Western-style diet linked to state-dependent memory inhibition

Obesity may ultimately be a disease of the brain, involving a progressive deterioration of various cognitive processes that influence eating. Researchers at have now shown that memory inhibition -- the useful ability to 'block out' memories that are no longer useful, which depends on a brain area called the hippocampus -- is linked to dietary excess. Usually, food-related memories should be at the forefront during hunger but then inhibited during fullness, so that thoughts of food are set aside when eating is no longer top priority.

Prior animal studies have shown that a diet -- one high in fats and sugars and low in fruit, vegetable and fiber -- impairs the memory inhibition abilities of the hippocampus. Practically, this could mean that a style diet makes it harder to inhibit pleasant memories triggered by seeing or smelling palatable food.

Hidden red hair gene a skin cancer risk

People can carry a "silent" red hair gene that raises their risk of sun-related skin cancer, experts warn.

The Sanger Institute team estimate one in every four UK people is a carrier.

The gene's effect is comparable to two decades of sun exposure in terms of cancerous changes, they say, according to BBC.

While people with two copies of the gene will have ginger hair, freckles and pale skin and probably know to take extra care in the sun, those with one copy may not realise they are at risk.

Around 25% of UK adults have one version of the gene called MC1R which increases their risk of malignant melanoma.

These carriers may not always look like "easy burners", say the researchers - but they are.

Although not true redheads, they will have pale skin and some freckles and are prone to sun damage. Their natural hair colour can range from brown through to blond, sometimes with a hint of red.

The researchers looked at more than 400 tumour samples from patients who had been diagnosed with melanoma.

Kids who watch lots of TV have lower bone mass as adults

Kids who watch a lot of television may build less bone during critical years, and be more vulnerable to osteoporosis and bone breaks later in life as a result, a new study suggests.

Children and teens followed until age 20 - when bone mass is peaking - had lower bone mass at that age the more hours they had spent watching TV in childhood, researchers reported, according to Reuters.

“What we need to make clear is that it’s not necessarily the act of watching TV that is driving the link between TV and health outcomes, but the act of sitting for long periods,” said Natalie Pearson of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Lough borough University in the U.K., who was not part of the new study.

Pregnancy multivitamins 'are a waste of money'

Pregnancy multivitamins are a waste of money because most mothers-to-be do not need them, according to researchers.

In Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, researchers say they looked at all evidence and found supplements did not boost the health of mothers and babies, according to BBC.

But pregnant women should make sure they take folic acid and vitamin D, as well as eating a well-balanced diet, as per NHS guidelines, they add.

Supplements-makers said some women were not getting enough nutrients.

Thumb-suckers and nail-biters have 'fewer allergies'

Children who suck their thumb or bite their nails are less likely to develop allergies, a study suggests.

The explanation, say the authors in the journal Pediatrics, is the hygiene hypothesis - exposure to some germs strengthens the body's immune system, according to BBC.

Thumb-sucking and nail-biting appeared to prevent some allergies among the 1,000 people in New Zealand assessed periodically between ages five and 32.

But the habits had no bearing on either asthma or hay-fever risk.