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« Science: February 2009 | Main | Science: April 2009 »

Science

Another Reason Not to Drink

Yeah, i know. What else is new? Yet another thing that causes cancer. The list of things that don't cause cancer would be much easier to present. I think it would be a blank sheet of paper.

People whose faces turn red when they drink alcohol may be facing more than embarrassment. The flushing may indicate an increased risk for a deadly throat cancer, researchers report.

The flushing response, which may be accompanied by nausea and a rapid heartbeat, is caused mainly by an inherited deficiency in an enzyme called ALDH2, a trait shared by more than a third of people of East Asian ancestry -- Japanese, Chinese or Koreans. As little as half a bottle of beer can trigger the reaction.

The deficiency results in problems in metabolizing alcohol, leading to an accumulation in the body of a toxin called acetaldehyde. People with two copies of the gene responsible have such unpleasant reactions that they are unable to consume large amounts of alcohol. This aversion actually protects them against the increased risk for cancer.

But those with only one copy can develop a tolerance to acetaldehyde and become heavy drinkers.

...

Reducing drinking can significantly reduce the incidence of this cancer among Asian adults. The researchers calculate that if moderate- or heavy-drinking ALDH2-deficient Japanese men reduced their consumption to under nine drinks a week, 53 percent of esophageal squamous cell cancers in that group could be prevented.

Over 9 drinks/week is considered moderate?? I suppose if it were spread out over the entire 7 days, it's not really that much.......still sounds like alot to me, though.

I get flushed. So does most of my family. And there's also talk of itchy feet when drinking's being done. I wish someone would do a study about that.

At any rate, i never really liked the taste of any alcohol unless it was so disguised that it didn't really taste like alcohol anymore (unless it's rum, which i apparently can't actually taste, hence my deadly New Year's Rum Punch. the fumes alone will get you tipsy), so not much of a hardship for me. Besides, i can't afford the brain cells.


By min | March 23, 2009, 8:55 AM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



A Better Expenditure of Resources Than Learning to Kill Goats With the Mind

Science fiction always teaches us the way.

In Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, Bladerunner, the police have a problem. The wayward androids they are pursuing behave so much like humans, they have a tough time telling them apart.

They turn to the Voight-Kampff test, a futuristic version of the age-old polygraph, to help them out. During the test, subjects are grilled with a list of questions, while their physiology is monitored. In particular, the test looks for abnormal eye responses that might indicate the subject isn't human.

The test is far from perfect, and no doubt there will be teething troubles that beset the development of a similar test the US department of homeland security is looking for help in making.

Under the Small Business Innovation Research programme, the department has asked tech companies to bid for contracts to kick-start research in the area. Such a system, if it works, would undoubtedly be useful at airports and other high-security points.

I take issue with this being credited to Ridley Scott's Bladerunner as the movie and the Voight-Kampff test are based on Philip K. Dick's book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. So nyahh!


By min | March 20, 2009, 3:43 PM | Boooooks & Movies & Science | Comments (0)| Link



Aquaman and the Atom Were Wrong

Platelets aren't cute or innocent or good. They're evil killers!

"Despite many medical advances over the last few decades, mortality rates for sepsis have not really improved," said Robert Freishtat, MD, MPH, of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research at Children's National Medical Center, who led the study. "But now that we know that platelets, which we previously believed to be merely 'innocent bystanders,' can actually contribute to the development of fatal complications from sepsis..."
...
During sepsis, platelets collect within major organs including the spleen, an important infection-fighting organ. As they collect and come into contact with the organ's cells, the granzyme B, if present, will cause the organ's cells to die.

By min | March 17, 2009, 12:44 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



She's absolutely right: Siphonophore

Found this on robn's site.


By fnord12 | March 13, 2009, 11:16 PM | Science | Comments (3)| Link



This is NOT a Funny Monkey Story. This is Science.

A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors, according to researchers.

Keepers at Furuvik Zoo found that the chimp collected and stored stones that he would later use as missiles.

Further, the chimp learned to recognise how and when parts of his concrete enclosure could be pulled apart to fashion further projectiles.

...

Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning.

The launching of the stones occurred hours later - during dominance displays to zoo visitors - with Santino in an "agitated" state.

This suggests that Santino was anticipating a future mental state - an ability that has been difficult to definitively prove in animals, according to Mathias Osvath, a cognitive scientist from Lund University in Sweden and author of the new research.

...

Dr Osvath embarked on the study after zoo staff discovered caches of stones in the section of the enclosure facing the public viewing area.

Since the initial discovery in 1997, hundreds of the caches have been removed to protect visitors, to whom the caching and the aggressive displays seem strictly related; in the off season, Santino neither hoards the projectiles nor hurls them.

Link

That said, i totally empathize. I, too, often have the urge to hurl projectiles at the public and find the urge is greatly lessened in the off season, as well.


By min | March 10, 2009, 10:49 AM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



You Need to Go Home Now

Cause i can't risk you getting dementia. Who would take care of me?

Long working hours may raise the risk of mental decline and possibly dementia, research suggests.

The Finnish-led study was based on analysis of 2,214 middle-aged British civil servants.

It found that those working more than 55 hours a week had poorer mental skills than those who worked a standard working week.

The American Journal of Epidemiology study found hard workers had problems with short-term memory and word recall.

...

"The disadvantages of overtime work should be taken seriously."

It is not known why working long hours might have an adverse effect on the brain.

However, the researchers say key factors could include increased sleeping problems, depression, an unhealthy lifestyle and a raised risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly linked to stress.

This is completely unacceptable. You're staying home, and I'm swaddling you! You'll do sudoku and crossword puzzles to keep your brain in working order.


By min | March 4, 2009, 1:33 PM | Science | Comments (1)| Link



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