Lab Report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 10:09am

Driven to distraction

Answering text messages behind the wheel is as dangerous as being twice over the legal alcohol limit, according to a study from various Australian universities and the University of Barcelona in Spain. Twelve healthy volunteers took a driving simulation test to measure their reactions after having consumed alcohol and while using the mobile phone. By comparing the blood/alcohol with the effects of mobile phone usage, they saw that when answering a text message, the level was 1 gram per litre, double Hong Kong's legal limit (0.5 g/l). A hands-free conversation requiring high cognitive demand measured 0.7 g/l.


Don't stress, get over it

Dwelling on stressful events can increase inflammation, say Ohio University researchers. It causes increased levels of C-reactive protein, which is mainly produced by the liver as part of the immune system's initial inflammatory response to trauma, injury or infection. The protein is widely used as a clinical marker for one's risk of disease later in life. In the study, 34 healthy young women were each asked to give a speech about their candidacy for a job to two interviewers in white lab coats, who listened with stone-faced expressions. Half the women were asked to contemplate their speech, while half were asked to think about neutral images and activities. The levels of C-reactive protein in drawn blood were significantly higher in those asked to dwell on the speech.

A tipple a day keeps the pain away

Having between three and seven standard drinks a week seems to be the optimum amount for fending off a chronic pain condition that's thought to affect one in 20 people worldwide. In a study in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, researchers found that 

moderate drinkers reported a lower severity of fibromyalgia symptoms than teetotallers or heavy drinkers. Too much alcohol reversed the effect. Similar results were seen for the quality of life scale including social functioning, vitality and general health. A standard drink in the US is equivalent to 355 millilitres of beer, 148ml of wine, or 44ml of distilled spirits.