A bit of medical humor: Ask a cardiologist about the purpose of the body and s/he will tell you it’s to support the function of the heart. Ask a pulmonologist about the purpose of the body and s/he will tell it’s to support the function of the lungs. This reminds of the late Rodney King’s immortal quote, “Can we all get along?”. I mention this because it often comes down to the primary care provider, a family physician or general internist, to help a patient torn between two opposing therapeutic regimens. For instance, beta blockers are often used in those with heart disease but their antithesis, beta agonists, are used in common lung diseases. But patients often have both conditions, which then begs the question, “Which medication should I use, doc?”... Read more »
Gershon, A. (2013) Cardiovascular Safety of Inhaled Long-Acting Bronchodilators in Individuals With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary DiseaseLong-Acting Bronchodilators in COPD. JAMA Internal Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1016
The Social Organism is a 20-page essay published by Herbert Spencer in 1860. Nowadays Spencer is mainly known for having invented the phrase "survival of the fittest" to describe Charles Darwin's process of Natural Selection, and in particular for applying this concept to social phenomena in his Principles of Sociology. For this reason Spencer is usually [...]... Read more »
Andreski, S., & Spencer, H. (1971) The Man Versus the State, with Four Essays on Politics and Society. Man, 6(2), 313. DOI: 10.2307/2798298
Researchers followed 821 men for close to 5yrs after initial measurements of hormone status and body composition via dual energy xray absorptiometry were performed. Because no change in body composition was noted over this period of time, they concluded that body composition affects hormone levels but not the other way around. In other words, they claim that the chicken laid the egg.... Read more »
Gates, M., Mekary, R., Chiu, G., Ding, E., Wittert, G., & Araujo, A. (2013) Sex Steroid Hormone Levels and Body Composition in Men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology . DOI: 10.1210/jc.2012-2582
Meikle, A. (2010) Effects of Testosterone on Muscle Strength, Physical Function, Body Composition, and Quality of Life in Intermediate-Frail and Frail Elderly Men: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Yearbook of Endocrinology, 318-319. DOI: 10.1016/S0084-3741(10)79557-3
Thoughts of tapeworms conjure up horror stories. Visions of wriggling worms inching through intestines fill the mind.
Although this may be a disturbing reality in many tropical regions of the world, tapeworm infections are rare in temperate climes. Specifically, tapeworm diseases are prevalent in Africa, central Asia, southern South America, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but are rare in the UK and the US. They are so uncommon that pharmacies in the UK do not stock anti-tapeworm drugs; they need to be ordered in specially on a case-by-case basis. In contrast, in some regions of Spain tapeworm infections of humans and livestock are rife, with the total loss in productively estimated to be $192 million in 2005, according to the World Health Organisation1. The same organisation highlighted tapeworm infections as two of the 17 most neglected tropical diseases.... Read more »
Zarowiecki M, & Tsai IJ et al. (2013) The genomes of four tapeworm species reveal adaptations to parasitism. Nature, 496(7443), 57-63. PMID: 23485966
One of the most important things in sustaining a good relationship, and a sexual relationship for that matter, is good communication. But what exactly is good communication when it comes to sex? How should we talk about sex to our partners?... Read more »
Hess, J., & Coffelt, T. (2012) Verbal Communication about Sex in Marriage: Patterns of Language Use and Its Connection with Relational Outcomes. Journal of Sex Research, 49(6), 603-612. DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2011.619282
Snap! Ouch! That’s from my head doing a double take. All these years, I thought the calcium vs heart disease thing was a conspiracy arranged by one researcher and publication. However, 3 months ago, I stumbled upon some corroborating studies by other researchers in other journals. Even the US Preventive Services Task Force recently came out against low dose calcium (less than 1,000mg/d) in post-menopausal women because they could not find conclusive evidence of benefit in the face of a small risk of harm from kidney stone... Read more »
Bolland, M., Grey, A., Avenell, A., Gamble, G., & Reid, I. (2011) Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: reanalysis of the Women's Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis. BMJ, 342(apr19 1). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d2040
