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Sweets nix alcohol urges

A liking for sweetness might help alcoholics kick the habit.

Alcohol dependence is treated using naltrexone, a drug that blocks opioid receptors in the brain, but it only works in around 78 percent of people. David Sinclair and colleagues at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, asked 78 people who'd taken the drug recently to rate their preference for sugar solutions. Those who favored the least sweet were more likely to revert to drinking (Alcohol and Alcoholism).

Sweet tastes and alcohol both trigger opioid chemicals that evoke pleasure. Alcoholics who prefer less sweetness may rely on another reinforcement process.

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Life expectancy slows in U.S.

Life expectancy in the United States is rising slower than expected and the blame lies mostly with a history of smoking and an obesity epidemic.

Children born in Japan today can expect to live about five years longer than their American counterparts. The gap between Europe and the U.S. is smaller, but widening. A panel set up by the U.S. National Research Council has now concluded that life expectancy in the United States has risen more slowly than in other rich countries because of smoking, overeating and lack of exercise.

When today's senior citizens were younger, Americans used to smoke more than people in other rich countries. This accounts for about 40 percent of the lag in life expectancy for U.S. men, and almost 80 percent for U.S. women. Obesity is the next most important factor, accounting for between one-fifth and one-third of the U.S. shortfall in life expectancy.

Compiled from News wire sources

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