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A magic pill to replace exercise?

Could a Pill Replace Exercise?: Scientific American

Good news for couch potatoes. There may be a pill that lets them watch their TV and get their exercise, too—without moving a muscle. Scientists have found a drug that mimics the effects of a workout by, among other things, increasing the body's ability to burn fat.

The study shows the pill can also increase endurance; lab mice that took it ran more than 40 percent longer on a treadmill than their untreated peers.

"It's tricking the muscle into 'believing' it's been exercised daily," says Ronald Evans, a developmental biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in La Jolla, Calif., and co-author of a study published in Cell. "It proves you can have a pharmacologic equivalent to exercise."

In addition to supercharging stamina, the drug, called AICAR, may also be useful in treating debilitating muscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy as well as metabolic diseases such as diabetes, because it also appears to help the body use and remove sugar from the blood more effectively.

July 25, 2008

High-Fructose Corn Syrup makes you fat

Does Fructose Make You Fatter? - Well - Tara Parker-Pope - Health - New York Times Blog

High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener used in many processed foods ranging from sodas to baked goods. While the ingredient is cheaper and sweeter than regular sugar, new research suggests that it can also make you fatter.

In a small study, Texas researchers showed that the body converts fructose to body fat with “surprising speed,'’ said Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The study, which appears in The Journal of Nutrition, shows how glucose and fructose, which are forms of sugar, are metabolized differently.

In humans, triglycerides, which are a type of fat in the blood, are mostly formed in the liver. Dr. Parks said the liver acts like “a traffic cop” who coordinates how the body uses dietary sugars. When the liver encounters glucose, it decides whether the body needs to store it, burn it for energy or turn it into triglycerides.

But when fructose enters the body, it bypasses the process and ends up being quickly converted to body fat.

Cell phones promote cancer

talkingtoddler.jpg See also: Mortality in Relation to Smoking: Ten Years' Observations of British Doctors, Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill; Br Med J. 1964 June 6; 1(5396): 1460–1467.
For example, we have found death rates per 1,000 per annum from cancer of the lung of 0.07 in non-smokers, 0.93 in cigarette smokers, and 2.23 in cigarette smokers of 25 or more cigarettes a day
The Register | Cancer doctor cites 'early' data on cell phone danger
The head of a leading US cancer research institute has sent out a warning to his staff to limit their cell phone use because of a risk of developing brain cancer. In a memo sent by University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute director Dr. Ronald Herbman yesterday, he cautions mobile phone users should not to let a lack of evidence stop them from taking immediate action. "We shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later," he said. Herbman said his alarm is based on early, unpublished data linking long-term cell phone use with adverse health effects.

July 22, 2008

Mars once had an asteroid-powered magnetic field

Asteroid switched Mars's magnetic field on and off - space - 19 July 2008 - New Scientist Space

Mars once had a magnetic field, which may have been driven by a dynamo formed from the convection of material in the core, much like the Earth's is today. Yet crater records suggest the Martian dynamo died quickly, over a few tens of thousands of years, something researchers struggle to explain.

Now Jafar Arkani-Hamed of the University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues say the gravitational tug of an orbiting asteroid may have powered a dynamo by pulling on the fluid in Mars's core. The team's lab and model simulations showed that an asteroid orbiting 75,000 kilometres above Mars could have maintained a dynamo for 400 million years, before the rock crashed into the planet and switched it off

Speed may help learning

Language Log -- Speed learns

Even more people know that amphetamines have long been used for recreational purposes, among subcultures as diverse as beats, hippies, and bikers; and that non-prescription uses have recently been spreading in the U.S. among several paradoxically unrelated groups, including rural whites, homosexuals, and students at elite colleges.

But few people seem to have picked up on the fact that improved alertness, focus and mood may not be the only reasons that amphetamines are popular as a "study drug".

For more than a decade, evidence has been accumulating that low doses of amphetamines can improve certain kinds of learning and retention, independent of any other physiological effects.