Why were people thinner in the 1970s?

On July 26, Guardian columnist George Monbiot tweeted a photo of people on Brighton Beach in 1976, with the comment:

In this photo, from 1976, almost everyone is what we would now call slim. So what has happened? A sudden loss of willpower, as some rightwing journos claim? No. An obesogenic environment created by junk food manufacturers and their advertisers.

As you can see, lively Twitter discussion ensued. Monbiot did some research into people's dietary and exercise habits, then and now. He found that people actually ate more in the 1970s than they do now. Manual laborers are heavier today than they were in the 1970s. Kids move around as much today as they did 50 years ago.

"So what has happened?" asks Monbiot? His answer: lots more sugar.

The light begins to dawn when you look at the nutrition figures in more detail. Yes, we ate more in 1976, but differently. Today, we buy half as much fresh milk per person, but five times more yoghurt, three times more ice cream and – wait for it – 39 times as many dairy desserts. We buy half as many eggs as in 1976, but a third more breakfast cereals and twice the cereal snacks; half the total potatoes, but three times the crisps.

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Cat poop parasite may influence someone's entrepreneurial spirit

Toxoplasma gondii infection has been linked to all kinds of human behavior. Now a study has linked it to risk-taking entrepreneurial behavior. Read the rest

Bacteria shown to have built immunity to hand sanitizers

Good news everyone: those superbugs we’re all so afraid of? They’re evolving to be immune to a number of those popular alcohol-based hand sanitizers we all assumed would help to keep us from getting sick. Nature’s amazing!

Seriously though, the planet is totally trying to kill us for all the shit we do to it.

From Ars Technica:

Bacteria gathered from two hospitals in Australia between 1997 and 2015 appeared to gradually get better at surviving the alcohol used in hand sanitizers, researchers found. The bacteria’s boost in booze tolerance seemed in step with the hospitals’ gradually increasing use of alcohol-based sanitizers within that same time period—an increase aimed at improving sanitation and thwarting the spread of those very bacteria. Yet the germ surveillance data as well as a series of experiments the researchers conducted in mice suggest that the effort might be backfiring and that the hooch hygiene may actually be encouraging the spread of drug-resistant pathogens.

The more the bacteria drink, the higher their resistance to alcohol becomes. They’re just like us!

The bacteria that researchers are most concerned about becoming tolerant to current booze-based sanitation products is called enterococcus faecium: it’s responsible for the majority of infections that folks pick up in a hospital environment and has already proven to be resistant to a number of antibiotics. According to this report, bacterial tolerance to alcohol-based sanitizers could undermine the way that hospitals prevent the spread of bacteria and other ugly stuff, on a world-wide basis.

Happy Hump Day. Read the rest

Young doctors revolt, force AMA to consider backing single-payer healthcare for the first time

Millennial doctors are killing predatory health-care capitalism! Read the rest

Former Obama trade official teams up with Trump to create highly profitable TB epidemics in poor countries

When Josh Black quit his job as Obama's director for U.N. and Multilateral Affairs after the 2016 election (citing "growing disillusionment"), he found a sweet job as Associate Vice President for International Advocacy at Phrma, the global lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry, which meant that he still got to work at the UN, but now he'd be advocating for giant, rapacious corporations that hold peoples' lives hostage to their profits! (speaking as a former NGO observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization from the era of the Access to Medicines treaty, Phrma are effectively public health war criminals). Read the rest

FDA warns companies: stop selling quack "vaginal rejuvenation," adds, "People, please don't do this to yourselves"

The FDA has sent warning letters to seven companies selling quack "energy based" vaginal rejuvenation "therapies," in which repurposed laser and radio-frequency-based tools that are used to remove warts and precancerous growths are used to scorch peoples' vaginas, a process that is claimed to have benefits for sexual dysfunction, urinary problems, dryness, "laxity," itching and a host of ills. Some of these companies specifically target breast-cancer survivors. Read the rest

Koch thinktank inadvertently proves that America would save trillions by switching to socialized medicine

Mercatus (previously) is part of the Koch Brothers' network of thinktanks which allow the billionaires and their cadre of oligarchs to make it appear that their ideas are mainstream by all singing the praises of the wealthy in chorus. Read the rest

New documentary on elite athletes who went vegan

The Game Changers is a new documentary about the vegan movement within sports and physically demanding occupations. It's by Louie Psihoyos (director of The Cove) and executive produced by James Cameron. Read the rest

Four Thieves Vinegar Collective: DIY epipens were just the start, now it's home bioreactors to thwart Big Pharma's price-gouging

When last we met the Four Thieves Vinegar collective -- a group of anarchist scientists who combine free/open chemistry with open source hardware in response to shkrelic gouging by pharma companies -- they were announcing the epipencil, a $30 DIY alternative to the Epipen, Mylan's poster-child for price-gouging and profiteering on human misery. Read the rest

In separate incidents, two women impaled by beach umbrellas

Within the space of a week, two women were impaled by giant umbrellas while enjoying a trip to the beach. Both will make full recoveries. British tourist Margaret Reynolds, 67, was hospitalized after an umbrella "went entirely through her ankle" on a New Jersey beach.

