Dark, rich and lusciously sweet, chocolate is the most irresistible of confections, so addictive that it has been suspected of intoxicating with marijuana-like opiates and chemicals that can mimic the brain chemistry of a person in love. Chocolate seems to have a special power over women, whose desire for it often increases around the time of menstruation. As a result, scientists have hypothesised that the craving may be a woman's body's attempt to satisfy a natural need for it. But now, that comforting hypothesis may have to give way to plain old guilt once again. In a study to be published later this year in the American journal Appetite, international researchers found that among college students who craved sweets, American women craved chocolate more often than American men, as expected. But among a group of Spanish women and men who craved sweets, the women were no more enthusiastic about chocolate than men. The finding may force chocoholic women to look elsewhere for reassurance about their habits. 'The chocolate craving isn't physiological,' said Dr Debra Zellner, psychologist at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. 'There has to be something other than a physiological need and it's probably cultural. We taught ourselves this addiction.' New stroke therapy Doctors have found a bold new way of helping people who have had strokes recover the ability to talk and move their limbs in the first weeks and months after brain injury. Patients are given low doses of amphetamine, the common stimulant, along with intense physical therapy, a combination that appears to accelerate recovery in many people. But, doctors caution, the treatment is experimental and may not be appropriate for all stroke victims, especially elderly people with heart disease or other serious ailments. Nevertheless, it is the first effective treatment found for helping people recover function after the acute phase of a stroke has passed. Cheap AIDS drug United Nations scientists report that a simple, relatively cheap drug treatment can significantly reduce mother-to-infant transmission of the AIDS virus. The results are not as good as those from the standard treatment in Western countries, where prospective mothers infected with the virus receive the drug AZT starting at about the 26th week of pregnancy and their babies take it for the first six weeks of life. But that drug therapy, which can cost US$1,000 (about HK$7,780), is too expensive for the poor countries of the world where HIV, the AIDS virus, is spreading fastest.