Archive for the 'Unintended consequences' Category

High Heels Effect on Calves

ScienceDaily (July 16, 2010) — When it comes to shoes, some women will go through hell for a pair of Jimmy Choos. But what effect does wearing high heels have on our bodies? Clinicians have known for a long time that if you hold a limb in a shortened position over an extended period, the muscles shorten. High-heeled shoes push our heels up, which made Marco Narici from Manchester Metropolitan University wonder whether wearing heels on a regular basis could shorten our calf muscles.

According to Narici, there was some anecdotal evidence that something changed because secretaries in the 1950s complained about discomfort when they took their heels off and walked flat-footed. “I thought it was an experiment which was inadvertently being done by women. What we could do was test high heel wearers to see if we could find some changes in the calf muscle,” says Narici, who publishes his results on 16 July 2010 in the Journal of Experimental Biology

more via Science Daily


Phosphorous in sodas accelerates signs of aging





ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2010) — Here’s another reason to kick the soda habit. New research published online in the FASEB Journal shows that high levels of phosphates may add more “pop” to sodas and processed foods than once thought. That’s because researchers found that the high levels of phosphates accelerate signs of aging. High phosphate levels may also increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications, such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification, and can also induce severe muscle and skin atrophy.

“Humans need a healthy diet and keeping the balance of phosphate in the diet may be important for a healthy life and longevity,” said M. Shawkat Razzaque, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Medicine, Infection and Immunity at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. “Avoid phosphate toxicity and enjoy a healthy life.”

To make this discovery, Razzaque and colleague examined the effects of high phosphate levels in three groups of mice. The first group of mice was missing a gene (klotho), which when absent, causes mice to have toxic levels of phosphate in their bodies. These mice lived 8 to 15 weeks. The second group of mice was missing the klotho gene and a second gene (NaPi2a), which when absent at the same time, substantially lowered the amount of phosphate in their bodies. These mice lived to 20 weeks. The third group of mice was like the second group (missing both the klotho and NaPi2a genes), except they were fed a high-phosphate diet. All of these mice died by 15 weeks, like those in the first group. This suggests that phosphate has toxic effects in mice, and may have a similar effect in other mammals, including humans.

“Soda is the caffeine delivery vehicle of choice for millions of people worldwide, but comes with phosphorous as a passenger” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “This research suggests that our phosphorous balance influences the aging process, so don’t tip it.”

 Phosphorous in sodas and processed foods accelerates signs of aging, study suggests.

The Granola Myth

Granola is rarely a healthy choice and the blog Fooducate explains why.


Breakfast cereal has been a wildly popular staple of our diet for over a century, but granola, both in a bowl or as a bar, is a much younger phenomena, dating back to the late sixties and the hippie movement. For some reason, a health halo has been shining on granola products for decades, allowing manufacturers to charge a premium. In many cases, the products sold  are not much better, or even worse than sugary cereals and candy bars.

What you need to know:

Here’s why granola’s health halo is not always justified:

1. More calories. While the average breakfast cereal is 100-120 calories, most granolas are 200-250 calories, twice as much. True, granola is much more dense than corn flakes or rice puffs, but if you are trying to cut down on your weight, beware.

2. Not so natural. Many “natural” sounding products are made up of the same ingredients as candy bars  – partially hydrogenated oils (read: trans-fat), artificial colors, and various preservatives. Quaker’s Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Granola has a megillah for an ingredient list, and includes goodies such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, BHT, and artificial flavorings.

3. Sugar. While many granola products names boast titles including “Honey Toasted” and “Maple Syrup”, the lead sweetener  is sugar, not the natural sweetener. And there’s lots of it. Take a look at Cascadian Farms Maple Brown Sugar Granola. Its second ingredient is sugar. Number 6 is brown sugar, and number 8 is Maple. All told, there are 14 grams of sugar per serving, or 3.5 teaspoons! That’s more than Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes.

What to do at the supermarket:

Watch out for the calorie count on your favorite granola cereal/bar. Inspect the ingredient list to make sure that sugar in its various names is not the predominant ingredient. Generally – avoid bars with long ingredient lists. A good bar or granola cereal should not be sweetened with anything but dried fruit and possibly some honey.

via The Granola Health Myth – Three Quick Thoughts | Fooducate.

