Nation in Brief

Sweet tooth may indicate future alcoholism

(U-WIRE) MADISON, Wis. – According to a recent report in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, a candy bar today could mean alcohol abuse tomorrow. Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found that having a sweet tooth precedes alcoholism and may serve as a marker for the genetic risk for developing the disease.

In a prepared statement to the press, study author Alexei B. Kampov-Polevoy said, “Previous research has established that in mammals such as mice, rats and monkeys, the preference for and consumption of sweet fluids are strongly correlated with voluntary alcohol intake.”

Kampov-Polevoy is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai and decided to create the study upon reviewing his previous research.

In looking over his notes on past studies, Kampov-Polevoy noticed that people who are alcoholics generally preferred sweeter fluids than their non-alcoholic peers. But it wasn’t clear whether the preference for sweet fluids was a result of a long history of drinking or whether this sweet tooth preceded alcoholism, so he decided to set up a study to find out.

In the study, Kampov-Polevoy studied 163 social drinkers who were divided into two groups. The 81 people in the first group had a paternal history of alcoholism, while the 82 people in the second group did not. All the study participants were then asked to rate a series of sucrose solutions for intensity of sweetness and palatability.

The researchers found that people with a paternal history of alcoholism were 2.5 times more likely to enjoy the sweet solution than the people in the second group, demonstrating a link between sweet consumption and alcoholism.

A May 2002 study at Harvard Medical School titled “Alcohol Abuse and Dependence among U.S. College Students” found that 6 percent of college students met the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence (also referred to as alcoholism), and 31 percent met the clinical criteria for alcohol abuse.

New York City may nix student voters

(U-WIRE) NEW YORK – Students who hail from outside New York City may be denied the right to vote in elections there if a new proposal is passed by the city’s Board of Elections Tuesday.

Civil rights organizations and students announced their opposition to the board’s proposal yesterday at a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

The proposal would require college students living in a residence hall or off-campus to fill out a six-question form to determine whether they are eligible to vote in the city. The questionnaire asks where a student’s driver’s license was obtained and where students reside in the summer, among other questions.

Under current voting rules, a citizen may choose to vote in New York City if he has been a city resident for at least 30 days and does not claim the right to vote elsewhere.

U. Wisconsin student arrested for alleged porn broadcasts

(U-WIRE) MADISON, Wis. – After experiencing disruptions in their radio communication system, Madison, Wis. police arrested a 25-year-old University of Wisconsin student who may have used police airwaves to broadcast audio pornography.

After police searched his apartment on North Orchard Street, Rajib K. Mitra was arrested and is now in Dane County Jail, charged under Wisconsin’s computer crime statute with 16 felony counts, according to police crime reports.

Police began experiencing interference last April, which randomly left radios dead for a period of a few seconds to 20 minutes. Police originally thought the problem was a radio malfunction.

Toy safety watchdog group releases list of 10 worst toys

(U-WIRE) BOSTON – Michelangelo’s nunchucks, a wooden fire engine and a frog all made the World Against Toys Causing Harm’s annual “10 Worst Toys” list, the group revealed at its 31st annual conference last week.

WATCH’s conference warns consumers about potentially dangerous gifts for children before the upcoming holiday season. According to WATCH, the listed toys are dangerous to small children and have been ignored by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. WATCH leaders feel the toys should have been removed from the market long ago but, despite their known dangers, the commission has refused to recall them.

The 10 toys included on the list were the Yo-Yo Water Ball and Yo-Yo Squeeze Toy, the Supremo Slingshot, the Traditional Wooden Fire Engine Pull Along Toy, the Star Bounce Jump Around, the Nickelodeon Super Scented Soda Fountain Gooze, the Air Hogs Sky Commander Helicopter, the Imaginability Wedgits Starter Set, the Green Orbit Extending Super Spyeriscope, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Electronic Michelangelo’s Nunchucks and the Ribbets the Rhythm Frog.

Children playing with the toys risk strangulation, drowning or ingestion, all potentially leading to serious injuries such as brain damage or paralysis and, in some cases, death, the group says. Many of the toys, such as the Yo-Yo Water Ball – a liquid filled ball with elastic stretch cord attached — have been banned in other countries such as Great Britain, Australia and Canada.

– compiled by Julie Gordon and Marcus Mrowka

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