health

‘To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.’ –Hippocrates

28.jpg

We all know that exercise can make us fitter and reduce our risk for illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. But just how, from start to finish, a run or a bike ride might translate into a healthier life has remained baffling.

Now new research reports that the answer may lie, in part, in our DNA. Exercise, a new study finds, changes the shape and functioning of our genes, an important stop on the way to improved health and fitness. […]

Epigenetics [is] a process by which the operation of genes is changed, but not the DNA itself. Epigenetic changes occur on the outside of the gene, mainly through a process called methylation. In methylation, clusters of atoms, called methyl groups, attach to the outside of a gene like microscopic mollusks and make the gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body.

Scientists know that methylation patterns change in response to lifestyle. Eating certain diets or being exposed to pollutants, for instance, can change methylation patterns on some of the genes in our DNA and affect what proteins those genes express. Depending on which genes are involved, it may also affect our health and risk for disease. […]

The volunteers pedaled one-legged at a moderate pace for 45 minutes, four times per week for three months. […] More than 5,000 sites on the genome of muscle cells from the exercised leg now featured new methylation patterns. Some showed more methyl groups; some fewer. […]

Most of the genes in question are known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation within muscles. In other words, they affect how healthy and fit our muscles — and bodies — become.

They were not changed in the unexercised leg.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

photo { David Hasselhoff, The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, 2004 }

related { Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors }

Maître d’: Ah, good afternoon, sir; and how are we today? Mr Creosote: Better.

26.jpg

Far more attention has been paid to the microbes in our feces than the microbes in our food. […]

We characterized the microbiota of three different dietary patterns in order to estimate: the average total amount of daily microbes ingested via food and beverages, and their composition in three daily meal plans representing three different dietary patterns.

The three dietary patterns analyzed were: (1) the Average American (AMERICAN): focused on convenience foods, (2) USDA recommended (USDA): emphasizing fruits and vegetables, lean meat, dairy, and whole grains, and (3) Vegan (VEGAN): excluding all animal products. […]

Based on plate counts, the USDA meal plan had the highest total amount of microbes, followed by the VEGAN meal plan.

{ PeerJ | Continue reading }

‘Unless one is inordinately fond of subordination, one is always at war.’ –Philip Roth

6.jpg

This study examines the relationship between physical appearance and labor market outcomes. It focuses on hair color and addresses the effects of the “blonde myth,” a series of perceptions about personality characteristics of blonde women.

Inexperienced blonde women earn significantly less than their non-blonde counterparts. This wage gap declines over time, and blonde women with more work experience earn higher wages.

The relationship between earnings and hair color is not explained by personal or family characteristics. I argue that employer or customer tastes drive the initial blonde hair penalty; job sorting and mobility allow blonde women to close the gap.

{ Labour Economics | Continue reading }

photo { Stacy Leigh, average americans (that happen to be sex/love dolls) }

‘Let’s break shit.’ –Guy Vidra

35.jpg

The Male Idiotic Theory (MIT) stipulates that the reason men are more prone to injury and death is simply because they “are idiots and idiots do stupid things“. Despite tons of anecdotal evidence confirming MIT, there’s never been a systematic analysis on sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour. Until now.

In a new study published in BMJ, researchers obtained 20 years worth of data from the Darwin Awards to tally up the sex of each year’s winner. For those not in the know, the Darwin Awards are given to people who die in such astonishingly stupid ways that “their action ensures the long-term survival of the species, by selectively allowing one less idiot to survive”. […]

Men made up a staggering 88.7 % of Darwin Award winners in 318 examined cases.

{ Neurorexia | Continue reading }

related { Males are more likely to die than females while in the womb }

‘I’m giving everyone framed underwear for Christmas.’ —Andy Warhol

5.jpg

Frostbite is the freezing of parts of the body. Your cells are mostly water; when water freezes it forms crystals. The crystals are sharp and are larger than the same amount of water (ie. water expands when it freezes). This leads to punctures in the cell membranes; the affected parts of the body sort of digest themselves due to the release of enzymes from the broken cells. Frostbite usually affects the extremities - toes, fingers, nose, ear lobes, private parts for men - because they have less blood flow and are harder to keep warm. Your body also sacrifices these body parts in an effort to keep warm by constricting blood vessels to keep the majority of blood from cooling and carrying the cold back to the center of the body. […]

Hypothermia is the bone-chilling cold you feel when your entire body’s temperature is dropping. Your normal body temperature is 98.6 ˚F (37 ˚C) or thereabouts. At 95 ˚F (35 ˚C) hypothermia begins. At 91 ˚F (32.7 ˚C) you get amnesia, and below 85 ˚F (29.5 ˚C) you lose consciousness. […] Hypothermia can kill you in several ways, two of which have to do with electricity. Your heart beats because it supplies itself with a chemico-electrical jolt every second or so. This is what occurs in the sinus and AV nodes of the heart and is based on an electrical charge difference across the cells’ membranes in the node. Low body temperature messes with the membrane potential, so the heartbeat is slow and erratic. Too slow (bradycardia) or too erratic (arrhythmia) leads to a heartbeat so dysfunctional that it won’t push the blood through your body and you die from cardiac failure.

