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Wed, 03 Mar 2021
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Free will takes flight: how our brains respond to an approaching menace

Wellcome Trust scientists have identified for the first time how our brain's response changes the closer a threat gets. Using a "Pac Man"-like computer game where a volunteer is pursued by an artificial predator, the researchers showed that the fear response moves from the strategic areas of the brain towards more reactive responses as the artificial predator approaches.

When faced with a threat, such as a large bear, humans, like other animals, alter their behaviour depending on whether the threat is close or distant. This is because different defence mechanisms are needed depending on whether, for example, the bear is fifty feet away, when being aware of its presence may be enough, or five feet away, when we might need to fight or run away.

Magic Wand

TAU Researchers Discover Correlation Between Birth Month and Short-Sightedness

Planning for a summer delivery for your child? You might want to choose an ophthalmologist along with an obstetrician.

If your child is born in the winter or fall, it will have better long-range eyesight throughout its lifetime and less chance of requiring thick corrective glasses, predicts a Tel Aviv University investigation led by Dr. Yossi Mandel, a senior ophthalmologist in the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps.

Forming a large multi-center Israeli team, the scientists took data on Israeli youth aged 16-23 and retroactively correlated the incidence of myopia (short-sightedness) with their month of birth. The results were astonishing. Babies born in June and July had a 24% greater chance of becoming severely myopic than those born in December and January the group with the least number of severely myopic individuals. The investigators say that this evidence is likely applicable to babies born anywhere in the world.

Magic Hat

'World's fattest GM mouse' appears immune to diabetes

The "world's fattest mice", genetically engineered to overproduce a key hormone, weigh five times as much as normal mice do - but bizarrely do not develop diabetes, reveals a new study. The findings shed light on how current diabetes medications work and point to new drug targets to treat the disease, say the study's researchers.

©Ja-Young Kim/Dave Gresham
A mouse (pictured on the left) engineered to overproduce the hormone adiponectin weighs 100 grammes - five times as much as a normal mouse (pictured on the right)

Health

Soda and Food Warning! High-fructose Corn Syrup Linked To Diabetes, New Study Suggests

Researchers have found new evidence that soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may contribute to the development of diabetes, particularly in children. In a laboratory study of commonly consumed carbonated beverages, the scientists found that drinks containing the syrup had high levels of reactive compounds that have been shown by others to have the potential to trigger cell and tissue damage that could cause the disease, which is at epidemic levels.

Bomb

More Dangerous Than Smoking? Death by Soda

Drinking one soda a day could cause you to gain 15 pounds a year. Other related health risks include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bowel cancer and nerve damage.

We are a country of overweight people. Americans are tipping the scales in record numbers, with approximately 130 million who are presently considered overweight or obese. Perhaps most alarmingly of all, half of all women aged 20 to 39 in the United States are included in these figures. Many factors contribute to the growing problem, from our sedentary lifestyles to our overindulgence in high-energy, low nutritional foods. Dealing with the crisis is not easy. The marketing of energy dense foods is a multi-billion dollar industry, and manufacturers of such products go to great lengths to ensure their shareholders continue to profit from the sales of nutrition-less foods.

Smoking

Secondhand Smoke, Firsthand Ignorance

As the smoking ban marches on here in Charleston, South Carolina, as have similar bans across the country, anti-smoking activists have been able to implement such legislation by claiming they have science on their side. By convincing a significant portion of the population that secondhand smoke is not merely annoying, but a serious health risk, anti-smoking activists have been victorious, while business owners have been forced to bear the cost of lost rights and revenue. This is a shame, because gutting the primary argument of smoking ban proponents from the get-go - the health argument - might have produced an entirely different outcome.

Coffee

Cargill, Coca-Cola develop natural sweetener

Agribusiness Cargill has teamed up with Coca-Cola to market a new calorie-free natural sweetener made from the South American herb Stevia.

A spokeswoman said she could confirm reports about the existence of the sweetener, but was unable to give further details.

Wine

Study finds taste receptors in intestines

NEW YORK (UPI) - U.S. scientists have, for the first time, identified the existence of taste receptors in the human intestines.

Comment: Problems with sugar anyone?

The Paleolithic Diet Page


Health

Health Tips From Your Own DNA

New mom Melissa Christensen runs marathons and eats her vegetables, but during a DNA mapping test she learned she is still a candidate for heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

The healthy 30-year-old said the test gave her a health warning straight from her own DNA.

Comment: What happens when insurance companies get a hold of this DNA information and then opt to cut policies or raise rates based on the information?


Health

Imported Foods Concern Food Safety Experts

A University of Georgia expert says the challenges in ensuring a safe U.S. food supply will continue to grow to unprecedented heights unless solutions are provided quickly.

"Although most foods Americans eat are safe, with odds of greater than 1 in 1 million of becoming hospitalized from a serving of food, the dynamics of the U.S. food system are rapidly changing," said Michael Doyle, director of the UGA Center for Food Safety. "Consumers are much more vulnerable now to large episodes of foodborne illnesses."