Diet supplements involve risks

Probiotics — diet supplements that promise complete and balanced nutrition — may damage, rather than enhance, human health.

According to a study published in The Lancet, 296 pancreatitis patients were divided into two groups, one placed on probiotics and the other on similar-looking placebos. During the study, the other aspects of treatment were controlled for both groups of patients.

Of those on probiotics, 31 percent needed intensive care, while only 24 percent of the patients on placebos required it.

Furthermore, 18 percent of those on probiotics needed surgery. These results showed that individuals on probiotics or other such supplements derived from bacteria and yeast are less likely to recover if suffering from an illness than those who are not on any probiotics.

Source: The New York Times

Math treats cancer

Dr. Roman Polyak of George Mason University has discovered a cure to cancer by the means of abstract mathematics.

Polyak’s nonlinear rescaling theory, which involves using complex optimization methods to solve technological problems, has been altered and implemented by German scientists Rembert Reemtsen and Markus Alber to make radiation more effective in treating cancer.

The method is able to solve large-scale problems that involve nearly 5000 variables and 200,000 constraints. The angles, intensity, and time-span of radiation rays are estimated through optimization. This helps attack tumors without harming the healthy tissue around it.


Beef recalled across the country

Illegal slaughtering of physically sick and frail cows in Chino, Calif., has led to the largest meat recall in the nation’s history.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) called for the withdrawal of beef from the market when a video showing workers using chains and other
equipment to slaughter weak cows was revealed by the Humane Society of the United States.

According to Michael Pollan, the author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, downer cattle raises the risk of mad-cow disease. Animal brutality charges have been dropped against two workers, while the government investigates the case further.


Radioactive lenses tell birth year

Scientists are able to accurately calculate a person’s birth year by measuring the radioactive carbon-14 naturally contained in the lens of the eye.

Transparent proteins called lens crystallines admit light into the retina. Carbon-14, a constituent of most of the food a person eats, merges with the crystallines.

This process allows scientists to use radiocarbon dating to determine a patient’s birth year.

Niels Lynnerup of the University of Copenhagen and Henrik Kjaeldsen of Aarhus University assessed birth years by examining the carbon-14 in 13 pairs of lenses using a nuclear particle accelerator.

Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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