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Mon, 27 Feb 2017
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Health & Wellness


Link between Glyphosate and Autism

After the World Health Organization declared Monsanto's Roundup active ingredient glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic," Monsanto have actively chased lawsuits for defamation. Now, a new study has demonstrated damming correlations between the increased use of the herbicide and the increase of autism in the same decades.

Whether from vaccines laced with mercury or from diet or pesticide use, autism today is vastly on the rise in children. Disturbing figures attributed one in 68 children as having an autism spectrum disorder, according to the CDC in 2014. In 2008 it was 1 in 88, and in 2000, the figure was 1 in 150 for those born in 1992.

The CDC still maintains a 2014 figure as current statistics, placing one percent of the population as having autism spectrum disorder, however, publications suggest the figure is now 1 in 50.

Comment: More information on autism and glyphosate:


Social media use, high stress levels, and its threat to Americans' sanity

Almost half say they are "constant checkers."

If you pull out your phone to check Twitter while waiting for the light to change, or read e-mails while brushing your teeth, you might be what the American Psychological Association calls a "constant checker." And chances are, it's hurting your mental health.

Last week, the APA released a study finding that Americans were experiencing the first statistically significant stress increase in the survey's 10-year history. In January, 57 percent of respondents of all political stripes said the U.S. political climate was a very or somewhat significant source of stress, up from 52 percent who said the same thing in August. On Thursday, the APA released the second part of its 1 findings, "Stress In America: Coping With Change," examining the role technology and social media play in American stress levels.

Social media use has skyrocketed from 7 percent of American adults in 2005 to 65 percent in 2015. For those in the 18-29 age range, the increase is larger, from 12 percent to a remarkable 90 percent. But while an increase in social media usage is hardly surprising, the number of people who just can't tear themselves away is stark: Nowadays, 43 percent of Americans say they are checking their e-mails, texts, or social media accounts constantly. And their stress levels are paying for it: On a 10-point scale, constant checkers reported an average stress level of 5.3. For the rest of Americans, the average level is a 4.4.

Comment: While social media is an important and useful tool for communicating ideas and sharing awareness on important issues among other things, we should, as much as possible, be clear on why we're using it. Some more on this:


Long fasts are a new hot trend - but are they worth the risk?

Intermittent fasting, schmittermittent schmasting. The hot new trend is the extended fast—eating nothing and drinking only non-caloric beverages for no less than three days and often as many as 30-40 days. A mere compressed eating window this isn't.

If fasting for more than three days sounds riskier than just skipping breakfast, you're right. Long fasts can get you into trouble. They're a big commitment. You shouldn't just stumble into one because it sounds interesting or some guy on your Twitter feed wrote about it.

Skipping a meal or even an entire day of food makes evolutionary sense. We weren't always successful on the hunt or with foraging. We couldn't head down to the Trader Joe's for shrink-wrapped steak, sacks of apples, and jars of honey. Reaching the fed state wasn't a sure thing. Intermittent fasting—going out of your way to not eat, even though food is available—is a modern contrivance meant to replicate the ancestral metabolic environment.

But long fasts seem more evolutionarily aberrant. The evidence from extant hunter-gatherers, many of whom live on land far more impoverished and limited than our hunter-gatherer ancestors, indicates that outright famine is rare. The Hadza may not eat honey and wildebeest every day, but there's usually plenty of something to eat.

Are there benefits to the longer fast, though? What's the purported reasoning behind not eating for days on end?

Comment: More information on the benefits of fasting:

Microscope 2

Air pollution's affect on DNA and the increased risk of neurodegenerative disease

Not only is air pollution a major environmental concern, but it poses major health issues. New research suggests that inhaling extremely small particles known as fine particulate matter could add epigenetic marks to DNA. This may potentially lead to stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cognitive impairments and neurodevelopmental disorders.

We're certainly learning more about how our exposure to environmental toxins, especially pollution, affects the chemical tags that attach to our DNA and our health. Previous studies have linked traffic-related air pollution to an increase in histone acetylation, an epigenetic mark found on histone proteins. Similar research uncovered an association between inhaling diesel exhaust fumes and epigenetic changes that affected around 400 genes.

In a new study published in Toxicology, a team of researchers set out to investigate the role of oxidative stress and DNA hydroxymethylation caused by particulate matter from air pollution, in the development of neurodegenerative disease. 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) is an interesting epigenetic modification and its potential function continues to be explored.

Comment: So we have yet another reason for working to prevent - or helping to mitigate - the effects of oxidative stress that comes from pollution. Especially if one lives in an area with heavy industry.



How eating less slows the aging process

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There's a multi-billion-dollar industry devoted to products that fight signs of aging, but moisturizers only go skin deep. Aging occurs deeper — at a cellular level — and scientists have found that eating less can slow this cellular process.

