Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Tools to Hunt New Viruses

Peter Daszak, a parasitologist and president of the EcoHealth Alliance, has even put a number on it: 5.3 new ones each year, based on a study using data from 1940 to 2004. He and his co-authors blamed population growth, deforestation, antibiotic overuse,factory farming, live animal markets, bush meat hunting, jet travel and other factors.
Some aspects of the new viruses are scary. The Arabian coronavirus — now officially named MERS, for Middle East respiratory syndrome — has killed about half of those it infects, while SARS killed less than a quarter; in the lab, it replicates faster than SARS, penetrates lung cells more readily and inhibits the formation of proteins that warn the body that it is under attack.

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

"In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless," says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn't as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.
The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1914974,00.html#ixzz2Ub3LKdof

Stress Can Boost Good Habits Too

Under stress, we all tend to seek comfort — sometimes in not-so-healthy ways — but a new study suggests that challenging experiences are as likely to promote good habits as they are to support bad ones.
In several different experiments, researchers led by Wendy Wood, a professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California, found that under various types of stress, all types of habits got stronger — not just the ones that cause trouble.
“When your willpower is low and you have little motivational energy, you are likely to fall back into old, bad habits of eating too much and not exercising — but only if those are, in fact, your habits,” says Wood. “Our novel finding is that people fall back into good habits in just the same way.” The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/27/stress-can-lead-to-good-habits-too/#ixzz2Ub1Jm25U

Google blimps will carry wireless signal across Africa

Search giant Google is intending to build huge wireless networks across Africa and Asia, using high-altitude balloons and blimps.
The company is intending to finance, build and help operate networks from sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia, with the aim of connecting around a billion people to the web.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How I Cured My Anxiety

A great post by Charlie Hoehn..

My anxiety lasted for more than a year. It affected how I breathed, how I thought, how I ate, how I slept, and how I talked. I was serious and tired and afraid, all the time. I wanted so badly to return to my normal, lively, care-free, confident self. But I didn’t know how to shake it.
I tried everything to fix myself: meditation, yoga, high-intensity workouts, long runs, therapy, therapy books, keeping a journal, super clean diets, extended fasting, drugs, deep breathing exercises, prayer, etc. I even took a six-week course, made specifically for men who wanted to overcome anxiety. A few of these things helped, a lot of them didn’t. Some of them made things worse.
Then one day, I discovered the cure. When my mind processed it and recognized it was the solution, I started laughing. The answer had been so obvious all along.

What Is It About Bees And Hexagons?

Solved! A bee-buzzing, honey-licking 2,000-year-old mystery that begins here, with this beehive. Look at the honeycomb in the photo and ask yourself: (I know you've been wondering this all your life, but have been too shy to ask out loud ... ) Why is every cell in this honeycomb a hexagon?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Some of My Best Friends Are Germs

A long but good read by the author Michael Pollen...
I can tell you the exact date that I began to think of myself in the first-person plural — as a superorganism, that is, rather than a plain old individual human being. It happened on March 7. That’s when I opened my e-mail to find a huge, processor-choking file of charts and raw data from a laboratory located at the BioFrontiers Instituteat the University of Colorado, Boulder. As part of a new citizen-science initiative called the American Gut project, the lab sequenced my microbiome — that is, the genes not of “me,” exactly, but of the several hundred microbial species with whom I share this body. These bacteria, which number around 100 trillion, are living (and dying) right now on the surface of my skin, on my tongue and deep in the coils of my intestines, where the largest contingent of them will be found, a pound or two of microbes together forming a vast, largely uncharted interior wilderness that scientists are just beginning to map.
o the extent that we are bearers of genetic information, more than 99 percent of it is microbial. And it appears increasingly likely that this “second genome,” as it is sometimes called, exerts an influence on our health as great and possibly even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents. But while your inherited genes are more or less fixed, it may be possible to reshape, even cultivate, your second genome.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

Exercise science is a fine and intellectually fascinating thing. But sometimes you just want someone to lay out guidelines for how to put the newest fitness research into practice.
An article in the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal does just that. In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.
“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Editor’s blog: Significance of no statistical difference - See more at: http://ophthalmologytimes.modernmedicine.com/ophthalmologytimes/news/editor-s-blog-significance-no-statistical-difference#sthash.Kja7CIBI.dpuf

Seattle—As of Tuesday afternoon at this year's Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting, all of the head-to-head comparison studies involving the efficacy and the safety of ranibizumab (Lucentis) and bevacizumab (Avastin) are officially IN.
The final verdict (NO drumroll, please): bevacizumab and ranibizumab are statistically NO different in the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

On Tuesday, the results of the Inhibition of VEGF in Age-related Choroidal Neovascularisation 2 (IVAN2) Study and the Groupe d’Evaluation Français Avastin versus Lucentis (GEFAL) Study, the French comparison study, were presented. The conclusion for both studies pretty much coincided with the results presented in the Comparison of AMD Treatment Trials (CATT), CATT2, and the original IVAN studies that were presented at previous ARVO meetings: That both drugs are basically equal (with some minor differences) in the treatment of AMD.
Hopefully, the debate between the use of both drugs is finally put to rest and ophthalmology can move forward (unless the French ophthalmic community decides to drag this on for another year with a GEFAL2). The foregone conclusion of these trials pretty much came to the same conclusion on most points that "there was no statistical difference between ranibizumab and bevacizumab."

Most of the ophthalmic community should be good with those conclusions. Even Genentech, the manufacturer of both drugs, has pretty much accepted these conclusions. The bevacizumab supporters have proven their point that their drug is just as good as the FDA-approved drug—at a fraction of the cost.
This is where a "statistical difference" can be found—the price. Ranibizumab costs about $2,000 an injection, while bevacizumab costs less than $100. That is a really big statistical difference, especially to a patient who has limited income or whose insurance may not be so generous to pay. To help patients get their treatments, physicians have that right to utilize that off-label option.

One hospital charges $8,000 — another, $38,000

In the actual article from the Washington Post, there is an interactive module in which you can insert the name of your state and see how your state compares to national averages for common surgical procedures...

Consumers on Wednesday will finally get some answers about one of modern life’s most persistent mysteries: how much medical care actually costs.
For the first time, the federal government will release the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. Until now, these charges have been closely held by facilities that see a competitive advantage in shielding their fees from competitors. What the numbers reveal is a health-care system with tremendous, seemingly random variation in the costs of services.

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