Fungi consumption linked to lower risk of prostate cancer according to a new study

Mushroom consumption may be linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer according to a new study published in the International Journal of Cancer . The researchers used data from 36,000 Japanese men who spanned several decades, aged between 40 and 79. These men came from the Miyagi and Ohsaki areas of Japan.

The data had also been collected thanks to questionnaires that included questions such as those relating to the consumption of mushrooms or other particular foods, as well as questions relating to physical activity and personal and family medical conditions.

Researchers discovered a link between regular mushroom consumption and a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men and this link was even more significant for men 50 years of age and older and in those men in whom the diet was mainly made from meat and dairy products with limited consumption of vegetables and fruit.

“Although our study suggests that regular consumption of mushrooms can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, we also want to emphasize that a healthy and balanced diet is much more important than filling the trolley with mushrooms,” says Shu Zhang, professor of epidemiology at Tohoku University and lead author of the study who adds that in the past, test-tube studies and studies on living organisms had shown that fungi can potentially prevent prostate cancer.

According to the researcher, this is to be explained in the good amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants present in mushrooms, in particular L-ergothioneine. The latter regulates cell imbalance caused by unwise dietary choices and long-term exposure to environmental toxins.

Zhang himself admits that new research is needed to understand the extent of this connection also because this study was carried out only on a limited population.


Jade Rollers – Maybe Kinda Worth It, But Not Really

We’re always interested in checking out new products and verifying the scientific claims behind them. Today, we’re going to take a look at jade rollers, which are devices with a jade stone that you roll across your face. Apparently, this is supposed to help you look younger, reduce wrinkles and feel better.

And if you head to Amazon today, you can find a ton of jade rollers for sale.

In investigating these products, and reading a lot of reviews on them, we can’t really say much in favor of them. There’s been many sites that have rambled on about them like this CNN article. However, the best article on them is this one here from our website at It gets straight to the point and just says, well, jade rollers can work, but there’s nothing “magical” about them.

Buy a jade roller if you want. But don’t expect it to do much of anything.


Researchers discover the best method for determining the sex of skeletons by measuring the elbow

Examining the distal bone of the humerus (elbow) can be a better technique than the existing ones to identify sex in skeletal remains in non-Asian populations: this is the result achieved by a group of researchers from the School of Medicine of the University of Boston (BUSM).

Currently, forensic anthropologists determine the sex of a person’s remains, when these remains are represented only by the skeleton, the morphology of the pelvis or the skull or by the measurements of the longest bones. However, as Sean Tallman, professor of anatomy and neurobiology at BUSM explains, very often these areas are missing or damaged due to trauma, poor conservation or other causes. In many cases, therefore, it is substantially impossible to examine these areas of the skeleton with a good degree of precision.

The researchers examined more than 600 skeletons, 198 of female and 418 of male, from a collection located in Khon Kaen, Thailand. In the course of the analysis, as Tallman himself explains, the researchers found that when “classic” methods usually developed on non-Asian populations were applied to these skeletons, these same methods malfunctioned. In fact, most of the methods currently in use to determine sex through the remains of a skeleton were created and adapted by studying the skeletons of North American populations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The researchers found that in modern Thai individuals the measurement of the distal humerus differs between females and males and that this can be used as the best method for determining sex. The study was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.


Gut bacteria found to affect brain health

We have known for some time that there is a strong connection between the intestine and the brain, so much so that over the past twenty years, various researches have discovered links between autoimmune disorders and different psychiatric conditions. The strong suspicion is that the intestinal microbiome, that is the set of all bacteria that live in the various tracts of our intestine, strongly influences brain health but this relationship is fundamentally unknown.

Now a new study, conducted by scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College, provides new insights into the molecular cellular processes that underlie communication between the same microbes in the gut and brain cells. As David Artis, director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and professor of immunology, explains, this research represents a sort of initial path to understanding “the whole picture” about the chronic gastrointestinal conditions that affect mental health and even the behavior.

The researchers used experiments on mice to understand the changes that occur in brain cells when the gut microbiome begins to run out. In fact, the researchers reduced the microbial populations in the intestines of mice through antibiotics. These mice showed very limited learning abilities, for example in learning that a danger or threat was no longer present. By analyzing the microglia of the brain of mice, the researchers discovered an altered gene expression in these cells that influenced the connection between brain cells during the learning processes.

Furthermore, in mice with a smaller quantity of bacteria in the intestine, changes in the concentrations of different metabolites linked to various neuropsychiatric disorders that also occur in humans, such as schizophrenia or autism, could be noted.

“Brain chemistry essentially determines how we feel and respond to our environment, and evidence is showing that chemicals derived from gut microbes play an important role,” says Frank Schroeder, professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute and one of the authors of the study.

This study confirms the existence of a strong link between the intestine and the brain and how this same connection affects our day-to-day life and only now is it starting to understand how the intestine itself, or rather the bacteria inside it, can even affect diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s and depression.

