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Didn't we already know that? Recent 'Duh!' moments in science

home cooking food prep budget Cooking at home takes longer but is healthier and less expensive.
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Scientists do vital work, like proving that wine, coffee and even just casual exercise are good for you. But sometimes, it can seem like they could stand to step outside of the lab and look around the real world.

Your preference for alcohol depends on how it tastes


Genetically determined taste perceptions could lead some people to become teetotalers and others to become alcoholics, according to a new study.

John E. Hayes and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University studied the genetics of 93 adults, looking in particular for so-called bitter-receptor genes, which are responsible for people’s sensitivity to bitter tastes.The researchers then asked participants to taste and rate alcohol samples in a laboratory.

Humans have about 25 different bitter-taste receptor genes; they studied two: TAS2R13 and RAS2R38. Both of these have been linked in previous studies to a tendency to drink when the gene is “turned off” and not to drink when it is turned on, Hayes said.“The bitterness they perceived was influenced by which gene they had, and it was exactly the same direction as we would have expected from the previous work on alcohol intake.”

The findings show that participants with one of the variants of the bitterness gene rated the taste of alcohol as 25 percent more intense, he said.People with the bitterness variant of the RAS2R38 gene drank half as often as those without it.

Time is necessary to eat better

People who spend more time preparing and cooking meals are more likely to have healthier diets, says a new study, while those who spent the least time on food preparation also spent the most money on food away from home and were more likely to eat at fast food restaurants.

“We've known for a long time that cooking and being able to prepare your own food is associated with eating a healthier diet and it sort of just make sense, but there actually isn't much research in the area,” Pablo Monsivais said.

Monsivais and his team, from the Center for Diet and Activity Research at the University of Cambridge, used survey information from 1,319 participants in the Seattle Obesity Study, conducted from 2008 to 2009.Participants who spent the most time in the kitchen tended to be white, younger married women. They also had larger families and more household income, but were less likely to be employed.

People who spent the most time cooking meals consumed at least 8 servings of fruit and 13 servings of vegetables per week, the authors found. Those who spent the least amount of time preparing meals ate on average 6 servings of fruit and just under 11 servings of vegetables per week.

When it came to weekly food spending, those who spent the most time cooking spent about $7 less for each family member each week, becausepeople who spent less than an hour per day cooking were almost twice as likely to visit fast food restaurants every week.

You're more likely to try again if you feel responsible for failing

If at first you don’t succeed, and you think you can control the outcome next time, you’re more likely to persist, suggests a new study.

Using brain scans, researchers found different brain areas activated in response to a setback if the failure was perceived as something under the person’s control versus a random or uncontrollable cause, and blaming oneself led to greater persistence.

What distinguished this study from similar research since the 1970s is the discovery thatdifferent areas of the brain respond to a setback depending on where blame seems to lie.That result suggests that a sense of control or lack of it leads to calculations about whether to try again through two different types of thought processes, the researchers concluded.

Allowing gay men to donate blood would save over a million lives

Gay men have been banned from donating blood by the FDA since 1983, when it was discovered that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was being transmitted through transfusions.Eliminating the ban entirely could bring in roughly 615,300 pints of blood annually, while allowing donations from gay men who had not had a sexual partner in a year could yield 317,000 pints, according to a studyby the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"The American Red Cross suggests that each blood donation has the potential to be used in life-saving procedures on three individuals," said study co-author Ayako Miyashita. "Our estimates suggest that lifting the blood donation ban ... could be used to help save the lives of more than 1.8 million people."

The American Medical Association, the American Red Cross and AABB, formerly the American Association of Blood Banks, said in a statement this summer that the lifetime ban on blood donations for men who have had sex with other men should be modified.

HIV has targeted gay men disproportionately since the 1970s; 72 percent of new HIV infections in 2010 affected gay and bisexual male youth.

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