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Mon, 23 Oct 2017
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Health & Wellness


Childhood upbringing can have dramatic effects on human health

© (RooM the Agency / Alamy)
An extensive longitudinal study looks at the connection between childhood environment and diseases in adulthood.
An investigation into more than 500 children shows that upbringing can have dramatic effects on human health

DNA is the genetic material that makes us who we are, determining our physical characteristics and even helping to shape our personality. There are many ailments that have a strong hereditary component-Alzheimer's, Huntington's Disease, cancers and diabetes among others-and the risk of suffering them is passed down from our parents through our DNA.

But we're finding out that our DNA isn't always set in stone. Now, a team of researchers from Northwestern University led by anthropology professor Thom McDade have shown that DNA can also be modified by your environment during childhood. What's more, the authors conclude in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those modifications can affect how or when you develop certain illnesses during adulthood.

Comment: DNA signature found in ice storm babies: Objective stress exposure of pregnant women causes long lasting changes in the epigenome of their babies


Chemicals in commerce: How to keep plastics out of your food

Know Your Plastics
Take action to protect your food-and your family-from BPA.

Our exploding use of plastics may be causing population decline in the industrial world. The possible cause? "Chemicals in commerce." Namely plastics.

Our bodies have receptor sites for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. These sites fulfill various important bodily functions. Imagine if instead of real hormones the receptors receive chemicals that mimic hormones, such as are found in plasticizers. This fools the body into thinking it has the real thing until, oops, the plasticizer or other hormone disrupting chemical derails the system. Called endocrine disruption, this phenomenon was brought to worldwide attention in 1996 with the seminal book Our Stolen Future.

Comment: Read more about 'chemicals in commerce' and endocrine disruption:

Cell Phone

Male infertility in the modern world: The answer is in your pocket

Modern living can be a real drag, particularly if you're a sperm cell it seems. In July came news of the publication of a scientific review that appeared to confirm the suspicions of many a soothsayer down the ages. Verily, the seed of human existence looks to be drying up.

According to study authors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, sperm counts and concentration figures in the West have halved since the early 1970s, and continue to fall at an alarming rate. Might the baron dystopia of intergenerational fruitlessness, foretold by many a cackling witch down the ages, indeed be just around the corner?

As the news broke, Edinburgh University's Professor Richard Sharpe was on hand to reassure us that "the end of humanity is not approaching".

Alas, those of the Sir David Attenborough ("we are a plague on earth") school, quick to cheer the report, may have been a little premature in rejoicing. A substantially depopulated planet may not, in fact, be right around the corner and mankind's fate is far from sealed.

Comment: More on the damaging effects of cell phones on male fertility:


The not-so-genius effects of hacking your brain with smart drugs

When you talk to brain-hackers from Silicon Valley, they talk of creating the perfect stack - a combination of natural and pharmaceutical nootropics that can help make them into a super-powered genius that can go hours without sleep while maintaining massive focus. It sounds like a cool way to hack the brain, but this practice can come at a price.

The problem is that many of the pharmaceutical versions (and sometimes even the natural ones) can be damaging.

In the early days, people trying to crank out loads of computer code, write the next best-selling novel, cram for a university exam, or simply party like it was 1999, used micro-doses of LSD or Adderall, a prescription drug normally used to treat ADHD, and some of these practices are still used today.

The thinking behind this phenomenon is that if supplements like glutamate, an excitatory substance to the brain and nervous system can successfully be utilized for people who have cognitive dysfunction like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, ADHD, etc., certainly these supplements could help enhance memory creativity, and cognitive performance in "normal" people.

Comment: See also:


Heart failure could be treated using umbilical cord stem cells

Scientists offer new hope for heart failure patients.
Using stem cells derived from the umbilical cord, researchers have improved the heart muscle and function of heart failure patients, paving the way for noninvasive therapies.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Jorge Bartolucci, a professor at the Universidad de los Andes (UANDES) in Santiago, Chile, and Dr. Fernando Figueroa, a professor of medicine at UANDES, is the corresponding author.

Dr. Bartolucci and colleagues conducted a trial in which they compared patients who were given an intravenous injection with stem cells from umbilical cords with patients who received a placebo.

The results - which have been published in the journal Circulation Research - were deemed "encouraging" by Dr. Figueroa. He says that the findings could improve survival rates for heart failure patients, which are currently quite disappointing.

