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Familiarity with the unknown, even the scary unknown, reduces anxiety about everyday life, according to surveys of over 800 children ages 8 to 17 conducted by the  Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.

The scholars developed two eight-question surveys: the Children's Avoidance Measure Parent Report and the Children's Avoidance Measure Self Report. The questionnaires ask details about children's avoidance tendencies, for instance, in addressing parents, "When your child is scared or worried about something, does he or she ask to do it later?" It also asks children to describe their passive avoidance habits. For example: "When I feel scared or worried about something, I try not to go near it."

Regional spending is not linked to differences in survival of patients with advanced cancer, according to an analysis of Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked data in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Cancer care accounts for approximately 10% of Medicare spending, and costs are highest for cancer patients with late-stage disease. There are large regional differences in spending within the Medicare program - more seniors, more spending on Medicare, for example - however it is unknown if higher average regional spending for advanced cancer is linked to improved survival for individual patients with cancer.

The widespread introduction of a chicken pox vaccine in Australia in 2006 has prevented thousands of children from being hospitalized with severe chicken pox and saved lives, according to a national study of chicken pox admissions at four participating Australian children's hospitals.

Chicken pox is a highly contagious infection spread by airborne transmission or from direct contact with the fluid from skin lesions caused by the disease. In its most serious form, chicken pox can cause severe and multiple complications, including neurological conditions, and even death.

As Roman Catholics cardinals conclave to pick a new Pope, they should be thinking about a problem that is becoming more apparent - in the developed world, all organized religion continues to decline.

Religious affiliation in the US only began to be tracked in the 1930s but newly released survey data shows the curve continuing to go down. Last year, 20 percent of Americans claimed they had no religious preference, more than double the number reported in 1990. It doesn't mean they are atheists, that is 3% of the public, but that they do not subscribe to an organized religion. 'Spiritual' is the catch-all phrase they tend to use.

Pigs are not known for being picky - 'eats like a pig' is not a colloquial metaphor, they are messy and eat everything - but new research shows they avoid bitter tastes when they can.

In a new study of nursery pig diets, researchers offered pigs different amounts of soybean meal, napus canola meal and juncea canola meal. They found that pigs ate more soybean meal when given a choice. Of course, they choose to eat everything. They're pigs. 

Napus canola meal and juncea canola meal come from rapeseed and mustard greens, respectively. Canola meals are less expensive than soybean meal. If producers can replace soybean meal in swine diets, they could produce pork at a lower cost.

An analysis of data from the Framingham Offspring Study, which follows children of participants in the original Framingham Heart Study, may have answered a question that has been asked by doctors and smokers alike; do the health effects of any weight gained after quitting outweigh the known cardiovascular benefits of smoking cessation?