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It's a Solid and a Liquid!

Who doesn't love mercury? Not only is it fun to play with, it also makes my cola extra delicious.

Some foods and drinks rich in high-fructose corn syrup may contain detectable levels of mercury, a new report shows.

The report, published on the web site of the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), shows detectable levels of mercury in 17 out of 55 tested products rich in high-fructose corn syrup.


The new report comes from researchers including David Wallinga, MD, director of the IATP's food and health program. They bought 55 products that list high-fructose corn syrup first or second on their list of ingredients, which means high-fructose corn syrup was a leading ingredient in those products.

Wallinga's team sent samples of those products to a commercial lab, which checked the levels of total mercury in each sample.


Wallinga and colleagues caution that their list was "just a snapshot in time; we only tested one sample of each product. That clearly is not sufficient grounds to give definitive advice to consumers."

Wallinga's report doesn't prove that the mercury in the tested products came from high-fructose corn syrup, but "I'm hard pressed to say where else it would come from," Wallinga tells WebMD.

Wallinga explains that mercury can be used to make caustic soda, which is one of the products used to make high-fructose corn syrup. That's outdated technology; mercury isn't needed to make caustic soda, notes Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, in a statement emailed to WebMD.


Wallinga agrees about the technological shift away from mercury. "If you just look within the confines of the U.S., yes, about 90% of production now is not using mercury," says Wallinga. "The problem is that we don't actually know where our companies are buying their high-fructose corn syrup from ... it's a global industry."

"For me, the take-home message is really that this is a totally avoidable, unnecessary exposure to mercury," says Wallinga. "We've got a safer, more efficient technology for making these chemicals that are part of the ingredients used to manufacture high-fructose corn syrup."

While the Corn Refiner's Association says that the mercury technology is outdated, another article quotes IATP as saying that there are still 4 plants in the US that still use this tech. And the very good point made that yeah, we might not use mercury much anymore here, but corn syrup can come from anywhere.

You shouldn't be eating that much corn syrup anyway. You'll get the sugar diabetes. Plus, a hundred pounds of ketchup a day is just excessive for anyone. I don't care how much you love ketchup. It's just wrong.

Is there any element/compound/chemical we used to think was fabulous that hasn't turned out to be some sort of deadly killer? I mean, look at asbestos. Everybody loved that stuff. It was fantastic as fire protection. Deadly killer. Lead. It made paint dry faster, made it more resistan to corrosion and peeling. Deadly killer. We just can't win.

By min | January 28, 2009, 2:32 PM | Science | Comments (3)| Link

Beware the Deadly Cello Scrotum

Fear the Horrifying Guitar Nipple!

Until this week cellists worldwide had reason to fear a terrible malady. Worse than fiddler's neck, flautist's chin or even the dreaded guitarist's nipple was the condition known as "cello scrotum".

Never mind that this dermatalogical ailment seemed unlikely, given the posture of the average male cellist, the condition was named in the British Medical Journal, and thereafter in an array of reviews of musician's aches and pains.

Nearly all such reviews referred to a letter to the journal in 1974 from John Murphy, husband of Dr Elaine Murphy, who noted that he had once come across a case of cello scrotum.


In a letter to the BMJ, prompted by yet another reference to the ailment in the journal last month, the couple wrote: "Perhaps after 34 years it's time for us to confess that we invented cello scrotum."

Their letter of 1974 was in response to a missive from a Dr Curtis regarding a skin irritation that he had seen among classical guitarists. After many hours with the instrument pressed against their chests, the musicians had developed guitarist's nipple.

"We thought it highly likely to be a spoof and decided to go one further by submitting a letter pretending to have noted a similar phenomenon in cellists, signed by the non-doctor one of us," the couple wrote. "Somewhat to our astonishment, the letter was published."


Noel Bradshaw, 52, a cellist with the London Symphony Orchestra, said that he had never felt inclined to worry about developing cello scrotum.

"You would have to be doing something fairly extreme to get that by playing the cello," he said.

He suggested that any such performance would not be tolerated in polite society. "Otherwise, given the angle of the cello, you would have to have pretty enormous bollocks," he said.


Playing instruments is dangerous, kids. Don't go taking chances!

By min | January 28, 2009, 11:19 AM | Music & Science | Comments (0)| Link

Listerine - Kills Germs and Gives You Cancer

I thought about posting this when i mikkim first pointed it out to me 2 wks ago, but by the time i got around to it, i figured it was old news. Not so, i have just learned from wanyas and bob. So here it is.

