Category Archives: Health

BPA increases anxiety, soy protects

What do water bottles, food cans and paper money all have in common?

They all contain BPA, also known as bisphenol-A. A recent study done on rats by researchers at North Carolina State University shows that exposure to the chemical early in life can affect gene expression in the amygdala, an area of the brain known to process emotions. The study also showed that a diet rich in soy seems to mitigate the harmful effects of exposure to BPA.

About 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bloodstreams. The chemical has been linked to behavior and brain alterations, alteration of infant prostate glands, breast cancer and early puberty in girls.

Is the BPA in your products doing something to you? Graphic by Brad Wolfla.

This particular study examined how exposure during gestation, lactation, and throughout puberty influenced the rats’ brains and behaviors. Subjects were divided into four groups, the first of which was fed only soy, the second a soy-free diet, the third fed only soy and exposed to BPA, and the fourth fed no soy and exposed to BPA.

The fourth group showed higher levels of anxiety than the others. Researchers think this was due to alterations in two genes, estrogen receptor beta and melanocortin receptor four. Both of these genes are involved in the release of oxytocin, a hormone that influences social behavior and bonding. Altered oxytocin release can cause abnormal social behavior.

The third group  (rats exposed to BPA and fed with soy) did not show increased anxiety. Researchers aren’t certain how soy protects the developing brain, but they hope to find out with future research.

The study was lead by Dr. Heather Patisaul, NC State associate professor of biology, and was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

BPA is found in many products including food containers, water bottles and even epoxy resins; BPA can actually transfer from the containers to the food or drink inside. Rats and mice exposed to BPA in the study were found to have levels of the chemical comparable to what is commonly found in humans.

The study focused on the effects of BPA during early development, and did not provide information regarding the effects of a soy-rich diet in adulthood. Researchers are currently searching for ways that soy can be used to prevent and negate the effects of BPA, but consumers should practice common-sense safety and avoid products likely to contain the chemical. While not all products containing the chemical are marked, some manufacturers cater to health-conscious customers by labeling their products as BPA-free.

Organic foods cause controversy

Everybody knows organic foods are healthier than those pesticide-laden, run-of-the-mill foods, right?  Not so fast.

A recent study done by researchers at Standford University has found that while organic foods do contain less pesticides than conventionally-grown produce, the difference may not have a significant impact on a person’s health. Also surprisingly, the study shows that organic food is not any more nutritious than non-organic food.

Organic fruits, really no different than the rest. Graphic by Brad Wolfla.

Dr. Dena Devata, senior research affiliate at Stanford, commented, “There are many reasons why someone might choose organic foods over conventional foods,” but she also stated that when it comes to personal health, “there isn’t much difference.” Continue reading Organic foods cause controversy

New tick-borne virus threatens Missouri farmers

A new virus has reared its head in Missouri, and has now independently infected two men who reside 60 miles apart from each other. According to NPR, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling this virus the “Heartland virus” due to location and its discoverer Dr. Scott Folk at the Heartland Regional Medical Center. Ticks are the suspected bearers of the virus, but CNN quotes CDC researcher William Nicholson as saying the carriers could be sandflies or mosquitoes. Continue reading New tick-borne virus threatens Missouri farmers

Stricter Fuel-Efficiency Standards For American Vehicles

In a move that is being heralded by environmentalists and automakers alike, the Obama administration announced on Aug. 28, 2012 that new fuel-efficiency standards will require the U.S. auto fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The standards also regulate carbon dioxide emissions, which allow 144 grams per mile for passenger cars and 203 grams per mile for trucks. Continue reading Stricter Fuel-Efficiency Standards For American Vehicles

No more test tube babies

Abortion has been in the public eye as of late, largely due to attempts by conservative politicians and fundamentalist religious groups to impede or even entirely outlaw the practice. Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin recently caused a stir when he opposed abortion for rape victims based on unscientific ideas about how conception works, and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan stepped into the fray to defend him.

Continue reading No more test tube babies

Generic diabetes drug may fight cancer

A diabetes drug released in 1995 shows promise of possibly being a cancer-fighting treatment for those in need.

Metformin, which has been on the market for over 7 years, was approved by the FDA to help those with diabetes control their sugar intake. Since its introduction, it has become one of the most widespread drugs used for this purpose. The reason for this is the patent for metformin expired in 2002. This made the drug much cheaper, lowering the cost to a few pennies per pill as generic versions began hitting the market. Continue reading Generic diabetes drug may fight cancer

Drug-resistant malaria on the rise

Recent research is finding that resistance to the main form of malaria treatment is increasing.

Researchers have found drug-resistant strains of the parasites responsible for malaria over 500 miles away from sites of previous outbreaks of drug-resistant malaria. This would seem to indicate that the drug-resistant version of the disease is on the rise and spreading. Continue reading Drug-resistant malaria on the rise

New cancer-fighting drug is not so new

Aspirin, one of the cheapest pain relievers on the market, may have found a new use. It has been known for years that taking one aspirin a day can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent studies suggest that this common painkiller may have been a long overlooked weapon in the fight against cancer. Continue reading New cancer-fighting drug is not so new

Artificial pancreas could provide relief for thousands

For many with diabetes, life is a constant drill of poking and prodding as many are required to regularly test their blood sugar levels. Pharmaceutical companies are working hard to be the first to create a fully artificial pancreas.

Currently, the artificial or bionic pancreas is undergoing a number of studies. The vast majority of these studies are small, lasting only three days. The reason for these short studies is that FDA regulations will not allow for the devices to be used outside of a hospital. Continue reading Artificial pancreas could provide relief for thousands

Nomophobia: A condition of the digital age

Nomophobia is described as the condition of being tense and/or anxious when not having access to a mobile phone. The condition is also known as no-mobile-phone-phobia. Recent research conducted by an Internet security firm has indicated that this condition of the digital age is growing at a rapid rate. Continue reading Nomophobia: A condition of the digital age

The controversy of the pink slime

Pink slime has become a recent buzz word in the media. Pink slime is the process through which scrap meat and connective tissue are cleaned and clarified to create ground meat safe for humans to eat. Attention was drawn to this issue by an episode of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.”

The process of creating pink slime is grinding scrap meat and connective tissue from parts of the animal most people do not eat. The connective tissue acts to firm the meat up. As the meat is being ground, a mixture of water and ammonia is added to the meat connective tissue mixture; this is done to help ensure the meat lasts longer by preventing E. coli or salmonella. The company that creates this product is called Beef Products, Inc. They are responsible for providing McDonald’s and other companies with their meat products. Continue reading The controversy of the pink slime

MicroCHIPS invents the pharmacy of the future

MicroCHIPS is a company that hopes that their flash-drive sized microchips could be the way of the future for doctors looking for a better way to treat their patients. In a study published in early February, MicroCHIPS released their findings on a new study involving women with osteoporosis. Continue reading MicroCHIPS invents the pharmacy of the future