That mellow feeling that settles in when you kick off your shoes, pour yourself a drink and start making dinner should come with a warning: Overeating ahead.

That would be your brain’s reward system — the primitive structures that prime our drives for sex, food and addictive substances — overriding the message. For many who have tried to lose weight while clinging to that hallowed ritual of the aperitif, this may come as no surprise. But a study in the journal Obesity finds evidence that consuming alcohol while in an atmosphere suffused by cooking aromas heightens activity in the hypothalamus, and throughout the brain’s reward system. The result, in most cases, is increased consumption.

 

Mushroom to keep the weight off?

Maybe Alice in Wonderland was on to something, nibbling on a mushroom to make herself shrink.

New research has shown that a liquid extract made from a mushroom used in traditional Asian medicine for more than 2,000 years protects against weight gain and reverses obesity-related inflammation and metabolic dysfunction in overfed mice.

The mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (known in China as lingzhi, and in Japan as reishi or mannentake), appears to work by correcting an unhealthy mix of microorganisms that colonized the guts of mice made obese by a diet of high-fat chow.

 

Detecting cancer of pancreas

Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston have identified a large and readily detectable molecule that circulates in the blood and has detected, with perfect accuracy and no false positives, the presence of pancreatic cancer in a small group of subjects.

The telltale sign of cancer of the pancreas was found in protein- and nucleic-acid-filled sacs called exosomes, which circulate in the bloodstream. Spinning blood samples in a centrifuge, researchers found they could break open the sacs and detect a protein called glypican-1, which is overexpressed in breast and pancreatic cancers. It “offers the possibility for early detection,” which could help improve pancreatic cancer’s dismal survival rate, the authors wrote.

 

Panel cautious about meningitis

Teens and young adults should get vaccines to prevent potentially deadly meningitis B infections, but only through individual decisions, not routine recommendations, a federal panel of experts decided. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that historically low levels of the disease, limited data about the lasting effectiveness of the vaccines and potentially high costs didn’t warrant a wider recommendation.

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