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January 27, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup found to contain dangerous levels of mercury

The Ethicurean: Chew the right thing. -- PR debacle for HFCS: Care for some mercury with your oatmeal?

I really wish this was a joke, but it's not.

Short version: do not give your kids any food containing high fructose corn syrup. And you should probably avoid it too.

After one set of scientists found mercury — yes, everyone’s favorite brain-impairing element — in almost half of commercial HFCS, another bunch of scientists decided to get specific and tested 55 common consumer products that use HFCS. And guess what? Almost a third of them contain mercury.

How did the heavy metal get in there? In making HFCS — that “natural” sweetener, as the Corn Refiners Associaton likes to call it — caustic soda is one ingredient used to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. Apparently most caustic soda for years has been produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants, where it can be contaminated with mercury that it passes on to the HFCS, and then to consumers.

Also "...the average high-end dose from HFCS is 28 micrograms per day, and the dose from a dental amalgam is 1 microgram per day. Canada and other areas do not recommend dental amalgam (silver fillings) for children."

(via the Accidental Hedonist)

January 26, 2009

Scientists find that moderate drinking protects against impotence

Alcohol stops men being a flop in bed - health - 26 January 2009 - New Scientist

Despite traditional views about the effects of booze on male performance, new research suggests that moderate drinking actually protects against impotence in the long term – perhaps for the same reason a glass or two of wine a day cuts the odds of suffering from heart disease.

There is good evidence that excessive drinking can hinder sexual performance after a night out – a phenomenon sometimes called "brewer's droop". The effect has been noted for many years: "[Drink] provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance," Shakespeare reminds us in Macbeth.

But over longer periods, moderate drinking doesn't seem to be linked to erectile dysfunction, says Kew-Kim Chew, an epidemiologist at the University of West Australia in Nedlands, whose team conducted an anonymous postal survey of 1770 West Australian men.

January 24, 2009

The New York Times takes a long hard look at female desire

What Do Women Want? - Discovering What Ignites Female Desire - NYTimes.com

The men, on average, responded genitally in what Chivers terms “category specific” ways. Males who identified themselves as straight swelled while gazing at heterosexual or lesbian sex and while watching the masturbating and exercising women. They were mostly unmoved when the screen displayed only men. Gay males were aroused in the opposite categorical pattern. Any expectation that the animal sex would speak to something primitive within the men seemed to be mistaken; neither straights nor gays were stirred by the bonobos. And for the male participants, the subjective ratings on the keypad matched the readings of the plethysmograph. The men’s minds and genitals were in agreement.

All was different with the women. No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly — and markedly, though to a lesser degree than during all the human scenes except the footage of the ambling, strapping man — as they watched the apes. And with the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. The readings from the plethysmograph and the keypad weren’t in much accord. During shots of lesbian coupling, heterosexual women reported less excitement than their vaginas indicated; watching gay men, they reported a great deal less; and viewing heterosexual intercourse, they reported much more. Among the lesbian volunteers, the two readings converged when women appeared on the screen. But when the films featured only men, the lesbians reported less engagement than the plethysmograph recorded. Whether straight or gay, the women claimed almost no arousal whatsoever while staring at the bonobos.

January 21, 2009

Study: No Link Between School Shootings And Violent Games

The Escapist : News : Study: No Link Between School Shooters And Violent Games

New research by Professor Christopher J. Ferguson of Texas A&M University concludes that there is "no significant relationship" between violent videogames and school shootings, and strongly criticizes "faulty" claims that such a relationship exists.

Ferguson's report, The School Shooting/Violent Videogame Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?, begins with a short overview of current research on the impact of violent videogames on behavior, saying that the results of such studies are "mixed," with some supporting a link between violent gaming and aggressive behavior and others finding no such link. But results are tainted by numerous factors, he says, including the failure to include "third" variables such as personality, family violence and genetics, as well as the "considerable difficulty in generalizing the results from laboratory tests of aggression to real world serious acts of aggression."