Science Saturday – Cleanin’ Out The Chum

I’ve been really busy the last few weeks, and the chum has been accumulating. So I decided it was time to clean some clutter out of the bookmarks. Here’s a collection of science and medicine related articles that I found of interest:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis. My wife, unfortunately, gets to deal with RA. Quite a few weeks ago, I learned about an article that explored the relationship between bacteria in beef and milk and RA: In particular, a strain of bacteria commonly found in milk and beef may be a trigger for developing rheumatoid arthritis in people who are genetically at risk, according to a new study from the University of Central Florida.
  • Artificial Sweetner and Crohns Disease. Another immune system disease, like RA, is Crohns. In another study,  researchers have found that, given over a six-week period, the artificial sweetener sucralose, known by the brand name Splenda, worsens gut inflammation in mice with Crohn’s disease, but had no substantive effect on those without the condition. I’m curious is there is any impact on RA. My wife only uses Stevia.
  • Going Gluten Free. We all know that if you are Celiac (as is my wife), you need to go on a gluten-free diet. Well, it turns out that might not be enough. There are reports on some extreme cases of cross contamination, and there are now tests sensitive enough to test for it. Cross-contact can start at the farm, where gluten-free crops might be grown adjacent to, or rotated with, gluten-containing crops. It can also occur anywhere down the line in processing, packaging and shipping. When Thompson reported the study on her Facebook page, which has over 17,000 followers, worried comments spooled out, ranging from concerns about airborne gluten from the bakery section of supermarkets, to cross-contact from wheat-eating family members, to a report from one woman with a gluten-detection dog able to reportedly detect down to 1 part per million (the dog alerted her to gluten on her shopping cart). A lament from one person with celiac disease seemed to sum it up: “There is no safe place in this world for a celiac. It breaks my heart.”
  • Case in Point: Oat Milk. It appears that a new artificial mylk is about to hit the market: Oat Milk.  They are predicting it will be the next big thing. Oat milk is made by milling oats with water to create a squishy texture. The resulting starch is broken down by added enzymes like malt sugar, which acts as a sweetener. That blend is then sifted to remove whole oat shells, leaving a creamy liquid that’s pasteurized and packaged. It even foams, thanks to a little canola oil. However, whether oats are gluten-free is iffy, and the malt sugar could also be a problem.
  • Having a Heart Attack. Here’s an interesting human interest story about a nurse in the Australian Outback that diagnosed their own heart attack, and saved their own life. Alone at his station, more than 600 miles from the city of Perth and 100 miles from any hospital at all, the 44-year-old man experiences a sudden bout of dizziness and severe chest pain. What he does next is remarkable, life-saving and — to a considerable degree — instructive.
  • Germicide Resistant Computers. Computers are a big problem in hospitals, because they can’t be sterilized or dipped in germicide. Enter HP: with new germicide resistant computers for hospitals.There are three products. There’s HP’s EliteOne 800 Healthcare Edition All-in-One desktop, there’s the 27-inch HP Healthcare Edition Clinical Review Display, and there’s the EliteBook 840 Healthcare Edition notebook. The laptop lets you disable the keyboard and touchscreen while cleaning, so that nothing is accidentally inputted. All three products are built to withstand deterioration from being cleaned with germicidal wipes, which may help reduce the spread of health care-related infections.
  • ADD/ADHC: How the Symptoms Shape Your Perceptions. In this interesting article, it is noted how the textbook symptoms of ADD — inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — fail to reflect several of its most powerful characteristics; the ones that shape your perceptions, emotions, and motivation. The article then goes on to explain how to recognize and manage ADHD’s true defining features that explain every aspect of the condition: 1. an interest-based nervous system; 2. emotional hyperarousal; and 3. rejection sensitivity.
  • Night Owls. I get up early; my wife is a night owl. According to a recent study, that’s bad for her. A new study of mortality rates of nearly half a million people finds that individuals who strongly preferred to stay up late were more likely to be dead at the end of a six-and-a-half-year period. The findings, described in the journal Chronobiology International, offer the first study linking mortality risk to night-owl sleep habits, according to the authors. The results could help researchers better understand another aspect of the role that circadian rhythms play in human health. Then again, I’ve got the big belly, which is bad for me.
  • After Death. So what do you do with your body after you die, especially if you don’t want the “hole in the ground” that wastes resources and doesn’t decompose. Here are some eco-friendly alternatives.
  • Eyebrows. I find the human face and head fascinating. Especially the odd things, like the shape of our ears (quite ugly, when you think about it), and our eyebrows. There’s some new research out on eyebrows, and how they served to separate us from our Neanderthal brothers. The brow ridge is one of the most distinctive features that mark out the difference between archaic and modern humans. The theory is that eyebrows are a canvas upon which our eyebrows can paint emotions. And as we became an increasingly social species engaged in increasingly sophisticated communication, they helped us survive.
  • Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. A collection of scientific news chum wouldn’t be complete without a belated tribute to Tom Lehrer on his 90th birthday.
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