Leading independent experts have issued this strong warning after investigating latest scientific evidence linking alcohol-containing mouthwashes to the deadly disease.

Their review, published in the Dental Journal of Australia, concludes there is now ``sufficient evidence'' that "alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer''.

The ethanol in mouthwash is thought to allow cancer-causing substances to permeate the lining of the mouth more easily and cause harm.

Acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product of alcohol that may accumulate in the oral cavity when swished around the mouth, is also believed to be carcinogenic.

Listerine, the nation's biggest-selling mouthwash and a brand endorsed by the Australian Dental Association (ADA), contains as much as 26 per cent alcohol.


The review reported evidence from an international study of 3210 people which found daily mouthwash use was a "significant risk factor'' for head and neck cancer, irrespective of whether users also drank alcohol or smoked.

But the effects of mouthwash were worst in smokers, who had a nine-fold increased risk of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx.

Those who also drank alcohol had more than five times the risk - and even those who neither drank nor smoked still ran a four- to five-fold risk of contracting cancer.

A Brazilian study has also found regular mouthwash use is associated with oral cancer regardless of alcohol or tobacco consumption.

"Mouthwash products are in contact with the oral mucosa as much as alcoholic beverages, and may cause chemical aggression of the cells,'' researchers from the University of Sao Paulo said.

They said the role of ethanol in causing DNA damage needed to be explored further.

A review in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology last year said it would be "prudent, precautionary public-health policy to generally refrain from using ethanol in (mouthwash) products'' because of "doubts about the safety of alcohol-containing oral products''.

Listerine's gross, so it's no great loss to me. I loves me that Tom's of Maine peppermint mouthwash.

By min | January 26, 2009, 3:08 PM | Science | Comments (3)| Link

I Think I Might Be Screwed


A new study shows that people who are socially active and not easily stressed may be less likely to develop dementia.
The study found that people who were not socially active but calm and relaxed had a 50 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared with people who were isolated and prone to distress. The dementia risk was also 50 percent lower for people who were outgoing and calm compared to those who were outgoing and prone to distress.

"In the past, studies have shown that chronic distress can affect parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, possibly leading to dementia, but our findings suggest that having a calm and outgoing personality in combination with a socially active lifestyle may decrease the risk of developing dementia even further," says study author Hui-Xin Wang, PhD, with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

I expect you people with the calm dispositions to take very good care of me when my mind starts to go.

Of the 506 people in the study, 144 developed dementia at the end of the 6 years. Ofc, some of that might have to do with all these scientists following them around. That would drive anyone nuts.

By min | January 20, 2009, 12:48 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link

Bees Freebasing

Remember it was reported that honey bees are disappearing, colonies collapsing for unexplained reasons? Well, i've found out the problem. They're suffering from withdrawal.

To learn more about the biochemistry of addiction, scientists in Australia dropped liquefied freebase cocaine on bees' backs, so it entered the circulatory system and brain.

The scientists found that bees react much like humans do: cocaine alters their judgment, stimulates their behavior and makes them exaggeratedly enthusiastic about things that might not otherwise excite them.

What's more, bees exhibit withdrawal symptoms. When a coked-up bee has to stop cold turkey, its score on a standard test of bee performance (learning to associate an odor with sugary syrup) plummets.

The friggin Australian scientists are getting bees hepped up on cocaine. Cocaine. Jesus christ. If you're going to fuck with an insect in order to "study" its behaviour, why can't you pick one that nobody likes and doesn't do something useful? Like cockroaches or something. Thus, once again proving that scientists are jerks.

By min | January 7, 2009, 1:45 PM | Science | Comments (3)| Link

Seasonal Gravity

Things fall at a different rate depending on the season. Who knew?

Objects on the Earth are always moving differently in different seasons because the Earth revolves around the Sun, so apples could fall faster in some seasons than others.

Predictably, you can't get scientists talking about anything without the subject of anti-matter coming up.

The Standard Model Extension predicts that a particle and an antiparticle would interact differently with the background fields, which means matter and antimatter would feel gravity differently. So, an apple and an anti-apple could fall at different rates, too.

"The gravitational properties of antimatter remain largely unexplored," said Kostelecky. "If an apple and an anti-apple were dropped simultaneously from the leaning Tower of Pisa, nobody knows whether they would hit the ground at the same or different times."

Anti-apple. *snort*

At least this is safe. They're not going around generating black holes or colliding matter and anti-matter particles. *shudder*

By min | January 6, 2009, 11:09 AM | Science | Comments (2)| Link

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