Thursday, October 30, 2008

Raunchy red?

This would almost certainly apply to first impressions only

Forget that little black dress. Gentlemen really prefer a lady in red. As actress Kelly Brook knows only too well. Blushing in shades of crimson, scarlet or deep rose, a girl is regarded as prettier and more desirable, research shows. She is also more likely to be asked out on a date - and have more money lavished on her during the outing.

What is more, men seem completely oblivious to the effect that a glimpse of red can have on their emotions. The researchers said it appeared they were driven by primal instincts that associate the colour with sex. The study, carried out at the University of Rochester in the U.S., involved a series of experiments in which men were shown a photo of a 'moderately attractive' young woman. In some cases, the colour of the border framing the picture was changed, in other cases the colour of the woman's blouse varied. Red, blue, green, grey and white were tested. In all cases, red was judged the most attractive. The men were much more likely to ask out a woman wearing red. And they estimated they would spend almost twice as much on her as one in blue. Despite the clear effect, the men insisted colour played little role in their choices, suggesting they were oblivious to the power of red.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, claims to provide the first hard evidence of 'society's enduring love affair with red'. From the red body paints used in ancient fertility rituals, to the phrase 'red light district' and the red hearts of Valentine's Day, the colour has long been associated with romance. In the animal world, red often signals a female is at her most fertile, with female baboons and chimps blushing conspicuously at this time.

Men are not alone in being attracted to red. The research suggests a man in scarlet is just as irresistible to women.


Scientists discover how to switch obesity cells off

Hurray! Soon we will all be able to eat like hogs and still stay slim -- or have I got the wrong angle on this?

A WORLD-first breakthrough by Melbourne scientists could give them the ability to switch off fat, fuelling hopes of overcoming obesity and a host of weight-related diseases. In the past month tissue engineers at the Bernard O'Brien Institute of Microsurgery have discovered chemicals that act as the switch telling fat cells to grow and multiply. They have also found two drugs, which can switch off fat cells' growth, in the laboratory and will soon begin a long study testing them in rats to see if they could become an obesity treatment.

In other world-first discoveries over the past two years, Bernard O'Brien scientists have developed a technique to grow fat cells into breast and beating heart-muscle tissue. And they are now confident their latest discovery could help to reverse the process. The team is yet to publish its findings and can't release full details or the identity of the signalling enzymes and drugs. However, director of tissue engineering Prof Greg Dusting said the breakthrough could have a huge impact in the fight against obesity and weight-related disease. "We know what those molecular signals are and we have got some molecules that block them," he said. "We can modify these molecules and turn them on to enhance the development of a breast or heart tissue, or we might be able to change those molecules to ones that block those pathways. "It's fabulous and offers all sorts of possibilities. It's what pharmacologists always think about."

Prof Dusting hopes that within two years the animal trials will provide enough information for researchers to know if they can control fat growth effectively. But he warned there was still little idea of what the consequences would be for the body or what would happen to the excess fuel caused by overeating. The institute has already been able to grow a fist-sized lump of fat in a laboratory -- the largest piece of tissue grown through tissue engineering techniques -- but until recent weeks the researchers were unsure exactly how the fat growth was stimulated.

The breakthrough discovery of oxidase enzymes -- which signal fat cell growth -- was made by Prof Dusting and colleague Dr Keren Abberton, in collaboration with Melbourne University. It is believed to be the same process that is triggered by overeating and by fat-rich diets.

The Melbourne University collaboration has seen rats fed a diet of meat pies, chips and doughnuts, increasing their body weight and fat by about 10 per cent over a few weeks. As well as suffering high blood pressure, the fat rats showed an increase in the level of the special oxidase enzyme in both their blood vessels and in their fat deposits, which are also bigger. In the laboratory, the scientists can use drugs to turn the switch on in stem cells derived from fat to produce more fat. In the human and the rat body, the same process is triggered by excessive eating and a fat-rich diet, resulting in excess body fat.

Prof Dusting said fat was being revealed as one of the most active agents in the human body and had an effect on every organ. "We don't know whether it's the central box of something smaller, but the more we look the more we find that fat has an important impact on everything," Prof Dusting said.


No comments: