Evolving Health

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Kim Hill By pure chance (involving a failed attempt to go hiking and a speeding ticket), I found myself at a talk given by anthropologist Kim Hill, speaking on the “Emergence of Human Uniqueness: Characteristics Underlying Behavioral Modernity.” I previously wrote an article for Scientific American on an Arizona State University workshop that Hill headed up along with Curtis Marean and Lawrence Krauss last February. Most of Hill’s talk was basically the same stuff… Read More

Before the next time you ask a cashier for a receipt, think twice! It might be tainted with bisphenol A, aka BPA. A recent study in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that cashiers had highest BPA exposure because of its use in thermal paper for register receipts in a monomer form that is readily absorbed through skin. BPA is also used as a polymer complex in hard, clear polycarbonate plastic water bottles and… Read More

Senses help us select our food. So, this is a blog post about the importance of sensory criteria for selecting food, which was inspired by a day of cooking up goods for the holidays. What makes people choose the foods that they do? This question may seem obvious to yourself–after all, you know what you like–but this is a question posed by food industry scientists ask themselves day in and day out…. Read More

A while back I wrote a review of Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do about Them. Susan Allport’s book goes into the history of how omega-3s were discovered and what they’ll mean for us in the future. A controversial topic of the book is how omega-6 (king) and omega-3 (queen) compete for space in eicosanoid pathways. The omega-6s, the king, are the greater competitor… Read More

Fat can not only be unsightly, but if it’s sitting on your belly, may also contribute to overproduction of signaling hormones called adipokines, which are linked to metabolic changes that can worsen health. New research from Aarhus University has found that abdominal adipose tissue extracted from overweight adults, and then exposed to resveratrol, exhibited reduced adipokine production. According to these authors, “small interfering molecules such as resveratrol are, in this matter, hypothesized… Read More

Scientists are actively seeking aging-intervention strategies to help people maintain their youth in anticipation of a sharp rise in the elderly population – due to the “baby boomer” generation – and an unprecedented number of elderly in North America and throughout the developed world. Now, a new study in the October issue of Cell Metabolism reports that middle-aged, male mice given a cocktail of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) – leucine, isoleucine, valine… Read More

I had the good fortune of touring Yale University’s biotech facilities today, including the 2007-built Yale Stem Cell Center, with its director as our guide: cell biology professor Haifan Lin, PhD. Walking through a high-tech stem cell facility with Lin was nothing like I expected. Lin was incredibly personable, and he and his staff took us through their labs and offices with a sense of enjoyment and courtesy if introducing us as… Read More

What is the future of medicine and how will we get there? On Monday morning, as part of New Horizons of Science at Yale, Director of Institutes of Systems Biology Lee Hood discussed the advent of 21st-century medicine: p4 medicine. What are paradigm changes in biology leading to p4, or proactive medicine? There are several changes needed and all overlap and interconnect, but the main drivers in the process are: – bringing… Read More

In the afternoon session of New Horizons in Science at Yale, psychology professor Laurie Santos delivered a compelling talk on the origins of human irrationality. Santos studies comparative cognition in primates including humans, chimps, various monkeys, and (my favorite animal) lemurs! There isn’t too much about rationality that we don’t share with the rest of the primate family. What makes humans different in irrationality? Well, actually, a lot of us are indeed… Read More

Most people have no idea just how large the role of microbes play as a part in our world, in our soil, in our bodies. That was the introduction we received on the subject from Yale professor Jo Handelsman at New Horizons in Science (as part of #sciwri10). As a molecular, cellular and developmental biologist, Handelsman takes issue with any scientist or science writer who dares refer to the world’s largest organ… Read More