Maybe in the future, we will be able to identify new objectives for the treatment of these diseases, as suggested by Conor Liston, associate professor of neuroscience in the Feil Family Brain & Mind Research Institute and the other author of the study.


Skiing, snowboarding and snow sports can cause serious skull fractures in young children

The injuries that children and young people can cause in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding have been the subject of a new study presented later at the conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this year. The study was carried out by analyzing a database of 845 children hospitalized between 2009 and 2012 for injuries caused by snow sports.

More than half of the children/teenagers had to undergo surgery, with 75.8% of them being male. Among the lesions that the subjects showed were fractures of the lower limbs (28.7%), intracranial lesions (22.7%), splenic lesions (15.6%), fractures of the upper limbs (15.5%) and skull fractures (9.1%).

Researchers found that elementary school-age children were more likely than high school boys to suffer from skull or face fractures. Middle school and high school boys, however, showed greater chances of getting intra-abdominal injuries.

According to Robert J. McLoughlin, one of the authors of the study, some of these injuries can also be quite serious and this should give parents due concern and attention when children play these sports, especially when it comes to young children given that a quarter of those he analyzed showed major intracranial lesions.


Big bang and cosmic inflation: here’s what it could have done as a “bridge” between these two phases

According to the most accepted theory regarding the origin of the universe, the latter would have been born with an initial big bang. However, shortly before or at the same time or shortly thereafter (it depends on the various versions of theories) a phenomenon, called cosmic inflation, would have taken place which lasted less than a trillionth of a second, which would have produced a much larger inflationary expansion than is taking place with the big bang itself.

During cosmic inflation, according to the theory, a cold and homogeneous “soup” swelled exponentially before the processes themselves of the big bang and its expansion took over.

The two processes, that of cosmic inflation and that of the big bang, are very different from each other so much that scientists have always struggled to connect them and to understand what could have acted as a “bridge” between these two phases.

According to a new study conducted by physicists from MIT, Kenyon College and other institutes, a third phase known as “warm-up” would have acted as a “bridge” between these two phases. This brief phase would have occurred at the end of cosmic inflation and in a sense would have triggered the “bang” of the big bang, as stated by David Kaiser, professor of History of Science of Germeshausen and professor of physics at MIT. According to the scientist during this brief period of the history of the universe, hell would have unleashed and matter would have behaved in very strange ways that go beyond our understanding.

According to Kaiser, during the early stages of “warming” a form of high energy matter dominated. This matter stirred back and forth synchronously across large expanses of space and this led to the explosive production of new particles. Once this energy moved to a second form of matter, these oscillations became more unstable and irregular in space. It would have been a “crazy period,” as Kaiser himself calls it, a period during which matter interacted so strongly that it could also suddenly relax to lay the foundations for the big bang.

The researcher, together with his colleagues, tried to simulate the final stage of inflation on the computer to understand how it could have developed. They realized that the extreme energy that triggered inflation could have been redistributed very quickly, we are talking about very small fractions of a second, and in such a way as to produce those conditions necessary for the start of the big bang. This change would have been even more efficient, and therefore more acceptable at a theoretical level, if we take into account the quantum effects: the latter would have changed the ways in which the “soup” of matter responded to gravity at very high energies. In this way, the physics of the universe itself could deviate significantly from Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

“This allows us to tell an uninterrupted story, from inflation to the post-inflation period, to the Big Bang and beyond,” says Kaiser. “We can trace a continuous series of processes, all with known physics, to say that this is a plausible way in which the universe has come to be as we see it today.”


Conscience: a new theory inspired by thermodynamics tries to explain what it is

What does consciousness depend on and how does it originate? This is one of the most fascinating questions but also one of the most inexplicable of all science, also because studying consciousness itself often poses problems related to the sector from which to start in order to lay the foundations for a study. Now new research, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, tries to answer this question by referring to what can be considered a new theory inspired by thermodynamics.

If in the past it has been hypothesized that consciousness may derive from a highly coordinated activity among neurons, the researchers behind this study believe instead that the key to awareness is a flow and a reflux of energy: when neurons connect to each other for processing information, the patterns of these activities tune in like ocean waves. According to the authors of the study, this would be a process intrinsically related to that of thermodynamic principles.

The latter would be the basis of the same neural connections and therefore of consciousness. Furthermore, interruptions of this process of energy ebb and flow would lead to the interruption of communication between the neural networks and would give rise to the most common neurological and disturbances that we know, such as epilepsy, autism, and schizophrenia.

It is a study that combines classical physics (basically the laws of thermodynamics) with all that is known today about neural activity: it follows a general picture in which changes in free energy help to temporarily synchronize the activity in neuronal networks.

The study was produced by researcher Jose L. Perez Velazquez affiliated with the Ronin Institute of Montclair who worked together with colleagues Diego M. Mateos and Ramon Guevara Erra.


Artificial leather can be used as a new input system for mobile devices to transmit emotions

A new device that “takes touch technology to a higher level” was developed by a group of researchers from the University of Bristol. The interface, called Skin-On, imitates human skin in all senses in the sense that it can receive different types of touches and can “feel” the user’s grip. It can feel, for example, changes in the pressure of the touch, the position of the touch and can detect various interactions such as a caress, tickling or even a pinch or twist.

