Category: Second Column

Widely used sugar adversely affects our microbiomes

Terrific piece in the Times April 6 by Moises Velasquez-Manoff headed “The Germs That Love Diet Soda.”  Trehalose is sugar on which the baddest bacteria —aptly named Clostridium difficile— thrive.  It’s also produced as we digest shrimp, mushrooms, and yeast (bread). There are lots of reasons to avoid processed foods. They’re often packed with sugar, fat and salt, and they tend to lack certain nutrients critical to health, like fiber. And now, new research suggests that some of the additives that extend the shelf life and improve the texture of these foods may have unintended side effects — not on our bodies...

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MJ and Domestic Violence are Inversely Related

The conclusion of this paper from Psychology of Addictive Behaviors is right in the title: “Couples’ marijuana use is inversely related to their intimate partner violence over the first 9 years of marriage.” Researchers at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, led by Philip H. Smith, conducted the study, which we don’t expect will receive much publicity in the media. Thanks to NORML’s Paul Armentano, who forwarded the abstract: Research on the association between marijuana use and intimate partner violence (IPV) has generated inconsistent findings, and has been primarily based on cross-sectional data. We examined whether husbands’ and wives’ marijuana use predicted...

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Decomposition

There’s a line in Norman Greenbaum’s song Spirit in the Sky that says “…that’s where you’re gonna go when you die.”  It’s a great song, but Eugenia Bone has the true facts. Her prose really swings, and she has so much info to impart, that we can’t précis her Easter Sunday essay in the New York Times.  I’m in the odd position of being someone who loves detritivores, that is, things that eat the dead. Believe me, it’s not an easy sell at a dinner party. Usually when I reveal my interest, people recoil. Often when I shake someone’s hand...

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Who Was Asperger?

Dr. Hans Asperger was a striver who defined “autistic psychopathy” in terms the Nazis found useful, according to an April 1 op-ed in the NY Times by Edith Sheffer. The official diagnosis of Asperger disorder has recently been dropped from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders because clinicians largely agreed it wasn’t a separate condition from autism. But Asperger syndrome is still included in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, which is used around the globe. Moreover, the name remains in common usage. It is an archetype in popular culture, a term...

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Introducing the Interstitium

 MARCH 27, 2018 From Greg Williams of NYU’s Langone School of Medicine (who hedded his media advisory, “Researchers Find New ‘Organ’ Missed by Gold Standard Methods for Visualizing Anatomy & Disease”). Researchers have identified a previously unknown feature of human anatomy with implications for the function of all organs, most tissues, and the mechanisms of most major diseases. Published March 27 in Scientific Reports, a new study co-led by an NYU School of Medicine pathologist reveals that layers of the body long thought to be dense, connective tissues—below the skin’s surface, lining the digestive tract, lungs, and urinary systems,...

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