Genetic Factors That Increase the Aggressiveness of Boys

by Emily Moratti

Dr. J.C. Barnes co-authored a study that exposes genetic factors that increase the aggressiveness of boys that were spanked by their parents as a child.  As he explains in the article, aggressiveness is a genetic trait that is evident in the behavior of children.  He also goes on to state that if a male child has this gene and was also spanked, his aggressive tendencies are more likely to develop.  Alternatively, there appeared to be no difference in female aggressiveness.

They used twin methodology to study the effect of this disciplinary behavior on the hereditary trait.  They found that aggressive behaviors, for example temper tantrums, actually increased when a child was exposed to physical punishments.  They examined children ages 9 months to 5 years old in the hopes of pinpointing when intervention would be the most advantageous for the children.  The hope is that this study, and future studies of the same topic, will help to diminish the use of spanking as a punishment.

Spanking And Genetics May Increase Childhood Aggression

University of Texas, Dallas (2012, March 5). Spanking and genetics may increase childhood aggression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from­ /releases/2012/03/120305132250.htm


1.     Why doesn’t this phenomenon affect females?

2.     Does this mean these children will grow up to be more aggressive and prone to criminal enterprises?

3.     What form of punishment is most effective and also helps lessen this aggressiveness.

New Treatment for Some Cancers

by Ashley Lippin

Cancer has been a common disease that has affected many people as well as affecting their loved ones who are close to the person they lost to the disease.  It is devastating to watch people as young as children, teenagers, young adults, and adults are a victim to cancer.  Cancer can be in someone’s genetics as well as be caused by an action like how smoking causes lung cancer.  Brain tumors are in my genetics and I have lost many family members including my father to brain cancer.  In November of this year, researchers have finally had a break to begin treating this horrible disease.

Researchers have tested a combination of radiation treatment and a substance that blocks the transforming growth factor beta for treating glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is a form of a brain tumor that is usually too large and would destroy too much brain tissue to be removed once the cancer is found in someone’s brain.  The scientists used mice to test their theory and transplanted glioblastoma cells into the brains of mice.  It was concluded with the combination of radiations and the substance; they survived longer than the mice that only received radiotherapy.  The tumors grew more slowly and did not invade the entire brain which allowed a longer life span.  This theory is going to continue to be tested and could be the beginning to finding a cure to help the victims of the horrible cancer.

I think that brain cancer has been one of the most common deaths in all ages that does not involve in making bad decisions.  This person did not choose to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle, it could be from the person’s genetics like my father’s case.  It is devastating to see how many cases of cancer there are every year.  However, it is relieving that scientists are being able to start finding ways to slow down the growth of the tumor to give people more time with their families.  However, what is needed to find a cure and to stop allowing cancer to get our lives?  How late is too late to start using this substance to slow down the process?  Can everyone use this method?  What are the side effects?

Source – Article


The Link Between the Womb and Childhood Obesity

By Katelynn Snyder

Further research must be conducted to fully come up with data to prove the link.  There have been several reasons as to why children may have an increased body mass index.  A few factors could be from diet, stress, smoking, or hormones while in the womb or early in childhood.  Scientists have looked at epigenetics, which determine how genes are expressed or encoded in many proteins.  The different types of genes that get turned on or off in the womb can show an increase in child obesity by the age of ten.  Since obesity has been a growing issue around the world, scientists may be able to manipulate the signals once they learn more about epigenetics and how to control them.

I cannot personality relate to this issue but I work with children and witness firsthand the difficultly children have maintaining a healthy weight.  The womb is a very important developmental place for a child to grow in and many environmental factors can cause problems with the child so the mother must be extremely careful when they expose themselves to certain things.  It is scary to think that what a child was exposed to in the womb can affect them later in life as they have no control of what happens to them inside the womb.  Obviously there are other factors which can lead to obesity but genes can play an important role, so if scientists are able to comprehend and manipulate epigenetics then there may be a chance we can get a step closer to solving this issue.  I wonder how severe the factors must be to influence the child’s body mass index later in life.  I also wonder how long it will take scientists be complete further research and learn more about epigentics?  The body is such a complex structure which is compiled of many parts that all work together to keep up functioning, so pinpointing one tiny aspect must take a lot of time.


Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder

by Jill Mariano

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are a group of sleep disorders that affect the timing of sleep. People with this disorder are unable to sleep and wake at the times required for the norms of their schedules and social needs. They usually are ale to get enough sleep (if allowed) to sleep and wake at the times determined by their body alarms. However due to the circadian clock, sleepiness does not continuously increase as time passes. Therefore the body is prepared for sleep and for wakefulness at different times of the day.

This article was interesting to me because I have suffered from irregular sleep schedules for the majority of my life. Although it was not this disorder specifically, it still stood out to me. I wonder if the treatments listed (behavior therapy, bright light therapy, medications such as melatonin, etc.) provide permanent relief? Or is continual use of these treatments mandatory?
Works Cited:


Gut Bacteria Linked To Obesity

by Laymah Cisco

We’ve all heard that eating wrongly or eating too much is responsible for obesity. However, a new study shows that gut bacteria could be responsible for decreasing brown fat activities in our bodies. Brown fat is one of two types of adipose tissue (fat) in the human body, and its function is to burn calories. White fat is the second type of fat which resides around the waist and buttocks and stores calories. The amount of brown and white fat found in people varies depending on what group they fall under. According to a recent discovery, “healthy women have the most brown fat, while overweight adult men have the least” (Paddock).

The bacteria referred to earlier are trillions of bacteria in our gut needed to digest food and make vitamins. In a series of experiments, regular mice with normal gut bacteria were compared to bacteria-free mice. The bacteria-free mice were found to have more active brown fat. It was also discovered that large-intestine bacteria seemed to be associated with gender differences in weight where the male mice were fatter than the females. However, in the bacteria-free mice, there were no differences found. Researchers have proposed a theory stating:

[G]ut bacteria contribute to host energy metabolism by producing short    chain fatty acids through the fermentation of carbohydrates that would    remain undigested if they weren’t present. When the bacteria are not there,   the short chain fatty acids are not produced, and this disrupts a number of    metabolic processes, thereby triggering calorie burning (lipolysis activity)    in both the brown fat and the liver. (Paddock)

What this simply means is that because white fat isn’t present to protectively store away calories, they are exposed to brown fat’s calorie-burning function. This knowledge of the absence of gut bacteria could aid in the prevention of obesity in a similar process to that of the given experiments. The assumption is always that eating too much or eating the wrong things cause a gain in weight. I found this article so fascinating because it goes beyond the obvious of what we eat is what makes us fat. It dives into what’s really responsible for the fat. I wonder what it would be like for people to function purely on brown fat? Could we survive on it?



Catharine Paddock PhD. (2012, February 16). “Gut Bacteria May Have Role In Obesity.”  Medical News Today. Retrieved from < 241725.php.>