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Sat, 07 Dec 2019
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Magic Wand

This is Interesting: We Could All Be a Little Synesthetic

"One day, I told my father 'I realized that to write an "R" ones starts writing a "P", later drawing a line to complete the letter. Later I was surprised to discover that I could transform a yellow letter into an orange one by adding only a line."

The great majority of us will never understand the sensation which the author Lynne Duffy wrote about in her work Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens. In spite of that, according to recent studies by Dr. Jamie Ward of College University, London, we all possess a small degree of this rare quality of intermixing images, sounds and other sensations, called "synesthesia."

Synesthesia, branded in the past as a result of mental disorder, drug addiction, or excessive imagination, today is studied in the field of neurology as a peculiar capacity possessed by some individuals for associating, before a determinate stimulus, sensations apparently unconnected or belonging to another sense. It is such that synesthetes can hear a certain sound when contemplating a work of art, evoke a certain taste when touching the surface of something, or smell a characteristic aroma when listening to a melody. Strange? Yes; but real without a doubt.

Arrow Down

Cocoa, but not tea, may lower blood pressure

Foods rich in cocoa appear to reduce blood pressure but drinking tea may not, according to an analysis of previously published research in the April 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Current guidelines advise individuals with hypertension (high blood pressure) to eat more fruits and vegetables, according to background information in the article. Compounds known as polyphenols or flavonoids in fruits and vegetables are thought to contribute to their beneficial effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. "Tea and cocoa products account for the major proportion of total polyphenol intake in Western countries," the authors write. "However, cocoa and tea are currently not implemented in cardioprotective or anti-hypertensive dietary advice, although both have been associated with lower incidences of cardiovascular events."

Dirk Taubert, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the University Hospital of Cologne, Germany, conducted a meta-analysis of 10 previously published trials, five of cocoa's effects on blood pressure and five involving tea. All results were published between 1966 and 2006, involved at least 10 adults and lasted a minimum of seven days. The studies were either randomized trials, in which some participants were randomly assigned to cocoa or tea groups and some to control groups, or used a crossover design, in which participants' blood pressure was assessed before and after consuming cocoa products or tea.

Attention

Arsenic in chicken feed may pose health risks to humans, C&EN reports

Pets may not be the only organisms endangered by some food additives. An arsenic-based additive used in chicken feed may pose health risks to humans who eat meat from chickens that are raised on the feed, according to an article in the April 9 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Roxarsone, the most common arsenic-based additive used in chicken feed, is used to promote growth, kill parasites and improve pigmentation of chicken meat. In its original form, roxarsone is relatively benign. But under certain anaerobic conditions, within live chickens and on farm land, the compound is converted into more toxic forms of inorganic arsenic. Arsenic has been linked to bladder, lung, skin, kidney and colon cancer, while low-level exposures can lead to partial paralysis and diabetes, the article notes.

Use of roxarsone has become a topic of increasing controversy. A growing number of food suppliers have stopped using the compound, including the nation's largest poultry producer, Tyson Foods, according to the article. Still, about 70 percent of the 9 billion broiler chickens produced annually in the U.S. are fed a diet containing roxarsone, the article points out.

Coffee

Super Bowl Science: Why people eat less at unbused tables

People watching the Super Bowl who saw how much they had already eaten -- in this case, leftover chicken-wing bones -- ate 27 percent less than people who had no such environmental cues, finds a new Cornell study.

The difference between the two groups -- those eating at a table where leftover bones accumulated compared with those whose leftovers were removed -- was greater for men than for women.

"The results suggest that people restrict their consumption when evidence of food consumed is available to signal how much food they have eaten," said Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell, and author of the 2006 book, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think."

Black Cat

Tainted Food May Have Hurt 39,000 Pets



©AP Photo/ Eugene Hoshiko
A dog helps his owner carry a grocery basket Thursday Feb. 12, 2007, in Shanghai, China.

WASHINGTON - Pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical may have sickened or killed 39,000 cats and dogs nationwide, based on an extrapolation from data released Monday by one of the nation's largest chains of veterinary hospitals.

Coffee

Smoking and Caffeine May Protect Against Parkinson's Disease

In families affected by Parkinson's disease, the people who smoked cigarettes and drank a lot of coffee were less likely to develop the disease, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

Bizarro Earth

Malaria and dysentery hit survivors of the Solomons tsunami

Medical teams in Solomon Island Western Province Gizo are fighting outbreaks of malaria and dysentery in the aftermath of the recent tsunami that hit the region.

Cut

Study notes decline in male births in the US and Japan

A study published in this week's online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives reports that during the past thirty years, the number of male births has decreased each year in the U.S. and Japan.

Ambulance

Child nearly dies from smallpox vaccine infection

A 2-year-old Indiana boy who contracted a rare and life-threatening infection from his soldier father's smallpox vaccination is recovering, a hospital spokesman said.

Health

Child Recovering From Vaccine Infection

A 2-year-old Indiana boy who contracted a rare and life-threatening infection from his soldier father's smallpox vaccination is recovering, a hospital spokesman said.

Doctors have relied on some untested measures to save the boy's life, including skin grafts and an experimental drug that has never been used to treat a human patient, officials said. The boy's pox lesions left him with the equivalent of second-degree burns, requiring grafts to let the underlying skin heal.

"Everyone has been a little bit astonished that he has recovered as well as he has," hospital spokesman John Easton said Saturday. The boy should be should be upgraded to serious from critical condition soon, he added.