Biofuels were all the rage in the 1990s. Sustainable, activists said, because they refused to do math. It was only when Republicans mandated and subsidized biofuels in 2005 that environmentalists realized there must be something very wrong with them and $10 billion per year of wasted tax dollars on fuels actually worse for the environment than oil are what we have.
If biofuels can make oil companies look good, imagine what they can do for something like tobacco.
Researchers from the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University say they have identified a way to increase the oil in tobacco plant leaves, which may be the next step in using the plants for biofuel, according to a paper in Plant Biotechnology Journal.
Caffeine is the world's most popular stimulant drug and enjoys the cultural shield of being both legal and acceptable. A caffeine addiction is considered perfectly normal.
But with soft drink and coffee companies like Starbuck's aggressively marketing to teens and younger there has to be consideration of the effects of acute and chronic caffeine consumption on blood pressure, heart rate and hand tremors. Just as worrisome, does consuming caffeinated drinks during adolescence contribute to later use of legal or illicit drugs?
The FDA's pre-market approval process for cardiovascular devices is often based on studies that lack adequate strength or may have been prone to bias, according to a study in the December 23/30 issue of JAMA. The researchers found that of nearly 80 high-risk devices, the majority received approval based on data from a single study.
Cardiovascular devices are increasing in number and usage. "In 2008, at least 350,000 pacemakers, 140,000 implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, and 1,230,000 stents were implanted. Although there has been recent scrutiny of evidence used in the FDA drug approval process, less attention has been paid to the approval process for medical devices," the authors write.
When New Year's Eve rolls around and you're deciding whether to have another glass of champagne, your decision may be predicted by your perspective on the future. A pair of Kansas State University researchers found that people who tend to think in the long term are more likely to make positive decisions about their health, whether it's how much they drink, what they eat, or their decision to wear sunscreen.
"If you are more willing to pick later, larger rewards rather than taking the immediate payoff, you are more future-minded than present-minded," said James Daugherty, a doctoral student in psychology who led the study. "You're more likely to exercise and less likely to smoke and drink."
Ginkgo biloba, popularly consumed for its supposedly positive effect on memory, has no such effect, according to new research published in the December 23/30 issue of JAMA. In the study, older adults who used the herbal supplement for several years did not have a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to adults who received placebo .
It's common for powerful public figures to use their status to lecture the rest of us about how we should live. But it's also no secret that the politicians, business leaders and entertainers who make up this elite group of decision makers in our society don't practice what they preach. And coming out of 2009, a year that may well be remembered for its scandal-ridden headlines, from admissions of extramarital affairs by elected leaders and athletes, to corporate executives preaching about free markets while taking bailout money, it may be reasonable to ask: why are powerful people hypocrites?