Reviewing sleep medicine research pertaining to recreational drug disruption of sleep and how it influences drug dependence in addition to recognizing new circadian rhythm software developed to aid shift workers adjust to their adverse work schedules... Read more »
Schierenbeck T, Riemann D, Berger M, & Hornyak M. (2008) Effect of illicit recreational drugs upon sleep: cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana. Sleep medicine reviews, 12(5), 381-9. PMID: 18313952
Last year a study was released suggesting that kids who bought lunch at school tended to eat less healthy foods than kids who brought their own lunch from home. Since the National School Lunch Program in the US is supposed to encourage children to eat better, this was quite a blow. If kids don’t eat [...]... Read more »
Hastert TA, & Babey SH. (2009) School lunch source and adolescent dietary behavior. Preventing chronic disease, 6(4). PMID: 19754993
Wojcicki, J., & Heyman, M. (2006) Healthier Choices and Increased Participation in a Middle School Lunch Program: Effects of Nutrition Policy Changes in San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health, 96(9), 1542-1547. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.070946
One in every eight hospitals in the USA is a religious foundation. As with faith schools in the UK, they receive government funding (in the form of Medicare and Medicaid payments, as well as tax-exempt bonds), but they're allowed to set their own policies to conform with their religious principles.So, for example, some religious hospitals stop their doctors from providing legal medical treatment, such as contraception, abortion, and certain end-of-life treatment options.This poses a potential dilemma for healthcare providers. A recent survey, by Debra Stulberg, at the University of Chicago, and colleagues, set out to investigate.They surveyed over 400 doctors, chosen at random [technical note: this wasn't a completely random sample. To make it statistically robust, they specifically set out to get more doctors with South Asian or Arabic surnames, and they adjusted the results to take this into account].Just over 40% had worked at one time in a religious hospital. This was pretty evenly spread across age, religious affiliation (or none) and other demographics.One in five of those who had worked in a religious hospital reported that their treatment decisions had at least sometimes come into conflict with hospital policy. In other words, 20% of doctors in religious hospitals have been prevented from prescribing what they believe to be the best treatment for their patients.Women were twice as likely as men to have faced this problem (presumably because they are more likely to be dealing with female sexual health). And young doctors were more likely than older ones to have had conflicts with hospital policy.Although you might expect non-religious doctors to be more likely to have problems with the ethics of religious hospitals, it turns out that they are not alone. As shown in the graph, Muslims and Hindus also had problems (contraception is allowed under Islamic law).In fact, the differences between faiths were not statistically significant (although this may be because the survey was too small).What did these doctors do when faced with a conflict? Well, almost without exception they complied with hospital policy and denied treatment to their patients.Here there was a difference between doctors of different faiths. Nonreligious doctors were five times more likely to disobey hospital rules and give the treatment that they thought best. But even so, 90% of nonreligious doctors turned their patients away.Is this a problem? After, patients can go somewhere else if they don't like the hospital's policy. Well, the problem is that modern medical care is best provided in specialist units. As a result, hospital services are steadily consolidating:As a result of widespread hospital consolidations many patients, and perhaps particularly those in underserved communities, have fewer choices regarding where to receive health care.As a result, the authors say:... patients cared for in a religious hospital or practice who seek time-sensitive but restricted interventions—such as emergency contraception—may face delays as their physicians transfer or refer them to nonreligious institutions. Whether these delays are seen as harmful to the patient depends on one’s beliefs about the intervention itself; even among the authors of this paper, judgments vary.It seems an oddly paternalistic attitude, in this age of patients' rights. Which is why, perhaps, young doctors in particular are disgruntled by it.Stulberg, D., Lawrence, R., Shattuck, J., & Curlin, F. (2010). Religious Hospitals and Primary Care Physicians: Conflicts over Policies for Patient Care Journal of General Internal Medicine DOI: 10.1007/s11606-010-1329-6 This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.
