Calcium Pills: No Boon to Weight Loss

CALCIUM PILLS WON'T HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT The milk ads want you to believe that milk drinkers weigh less, but if they are indeed lighter, it's not because of the calcium in the milk. Taking calcium supplements does not help overweight and obese people slim down, researchers from the National Institutes of Health found in a randomized study of 340 adults. After two years, people who were assigned to take calcium pills twice daily did not weigh any less than people assigned to a placebo. These findings were presented today at the Obesity Society meeting in Boston.

GENERATION XL GOES TO COLLEGE While it's not usually "the freshman 15," many college students do gain weight during their first year of college, and they continue gaining in their sophomore year. These are the findings of two studies presented today at the Obesity Society meeting in Boston, one on a Northeast school and one on a Midwest school. The Northeast study found that men gained about 5.6 pounds over the first year compared with 3.6 pounds for women. Around 16 percent of students in the study actually gained more than 10 pounds during their freshman year. In the Midwest study, both males and females gained an average of 7.8 pounds as freshmen, and they continued to gain in the sophomore year, so that they weighed more than 9 pounds more than they had when they started college.

IS PAIN TOLERANCE IN THE GENES? Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have found a gene called GHC1 that appears to be related to pain sensitivity in humans and animals. From animal studies, scientists discovered that the molecule produced by the gene GHC1 played a part in pain sensitivity -- injecting the molecule increased the animals' pain response. When they looked for the same gene in humans, they found that people with a particular version of the gene had better pain tolerance than those who had a different version. Doctors also looked at the gene in patients who had undergone spinal disk surgery. Those patients with the "good" copy of GHC1 had less pain in the year after the operation. These findings were published in the most recent issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.