Recent research published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics offers one glimpse into how cutting calories impacts aging inside a cell. The researchers found that when ribosomes — the cell's protein makers — slow down, the aging process slows too. The decreased speed lowers production but gives ribosomes extra time to repair themselves.

"The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest," said Brigham Young University biochemistry professor and senior author John Price. "When tires wear out, you don't throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It's cheaper to replace the tires."

So what causes ribosome production to slow down in the first place? At least for mice: reduced calorie consumption.

Comment: See also:


Sunlight: A key factor the breast cancer awareness movement ignores

The breast cancer awareness movement continues to miss out on what may be the single most important factor for preventing breast cancer: sunshine.

Sunshine is not even included in the list of factors currently under study, according to the Susan B. Komen Foundation.

Nevertheless, the potential role of sunshine for reducing the incidence of breast cancer has been known for decades. That's not all. Sunshine plays an important role in reducing other kinds of cancer as well.


In 1990, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, showed that the risk of fatal breast cancer in the U.S. followed a north-south gradient. Northern areas (New York, Chicago) were associated with up to a 1.8-fold higher rate of mortality in comparison with southern areas (Phoenix, Honolulu).

Lower mortality corresponded to higher levels of sunlight.

The same research group immediately followed up with a similar study of breast cancer incidence in the former Soviet Union. Results showed the same trend as in the U.S.

The survey expanded worldwide in 2005 to compare the incidence of breast cancer in 175 countries relative to their distance from the equator. In the northern hemisphere, the highest cancer rates were found in Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Canada. These countries are all located above 60º North latitude.

Comment: Further reading:


Just say 'no' to Nutella

55% of Nutella is sugar based.
Who didn't love Nutella as a child? That chocolatey smooth texture which spreads so perfectly on any food. Contrary to what its manufacturers promoted for decades, Nutella is not a health food at all. With the exception of margarine, it's the closest thing to spreadable junk food packed with sugar and one toxic ingredient in particular that has been linked with cancer.

Nutella was introduced in 1964 by the Italian company Ferrero who still manufactures the product, however they do have local manufacturers in many countries.

On their website Nutella claims "We choose only the freshest raw materials, carefully selected according to a sustainable sourcing and a great attention to their quality."

Two moms took Ferrero to court over false advertising and won their case. Their goal was to get the maker of Nutella to admit that, contrary to its ads, the product is no more healthy than a candy bar.


EU warns of alarming threat from superbug bacteria which has evolved to resist many widely used antibiotics

Superbug bacteria found in people, animals and food across the European Union pose an "alarming" threat to public and animal health having evolved to resist widely used antibiotics, disease and safety experts warned on Wednesday.

A report on antimicrobial resistance in bacteria by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said some 25,000 people die from such superbugs in the European Union every year.

"Antimicrobial resistance is an alarming threat putting human and animal health in danger," said Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU's health and food safety commissioner.

"We have put substantial efforts to stop its rise, but this is not enough. We must be quicker, stronger and act on several fronts."

Drug resistance is driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages bacteria to evolve to survive and develop new ways of beating the medicines.

Comment: The Health & Wellness Show: What have we done? Antibiotic resistance in the age of superbugs


Vitamin B found to significantly reduce symptoms of mental illness

We cannot escape the reality that in developed nations, people are often overfed and undernourished. A growing body of literature links dietary choices to brain health and the risk of psychiatric illness. B vitamins are required for proper functioning of the methylation cycle, monoamine production, DNA synthesis, and maintenance of phospholipids such as myelin. A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins -- including B6, B8 and B12 -- can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone.

The research -- on the effect of vitamin and mineral supplements on symptoms of schizophrenia was published in Psychological Medicine, one of the world's leading psychology journals.

Vitamin B is a dietary powerhouse, boosting energy levels and enhancing performance of nearly every system in the body.

The connection between mental health and B12 deficiency is staggering and yet it appears screening is rarely carried out within any division of modern healthcare.


Yay, Science! Boeing used potatoes instead of people to test its Wi-Fi

Here's one for the record books, that's Ripley's Believe It Or Not edition, if it's still in print.

According to a December 2012 BBC news report, "Boeing uses potatoes instead of people to test wi-fi."

I wonder what those potatoes in sacks had to say about how their brains reacted. Oh, sorry!

Potatoes don't have brains—or do they?

According to the BBC,
Boeing's engineers did a number of tests to ensure that passengers would get the strongest possible wi-fi signal while in the air, all while meeting safety standards that protect against interference with an aircraft's electrical systems. [CJF emphasis] [But not protect passengers!]
Did those tests include non-thermal adverse events results Wi-Fi microwaves produce while operating at 2.4 GHz or above? Spuds cannot answer those questions or participate in such necessary tests.

According to Boeing, the spuds were perfect stand-ins for humans! However, I don't think so. How come? Let me tell you what I think.