reaching 40 pounds by the age of two and a half, which means that they are too heavy for the forward-facing safety seats and too young and short for the shoulder-best booster seat.

This issue was supposed to be addressed as early as 2002, with “Anton’s Law.” Anton Skeen was a 50-pound four-year-old who died when his seat belt failed in a car crash in 1996. The Washington Post reports that, although Anton’s Law required a lifelike, heavier crash test dummy to be developed within two years, “the 78-pound dummy is still in development nearly a decade later.”

Read more: U.S. Obesity Epidemic Now Requiring Fatter Crash Test Dummies

   

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