Langsetmo, L., Berger, C., Kreiger, N., Kovacs, C., Hanley, D., Jamal, S., Whiting, S., Genest, J., Morin, S., Hodsman, A.... (2013) Calcium and Vitamin D Intake and Mortality: Results from the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos). Journal of Clinical Endocrinology . DOI: 10.1210/jc.2013-1516
Depression or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) has multiple genetic and environmental causes. Genetic factors are hard to find and the discovered factors usually are also associated with other mood disorders. Furthermore, twin studies reveal that genetics can predict 37% of the depressions, which is a much lower heritability than in bipolar disorder, a comparable mood disorder (reviewed in Belmaker et al., 2008). ... Read more »
Papakostas, G., Shelton, R., Kinrys, G., Henry, M., Bakow, B., Lipkin, S., Pi, B., Thurmond, L., & Bilello, J. (2011) Assessment of a multi-assay, serum-based biological diagnostic test for major depressive disorder: a Pilot and Replication Study. Molecular Psychiatry, 18(3), 332-339. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2011.166
Pariante, C., & Lightman, S. (2008) The HPA axis in major depression: classical theories and new developments. Trends in Neurosciences, 31(9), 464-468. DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2008.06.006
Raison, C. (2012) A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Tumor Necrosis Factor Antagonist Infliximab for Treatment-Resistant DepressionThe Role of Baseline Inflammatory BiomarkersInfliximab for Treatment-Resistant Depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1. DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapsychiatry.4
Nibuya M, Morinobu S, & Duman RS. (1995) Regulation of BDNF and trkB mRNA in rat brain by chronic electroconvulsive seizure and antidepressant drug treatments. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 15(11), 7539-47. PMID: 7472505
In a recent research conducted by two scientists from Brock University in Canada, the authors have proposed and tested several mediation models. With such models they have proven that lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups.... Read more »
Hodson, G., & Busseri, M. (2012) Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact. Psychological Science, 23(2), 187-195. DOI: 10.1177/0956797611421206
Last February, Dr. Sam Parnia, an intensive care physician who has been researching near-death experiences for the past 15 years, published his new book ‘Erasing death: The Science That is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death’. Following the release of that book, Dr. Parnia was interviewed on National Public Radio in the US. It wasn’t so much this interview that sparked my interest, as much as the comments that followed. “It’s hard to believe that this guy is actually a doctor based on the junk he presents here,” commenter ‘Joe MARTYN’ says. And another user, ‘Steven Kay’, adds: “Oh, please.. Not this guy again. Why not interview the last person who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary?”
To be fair, many other commenters did appreciate the interview and the work that Dr. Parnia had done. But still, the virulent dismissiveness related to this subject baffled me. Why is research on near-death experiences received with such hostility?... Read more »
van Lommel P, van Wees R, Meyers V, & Elfferich I. (2001) Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands. Lancet, 358(9298), 2039-45. PMID: 11755611
How do viruses translate their mRNA in the presence of cellular mRNA? Rotavirus finds a way.... Read more »
Rubio, R., Mora, S., Romero, P., Arias, C., & Lopez, S. (2013) Rotavirus Prevents the Expression of Host Responses by Blocking the Nucleocytoplasmic Transport of Polyadenylated mRNAs. Journal of Virology, 87(11), 6336-6345. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00361-13
Piron, M. (1998) Rotavirus RNA-binding protein NSP3 interacts with eIF4GI and evicts the poly(A) binding protein from eIF4F. The EMBO Journal, 17(19), 5811-5821. DOI: 10.1093/emboj/17.19.5811
