Friday, July 31, 2009

Keep off your fat pals to stay trim

Want to stay trim? Well, then do away with your fat pals, mounting evidence suggests. A new American research has found a strong link between teenagers’ own weight and that of their closest peers, reports. The journal Economics and Human Biology justifies the notion of imitative obesity aping of friends who gain weight. It came to the conclusion after looking at data on nearly 5,000 teenagers, many of whom were later followed up after two year interval. After analyses, researchers found friendships between the adolescents tended to cluster according to weight, meaning overweight children tended to hang out together. When they looked at weight changes over time, they found having a fat friend could lead to weight gain for a child. The study authors from the University of Hawaii say they cannot tell from their work whether overweight teens influence their friends to become overweight or whether obese adolescents simply choose to flock together. A spokeswoman from weight concern said: “We do learn from our peers and eat with our friends, so these children may be picking up unhealthy habits.” “But I would not assume that the overweight teenagers are necessarily the ones with the bad habits. Most teenagers have unhealthy diets, but not all of them are obese,” he said. “And most of the food consumed is still at home with the family,” added the spokesman said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tanning beds as deadly as arsenic in causing cancer

International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, deeming them as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas. For years, scientists have described tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as probable carcinogens. A new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75% when people start using tanning beds before age 30. Experts also found that all types of ultraviolet radiation caused worrying mutations in mice, proof the radiation is carcinogenic. Previously, only one type of ultraviolet radiation was thought to be lethal. The new classification means tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation are definite causes of cancer, alongside tobacco, the hepatitis B virus and chimney sweeping, among others.

Texting is the riskiest distraction for drivers

The first study of driver’s texting shows that the risk sharply exceeds previous estimates based on laboratory research and far surpasses the dangers of other distractions. The new study, which entailed outfitting the cabs of long-haul tracks with video cameras over 18 months, found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which compiled the research, also measured the time drivers took their eyes from the road to send or receive texts. In the moments before a crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Warming could displace 75 million in Asia-Pacific

The changing climate could generate 75 million refugees in the Asia-Pacific region in the next 40 years, a report released. The report, by the aid agency Oxfam Australia and the think tank Australia Institute, said the consequences of unbridled greenhouse gas emissions should be discussed next week when Pacific Island Forum. Oxfam Australia executive director Andrew Hewett said Australia, one of the world’s biggest per-capita greenhouse-gas polluters, must make deep cuts to these climate-changing emissions. He called for Pacific island nations to be included as beneficiaries in a carbon-trading scheme. “They’re facing increasing food and water shortages, they’re losing land, they’re being forced from their homes, they’re dealing with rising cases of malaria and they’re facing much more intense weather patterns”, Hewett said.

Monday, July 27, 2009

US scientists create living computer out of bacteria

Researchers have programmed a virulent microbe, the E. coli, to potentially solve complicated mathematics problems. The researchers have found that computing in living cells is feasible, opening the door to a number of applications. The second-generation bacterial computers illustrate the feasibility of extending the approach to other computationally challenging maths problems. A research team from Missouri Western State University and Davidson College in North Carolina engineered the DNA of E. coli. They were able to create bacterial computers capable of solving a classic mathematical problem known as the Hamiltonian Path Problem. The Hamiltonian Path Problem asks whether there is a route in a network from a beginning node to an end node, visiting each node exactly once. The researchers modified the genetic circuitry of the bacteria to enable them to find a Hamiltonian path in a three-node graph. Bacteria that successfully solved the problem reported their success by fluorescing both red and green, resulting in yellow colonies.