Asbestos Deaths Expected

To Continue to Increase

Deaths from asbestos exposure have surged in the United States and are set to keep rising in the next decade as more workers succumb, health experts warned yesterday.

The number of Americans who died of asbestosis, which is caused by inhalation of asbestos particles, increased to 1,493 in 2000 from 77 in 1968, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The incurable disease, marked by shortness of breath and persistent cough and linked to a higher risk of cancer, is now the deadliest work-related respiratory illness.

The CDC warned that the death toll would probably continue to rise because of the lag -- often as long as 45 years -- between initial exposure to asbestos fibers and death.

Prized for its heat-resistant and insulation properties, asbestos was widely used in shipyards and construction until the 1980s.

Children Outperform

Adults in Memory Study

Researchers reported yesterday that a 5-year-old could beat most adults on a recognition memory test, at least under specific conditions. And the reason is that adults know too much.

"It's one case where knowledge can actually decrease memory accuracy," said Vladimir M. Sloutsky, director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State University, who led the study.

Researchers showed 77 young children and 71 college students pictures of cats, bears and birds. The volunteers did not know what was being tested.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science, the researchers said the children, with an average age of 5, were accurate 31 percent of the time in identifying pictures of animals they had seen earlier, while the adults were accurate 7 percent of the time.

The reason, Sloutsky believes, is that children used a form of reasoning called similarity-based induction when they analyzed the pictures. When shown subsequent pictures, they looked carefully to see if the animal looked similar to the original.

Adults used category-based induction -- once they determined what the animal pictured was, they paid no more attention.

Watching Movies Can Boost

Hormone Levels, Study Finds

Watching a movie can increase people's hormone levels, making them more romantic or more aggressive, researchers said yesterday.

Sentimental films such as "The Bridges of Madison County" caused levels of the hormone progesterone to rise by more than 10 percent in both men and women, the team at the University of Michigan found. Women's testosterone levels were unchanged during and after the movie about a love affair, while men's testosterone levels fell.

"The Godfather Part II" aroused a different sort of passion. While watching the crime and action film, men with the highest levels of testosterone experienced an increase by as much as 30 percent more.

Both men and women watching a documentary about the Amazon rain forest showed no change.

Oliver Schultheiss, a psychology professor, published the study in the journal Hormones and Behavior.

-- From News Services