Nearly one percent of children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism, but the cause of the disease’s staggering growth rate these past decades has been hotly debated. Up until recently, research on twins seemed to put the blame largely on genetics. A new study out of UCSF, though—the largest twin study of its kind—appears to be undermining this theory. From a piece in the San Francisco Gate:
The study, published in Monday’s issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, looked at 192 pairs of twins in California and, using a mathematical model, found that genetics account for about 38 percent of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for about 62 percent.
Other recent research out of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California system found an increased risk when mothers had taken anti-depressants in the year before or during pregnancy. This does not mean that the drugs caused the autism, but everyone seems to agree that more research needs to be done on potential environmental factors.
Have you had any experience with autism?
You won’t see heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury listed on your beauty product labels. But that doesn’t mean your skin care and makeup is free of them. In fact, your best-selling Sephora lip gloss looks to be loaded with arsenic and other known toxins.
A Canadian environmental group recently had 49 popular beauty products tested for heavy metals, and was surprised to find just how many traditional beauty products (ie: chemically formulated ones) contained these “unintentional” ingredients.
Lead was detected in 96 percent of the products, arsenic in 20 percent, and cadmium in 51 percent, according to the Montreal Gazette, which published the report findings.
If these concentrations were found in milk, there would be a nationwide uproar if not a product recall. So why are these toxins tolerated in skin care?
The quick answer? If you’re a rodent it can.
Studies around exercise must be some of the most well-funded out there. In the last few months, we’ve reported on several: From how exercise may prevent the common cold to why it’s more effective in the morning. Other recent research has focused on bone density and weight management for women after menopause, and now the New York Times is reporting that it may play a very significant role in slowing the signs of aging. Or, excuse me, stopping them altogether. From the article:
Indeed, in heartening new research published last week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace.
Of course we’ve long-discussed the anti-aging, beauty-amplifying benefits of breaking a sweat—but every sign? Come again, now. According to the article, here’s how the research was conducted:
In the experiment, Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used lab rodents that carry a genetic mutation affecting how well their bodies repair malfunctioning mitochondria, which are tiny organelles within cells. Mitochondria combine oxygen and nutrients to create fuel for the cells — they are microscopic power generators.
This malfunctioning mitochondria would ensure that the subjects age prematurely. And that’s exactly what they did: By the time they hit their 8-month birthdays, which in this study represented about 60 human years, they were decrepid and dying. None of them reached their first birthdays. That is, except the ones that exercised.
Those rodents, who got to run on the wheel for 45 minutes, three times a week, had none of the signs of aging—despite possessing the same predisposition for early aging as the other poor things. Their fur was shiny and didn’t turn gray, their little hearts thumped on beat, their muscle and brain mass remained healthy, and they exhibited amazing coordination. In short, they stayed young—and they all celebrated their first birthdays.
While these epic effects aren’t fully understood (more funding to come!), the results are astounding. Our first three burning questions: 1. Could exercise really put hair dye out of business? 2. How applicable are these results to us bigger mammals? 3. Will a study like this change your exercise habits?
This one’s already gotten a lot of air time, but we’re going to weigh in nonetheless. A study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found a multitude of chemicals in the urine and blood samples of pregnant women.
While this in itself is not surprising, some of the findings are. From this San Francisco Chronicle article:
Of the 163 chemicals studied, 43 of them were found in virtually all 268 pregnant women in the study. They included polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a prohibited chemical linked to cancer and other health problems; organochlorine pesticides; polybrominated diphenyl ethers, banned compounds used as flame retardants; and phthalates, which are shown to cause hormone disruption.
Some of these chemicals were banned before many of the women were even born.
Nobody knows for sure if these chemicals have ill effects on fetuses and, as Andrew Revkin at the New York Times points out, there are inherent problems when writing about this kind of research. As a rule we try not to incite panic, but we also think that it’s important to spread this type of information even when studies aren’t conclusive (which they never are), or only explore one part of an issue (which they often do). There are also worse things to panic about, especially when our exposure to certain questionable chemicals—like the ones in your body lotion—can be significantly reduced by making better choices as consumers. But I digress…
What’s most disturbing about this study is how some of these chemicals have been passed on mother-to-child generations after they’ve been discontinued from use. That’s creepy, even if it isn’t “proven” to be dangerous.
Are you freaked out by this research? And do you think journalists need to be more careful when they’re reporting on science?
According to research done by Dr. Ian Stephen at the University of Nottingham, eating more veggies means you will look better. And yes, these no-real-science studies are kind of silly but hey, this one is the truth. Cause veggies make you glow! From the article:
Dr Stephen explained: “Eating five more portions [of fruit and veg] ups your carotenoid levels giving your skin golden tones.”
Carotenoids are antioxidants which soak up damaging compounds that the skin encounters in daily life.
Students at the University’s Malaysian campus, where Dr Stephen is based, ate five extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day for two months.
Afterwards students examined a variety of pictures where their skin had different pigmentations and deemed themselves more attractive when they had increased their vegetable intake.
Dr Stephen explained: “In humans, the more red and yellow tones found in the skin, the more attractive the people were found to be.”
The middle shot is the subject’s regular skin tone, whereas the left is a suntan, and the right a vegetable tan. Of course, I’m wondering about the racial diversity of the subjects and if effects are as visible on darker skin. Perhaps some readers can weigh in on that. I definitely see a difference in my skin tone and quality (or so I imagine) since I’ve started throwing back the green smoothies.
Have any of you seen a relationship between vegetable intake and your skin?