For Your Health: 'Mighty Mouse' to the Rescue?

Scientists at the University of Colorado say they've created a "Mighty Mouse" using stem-cell technology to help muscles stay powerful as they grow old. The breakthrough could eventually help cut the risk of falls and fractures in the elderly:

Young animals with injured legs were given injections of stem cells and small pieces of muscle from healthy animals. The researchers expected the stem cells, which play a key role in repairing wear and tear, to help heal the injury. But the results far exceeded their expectations.

Not only was the injured muscle repaired within days but it quickly bulked up, reaching more than twice its original size. And instead of withering over time, it remained large and powerful for the rest of the animal's life.

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A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine says that frequently eating chocolate — once a day or more — may lower the heart risks in women. The benefit could be due to flavonoids found in the cocoa:

The cocoa found in chocolate is rich in flavonoids that have been associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. Although the researchers cautioned that this study did not evaluate whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between eating chocolate and heart disease, they did suggest that eating chocolate regularly might help prevent atherosclerotic disease events requiring hospitalization. Researchers also questioned if chocolate may have a stronger effect on ischemic heart disease than on cerebrovascular disease.

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The key to happiness may be staying focused. New research out of Harvard found that people who daydreamed reported being less happy than when they were fully engaged in their task at hand:

The human mind is uniquely capable of wandering — that is, to ponder things that have happened, to anticipate things that will happen, and to plan for things that might happen, explained study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University. The ability is one of the traits that makes human beings human, he noted.

Yet, cognitive wandering comes at a cost, which is that when people are thinking about something other than what they're doing, they feel less happy, the researchers discovered.

"Human beings seem to have this unique capacity to focus on the non-present. They have the ability to reflect on the past, plan for the future and imagine things that might never occur," Killingsworth said. "But at the same time, human beings are clumsy users of this capacity and it tends to decrease, rather than increase, happiness."

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