Mosquitos like beer drinkers

Are you a mosquito magnet?  The cure may be worse than the problem but according to this research, perhaps you should cut out beer drinking.

from the Body in Mind blog


Malaria and alcohol consumption both represent major public health problems. Alcohol consumption is rising in developing countries and, as efforts to manage malaria are expanded, understanding the links between malaria and alcohol consumption becomes crucial. Our aim was to ascertain the effect of beer consumption on human attractiveness to malaria mosquitoes in semi field conditions in Burkina Faso.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We used a Y tube-olfactometer designed to take advantage of the whole body odour (breath and skin emanations) as a stimulus to gauge human attractiveness to Anopheles gambiae (the primary African malaria vector) before and after volunteers consumed either beer (n = 25 volunteers and a total of 2500 mosquitoes tested) or water (n = 18 volunteers and a total of 1800 mosquitoes). Water consumption had no effect on human attractiveness to An. gambiae mosquitoes, but beer consumption increased volunteer attractiveness. Body odours of volunteers who consumed beer increased mosquito activation (proportion of mosquitoes engaging in take-off and up-wind flight) and orientation (proportion of mosquitoes flying towards volunteers’ odours). The level of exhaled carbon dioxide and body temperature had no effect on human attractiveness to mosquitoes. Despite individual volunteer variation, beer consumption consistently increased attractiveness to mosquitoes.

via Don’t Drink in the Dark.

Warnings on 3-D Movies and TVs

This is from the warning’s box on a Samsung 3-D Tv according to the epidemiological blog Effect Measure.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, immediately stop watching 3D pictures and consult a medical specialist:

(1) altered vision; (2) lightheadedness; (3) dizziness; (4) involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching; (5) confusion; (6) nausea; (7) loss of awareness; (8) convulsions; (9) cramps; and/or (10) disorientation. Parents should monitor and ask their children about the above symptoms as children and teenagers may be more likely to experience these symptoms than adults. [no mention of an erection lasting longer than 4 hours while watching porn in 3-D, but presumably that’s also worth a call to your doctor]

Viewing in 3D mode may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain, and decreased postural stability. It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the likelihood of these effects. If you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume until the symptoms have subsided.

We do not recommend watching 3D if you are in bad physical condition, need sleep or have been drinking alcohol.

Watching TV while sitting too close to the screen for an extended period of time may damage your eyesight. The ideal viewing distance should be at least three times the height of the TV screen. It is recommended that the viewer’s eyes are level with the screen.

Watching TV while wearing 3D Active Glasses for an extended period of time may cause headaches or fatigue. If you experience a headache, fatigue or dizziness, stop watching TV and rest.


Viewing in 3D mode may cause disorientation for some viewers. DO NOT place your television near open stairwells, cables, balconies or other objects that may cause you to injure yourself. (Samsung Australia)

via 3-D horror movies : Effect Measure.

Five OTC drugs to avoid

Here are 5 popular OTC meds you should avoid, and better alternatives. I bet most of you use one or more of these. Neosporin, Topical Vitamin E, Afrin nasal spray (or other short acting nasal decongestant sprays), daily headache medications, and sedating antihistamines….

1. Neosporin: Neosporin in the most popular OTC topical antibacterial medication in America. It is very popular, and very profitable for Johnson & Johnson, but they don’t tell you that up to 25% of people who use it repeatedly can develop a contact dermatitis (like poison ivy reaction) from its use. A much better option is generic bacitracin. Most ERs and our office no longer use Neosporin, and I recommend against its use for my patients…

4. Daily use of headache pain medications: Rebound headaches are what keeps specialty headache clinics in business. People with rebound headache have daily or nearly daily headaches, that are intolerable if they don’t take their daily headache meds, but in fact are caused by withdrawal from the daily headache medication use.

If you go to a headache specialty clinic you will almost always come away with orders to stop your OTC headache med use for a month, and report back. Most patient’s headaches are much reduced or gone after they withdraw from their Tylenol, aspirin-tylenol combinations, or other OTC headache meds. Rebound headache is especially a problem for people with migraine headaches, who are particularly prone to rebound headaches…

much more via Neosporin and other OTC drugs to avoid |

Weight gain and High Fructose Corn Syrup

There are reasons to be concerned about the widespread use of high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) within the US food supply.  This article is about the effect on rats.  

It is true that people are not rats and so we must be cautious about the results.  Nevertheless, this does provide increasing support for very moderate use of HFCS.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. 

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

more via Princeton University – A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain.

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