... Read more »
Stulberg, D., Lawrence, R., Shattuck, J., & Curlin, F. (2010) Religious Hospitals and Primary Care Physicians: Conflicts over Policies for Patient Care. Journal of General Internal Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-010-1329-6
Nature reports on the Dissection of genetically complex traits with extremely large pools of yeast segregants.Ehrenreich et al have a new way of mapping the genetic basis of complex traits in yeast, "complex" being what geneticists call anything which isn't controlled by one single gene. They dub their approach "Extreme QTL mapping". This suggests images of geneticists running experiments atop Everest, or perhaps collecting blood samples from lions with their bare hands, but actuallyExtreme QTL mapping (X-QTL) has three key steps. The first is the generation of segregating populations of very large size. The second is selection-based phenotyping of these populations to recover large numbers of progeny with extreme trait values. This can be accomplished, for example, by selection for drug resistance or by cell sorting. The final step is quantitative measurement of pooled allele frequencies across the genome.The basic idea is to cross breed two strains of yeast to generate lots of different hybrid strains each with a random selection of DNA from each "parent". Then, you put all the hybrids under some kind of selective pressure - for example, by adding the toxin 4-NQO to their dish.Some yeast are more or less resistant to 4-NQO, and this trait is largely determined by genetics. So after a while, the vulnerable hybrids will die out and only the most highly resistant strains will be left in the 4-NQO dish to reproduce. It's a quick and dirty form of selective breeding. Finally, you can compare the genetics of the 4-NQO resistant hybrids to a control group of hybrids who didn't get any toxins, using a GWAS. Any genetic differences are likely to represent 4-NQO resistance genes.Using this method, Ehrenreich et al found no less than 14 4-NQO resistance variants. That includes two replications of previous findings, and 12 new ones. Collectively, the genes explained59% of the phenotypic variance in 4-NQO sensitivity in an additive model. Because we measured the heritability of this trait to be 0.84, the loci explained 70% of the genetic variance, indicating that we have explained most of the genetic basis of this trait with the loci detected by X-QTL.In other words, they've found most of the genes with a substantial effect on 4-NOR resistance, but not all of them. (They then did the same thing for several other toxins). About 30% of the heritability is "missing". Compare that to most human complex traits, where the missing heritability is more like 95%-99% at the moment. For example, twin studies and similar find human height to have a heritability of about 0.8, and more than 40 genetic variants have been associated with height, but together they only explain 5% of the heritability.Why is Neuroskeptic posting about yeast? Well, partly because we live in a yeast-based society. Without yeast, we would have no alcoholic drinks. I think it's important to acknowledge their contribution to our lives. But mainly because there's a lesson here for people interested in the genetics of complex traits in humans, like, say, personality, IQ, and mental illness.Yeast resistance to toxins is about the most straightforwardly "biological" trait you could imagine. Finding its genetic basis ought to be easy. But it wasn't. It was...extreme. Ehrenreich et al had to breed and select yeast with extreme traits (e.g. extremely high resistance to toxins), and compare them to control yeast of the same ancestry, to find the genes, and they still had a good deal of missing variance.If they'd had to work on a random bunch of yeast from the wild, they'd have had a lot more trouble. That's why previous yeast GWAS studies didn't get results as good as these. Yet when it comes to humans, we're indeed forced to use a random bunch of people from the wild. You can't selectively breed people.You can breed, say, mice, but it takes a lot longer than with yeast. I think there have been a few studies breeding mice for a certain trait and then looking at their genetics but not with a great degree of success, even though the first thing every mouse researcher learns is that different strains of mice are very different (C57BL/6 mice, for example, are notoriously hard to handle and love biting people.)This is bad news for human genetics, where the interesting traits are clearly a lot more complex, ill-defined, and hard to measure than in yeast. On the other hand, though, it's perhaps also rather reassuring, as it suggests that our failure to explain more than a few % of the heritability so far reflects technical limitations rather than because these traits just aren't as genetic as we think after all...Ehrenreich IM, Torabi N, Jia Y, Kent J, Martis S, Shapiro JA, Gresham D, Caudy AA, & Kruglyak L (2010). Dissection of genetically complex traits with extremely large pools of yeast segregants. Nature, 464 (7291), 1039-42 PMID: 20393561... Read more »
Ehrenreich IM, Torabi N, Jia Y, Kent J, Martis S, Shapiro JA, Gresham D, Caudy AA, & Kruglyak L. (2010) Dissection of genetically complex traits with extremely large pools of yeast segregants. Nature, 464(7291), 1039-42. PMID: 20393561
Why is it so hard for us to eat a healthy diet? It would appear to be the easiest solution in the world. Just choose wisely at the grocery store and - Poof! - you can feel better, lose weight, and look fantastic. Of course, we all know that eating healthy is never as easy as it sounds. So what is in the way of making good food choices?... Read more »
Zeinstra, G., Koelen, M., Kok, F., & de Graaf, C. (2007) Cognitive development and children's perceptions of fruit and vegetables; a qualitative study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 4(1), 30. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-4-30
