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Fri, 27 Nov 2020
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Magic Wand

Moon jobs will tax mental health of workers

Think your job is tough? Can't wait for summer vacation to "get away from it all"? Just wait, says a Rutgers University - Camden researcher. In the not-too-distant future, some jobs will challenge workers placed far, far away from it all.

On the moon, in fact.

According to Chester Spell, an associate professor of management at the Rutgers School of Business - Camden, the lunar settlements of tomorrow - or, for that matter, the space stations of today - carry long-term implications for the mental health of employees working in isolation for extended periods. Depression and anxiety will reach new levels among those employees, creating mental and cardiovascular health problems as well as a sharp decline in productivity.

Health

Higher the mother's blood sugar, higher baby's risk

The higher a pregnant woman's level of blood sugar, the greater the risk to her newborn, whether the mother has diabetes or not, the largest study on the problem suggests.

The findings released yesterday may lead to more women being diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy and given stricter diet advice or medication to lower blood sugar.

The research involved more than 23,000 pregnant women in nine countries. It found a surprisingly strong relationship between the blood sugar levels of the women and the rate of big babies and first-time caesarean sections, said Dr. Boyd Metzger of Northwestern University, lead investigator.

The newborns also were more likely to have low blood sugar levels and high insulin levels if their mothers' blood sugar levels were higher. The problems can lead to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure later in life.

Health

Up to 30,000 have new untreatable form of TB: WHO

A new, untreatable form of tuberculosis is striking up to 30,000 people a year, the World Health Organization said on Friday, and warned it could spark an "apocalyptic scenario" if unchecked.

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Can Non-Stick Chemical Spark Allergies?

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A controversial chemical used in Teflon non-stick coatings could be making people more prone to allergies, a study suggests.

Perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA) - also used to make all-weather clothing and stain-resistant fabrics and carpets - has already been identified by scientists as "likely" to be carcinogenic to humans.

Now Dr Jean Meade and colleagues at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, West Virginia, have shown it may prime the immune system to overreact to allergy triggers (allergens) such as dust mite or dander.

Lab mice given PFOA before being exposed to an egg allergen produced more antibodies and experienced more constriction of their airways than those exposed to the allergen alone.

The results published in Toxicological Sciences suggest one possible explanation for the rising incidence of asthma in children.

Red Flag

H5N1 bird flu confirmed at Czech turkey farm

Czech officials confirmed Thursday the country's first outbreak of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain in poultry, at a turkey farm in the centre of the country.

"It is confirmed, it is H5N1," the spokesman for the State Veterinary Administration, Zbynek Semerad, told AFP.

Around 1,800 turkeys have already died at the farm at Tisova, near the central town of Usti-nad-Orlici, which has a flock of around 6,000 birds.

Magic Wand

Those raised as eldest seen having edge. Researchers find an impact on IQ

Is big sister always telling you what's best? Does big brother seem to know it all?

Instead of stewing in resentment, maybe you should start listening when they dispense smart-alecky advice.

Turns out, they really are brighter than you, by and large.

A large study by Norwegian scientists appearing in today's edition of Science, the weekly academic journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, concludes that a child raised as the eldest has a higher intelligence quotient, on average, than younger siblings.

The difference is just a couple of IQ points -- not exactly the gap between Albert Einstein and Homer Simpson.

Magic Wand

Putting feelings into words produces therapeutic effects in the brain

Why does putting our feelings into words - talking with a therapist or friend, writing in a journal - help us to feel better" A new brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists reveals why verbalizing our feelings makes our sadness, anger and pain less intense.

Another study, with the same participants and three of the same members of the research team, combines modern neuroscience with ancient Buddhist teachings to provide the first neural evidence for why "mindfulness" - the ability to live in the present moment, without distraction - seems to produce a variety of health benefits.

When people see a photograph of an angry or fearful face, they have increased activity in a region of the brain called the amygdala, which serves as an alarm to activate a cascade of biological systems to protect the body in times of danger. Scientists see a robust amygdala response even when they show such emotional photographs subliminally, so fast a person can't even see them.

But does seeing an angry face and simply calling it an angry face change our brain response" The answer is yes, according to Matthew D. Lieberman, UCLA associate professor of psychology and a founder of social cognitive neuroscience.

"When you attach the word 'angry,' you see a decreased response in the amygdala," said Lieberman, lead author of the study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Clock

Ancient retrovirus sheds light on modern pandemic

Human resistance to a retrovirus that infected chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates 4 million years ago ironically may be at least partially responsible for the susceptibility of humans to HIV infection today.

These findings, reported by a team of researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the June 22 issue of Science, provide a better understanding of this modern pandemic infection through the study of an ancient virus called Pan troglodytes endogenous retrovirus, or PtERV1.

"This ancient virus is a battle that humans have already won. Humans are not susceptible to it and have probably been resistant throughout millennia," said senior author Michael Emerman, Ph.D., a member of the Human Biology and Basic Sciences divisions at the Hutchinson Center. "However, we found that during primate evolution, this innate immunity to one virus may have made us more vulnerable to HIV."

Evidence of human immunity to this ancient retrovirus first emerged with the sequencing of the chimpanzee genome. "When the chimp genome was sequenced, a team of scientists at the University of Washington led by Evan Eichler found the largest difference overall between the chimp and human genomes was the presence or absence of PtERV1," Emerman said. "Chimps have 130 copies of PtERV1 and humans have none."

It is believed that retroviruses have been entering the genome for many millions of years, and so humans share many retroviral DNA fragments with their primate cousins. Such vestiges of primitive infection, rendered inactive by eons of genetic mutation, make up about 8 percent of the human genome.

Health

Canada's first ambulance for obese patients on call

Obese patients in Calgary, Alberta, are the first in Canada to have a new ambulance on call specially modified to move them in a dignified and safe way while protecting paramedics from injury.

The so-called "bariatric response team" is called in when the patient weighs between 400 pounds (181 kilograms) and 1,000 pounds (453 kg).

"There's a high risk of injury for our staff... obviously, the larger the patient, the higher the probability is," Paul Lapointe, public education officer at Calgary's emergency medical services, said on Thursday.

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Why Americans Keep Getting Fatter

A long-running contradiction in U.S. farm policy is fattening the waistlines of Americans and the profits of agribusiness at the same time. For the 30 years that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been issuing dietary guidelines, there has been a stark inconsistency between the federal government's advice and its food funding.

True, the USDA has been doing more, over time, to promote health through dietary guidelines, food pyramids and other nutrition programs. And yet more than $20 billion yearly -- more than one-fifth its budget -- is sunk into a farm bill that supports many of the foods its recommendations warn against. At the same time, the department virtually ignores incentives to produce, promote and consume some of the healthiest foods: fruits and vegetables.