Discovered: Twitter addiction, Super Earth, there's a possibility obesity is infectious, 1.2 million malaria deaths, drinking coffee has at least one health benefit for a small set of people.
- Twitter is harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes. Less fun and more addictive ... a sad combination. Not that we don't enjoy some Twitter time, but it's fun as a work distraction, not as a Saturday night activity. Alas, looking at BlackBerry users, researchers found they desired doing Internet things more than than they wanted to imbibe tobacco, alcohol, and coffee -- things that are physically addictive. The researchers have an explanation that makes the whole thing a tad less depressing. "Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not 'cost much' to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist," explains Wilhelm Hofmann. Basically, if drinking had zero consequences (i.e., hangovers) we'd booze all day long. [The Guardian]
- A new Super-Earth. Considering we're doing all sorts of nasty to this planet, we hope this discovery works out. Scientists have located a "potentially habitable" Earth-like rock orbiting a sun-like star. "This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it," said Guillem Anglada-Escudé. Promising! But, don't get too, too excited, the information comes from examining the planet from far, far away, using a spectrograph. Not from actually visiting and sampling the land. We remain skeptical. [Carnegie]
- Is obesity contagious? This research leads us to believe, yes. Yes, it is something one can catch. "We could make a mouse fatter just by putting it in the same cage as the other mouse," said Yale researcher Richard Flavell. Apparently microbes in the stomachs of the heftier mice traveled to the thin mice, making them both fat and unhealthy. Gah! Sorry, we know this study is still in the mouse stage, but fat friends, we can no longer hang out in cages with you. [LiveScience]
- Twice as much malaria as previously thought. Good thing that vaccine is coming along. A new study finds that malaria kills more than 1.2 million people a year, double the previous estimates. The overlooked deaths come from adults, who researchers thought died from other things. "You learn in medical school that people exposed to malaria as children develop immunity and rarely die from malaria as adults," said Christopher Murray. "What we've found in hospital records, death records, surveys, and other sources shows that just is not the case." The high risk countries appear in red or yellow on this handy CDC map. [Reuters]
- A health benefit from coffee. With all this downer caffeine health news this week, we're pretty excited that there's finally something positive related to our coffee addictions. Unfortunately, it applies to a niche set of humans. Coffee reduces fibrosis risk in those with fatty liver disease, finds research done by the U.S. Army. "Patients with NASH may benefit from moderate coffee consumption that decreases risk of advanced fibrosis," explains Dr. Stephen Harrison. All we hear is "benefit." And, we're back on the coffee train. Thanks, Army! [Hepatology]
Image via Shutterstock by Kzenon.