Here's eyewitness insert4coins, who posted the chilling photo of the scene above:

"Bruuuuh holy shit! This lady had an umbrella go through her leg 5 feet away from me! There was a strong gust of wind, there were a couple umbrellas flying. One of the corners of a random one went THROUGH HER FUCKING LEG! That could have been me!"

Then, on Sunday, a woman in Maryland's Ocean City was speared through the chest.

“Witnesses said one gust lifted the umbrella,” Waters said.

She said the sharper end the umbrella shaft, which is used to plant it into the ground, impaled the woman in the chest. It was not clear how deep a wound it caused.

I know this is a long shot, but bear with me here: has anyone checked to see if it's the same umbrella? Read the rest

Raw vegetable platters are making people sick in multiple US States

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning people about Del Monte Fresh Produce Vegetable Trays, which are responsible for a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanensis, a "single-celled parasite that causes an intestinal infection."

From the FDA:

Most people infected with Cyclospora develop diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse).

Washing the vegetables is not enough to prevent getting sick from the parasite.

Consumers who have purchased recalled Del Monte 6oz, 12oz and 28oz vegetable trays from IA, IL, MN, and WI should discard the product immediately. Cooking or heating produce at high temperature will kill most pathogens, including parasites such as Cyclospora, and thus significantly reduces the likelihood of illness. This holds true for any produce that may contain Cyclospora. Washing or cleaning processes may not be sufficient to eliminate the pathogen.

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Singapore healthcare provider breached, personal records of 1.5m people - including the Prime Minister - stolen

Singhealth, a Singaporean public health service, suffered the worst breach in Singaporean history, losing control of 1.5 million peoples' data; included in the breach was prescription data on 160,000 people, including Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Read the rest

60 Congressional Democrats form a Medicare For All caucus

When Bernie Sanders made a bid for the Democratic presidential candidacy in 2016 with a pledge of "Medicare For All," the party establishment (coffers fattened with money from the health insurance industry) claimed that the policy was a nonstarter that would never find popular support. Read the rest

Hackers say they stole tens of thousands of health records of Ontario home-care patients and they want to get paid

CBC reporters have verified health record files provided by hackers who say they acquired them by breaking into the computers of CarePartners, a company that contracts with the Ontario government. Read the rest

If there's a "gaming disorder", why isn't there a "smartphone disorder"?

The WHO proposes a "behavioral addiction pathology" for excessive video-game playing. But not one for a similar pattern of compulsive, harmful, endlessly looping use associated with smartphones and the internet in general. Ian Bogost writes that the proposed diagnosis reflects a desire to cast negative behaviors as the result of individual mental defects rather than more complex social, political, and economic factors at hand. The discrepancy between digital dependencies considered pathological and those considered perfectly normal may simply come down to pleasing lobbyists--or avoiding their displeasure.

But what about computers, smartphones, or the internet more broadly? Proposals for internet addiction have been advanced for possible inclusion in the DSM-V. In those cases, a similar reliance on the substance-abuse model persists, along with suspicions regarding the legitimacy of withdrawal and tolerance as diagnostic criteria. The WHO told me that it began evaluating the public-health implications of excessive use of computers, smartphones, and the internet in 2014, in response to concerns from its community. But despite those concerns, gaming disorder made it into the ICD-11 draft as the only “clinically recognizable and clinically significant syndrome” related to the broader category of computing and the internet.

Some researchers wonder if the WHO might be under pressure to codify gaming disorder. In 2017, an article in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice argued that two members of the WHO advisory group, Geoffrey Reed and Vladimir Poznyak felt political pressure to identify gaming disorder, particularly from member states where the consequences of excessive online gaming have been particularly extreme.

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Can an electric bandage kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

Can an electrified bandage really kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria (and make the wear not as smelly)? Chemical and Engineering News put one, made by Vomaris Innovations, to the test, and the answer seems to be yes.

Although the bandage is about a decade old, recent research has shown the technology can destroy hardy, antibiotic-resistant biofilms in pigs (Ann. Surg. 2017, DOI: 10.1097/sla.0000000000002504). Soon, the makers hope to prove the bandage’s efficacy in human clinical trials, and they also have their eyes on other commercial applications, including sportswear that fights smelly bacteria (shown). The latest episode of Speaking of Chemistry explores the science behind the bandages and puts their odor-fighting claims to the test.

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Teaching a banjo workshop while undergoing an EEG

Patrick Costello (previously) writes, "I had to go through a 25 hr EEG, but I didn't let the wires glued to my head stop me from posting my weekly frailing banjo workshop." Read the rest

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