WESTCOMBE, A. (1997) Influence of Relative Fat Content Information on Responses to Three Foods. Appetite, 28(1), 49-62. DOI: 10.1006/appe.1996.0066
Kearney, J., & McElhone, S. (2007) Perceived barriers in trying to eat healthier – results of a pan-EU consumer attitudinal survey. British Journal of Nutrition, 81(S1). DOI: 10.1017/S0007114599000987
Eikenberry, N., & Smith, C. (2004) Healthful eating: perceptions, motivations, barriers, and promoters in low-income minnesota communities. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(7), 1158-1161. DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2004.04.023
A recent paper has presented the results of a bunch of trials looking at interventions for ankle sprains. Main result? if someone's had an ankle injury - like a sprain - then tape or brace doesn't seem to show a difference: both seem to cut down reinjury. What's troublesome on a metalevel, is first how sort of accepted the notion of this level of injury seems to be, and second how nascent in the approach described here is the model that for folks who haven't been injured - as a preventitive - they maybe should be immobilised too. Aren't there other questions to ask - perhaps especially about the injury free staying injury free - rather than whether incapacitating natural function is a Good Idea? But perhaps more fundamentally, how did we get to this point where someone is so beaten up their joints are written off as so dysfunctional they must be immobilized to perform?... Read more »
Dizon, J., & Reyes, J. (2010) A systematic review on the effectiveness of external ankle supports in the prevention of inversion ankle sprains among elite and recreational players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13(3), 309-317. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2009.05.002
It seems my Catholic mother may have been onto something when she said religion helps with pain. According to an Oxford study, invoking one’s religious beliefs for pain relief has some scientific backing.
Researchers at The Oxford Center for Science of the Mind gave atheists and Roman Catholics electric shocks while they looked at two paintings, [...]... Read more »
Dezutter, J., Luyckx, K., Schaap-Jonker, H., Büssing, A., Corveleyn, J., & Hutsebaut, D. (2010) God Image and Happiness in Chronic Pain Patients: The Mediating Role of Disease Interpretation. Pain Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2010.00827.x
Wiech, K., Farias, M., Kahane, G., Shackel, N., Tiede, W., & Tracey, I. (2008) An fMRI study measuring analgesia enhanced by religion as a belief system. Pain, 139(2), 467-476. DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2008.07.030
This seems to have become unofficial volcano week, here at ScienceBlogs. If you haven't been following the coverage of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption at Erik Klemetti's Eruptions blog, you should consider doing so. Also, Dr. Isis has a post on how the eruption has fouled up all nuclear imaging plans at her place of research, and Ethan explains how volcanic lightening works.
Our benevolent overlords have further commented: "Eyjafjallajökull's ill temper has been an unexpected object lesson in the complexity and interconnectedness of our environment, technology, and social networks." To that I say: yes! But what about cognition and intelligence?
You say: what do cognition and intelligence have to do with the volcano? I say: everything. Kind of. Let's start at the beginning. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Susan Claire Edwards,, Wieslaw Jedrychowski,, Maria Butscher,, David Camann,, Agnieszka Kieltyka,, Elzbieta Mroz,, Elzbieta Flak,, Zhigang Li,, Shuang Wang,, Virginia Rauh,.... (2010) Prenatal Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Children’s Intelligence at Age 5 in a Prospective Cohort Study in Poland. Environmental Health Perspectives. info:/10.1289/ehp.0901070
Skupińska K, Misiewicz I, & Kasprzycka-Guttman T. (2004) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: physicochemical properties, environmental appearance and impact on living organisms. Acta poloniae pharmaceutica, 61(3), 233-40. PMID: 15481250
In an insightful article published in the latest issue of CMAJ, Nola Ries and Barbara von Tigerstrom, both affiliated with with the University of Alberta Health Law Institute (amongst other institutions), examine why Canadian governments appear reticent in passing appropriate legislature to promote healthy eating and physical activity.... Read more »
Ries NM, & von Tigerstrom B. (2010) Roadblocks to laws for healthy eating and activity. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal , 182(7), 687-92. PMID: 20159896
A polymorphism in the human gene FCGR2B is associated with susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but it is also associated with protection against malaria, according to a new study published in PNAS. The polymorphism was most common in people of Southeast Asian and African origin (i.e. populations from areas endemic for malaria), implying that [...]... Read more »
Willcocks, L., Carr, E., Niederer, H., Rayner, T., Williams, T., Yang, W., Scott, J., Urban, B., Peshu, N., Vyse, T.... (2010) A defunctioning polymorphism in FCGR2B is associated with protection against malaria but susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0915133107
tags: Eyjafjallajökull, volcanic particulate material, ash clouds, airborne-particle deposition, respiratory physiology, respiratory toxicology, medicine, veterinary medicine, birds, avian health, bioassay, anatomy, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, journal club
Figure 1: The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, photographed by an unidentified farmer in Iceland. This eruption sent massive billowing clouds of volcanic ash several miles into the atmosphere.