Comment: See also: Stem cell therapy: The innovations and potential to help repair and regenerate your body

SOTT Logo Radio

The Health & Wellness Show: Connecting the Dots...Iron, Brown Fat, Depression and tattoos

© Shutterstock
As summer comes to an end and we enter the fall season we connect the dots in health news. We will discuss Iron - what is iron overload? Can high levels of iron contribute to disease? Also we will look at brown and white fat, what's the difference? Is one better than the other when it comes to wellness and disease prevention? New research has come to light about chronic inflammation fanning the flames of depression, can our diet really effect our mental state? And finally 'think before you ink', are there hidden health risks when it comes to tattoos?

Zoya joins us with another interesting pet health segment: 'Happiness and suffering. How to deal with daily struggles. And why we should choose our suffering and be happy about it.'

Running Time: 01:50:02

Download: OGG, MP3

Listen live, chat, and call in to future shows on the SOTT Radio Network!


Amino acids in sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel and avocados trigger reaction in brain that makes people feel fuller

Sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel and avocados could help dieters lose weight because they trigger a reaction in the brain which makes people feel fuller, scientists have discovered.

The University of Warwick has for the first time identified the cells in the brain - called tanycytes - which detect nutrients in food and help trigger feelings of satiety.

Crucially some foods contain types of amino acids which stimulate the tanycytes more than others.

Pork shoulder, beef sirloin steak, chicken, mackerel, plums, apricots, avocados, lentils and almonds were all found to contain amino acids that activate tanycytes and therefore make people feel fuller quicker.

Microscope 1

California Department of Public Health: STDs are spreading at a concerning rate

Treponema pallidum spirochete
Following the newly published statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday, which report more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in the United States in 2016, the highest number ever, California's "Top Doc" says sexually transmitted infections in her state are "increasing at a concerning rate".

"The number of reported STDs in California is increasing at a concerning rate," said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. "This is the third year in a row that we have seen increases in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis."

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to increase in California, according to new statistics from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Comment: And not only in California: STD infections have become a major health problem worldwide as antibiotics fail


Baa Baa Land: A film that really puts you to sleep

© REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Sheep are seen in front of the shores of Carlingford Lough in Omeath, Ireland, February 17, 2017.
Clad in a sparkling ball gown and tuxedo, the stars of the latest film to premiere in London's Leicester Square walked the red carpet in a rather unusual manner - on four legs.

The stars in question were a group of sheep who feature in a new eight-hour, dialogue-free film "Baa Baa Land" - billed by its makers as the dullest movie ever made.

It's not so much watching the grass grow as watching it be eaten.

The film - whose title plays on Hollywood hit "La La Land" -- features no actors, words or narrative and consists entirely of slow-motion shots of sheep in a field in Essex, England.

It was made as a tongue-in-cheek insomnia cure, by Calm.com, one of the companies vying for a piece of the fast-growing mindfulness industry, part of what the Global Wellness Institute estimates is a $3.7 trillion global wellness market.

Comment: Feeling sheepish about watching the most boring movie ever made as a way to get to sleep at night? Then check out these articles for proven ways to reduce stress and sleep better:


How dehydration affects brain function

Water makes up at least two-thirds of the human body and plays an important role in your normal functions. Subsequently, dehydration can lead to a number of other ailments, from migraines1 and constipation to kidney stones. It can also take a toll on your brain health, affecting your mood and overall brain function. For example, when you're dehydrated, you're more prone to irritability, anxiety and fatigue.

Dehydration happens when you've lost too much water in your body without replacing it, preventing your body from performing its normal functions. Mild dehydration can easily be treated but if it reaches extreme levels, it can be life-threatening and will require immediate medical attention.

Dehydration Shrinks Your Brain

About three-quarters of your brain is water, and when dehydrated, your brain actually shrinks in volume. (This shrinking is what causes a dehydration headache.)

Even mild or temporary dehydration can alter your brain function and impact your mood2 as revealed in a 2013 study,3 in which 20 healthy women in their mid-20s were deprived of all beverages for 24 hours. While no clinical abnormalities were observed in the biological parameters (urine, blood and saliva), thirst and heart rate did increase and urine output was drastically reduced. As expected, the urine also became darker. As for mood effects, the authors noted:
"The significant effects of [fluid deprivation] on mood included decreased alertness and increased sleepiness, fatigue and confusion. The most consistent effects of mild dehydration on mood are on sleep/wake parameters..."