February 2, 2010

Excitement Goes Beyond Science

1 Is Vitamin D a Big Help or Hype?

Vitamin D has recently been touted as an aid to preventing cancer, diabetes and heart disease, among other ailments, and sales of vitamin D supplements have skyrocketed, with customers spending $235 million on the pills in 2008 compared to just $40 million in 2001. But just because research into the vitamin's benefits has been promising doesn't mean we should all rush out and start supplementing, some doctors say. For one thing, people who have had high levels of vitamin D in studies likely do other things that lower their risk of diseases, such as eating well and exercising regularly. Dr. JoAnn E. Manson of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston is working on a five-year study of 20,000 older adults to see if vitamin D and fish oil supplements help prevent heart disease or cancer.

More at New York Times blog | Posted 8 years ago by Sarah E. White

Comment on This | Was this Interesting? Yes! (47%) / No! (54%)

Still Heaviest on Earth

2 World's Fattest Man Loses Big

Paul Mason, a resident of England and the world's fattest man, has undergone gastric bypass surgery to help him lose weight. He weighed 70 stone (that's 980 pounds) before having the surgery last month; he's already lost about 20 stone (280 pounds) and now weighs about 686 pounds. Mason consumed about 20,000 calories a day before the surgery, but was put on a crash diet to help him lose enough weight so doctors would deem it safe to operate. He's expected to be in the hospital for about two weeks and to get another surgery in about six months. It's estimated the NHS has paid more than a million pounds for his care over the last 15 years.

More at Telegraph | Posted 8 years ago by Sarah E. White

Comment on This | Was this Interesting? Yes! (51%) / No! (49%)

No Link Between MMR, Autism

3 Lancet Retracts Autism Study

The medical journal the Lancent retracted 1998 study that said there was a link between the measles, mumps, rubella vaccination and autism in children. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the lead researcher on the 12-year-old study, was found last week to have used unethical practices in his research. The General Medical Council in Britain found that he had subjected some children in the study to procedures like colonoscopies and MRIs and reportedly paid kids at his son's birthday party to give blood samples. The original study, which posited that the measles vaccine could cause gastrointestinal problems that could then lead to autism, has long been considered flawed and the theory has been discredited in subsequent studies.

More at CNN | Posted 8 years ago by Sarah E. White

Comment on This | Was this Interesting? Yes! (47%) / No! (53%)

Foods with Claims Sell Big

4 Americans Love Health Claims

Research from Nielsen says that American consumers are big fans of food products that make health claims. Products that make claims about their Omega-3 content have been the biggest winners in the past year, with sales up 42 percent over last year. Other popular claims have to do with antioxidants (up 29 percent), gluten free (16 percent), probiotics, calcium and fiber (all up 13 percent). Other claims that have seen growth over the past year include those low on the glycemic index, lacking in salt or sodium and those made without high fructose corn syrup. Products with claims about their fat content slid 3 percent in sales last year, but they still had more than $46 billion in sales. The claim "natural" is also a perennial favorite, with nearly $23 billion in sales.

More at Nielsen Blog | Posted 8 years ago by Sarah E. White

Comment on This | Was this Interesting? Yes! (47%) / No! (53%)

Lost in Space

5 Genes May Be Responsible for Ability to Navigate

Researchers at the Department of Cognitive Science at The Johns Hopkins University have linked a rare genetic disorder, known as Williams syndrome, with the inability to navigate one's surroundings. The ability to orient oneself is basic to human development and is present in humans as early as 18 months of age, according to lead researcher, Barbara Landau. Williams syndrome occurs in one in 7,500 live births. According to researchers, the results of this study are significant as they provide information on how genes work and what might go wrong in brain development. "Our evidence is the first to directly show a substantial deficit in this reorientation system that is caused by missing genes in humans."

More at ScienceDaily | Posted 8 years ago by Melody Lesser

Comment on This | Was this Interesting? Yes! (43%) / No! (57%)

Pop a Pepper Pill, Lose Weight

6 Pepper Pill Proves Promising in Weight Loss

A new pill with the potential to burn as many calories as a 20-minute walk, was tested by the University of Oklahoma Health and Exercise Science Department, with promising results. General Nutrition Centers (GNC) contracted with OU to test the pill's effect on weight loss. Called the tri-pepper blend and containing black pepper, caffeine and a concentrated form of capsaicin, use of the pill resulted in energy expenditures of three to six percent, enough to validate the pill's weight loss claims.

More at EurekAlert | Posted 8 years ago by Melody Lesser

Read the Comments (2) | Was this Interesting? Yes! (45%) / No! (55%)

Late Bloomers

7 Obesity May Contribute to Delayed Puberty in Boys

A new study published in the February issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reports that a higher body mass index in boys is associated with delayed onset of puberty. The opposite is true for heavier girls who tend to develop earlier than their leaner peers. "Our study shows that the relationship between body fat and timing of puberty is not the same in boys as it is in girls," says the study's leader, pediatric endocrinologist Joyce M. Lee, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Michigan Health System. Over the past two decades, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled in the U.S. and it has become increasingly important to better understand the ways in which excess body fat can impact children's growth and development, she adds.

More at EurekAlert | Posted 8 years ago by Melody Lesser

Read the Comments (1) | Was this Interesting? Yes! (48%) / No! (52%)

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

8 Older, Healthy Adults May Need Less Sleep

Healthy, older adults may require less sleep and wake up feeling less fatigued than their younger counterparts, says a new study published in the current issue of the journal Sleep. Research indicates that, during an eight hour night, total sleep time decreased with age with older adults sleeping about 40 minutes less than young adults. Conversely, awake times and the amount of time it took to fall asleep after awakening increased in older adults who, despite shortened sleep times, felt more awake during the day compared with younger adults. The study, conducted at the Clinical Research Center of the University of Surrey, affirms the theory that "it is not normal for older people to be sleepy during the day." The research has implications for the treatment of insomnia in older adults.

More at ScienceDaily | Posted 8 years ago by Melody Lesser

Comment on This | Was this Interesting? Yes! (47%) / No! (53%)

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