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Talking points: drawn to abstinence, body and soul and working-class students

Renderings of former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln’s life mask appear on a 3-D online viewer launched by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery

Associated Press

DRAWN TO ABSTINENCE

The miracle of magnetism could help heavy smokers quit or cut down, a study from Israel's Ben-Gurion University suggests. The Guardian reports that the study recruited 115 volunteers who smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day and divided them into three groups. Two groups received varying doses of magnetic pulses to their every day for three weeks, while the third believed they were receiving the treatment but received no magnetic pulses. In the group that received high-frequency pulses, more than half quit following the three-week experiment and over a third were still abstaining six months later.

BODY AND SOUL

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Depression not only takes a toll on the mind, it may also ravage the body by speeding up the aging process. From the L.A. Times we learn that researchers in California and the Netherlands have found a direct connection between major depressive disorders and accelerated cellular aging. The study focused on the white blood cells of more than 2,400 Dutch participants. Those with clinical depression had shorter telomeres than healthy people. Telomeres are DNA strands that cap the tips of chromosomes within a cell. Whenever a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter and they eventually reach a point where the cell itself shuts down. "The most severely and chronically depressed patients had the shortest telomeres," said study author Josine Verhoeven.

WORKING-CLASS STUDENTS

The class system is alive and well when it comes to young people's choices of university. According to The Guardian, a recent paper revealed that students with parents in professional or managerial jobs are three times more likely than working-class students to attend an elite university such as Oxford or Harvard. Researchers found that 27 per cent of the difference in admissions between social classes was not academic in Britain. "This suggests there are significant numbers of working-class children who, even though they have the academic ability to attend, choose to enter a non-selective institution instead," said study author John Jerrim.

THOUGHT DU JOUR

The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry about work.

Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

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