Tag Archives: Biology

Study claims a link between diet sodas and stroke and dementia

(credit: Phera Laster / Flickr)

Excessive intake of sugar has been linked to a huge variety of health problems, many of them a consequence of the obesity that’s also linked to excessive sugar. That’s led many people to switch to drinks with artificial sweeteners that aren’t metabolized by the body. A new study is now suggesting that these sweeteners are associated with their own health risks, namely stroke and dementia. But the study doesn’t get into causality, and there’s enough oddities in the data to suggest that it’s not time to purge your fridge just yet.

The study, run by a collaboration of Boston-based researchers, relied on a cohort of individuals that had been recruited starting in 1971. On average, every four years since, the

Read the rest

107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud

Enlarge (credit: flickr user: 派脆客 Lee)

The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn’t the journal’s first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals— 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason.

It’s possible to fake peer review because authors are often asked to suggest potential reviewers for their own papers. This is done because research subjects are often blindingly niche; a researcher working in a sub-sub-field may be more aware than the journal editor of who is best-placed to assess the work.

But some journals go further and request, or allow, authors to submit the contact details of these potential reviewers. If the editor isn’t

Read the rest

If you live inland, don’t think sea level rise won’t affect you

Enlarge (credit: flickr user: Richard)

There has been a lot of talk about the millions of people worldwide whose homes will be at the mercy of rising sea levels. Within the US, a 1.8-meter rise in the oceans by 2100 could displace as many as 13.1 million people. Worldwide, up to 180 million people could be at risk.

There has been less talk about where exactly those people will go when they leave their homes. Research on climate migration has painted sea level rise as “primarily a coastal issue,” writes Mathew E. Hauer in Nature Climate Change this week. But the inland regions that absorb climate change migrants will need to have sufficient transport, housing, and infrastructure to absorb the migrants.

To get a picture

Read the rest

Why understanding the genetics of my heart disease isn’t much help

Enlarge (credit: mgstanton)

Atrial fibrillation is a heart disorder that causes the upper chambers of the heart to spasm instead of beating regularly. While that sounds dangerous, the lack of a regular heartbeat itself isn’t dangerous. Instead, a-fib causes lots of indirect problems that can be debilitating or fatal. We’re making progress in understanding the disease, as evidenced by two new papers that identify a total of 18 genes that predispose people to a-fib.

That should be exciting news. And it should be especially exciting to me, since I could have easily contributed to that study—as one of its subjects. I have a-fib, which I seem to have inherited from my mother.

Getting a better understanding of a disease can open all sorts of possibilities

Read the rest