Friday, January 23, 2009

Scientists unravel why women love make-up

"Why" is a bit of an overstatement. "How", maybe

Women anticipate a rush of anticipation and optimism as they prepare to apply make-up, according to brain function research by Japanese scientists. The findings are the result of more than two years of research by cosmetics giant Kanebo but came as a surprise to the team, headed by brain scientist Dr Ken Mogi. The researchers had expected to find that women experience positive emotions after they had applied the make-up.

The company's "Cosmetics, Beauty and Brain Science" project determined that there are distinct cognitive activities involved in a woman's perception of her face with and without make-up. Using a brain scanner, the scientists were able to monitor activity in the caudate nucleus of the brain and confirm that when a woman sees her own face without make-up, she anticipates how she will eventually appear to others and a "reward system" is activated, releasing dopamine to give sensations of pleasure. "We know from previous research that when this area of the brain is activated we can derive pleasure from certain activities," said Keishi Saruwatari, of Kanebo's laboratories. "We interpret that as meaning that when a woman looks at her face she is imagining how she will look when she has applied her make-up. "There is a mixture of expectation, encouragement and ambition," he said. "Make-up contributes to building relationships with others and feelings of pleasure in women."

The research focused on female responses, but the team believes similar feelings may be at work when a man shaves or puts on cologne of a morning. "We can now not only put a functional value on a product now, but also measure the emotional appeal," said scientist Yasuhiko Tanaka. "By using quantifiable research, we will be able to strengthen the emotional value of a product and enable us to develop more appealing versions."


Thalidomide 'offers new hope for prostate cancer patients'

It's good for leprosy too

Treating prostate cancer patients with thalidomide and hormone-blocking drugs in alternate doses can delay the recurrence of the cancer after surgery, a study has found. The findings will help up to one third of the 31,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year where the disease has spread outside the prostate gland.

Increasingly, oncologists in the UK are prescribing drugs after surgery to reduce levels of the male hormone testosterone, thereby stopping the cancer growing. In the latest U.S. study 159 men in two groups were given hormone-blockers for six months after surgery, followed by either thalidomide or a dummy drug (placebo). The average time until the cancer showed signs of recurring was 15 to 17 months for thalidomide patients compared with just 6.6 to 9.6 months for placebo patients.

Originally prescribed for pregnant women suffering morning sickness, thalidomide was withdrawn in the UK in 1961 after it was shown to cause stunted or missing limbs in babies. But researchers in several countries have now started cautiously using the drug's growth-restricting properties to slow the development of tumours, although care is taken to ensure it is never used on women who could become pregnant.


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