{ The ‘Scope | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore }

‘every time I go by this Fresh Market, this dude with a whole beard-trimmer aesthetic is in front of it making out with a different woman’ —Jeb Lund

32.jpg

[D]etoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.

“Let’s be clear,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The respectable one, he says, is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions. “The other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.” […]

In 2009, a network of scientists assembled by the UK charity Sense about Science contacted the manufacturers of 15 products sold in pharmacies and supermarkets that claimed to detoxify. The products ranged from dietary supplements to smoothies and shampoos. When the scientists asked for evidence behind the claims, not one of the manufacturers could define what they meant by detoxification, let alone name the toxins. […]

Then there’s colonic irrigation. Its proponents will tell you that mischievous plaques of impacted poo can lurk in your colon for months or years and pump disease-causing toxins back into your system. Pay them a small fee, though, and they’ll insert a hose up your bottom and wash them all away.[…] No doctor has ever seen one of these mythical plaques, and many warn against having the procedure done, saying that it can perforate your bowel.

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

What are your unbreakable rules for yourself?

42.jpg

Researchers in the US have used electrical brain stimulation to boost the vigilance of sleep-deprived military personnel working on an airforce base.

Experiments on 18- to 42-year old men and women on active duty found that half an hour of electrical brain stimulation improved their performance twice as much as caffeine, and the effect lasted three times as long.

{ The Guardian | Continue reading | via gettingsome }

‘Then they plunged a great needle into my butt and BAM! out I went for two whole days. When I woke up, wow! Rats all over the floor, wailing and screaming. We ate potatoes with spoons.’ –Edie Sedgwick

6.jpg

Why do we dream? It’s still a scientific mystery. The “Threat Simulation Theory” proposes that we dream as a way to simulate real-life threats and prepare ourselves for dealing with them. “This simulation in an almost-real experiential world would train the brain to perceive dangers and rapidly face them within the safe condition of sleeping,” write the authors of a new paper that’s put the theory to the test. […]

The researchers contacted thousands of first-year students at the end of the day that they sat a very important exam. […] over 700 of the students agreed to participate and they completed a questionnaire about their dreams and sleep quality the previous evening, and any dreams they’d had about the exam over the course of the university term. […] The more exam dreams a student reported having during the term, the higher their grade tended to be.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

collage { Eugenia Loli }

‘Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.’ –Epicurus

36.jpg

Harvard scientists have discovered a new way to fight brain cancer with stem cells, a recent study has revealed.

The team of scientists, who experimented on mice, used genetically engineered stem cells that released cancer killing toxins, while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

Most importantly, the modified cells were able to emit the tumour killing poison without succumbing to its effects.

It is considered a breakthrough in cancer treatment by experts.

{ Independent | ScienceDaily }

art { Josef Albers, Sanctuary, 1942 }

‘Augurs and understood relations have by magot pies and choughs and rooks brought forth the secret’st man of blood.’ –Shakespeare

421.jpg

Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the cells and tissues in our body. If we lose a lot of blood in surgery or an accident, we need more of it – fast. Hence the hundreds of millions of people flowing through blood donation centres across the world, and the thousands of vehicles transporting bags of blood to processing centres and hospitals.

It would be straightforward if we all had the same blood. But we don’t. On the surface of every one of our red blood cells, we have up to 342 antigens – molecules capable of triggering the production of specialised proteins called antibodies. It is the presence or absence of particular antigens that determines someone’s blood type. […]

If a particular high-prevalence antigen is missing from your red blood cells, then you are ‘negative’ for that blood group. If you receive blood from a ‘positive’ donor, then your own antibodies may react with the incompatible donor blood cells, triggering a further response from the immune system. These transfusion reactions can be lethal. […]

There are 35 blood group systems, organised according to the genes that carry the information to produce the antigens within each system. The majority of the 342 blood group antigens belong to one of these systems. The Rh system (formerly known as ‘Rhesus’) is the largest, containing 61 antigens.

The most important of these Rh antigens, the D antigen, is quite often missing in Caucasians, of whom around 15 per cent are Rh D negative (more commonly, though inaccurately, known as Rh-negative blood). But Thomas seemed to be lacking all the Rh antigens. If this suspicion proved correct, it would make his blood type Rh null – one of the rarest in the world, and a phenomenal discovery for the hospital haematologists. […] Some 43 people with Rh null blood had been reported worldwide.

{ Mosaic | Continue reading }

‘Death is the only thing we haven’t succeeded in completely vulgarizing.’ —Aldous Huxley

3.jpg

Leveraging the insight that periods, while a pain, also bring women together, JWT has created an augmented reality app that combines Chinese consumers’ love of technology, cute characters and selfies into a new branded platform for Sofy sanitary pads.

{ Campaign Asia | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

One by one they were all becoming shades

4.jpg

We will review evidence from neuroscience, complex network research and evolution theory and demonstrate that — at least in terms of psychopharmacological intervention — on the basis of our understanding of brain function it seems inconceivable that there ever will be a drug that has the desired effect without undesirable side effects.

{ Neuroethics | Continue reading }

photo { Hannes Caspar }