This is the first time that skin is actually added to a computer or interactive device, as explained by Anne Roudaut, professor of human-computer interaction at the University of Bristol who participated in the study who states the following: “The idea is perhaps a bit surprising, but the skin is an interface with which we are very familiar, so why not use it and not use its richness with the devices we use every day?”

It is one of the first studies, in fact, which tend to exploit artificial leather not as an output device, such as to receive signals from the outside (the typical artificial leather that is built for robots), but as an input device to increase the variability related to the interaction that we can have with a computer or any technological IT device. For example, this artificial skin could be grafted onto a smartphone and could allow much more natural tactile gestures to transmit an expressive message to another person, such as a caress.

In fact, the same researchers have also implemented a messaging application with which users can express a wider range of emotions than that expressed, for example, with text or images. As Marc Teyssier, another researcher involved in the project, explains in this system, “the intensity of the touch controls the size of the emojis. A strong grip conveys anger while tickling the skin shows a smiling emoji and touching creates a surprised emoji.”

The same press release that presents the project, created by scientists from the University of Bristol in collaboration with Telecomm ParisTech and the University of Sorbonne, suggests that this new system could soon be integrated and become a standard in all mobile devices.


Water vapor discovered in the atmosphere of the planet K2-18b 110 light years away

A planet that orbits its star inside the habitable belt and that presents water vapor in the atmosphere has been analyzed by two teams of astronomers, a team from the Center for Space Exochemistry Data of University College London who used the telescope data space Hubble collected from 2016 to 2017, and another team led by Björn Benneke of the Institute for Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal.

It is a super-earth: its dimensions, mass and consequently gravity are larger than terrestrial ones (the mass of at least eight times). However, there is the probability, as astronomers themselves point out, that the radiation it receives from its star may prove hostile to life.

K2-18b, orbiting a red dwarf located about 110 light-years away from us, has captured the interest of scientists and astronomers since its discovery. The reason is easy to say: it is a planet located in the habitable belt of its star. Now that researchers have discovered chemical signatures of water vapor in the atmosphere of this planet, interest is growing exponentially.

The water vapor in the atmosphere can in fact mean that the planet could potentially present expanses of liquid water on its surface, also formed by rain, which, combined with the fact that it is located in the habitable zone, makes it a prominent candidate for the first analyzes that will be carried out with the next James Webb space telescope.

This information suggests that on this planet there could be a water cycle similar to that of Earth, a cycle that allows water itself to condense, to form clouds and to make rain of liquid water fall.

K2-18b is the only planet, naturally among those discovered so far, to present water in the atmosphere and temperatures that can allow water to exist in liquid form on the surface. It was discovered thanks to data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope in 2015. The same data suggests that helium and hydrogen may also be present in the atmosphere.

The planet should receive roughly the same total amount of energy from its star as that which Earth receives from the Sun (the star is a small red dwarf but the planet is closer).

To date, there are hundreds of “Super-Earths” identified thanks to NASA’s two space telescopes, Kepler and TESS, and hundreds more will probably be discovered in the coming years also with the help of the James Webb space telescope which could be used in particular to analyze atmospheres of exoplanets.

The atmosphere of this planet has been the subject of two separate studies, one by a team from the University College of London published in Nature Astronomy, another by a team from the Institute for Research on Exoplanets of the University of Montreal published in the Astronomical Journal.


An avocado a day takes bad cholesterol away, at least according to a new study

According to a new study by the State University of Pennsylvania, an avocado a day can be of great help in countering the so-called “bad cholesterol” intended both as oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and as small and dense LDL particles, particularly in obese or overweight adults.

The researchers analyzed the effects of one avocado per day on 45 overweight or obese adult participants. The two-week experiment saw a first phase during which participants carried out an average American diet. Following this first phase, in a second phase, each participant completed three different therapeutic diets in random order lasting five weeks and one of these included an avocado per day while another was supplemented with extra healthy fats to counterbalance the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids obtained through an avocado per day.

After five weeks the researchers noticed that participants who consumed an avocado per day showed much lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol than at the start of the second phase of the study and compared to the other two groups. These participants also showed higher levels of lutein, an antioxidant.

“When you think of bad cholesterol, you think of LDL particles, which vary in size,” reports Penny Kris-Etherton, the study’s author. “All LDLs are bad, but small and dense LDLs are particularly bad. A key finding is that people on an avocado diet had fewer oxidized LDL particles. They also had more lutein, which could be the bioactive that protects LDL from oxidation.”

Furthermore, the diet based on moderate fats without avocado but which included the same monounsaturated fatty acids as this fruit show that the avocado itself must have additional positive bioactive elements.

According to Kris-Etherton, this research shows that, as regards the “avocado” topic, we still know only the tip of the iceberg and that there are many things that can be known with further research regarding this fruit rich in healthy fats, carotenoids and numerous other nutrients.