Thursday, May 07, 2009

Anger is in the genes

Not those pesky genes, again! Isolation of a gene called DARPP-32 helps explain why some people fly into a rage at the slightest provocation, while others can remain calm. The frequent upsurges of Muslim anger are all due to poverty, Leftists say. But could genetics be involved?

Being able to keep your cool or lose your temper is down to genes, according to a new study. More than 800 people were asked to fill in a questionnaire designed to study how they handle anger.

The German researchers also administered a DNA test to determine which of three versions of the DARPP-32 gene people were carrying. The gene affects levels of dopamine, a brain chemical linked to anger and aggression. Those who had the "TT" or "TC" versions of the gene portrayed significantly more anger than those with the "CC" version.

The study, from the University of Bonn, also found that those who display more anger have less grey matter in the amygdala, a part of the brain that helps keep our emotions balanced. Martin Reuter, one of the researchers, who is a TC, said: "In other words, they are not able to control their feelings as well as those without the mutation. "I am not an angry person but I can get angry if it is important."

TT and TC versions are much more common in Western populations, with the researchers suggesting that demonstrations of anger can help people get ahead in life. "High degrees of anger are of course of low social desirability but a certain amount of dominance-related behaviour helps to assert position in a social hierarchy," the researchers added.

Reporting in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, they added that genetics only account for around half of our disposition towards anger, while DARPP-32 is one of several genes involved.

Earlier this year it was reported that showing anger rather than repressing emotions is the key to a successful professional and personal life. The study by the Harvard Study of Adult Development found those who keep a check on their frustrations are at least three times more likely to admit they have disappointing personal lives and have hit a glass ceiling in their career.


Gene study explains why smokers are burning the fat as well as cigarettes

Quitting smoking may be good for your health - but it also tends to lead to people piling on weight. The endless snacking could be a way of keeping hands busy. Or maybe food finally tastes good again. But the real reason why people pile on the pounds after quitting smoking could lie in our DNA.

Scientists have identified a fat-burning gene that becomes more active when exposed to cigarette smoke. The finding could help explain why slim smokers find their weight starts to balloon after the final cigarette is stubbed out.

But anti-smoking groups warned against smokers using the research to justify a habit that kills more than 120,000 Britons a year.

The scientists, from Cornell University in New York, focused on a gene called AZGP1 (alphazincglycoprotein1) which makes a protein that speeds up the breakdown of fat. Comparison of millions of cells taken from smokers' and nonsmokers' lungs showed the gene to be making more of the fat-busting protein in smokers. Other studies have shown the protein plays a key role in weight loss. When mice are given it they lose weight, even if no other changes are made to their diet.

The researchers said that while their study didn't prove that smoking helps burn off fat, it could help explain why smokers tend to be more wiry. Writing in the journal Chest, they said: 'A primary reason smokers give for not trying to quit smoking and for relapsing after cessation is weight gain and the increase in the prevalence of overeating and obesity in the United States has been attributed in part to smoking cessation.'

Anti-smoking campaign group ASH said the findings could be 'another piece in the jigsaw'. But spokesman Amanda Sandford said: 'The overriding message must be that smoking is far more hazardous to your long-term health than putting on a bit of weight.'


Quack medicine kills baby

IN the last months of her life, baby Gloria Thomas suffered such terrible eczema her skin would weep and peel, sticking to her clothing when she was changed. Despite her bleeding, crying and malnutrition, her mother and homeopath father failed to get conventional medical help before she died a painful death, a Sydney jury has been told. Thomas Sam, 42, and his IT professional wife, Manju Sam, 36, have pleaded not guilty to their nine-month-old daughter's manslaughter by gross criminal negligence in Sydney in May 2002.

In the Crown's opening address to the New South Wales Supreme Court jury, Mark Tedeschi QC said Gloria's parents failed to get her proper medical attention in the last five months of her life. He said Thomas Sam's sister had pleaded with her brother on a number of occasions to get Gloria some conventional medicine. "He responded by saying: 'I am not able to do that,'" Mr Tedeschi said. "Instead, Thomas Sam and Manju Sam gave to Gloria various types of homeopathic drops." He said Gloria spent much of the final months "crying, irritable, scratching". "The only thing that gave her solace was to suck on her mother's breast."

Born in July 2001, Gloria thrived until November when a nurse noticed her eczema and told the mother to see a skin specialist. Instead of doing this, Mr Tedeschi said the mother took her to a GP who was extremely concerned at the eczema, saying it was the most severe case he had ever seen. Although the GP wrote a referral letter to a specialist, the parents never saw him.

Mr Tedeschi said Gloria's skin would break when her clothing and nappy were changed and she became thinner and weaker, which allowed infections to enter her body. The eczema and infections placed "an enormous toll on her body" which meant all the nutrition she took in was spent on fighting this off, instead of being used to grow. At four months, she weighed 6.5kg but at nine months she was down to 5.3kg and died of septicemia.

Mr Tedeschi said the parents were married in India. The father was educated in homeopathy in India and in Australia undertook a masters degree in health administration, while his wife had a science degree and a postgraduate diplomat in computers. "They both come from very supportive, giving families," he said.

Thomas Sam worked as a homeopath in Sydney and taught the subject at a Sydney college. Mr Tedeschi will continue his opening address tomorrow, at the trial before Justice Peter Johnson.


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