It is official, the chytrid Fungi have reached all three of the extant amphibian orders.Chytrid fungi are the cause of global decimation in frogs and toads, as well as newts and salamanders. But, until now, the lesser known caecilians had managed to evade their mycelial grasp. That ends now!Goodbye Mr. Bond CaecilianA recent study released in the journal EcoHealth has found the first cases of chytridiomycosis in the legless amphibians. Unfortunately, EcoHealth is not a free journal so all I can link you to for the article is the article front page, provided by Springer. You can read the intro but for the full article you gots to have the monies: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infection and Lethal Chytridiomycosis in Caecilian Amphibians (Gymnophiona). But there is also an piece in PsyOrg discussing the Journal article: Fatal fungus found in third major amphibian group, caecilians. The team of researchers conducted a field swab of over 200 specimens across 20 different species in five countries of Africa and South America and ran what amounted to the worlds largest caecilian PCR survey for the presence of Batrachohytrium dendrobatidis, which is the fungi generally refered to as the chytrid fungus. There results? 58 specimens from Tanzania and Cameroon came back positive for it. That is over 25% of the total sample! Infection is a go!But, wait you say, haven't some frogs shown a certain resistance to infection? Could, perhaps, caecilians face fungal morbidity sans mortality? Nope, the team managed to report the first lethal infections as well. Noting that while the degree of infection in the wild samples were not very high, they were at the same levels observed to cause death in Gaboon caecilians held in captivity.So clearly, fungi have completed the dominance over the entire Amphibian Class. Who goes next? Bats? Bees?Well, whichever group it is, I am sure we humans will have our hands full trying to prevent a complete fungal victory.Awesome Reserachers:Gower, D., Doherty-Bone, T., Loader, S., Wilkinson, M., Kouete, M., Tapley, B., Orton, F., Daniel, O., Wynne, F., Flach, E., Müller, H., Menegon, M., Stephen, I., Browne, R., Fisher, M., Cunningham, A., & Garner, T. (2013). Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infection and Lethal Chytridiomycosis in Caecilian Amphibians (Gymnophiona) EcoHealth DOI: 10.1007/s10393-013-0831-9 Photo cred: By Franco Andreone - see authorization (http://calphotos.berkeley.edu) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsGif props: Arrested Development returns to Netflix on May 26. 2013... Read more »
Gower, D., Doherty-Bone, T., Loader, S., Wilkinson, M., Kouete, M., Tapley, B., Orton, F., Daniel, O., Wynne, F., Flach, E.... (2013) Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infection and Lethal Chytridiomycosis in Caecilian Amphibians (Gymnophiona). EcoHealth. DOI: 10.1007/s10393-013-0831-9
Research shows Utricularia gibba maintains a small genome size by resisting gene duplications.
... Read more »
Ibarra-Laclette, E., Lyons, E., Hernández-Guzmán, G., Pérez-Torres, C., Carretero-Paulet, L., Chang, T., Lan, T., Welch, A., Juárez, M., Simpson, J.... (2013) Architecture and evolution of a minute plant genome. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature12132
A team of computer scientists in Spain applied a quantum PageRank algorithm to a network with 7 webpages. They found that the quantum PageRank sometimes ordered the webpages differently in terms of importance, but averaging the quantum PageRank score over time recovered the classical ordering.... Read more »
(source)Hi Julie, WOW!Dogs in clothes. Corgis in bikinis at the beach. Greyhounds in onesies. We people do some weird things to our canine friends, no?! I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy being dressed up in a padded outfit all day long, so I think I'll pass on sharing that experience with my dogs. As you said, cultural perceptions, ethics and expectations add a whole layer of extra consideration. It's not always easy to work out what dogs want or need. That's why I like science. It helps us work this stuff out.I've been super busy this week - working hard (as always!) and still thinking a lot about dogs living in kennel facilities. So I wanted to pull your head away from dogs dressed as flowers, back to dogs getting the opportunity to smell the flowers. No, really. Lavender in fact.(source)Dogs should stop to smell the flowers. Especially lavender.When I talk to people about the body of research that's been conducted in the area of environmental enrichment for dogs housed in kennels, they never fail to be amazed at what has been studied. Or what hasn't. One topic that usually results in a snort, a laugh or a quizzical raised eyebrow is olfactory (smelly) stimulation. Which is kind of weird. Because we know that dogs can smell on a level that's basically in another galaxy compared to our smelling experiences. Research conducted in a rescue shelter kennel in 2005 exposed dogs to five different diffused aromas: - a blank control, or essential oil of- chamomile - lavender - peppermint- rosemary The study showed that olfactory stimulation had a significant effect on behaviour. Dogs were more likely to rest and less likely to bark when exposed to the smells of lavender and chamomile. Peppermint and rosemary exposure resulted in more active and noisy