There's fresh evidence that the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, may play a part in childhood obesity.
BPA is a chemical that is widely used in food packaging. Government studies have shown that 92 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.
There's intense scientific interest in BPA because it is chemically similar to the hormone estrogen, and there's some concern that it may mimic estrogen's effects in the body, causing harm to the brain and reproductive organs, particularly in children.
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, though manufacturers had already stopped using it. The agency declined to ban it from other food containers, pending further research.
In a new study published online June 12 in the journal PLoS One, researchers measured BPA levels in the urine of more than 1,300 children in China and compared those levels to their body weights.
The study authors also asked the kids about other things that may influence body weight, such as how often they ate junk food, fruits and vegetables, how much exercise they got, whether their parents were overweight and how long they played video games each day.
After taking all those factors into account, the investigators found that girls aged 9 to 12 who had higher-than-average levels of BPA in their urine were about twice as likely to be obese as those with lower-than-average levels. The researchers didn't see the same association for boys or for older girls.
One explanation for the results may be that girls who are entering puberty are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals, said study author Dr. De-Kun Li, an epidemiologist at Kaiser Foundation Research Institute and the Stanford School of Medicine, in California.
Read more from WebMD.
The human race is constantly evolving. Facial features morph as we naturally select traits that we feel are most attractive. If this is the case, though, how will the human race look in the next 100,000 years? A bit like anime characters, at least according to one scientist.
A specialist in computational genomics, Alan Kwan, and a researcher, Nickolay Lamm, teamed up to image the future human face. With goggle eyes, distended foreheads and orange-tanned skin, the results aren't pretty.
Human heads have been growing since our first primate ancestors appeared. Our skulls enlarged as our brains grew. This caused us to form bigger heads and flatter features. So our skulls certainly could become larger.
As for our eyes, Kwan believes that 100,000 years, it's likely that humans will have colonized space. Dimmer light there could lead to larger eyes. And darker skin could alleviate the effect of harmful UV radiation outside the Earth's protective zone.
We may also be able to blink sideways in order to protect ourselves from cosmic ray effects, have larger nostrils for inhaling off-planet environments and even have denser hair to contain heat loss from a larger head.
Perhaps most disturbing is that we could select the genetic attributes of our children, such as hair or eye color for attractive "designer babies."
Of course, this is all speculation. It's also possible that the human race could have died off in the next 100,000 years.
Read more from Science World Report.
Image: Nickolay Lamm
Older adults at risk for getting diabetes who took a 15-minute walk after every meal improved their blood sugar levels, a new study shows.
Three short walks after eating worked better to control blood sugar levels than one 45-minute walk in the morning or evening, said lead researcher Loretta DiPietro, chairwoman of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C.
"More importantly, the post-meal walking was significantly better than the other two exercise prescriptions at lowering the post-dinner glucose level," DiPietro added.
The after-dinner period is an especially vulnerable time for older people at risk of diabetes, DiPietro said. Insulin production decreases, and they may go to bed with extremely high blood glucose levels, increasing their chances of diabetes.
About 79 million Americans are at risk for type 2 diabetes, in which the body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use it effectively. Being overweight and sedentary increases the risk. DiPietro's new research, although tested in only 10 people, suggests that brief walks can lower that risk if they are taken at the right times.
The study did not, however, prove that it was the walks causing the improved blood sugar levels.
The research is published June 12 in the journal Diabetes Care.
Read more from U.S. News.
The next time you reach out to shake someone's hand, consider this: A recent study of hand-washing found only 5 percent of people who used the restroom scrubbed long enough to kill germs that can cause infections.
Thirty-three percent didn't use soap, and 10 percent didn't wash their hands at all, according to the study, based on Michigan State University researchers' observations of more than 3,700 people in a college town's public restrooms.
"These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate," said lead investigator Carl Borchgrevink, an associate professor of hospitality business.
Among the other findings:
Here's how to do it right: Use soap, scrub well (including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails) for at least 20 seconds, and dry your hands afterward. People only wash their hands for an average of 6 seconds, according to the study, published recently in the Journal of Environmental Health.
Read more from U.S. News.
New evidence shows that a daily slathering of sunscreen may not only protect you from skin cancer and sunburn, it may keep your skin from aging.
That discovery comes from a study just published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Australian researchers divided 903 white adults under age 55 — the average age was 39 — into two groups. One group was asked to apply SPF 15 (or greater) sunscreen on their head, neck, hands and arms every morning, after every bath or shower, after spending a few hours in the sun and after sweating heavily. The other participants could use sunscreen however they liked.
Dermatologists examined images of skin on the back of the subjects’ hands at the start of the study and again at the end, four-and-a-half years later. The doctors were not told which patients’ exams were from the daily sunscreen group or the control group. The experts saw almost no significant indications of photoaging, the visible aging effect of ultraviolet light on skin which includes lines, wrinkles and coarseness, among the group asked to use the sunscreen daily. Overall, members of that group showed 24% less signs of skin aging than the control group. (About three-quarters of the group asked to use sunscreen daily reported that they applied it at least three or four times a week; only about a third of the control group used it as much.)
Dermatologists were not surprised by the results of the Australian research, but quickly declared the findings to be significant. The most significant previous research of sunscreen’s effects on skin involved hairless mice.
It remains unclear whether sunscreen would have a similar anti-aging effect on the skin of adults over 55, when the natural effects of aging, including a lifetime of exposure to the sun, tend to accelerate.
Read more from Forbes.