Image: Newscom/Zuma [larger view]
April is the peak month of spring migration for millions of birds, so the ongoing eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, presents hundreds of millions of birds with an unusually challenging set of circumstances as they fly to their northerly breeding grounds. But when a reader asked me how volcanic ash affects birds, I had no ready answer. The best I can do is to say that the ash is affecting birds, but I cannot say precisely how -- so I decided to investigate this issue in more depth and share the studies I found. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Brown, R., Brain, J., & Wang, N. (1997) The Avian Respiratory System: A Unique Model for Studies of Respiratory Toxicosis and for Monitoring Air Quality. Environmental Health Perspectives, 105(2), 188. DOI: 10.2307/3433242
Llacuna S, Gorriz A, Riera M, & Nadal J. (1996) Effects of air pollution on hematological parameters in passerine birds. Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology, 31(1), 148-52. PMID: 8688002
McArn GE, Boardman ML, Munn R, & Wellings SR. (1974) Relationship of pulmonary particulates in English sparrows to gross air pollution. Journal of wildlife diseases, 10(4), 335-40. PMID: 4373586
Clark, L. (1998) Contribution of particulates and pH on cowbirds' (Molothrus ater) avoidance of grain treated with agricultural lime. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 57(1-2), 133-144. DOI: 10.1016/S0168-1591(97)00121-4
Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration
There are many times when the decision to say we need ‘8 glasses of water’ a day just pops out. But what is the evidence for this, do we need more or less? Obviously climate, activity, age and availability of fluids are all going to have an effect, and what about if we drink too much and suffer hyperhydration leading to hyponatraemia (a disturbance of the salts in the blood) in which the sodium (Natrium in Latin) concentration in the plasma is lower than normal (hypo in Greek), specifically below 135 mEq/L)?... Read more »
Jéquier E, & Constant F. (2010) Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. European journal of clinical nutrition, 64(2), 115-23. PMID: 19724292
In 1990, I remember driving on a freeway in Phoenix after midnight. The temperature was a cool 102 degrees F after breaking the all time heat record of 126 F that day. Deserts are good at cooling off at night. But with all of the built environment in Phoenix storing heat from the day, the [...]... Read more »
Mark McCarthy, Martin Best, and Richard Betts. (2010) Climate change in cities due to global warming and urban effects. Geophysical Research Letters. info:/10.1029/2010GL042845
Each week, Research Bloggers Kevin Zelnio, Razib Khan, and I will choose a journal article to discuss in podcast form. We’ll make sure it’s an article that we or someone else has covered on their blog, so ideally, you’ll read the blog post first to get a general understanding of the research, then listen to [...]... Read more »
Fung, T., Chiuve, S., McCullough, M., Rexrode, K., Logroscino, G., & Hu, F. (2008) Adherence to a DASH-Style Diet and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 168(7), 713-720. DOI: 10.1001/archinte.168.7.713
Typically, when a clinical trial is stopped early, it’s bad news. The drug being tested may show unexpected side effects too harmful to continue, the trial may fall short of its patient recruitment goals, or the early results may reveal too marginal a benefit to make the study worth the cost and time. But good [...]... Read more »
Bakris, G., Sarafidis, P., Weir, M., Dahlöf, B., Pitt, B., Jamerson, K., Velazquez, E., Staikos-Byrne, L., Kelly, R., & Shi, V. (2010) Renal outcomes with different fixed-dose combination therapies in patients with hypertension at high risk for cardiovascular events (ACCOMPLISH): a prespecified secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 375(9721), 1173-1181. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)62100-0
Jamerson K, Weber MA, Bakris GL, Dahlöf B, Pitt B, Shi V, Hester A, Gupte J, Gatlin M, Velazquez EJ.... (2008) Benazepril plus amlodipine or hydrochlorothiazide for hypertension in high-risk patients. The New England journal of medicine, 359(23), 2417-28. PMID: 19052124
