"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bad for You, Good for You 

Fast food is unhealthy - this is not news. High in fat calories and full of ultra-refined sugars, fast food diets are frequently blamed for rising obesity and diabetes rates. It turns out that a big part of fast food's unhealthiness is due to its reliance on trans-fats: monkeys fed a diet high in trans fats got fatter and were more prone to diabetes than monkeys fed the same number of calories from mono-unsaturated fats. Just say no to trans-fats, kids.

Also famously not good for us (except from a distance) is ozone, an unstable gas not only found (less and less?) in the upper atmosphere but also produced by cars and photocopiers, is a major component of smog. And, it seems, it may be even more harmful to our health: researchers have found that ozone reacts with cholesterol in the blood to increase atherosclerosis, leading to heart disease.

Unlike ozone and trans-fats, folic acid is good for you; women should be especially sure to get plenty of it, as a deficiency early in pregnancy can lead to spina biffida and other birth defects. For the rest of us, it now seems that folic acid may in fact help prevent against throat cancer. Too much, however, may speed its progression.

Finally, the fight against Alzheimer's Disease may be getting a big boost from an unexpected source: some forms of the sugar, inositol, have been found effective in both preventing and clearing beta-amyloid plaque formations in mouse models of the disease, improving outcomes and survival significantly. Phase I human trials are now underway, and hopefully will lead to an effective (and cheap!) way to combat this disease.

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