Science & Society

The blue coloring in tortillas is more than just appearance. The color is due to the presence of anthocyanins in the corn and these are the same health promoting compounds found in purple berries and red wine.

Scientists in Mexico, home of the taco, found that tortillas made from blue corn had less starch and a lower glycæmic index than their white counter parts. They also found that the blue tortillas had 20% more protein than white.

The glycæmic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates according to their effects on blood glucose levels. Foods with a lower GI are considered healthier as they slowly release sugar into the bloodstream. This reduces fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels, helping to maintain a steady supply of energy.

Working mothers have it easier now than their own mothers did, at least with respect to childcare, a University of Leicester study has found.

The Labour government’s National Childcare Strategy, aimed at encouraging mothers to return to work, has simplified childcare, benefiting the younger generation of mothers, according to doctoral research by Dr Henrietta O’Connor in the University’s renowned Centre for Labour Market Studies.

In the course of the study, grandmothers and mothers in fourteen families were asked about their strategies for combining paid work and domestic responsibilities.

Heather Piwowar has collected an impressive set of notes on Open Notebook Science. From her blog post:
In anticipation of the ISMB BoF session on Open Notebook Science (ONS),I’m trying to come up to speed on ONS discourse. In between ISMBsessions, I’ve started consolidating snippets of blogposts and articles discussing ONS into a single document (in the open here).

On the eve of the 62nd anniversary of the world's first atomic explosion, the Trinity atomic bomb test, a CDC-led study team has reported new insights on the radiation released at the time of the test. Analyzing the doses that nearby residents received, the CDC team has made preliminary estimates of additional doses that the residents could have ingested in their bodies.

The test of a plutonium-based atomic device at the Trinity Site in southern New Mexico on July 16, 1945 was an undertaking unlike any that humankind had tried before. There was much uncertainty among the Los Alamos scientists, military personnel, and Manhattan Project officials assembled for the event as to whether the device would work and how, if it did work, it would affect the local environment.

Chitin and Chitosan have been extracted from lobster waste and used in medicine and biomedicine by a team from the University of Havana. These researchers’ work has led to the development of a procedure to obtain surgical materials with great healing and antiseptic properties.

Chitin is a polymer very common in nature as part of animals’ and plants’ physical structures. Only cellulose is more abundant than chitin, which makes this compound a highly important renewable resource that can easily be found in arthropods, insects, arachnids, molluscs, fungus and algae.

It's no secret that Europeans enjoy new ways to tax people - if they can tell you they are doing it for your own good, so much the better.

I often hear arguments that start with phrases like "If we we can save even one life doing ( insert your pet cause here), it's worth it" but is there a limit to how much society wants to spend to save a life?

A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health says the UK could save the lives of 3,200 people if they taxed more foods.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota have been evaluating the impact of antibiotic feeding in livestock production on the environment.

This particular study, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), evaluated whether food crops accumulate antibiotics from soils spread with manure that contains antibiotics. Results from the study are published in the July-August 2007 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.Soil Science Society of America Meeting in November 2006.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have developed a method to estimate sickle cell disease severity and predict the risk of death in people with this disease. The study appears online in the June issue of the journal Blood.

Sickle cell disease is caused by mutations in the beta-hemoglobin gene (HBB). Individuals having identical pairs of genes for the HBB glu6val mutation (HbS) have sickle cell anemia; individuals with both HbS and HbC mutations have sickle cell-HbC (HbSC) disease. Both of these types of sickle cell-disease have extremely variable characteristics.

A new study of sweetened beverages shows that cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup have similar effects on hunger, fullness, and food consumption at lunch.

According to the study, which appears in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this may be because sucrose (table sugar) in beverages splits into glucose and fructose molecules, such as are present in high-fructose corn syrup. The results suggest that while appetite and food intake are influenced by the number of calories consumed earlier, the types of sugars consumed in those calories seem to make little or no difference.

Teenagers who forego a healthy and balanced diet may have a harder time catching their breath. A new study, published in the July issue of CHEST shows that a low dietary intake of certain nutrients increases the likelihood of respiratory symptoms such as asthma, especially in teens who smoke. Furthermore, a lack of these nutrients may also lead to lower lung function.

“Our study, as well as other research, suggests that higher intakes of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micronutrients are associated with lower reports of cough, respiratory infections, and less severe asthma-related symptoms,” said lead study author Jane Burns, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health.