behaviour. The researchers suggested that the welfare of dogs in shelter kennel environments (and also their attractiveness to potential adopters) could be improved by using this kind of aromatherapy. What a dog's nose knows.Further research has shown a similar effect of lavender in effecting the behaviour of dogs with travel-induced excitement in cars: they spent more time sitting, resting and less time vocalising when they were exposed to the smell of lavender.Interestingly, human studies show a similar effect of lavender on us: reduced mental stress.So if a dog is in a kennel environment and can't get out to romp in a field of flowers, or chomp them up (as dogs tend to do!), perhaps we can help them out by giving them something... Read more »
Wells Deborah L. (2009) Sensory stimulation as environmental enrichment for captive animals: A review. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 118(1-2), 1-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.01.002
Graham Lynne, Wells Deborah L., & Hepper Peter G. (2005) The influence of olfactory stimulation on the behaviour of dogs housed in a rescue shelter. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 91(1-2), 143-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2004.08.024
Wells Deborah L. (2006) Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229(6), 964-967. DOI: 10.2460/javma.229.6.964
A new discovery regarding the relationship between gut bugs and disease... Read more »
Markle JG, Frank DN, Mortin-Toth S, Robertson CE, Feazel LM, Rolle-Kampczyk U, von Bergen M, McCoy KD, Macpherson AJ, & Danska JS. (2013) Sex differences in the gut microbiome drive hormone-dependent regulation of autoimmunity. Science (New York, N.Y.), 339(6123), 1084-8. PMID: 23328391
Leavy, O. (2013) Autoimmunity: Gut bugs help protect males from diabetes. Nature Reviews Immunology, 13(3), 152-153. DOI: 10.1038/nri3409
Turnbaugh, P., Ley, R., Mahowald, M., Magrini, V., Mardis, E., & Gordon, J. (2006) An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature, 444(7122), 1027-131. DOI: 10.1038/nature05414
According to Dutch theoretical physicist Erik Verlinde, there is a new theory for gravity: Entropic gravity is a hypothesis in modern physics that describes gravity as an entropic force.... Read more »
Kind of a morbid question, but apparently one that is on many people’s minds. Suicide by drowning is definitely not impossible, although it is not the easiest method. Due to the body’s natural tendency to come up for air, drowning attempts are most likely to succeed in deep waters.... Read more »
The benefits of taking fish oil and the harm caused by eating red meat, these two nutritional nuggets of wisdom have been passed around so much over the past few decades, we rarely stop to ask if they really do what people claim they do.
This month, two new papers on the subject of fish and meat have come forward from the University of Western Australia. The first examines the real impact of taking fish oil supplements on the diets of obese people.... Read more »
Wong, A., Chan, D., Ooi, E., Ng, T., Watts, G., & Barrett, P. (2013) Omega-3 fatty acid ethyl ester supplementation decreases very-low-density lipoprotein triacylglycerol secretion in obese men. Clinical Science, 125(1), 45-51. DOI: 10.1042/CS20120587
Koeth, R., Wang, Z., Levison, B., Buffa, J., Org, E., Sheehy, B., Britt, E., Fu, X., Wu, Y., Li, L.... (2013) Intestinal microbiota metabolism of l-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3145
A recent paper finds a correlation between speaking a language with grammatical gender distinctions and the economic empowerment of women. Is this another case of a spurious correlation caused by historical accident?... Read more »
Victor Gay, Estefania Santacreu-Vasut and Amir Shoham. (2013) The Grammatical Origins of Gender Roles. Berkeley Economic History Laboratory (BEHL) Working Papers. info:/
Homophobic protestors of gay rights assert things like "homosexuality will lead to the breakdown of civilization," and other such notions. But research is finding that some of these avid protestors are homosexuals themselves. Why is that?
Recent research looks at how cultural influences regarding homosexuality affect the psychology of homosexuals who are "in the closet." A new study is contrasted with information on pornography consumption, showing widespread hypocrisy throughout the world.... Read more »
Weinstein, N., Ryan, W., DeHaan, C., Przybylski, A., Legate, N., & Ryan, R. (2012) Parental autonomy support and discrepancies between implicit and explicit sexual identities: Dynamics of self-acceptance and defense. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(4), 815-832. DOI: 10.1037/a0026854
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