Multivitamins have recently been flagged in a March 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article to raise the risk of developing breast cancer amongst a group of Swedish Women. Naturally this paper sounds both alarming and contradictory and merits deeper investigation. Particularly as it is directly opposed by a paper out just 3 month previously in the Public Health Nutrition Journal when a group of nearly 3,000 women with breast cancer were compared to a similar number of controls in relation to the potential risk for breast cancer and multivitamins.... Read more »
Larsson SC, Akesson A, Bergkvist L, & Wolk A. (2010) Multivitamin use and breast cancer incidence in a prospective cohort of Swedish women. The American journal of clinical nutrition. PMID: 20335555
Meulepas JM, Newcomb PA, Burnett-Hartman AN, Hampton JM, & Trentham-Dietz A. (2009) Multivitamin supplement use and risk of invasive breast cancer. Public health nutrition, 1-6. PMID: 19954572
Ishitani K, Lin J, Manson JE, Buring JE, & Zhang SM. (2008) A prospective study of multivitamin supplement use and risk of breast cancer. American journal of epidemiology, 167(10), 1197-206. PMID: 18344515
Xin Lei (Cornell University, United States), Huixia Shou (Zhejiang University, China), and coworkers have worked on a practical approach for correcting iron deficiency in resource-limited nations. This news feature was written on April 18, 2010.... Read more »
Zheng, L., Cheng, Z., Ai, C., Jiang, X., Bei, X., Zheng, Y., Glahn, R. P., Welch, R. M., Miller, D. D., Lei, X. G.... (2010) Nicotianamine, a Novel Enhancer of Rice Iron Bioavailability to Humans. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010190
It has long been thought that there are linkages between certain viruses and the weather. The flu season is winter (in whichever hemisphere it happens to be winter in) for reasons having to do with the seasons. One early theory posited that the practices of East Asian farmers, as they tended their animals, caused waterfowl and swine and humans to share space closely enough that nasty new influenzas would emerge and spread around the world. Although that explanation for the annual seasonal flu has been dropped (if it ever really had wings... or hooves, or whatever) it is still possible that such a pattern could occur. One of the more likely places to look for this sort of thing is with bird flu, because there are large numbers of migratory birds that host the flu, and the interaction of wild and domestic birds is not an incredibly unlikely event. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Leslie A. Reperant, Neven S. Fučkar, Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus Andrew P. Dobson, & Thijs Kuiken. (2010) Spatial and Temporal Association of Outbreaks of H5N1 Influenza Virus Infection in Wild Birds with the 0°C Isotherm. PLoS Pathology, 6(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000854.t001
ResearchBlogging.org There's one weight loss study that somehow has been in the public eye since 2003. Each time a version of its data gets published, it gets media attention for showing that LOTS of exercise helps maintain weight loss. Now from my reading of that data, that's actually kind of a misrepresentation of the findings in the paper. There are THREE factors that impact weight loss maintenance: caloric restriction (1200-1500kcals), 270-300mins of (vigorous) exercise a week AND (the under reported component) regular human contact intervention about compliance with the protocol. Finally, in yet another paper about this study, this later part of the work is being highlighted a bit more in the paper "Contribution of Behavior Intervention Components to 24-Month Weight Loss.... Read more »
UNICK, J., JAKICIC, J., & MARCUS, B. (2010) Contribution of Behavior Intervention Components to 24-Month Weight Loss. Medicine , 42(4), 745-753. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181bd1a57
Lying in bed, wrapped in a comforter, fists clenched. Your teeth are chattering, your body is sore, your head is pounding. You feel horrible, and yet a loved one is trying to do the most unthinkable thing – they want your blanket.
No, you can’t have it! I’m freezing! you say.
Come on, it’ll make you feel [...]... Read more »
Sander B, Kwong JC, Bauch CT, Maetzel A, McGeer A, Raboud JM, & Krahn M. (2010) Economic appraisal of Ontario's Universal Influenza Immunization Program: a cost-utility analysis. PLoS medicine, 7(4). PMID: 20386727
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