Lifestyle

Animal food allergens unmasked
October 15, 2007 07:43 AM - Norwich BioScience Institutes

The relatedness of an animal food protein to a human protein determines whether it can cause allergy, according to new research by scientists from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich and the Medical University of Vienna.

In theory all proteins have the potential to become allergens, but the study found that in practice the ability of animal food proteins to act as allergens depends on their evolutionary distance from a human equivalent.

No sex for 40 million years? Works for some
October 14, 2007 10:45 PM - Michael Kahn, Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - One microscopic organism has thrived despite remaining celibate for tens of millions of years thanks to a neat evolutionary trick, researchers said.

Asexual reproduction has allowed duplicate gene copies of the single-celled creatures -- called bdelloid rotifers -- to become different over time.

This gives the rotifers a wider pool of genes to help them adapt and survive, the researchers said in the journal Science.

"It is like having a bigger tool kit," Alan Tunnacliffe, a molecular biologist at the University of Cambridge, said in a telephone interview. "You can do the same job but better."

Depressed at work? Get a new career
October 14, 2007 10:34 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Child care workers, home health care aides and other people who provide personal services have the highest rates of depression among U.S. workers, according to a new survey to be published on Monday.

It found that 10.8 percent of personal care and service workers and 10.3 percent of food preparation and serving workers -- both usually low-paying jobs -- experienced one or more major depressive episodes in the past year.

The least depressing careers appear to lie in architecture, engineering, the sciences and in the installation, maintenance and repair fields, the survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found.

Canada not listening to leading environmentalist
October 14, 2007 10:20 PM - Jonathan Spicer

TORONTO (Reuters) - David Suzuki, Canada's best-known environmentalist, has spent a generation encouraging Canadians to look after the environment, but it seems they have not been listening.

Goateed, soft-spoken and avuncular, Suzuki has built a devout following from 28 years narrating "The Nature of Things," a popular television series on the science of the natural world.

Now aged 71, he notes Canada's environmental credentials are eroding just when he says it is more important than ever to move in the opposite direction.

Smoking Turns On Cancer Genes, Permanently: Study
October 14, 2007 09:59 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Smoking may turn on some genes in the body in a permanent and harmful way, scientists said on Thursday in a study that may help explain why the risk of cancer remains high even after smokers quit.

They found many genetic changes that stop when a smoker quits, but found several genes that stay turned on for years, including several not previously linked with tobacco use.

"These irreversible changes may account for the persistent lung cancer risk despite smoking cessation," the researchers wrote in their report, published in BioMed Central journal BMC Genomics.

Genes found that slow both aging and cancer
October 14, 2007 09:52 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers have identified a batch of genes that not only prevent cancer but slow the aging process in worms, and say they are now looking to see if the genes have the same properties in humans.

Many of the genes in the worms are already known to have counterparts in humans, and the team at the University of California, San Francisco, say they hope to better understand some of the processes that cause both aging and cancer.

Drugs that mimic the effects of these genes might help people both avoid cancer and also live longer, they wrote in Sunday's issue of the journal Nature Genetics.

Tea struggles for place in 21st century Asia
October 14, 2007 09:45 PM - Ralph Jennings, reuters

TAIPEI (Reuters) - From Beijing to Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Taipei, faced-paced modern life means that tea has little appeal for Asian youth who don't have the patience to wait the 10 minutes it takes to brew tea in the traditional way.

"I don't have any time or relevant tea culture," said Becca Liu, a 25-year-old college graduate in Taipei.

"I'm more curious to know how to make coffee," she added. Determined to restore tea to its exalted status in Asia, tea lovers are trying to repackage tea as a funky new-age brew to a young generation more inclined to slurp down a can of artificially-flavored tea than to sip the real thing.

Schwarzenegger signs handgun "microstamp" bill
October 14, 2007 09:39 PM -

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill whose backers say will better help police use shells from hand guns as evidence in criminal investigations, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.

The legislation marks a victory for gun-control activists and the second time Schwarzenegger signed one of their priority bills. In 2004 he approved a ban on private citizens owning .50 caliber rifles.

Illinois firm recalls beef patties on E.coli scare
October 14, 2007 09:21 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - J&B Meats Corp. is recalling 173,554 pounds (78.7 tonnes) of frozen ground beef products sold under "Topps" and "Sam's Choice" labels due to possible E. coli contamination, the U.S. government said this weekend.

The Coal Valley, Illinois-based company produced the patties in June and distributed them to retail stores nationwide, the U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, said in a statement.

Most Land-Efficient Diet: Some Dairy, Less Meat
October 14, 2007 10:41 AM - Susan Lang, Cornell University

Ithica, New York - A low-fat vegetarian diet is very efficient in terms of how much land is needed to support it. But adding some dairy products and a limited amount of meat may actually increase this efficiency, Cornell researchers suggest.

This deduction stems from the findings of their new study, which concludes that if everyone in New York state followed a low-fat vegetarian diet, the state could directly support almost 50 percent more people, or about 32 percent of its population, agriculturally. With today's high-meat, high-dairy diet, the state is able to support directly only 22 percent of its population, say the researchers.

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