food and nutrition

It is hard to argue that sharing data to make your work more transparent and accessible to review is bad. Especially in science, where “show your work” has been in various forms a mantra for hundreds of years. When the Trump administration pushed for scientific transparency, a regulatory fight that continues, many academics spoke out against the proposed regulations because not all data could be shared – like patient information or the data underlying older science used in regulations. A study in Bioscience looks at some other, lesser-mentioned concerns.

The study involved a survey of academics at the 20 top Canadian universities in the fields of ecology and evolution; I would hasten to add that I feel we can generalize from this select group. The academics were principal...

A chimera refers to a single organism with cells from different individuals, meaning two sets of DNA. This is not necessarily an abnormal state. For example, people undergoing bone marrow transplants will carry the DNA of the donor. Mothers are known to absorb cells of their in utero children.

“The findings on cellular communication hold promise for early human development, disease progression and aging, as well as organ transplantation and for testing therapeutics.”  ...

“Elections are a measure of ordinal preferences. As long as you care enough to vote, it doesn’t matter how much you care about the election outcome, as everyone’s voice is the same. But for everything else – who speaks up in a board meeting about whether a corporation should take a political position, who protests against a company taking a position one side or the other finds offensive, etc. – cardinal utility matters a lot. Only a small minority of the public ever bothers to try to influence a corporation, school, or non-profit to reflect certain values, whether from the inside or out.

In an evenly divided country, if one side simply cares more, it’s going to exert a disproportionate influence on all institutions, and be more likely to see...

Which population is least likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine? Russians. According to a February 2021 survey conducted in Russia, just 30 percent of people said they were willing to receive the country's Sputnik V vaccine, citing concerns about insufficient testing and possible side effects. [1]

Safety concerns about the vaccine aren't unreasonable. [2] But the bigger problem, I suspect, is that citizens of the former communist superpower don't trust their own leaders, as even Kremlin-friendly polling agency data has confirmed. Living under a totalitarian...

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a new level of interest in lung health. As part of that trend, tobacco researchers and anti-smoking advocates are attacking electronic cigarette use (“vaping”) on the grounds that it could elevate your risk of coronavirus infection.

Writing in the Denver Post, Robin Deterding, medical director of the Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, outlined this argument in the context of teenage vaping:

[W]hile we know that COVID-19 is not as deadly to teens as it is to adults, particularly older adults, this pandemic is exacerbating an already concerning situation for Colorado teens — what the U.S. Surgeon General has named an...

The background of sepsis

In the presence of infection, the treatment principles are to remove the source and, while doing so, support the patient’s vital functions. In sepsis, removal of the source includes antibiotics, drainage of any infectious collections, and removal of dead tissue. There is a pattern to how sepsis affects us. Infections that involve the entire body cause the circulation to become less tightly connected, leakier. The fluids that leak from the circulation cause both the tissue to swell and the blood pressure to drop. Swollen lung tissue impairs oxygenation, creating a form of respiratory distress, and is why early respiratory management of COVID-19 was modeled (incorrectly as it turned out) on our sepsis treatment. Lowered blood pressure...

The following is the essence of the controversy:

  • IARC has classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
  • The EPA has classified glyphosate as “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” 

How is it possible that two organizations had the same data available and came to opposite conclusions? 

The Process 

The process used to determine whether or not a chemical causes cancer is to examine four types of studies:

  • Epidemiology (human) studies
  • Studies in laboratory animals
  • Genotoxicity studies – the damage to genetic material
  • Exposure studies - how people are exposed to the chemical

There were fundamental...

After more than a year of masking, social distancing and far too much time spent in isolation, pandemic fatigue has set it and Americans seem to be running out of anxiety to expend on COVID-19. The obvious question on everybody's mind with vaccine distribution in full swing is, “when will this end?” If recent evidence of vaccine uptake is any indication, we may be well on our way to putting the pandemic behind us. [1]

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, overall acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is on the rise in the US. Concern about the safety of Johnson &Johnson's shot remains relatively high and there are still pockets of hesitancy among certain demographic groups...

The study of genetics has always been an attempt to understand our biologically determined fate. Many of us know of families with a predisposition to maladies like heart disease or breast cancer. There are many kinds of interventions that can modulate the effects of our genetic endowment, whether directly (as in highly sophisticated gene therapy for genetic diseases) or pharmaceutical treatments, such as human growth hormone for growth hormone deficiency.  

But even when such targeted interventions aren’t possible, we can modulate the effects of metabolic abnormalities that predispose to disease. Examples include antihypertensive medicines to lower blood pressure and drugs to reduce levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

Behavioral interventions also have a place...

“GMOs, products produced from GMOs, and products produced by GMOs shall not be used in food or feed, or as food, feed, processing aids, plant protection products, fertilisers, soil conditioners, plant reproductive material, micro-organisms or animals in organic production.”

EU Regulation Article 11

The EU is the home of many culinary traditions; they take where and how their food is made very seriously. Champagne comes from only a small area in France, the rest is sparkling wine, and there are similar restrictions on Parmesan cheese and many other “named” food products. So it should be no surprise that they have been disinclined to embrace the use of genetically modified organisms, GMOs...