Chemistry, News, Nutrition

Simple way of cooking rice could halve its calories


I know, the title sounds like one of those scams that promise you’ll lose weight – but this is all science all the way. Researchers in Sri Lanka have found a simple way of cooking the rice that not only reduces calories by half, but also provides other health benefits. The key addition is coconut oil.

Health & Medicine, News, Nutrition

High-fat diet might put your mental health at risk

high fat diet

Mice that had gut bacteria transferred from other mice fed with a high fat diet changed their behavior in a negative way, exhibiting anxiety or impaired memory. The findings suggest that apart from heart disease and stroke, obesity might put people’s mental health at risk as well….

Biology, Health & Medicine, News

First 3D mini lungs grow in the lab help end animal testing


Stem cells were coaxed to grow into 3D dimensional mini lungs, or organoids, for the first time. These survived for more than 100 days. These pioneering efforts will serve to deepen our understanding of how lungs grow, as well as prove very useful for testing new drugs’ responses to human tissue. Hopefully, once human tissue grown in the lab becomes closer and close to the real deal (cultured hearts, lungs, kidneys etc.), animal testing might become a thing of the past. …

Genetics, Health & Medicine, News

Icelandic DNA mapping might lead to the future of medicine

Maps show how common certain risk-causing DNA mutations are around Iceland. Image via Technology Review.

Scientists are working to gather more and more details about Icelandic DNA, in an attempt to design better drugs and understand how drugs react to genetic variation. So far, the DNA of over 1% of all Icelanders has been sequenced and more will likely follow. This operation is conducted by Amgen’s DeCode Genetics. The team now claims that they can identify every woman at high-risk of breast cancer “at the touch of a button” and it would be “criminal” not to use the information.

Biology, News, Nutrition

How a new generation of climate change resistant beans could save millions

Boston baked beans

Some 30 new bean varieties have been cross-bred by researchers in order to make these more resistant to rising temperatures. Often called the ‘meat of the poor’, more than 400 million people around the world depend on beans for their daily protein intake. Being particularly vulnerable to temperature means that bean farms, whether large or home subsistence gardens, could be obliterated by climate change this century. The new beans can withstand temperatures three to four degrees Celsius greater than those currently grown by farmers, enough, the researchers say, to keep yield losses to a minimum. …

Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, News

Parents’ second-hand smoke might clog children’s arteries

second hand smoke

A longitudinal study that spanned 26 years found that kids exposed to their Finish parents cigarette smoke are at risk of developing plaque in their carotid arteries as they grow into young adults. Previously, second-hand smoke exposure at a young age was linked to later breast cancer and a predisposition to nicotine addiction. Psychologically, having parent smokers may influence children to become smokers themselves when they grow up, triggering a cascade of other health risks….

Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, Neurology, News

Kept in the dark: half of Alzheimer’s diagnoses aren’t disclosed by doctors

Alzheimer's diagnosis

For its annual report, the The Alzheimer’s Association in the US claims that more than half of all reported early Alzheimer’s diagnoses aren’t disclosed to the patient by doctors. This is a situation reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s when cancer diagnoses were rarely disclosed to patients as the disease was generally seen as incurable. Like in the case of the long-gone cancer stigma, doctors may be doing more harm than good. They don’t want patients to lose hope, but being kept in the dark as to their suffering can be equally bad, if not worse. …

Biology, Health & Medicine

Why insulin is so prohibitively expensive to the 29 million diabetes patients in the US

insulin diabetes

Even if it was first discovered more than 90 years ago, insulin is still out of reach for a shocking 29 million diabetes patients in the United States. Yes, this is the 21st century, but even so a staggering number of human beings are forced to live in life threatening conditions. But why is insulin so prohibitively expensive? According to Jeremy Greene, M.D., Ph.D., and Kevin Riggs, M.D., M.P.H., it’s all because of a series of perverse updates to insulin treatments. While insulin made today is more effective in some instances, previous versions weren’t that bad. In fact, they saved lives. Yet, these were replaced with very expensive versions, while the older, much cheaper versions are nowhere to be found on the market anymore. The two authors explore all that’s wrong with today’s insulin big pharma. …

Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, News

Bioelectricity vital to brain and tissue development, tadpole experiment shows

Left: normal tadpole brain. Center: injections with a suppressor of neural induction (Notch) caused a significantly elevated incidence of malformed brain in tadpole embryos, including near complete loss of forebrain/olfactory bulbs, and malformed midbrain and eyes. The embryos also exhibited loss of the normal voltage pattern. Right: Restoring hyperpolarization (normal voltage pattern) restored normal brain morphology, with well-formed forebrain/olfactory bulb, midbrain, and hindbrain. (credit: Vaibhav P. Pai et al./ The Journal of Neuroscience)

Biologists at Tufts Universityand University of Minnesota showed for the first time that bioelectricity signaling between cells guides embryonic brain development in tadpoles. When bioelectricity signaling was hampered, the frog embryos developed abnormal brains. By using drugs that target specific ion channels, the researchers could restore normal patterns to ensure healthy brain growth. This means that careful manipulation of electricity inside the tissue can repair abnormalities caused by genetic defects. It can also be used to grow all sorts of wacky stuff.

Health & Medicine, News

Workplace suicides on the rise – doctors, law enforcement workers and soldiers most vulnerable

workplace suicide

Each year worldwide about one million people decide to take their own lives. Overriding your conservation instincts isn’t easy, let’s say, and this typically happens on the onset of mental illness. In a society where people lives get ever more confused with their occupation, stress at work can sometimes trigger a tragedy. The numbers don’t lie. According to researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 1,700 people died by suicide on the job between 2003 to 2010….