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SCIENCE
March 3, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
In the last 50 years, what's on dinner plates has grown more similar the world over - with major consequences for human nutrition and global food security, researchers said Monday. “Diversity enhances the health and function of complex biological systems,” the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But, they said, the world of food has become homogeneous, to the point of suggesting a global standard food supply. In the last half a century, “national per capita food supplies expanded in total quantities of food calories, protein, fat and weight,” they said.
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SCIENCE
February 28, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
Here are some findings that could scare you to death: In a study published this week, Finnish and Estonian researchers report that they have identified specific levels of four chemicals circulating in the blood that offer a reliable signal that death is near. The four harbingers of death can be readily detected in a blood sample, and are even predictive when seen in apparently healthy people, their new study shows. It's not just a life insurance saleman's dream. The study, released this week in the journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that several potentially deadly conditions -- cancer, cardiovascular disease and a welter of non-vascular causes of death -- may share signs, and even origins, that have been hidden in plain sight.
SCIENCE
February 28, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
Listen up loners: A new study says having friends can make you smarter, at least if you're a baby cow.  Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that young calves that live alone performed worse on tests of cognitive skill than calves that live with a buddy. On most dairy farms, calves are removed from their mothers soon after they are born and put in a pen or a hutch where they live alone for eight to 10 weeks while they wean. The practice developed to keep disease from spreading among susceptible baby cows.
NEWS
February 25, 2014 | By Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON -- President Obama said Tuesday he was proud of the four manufacturing innovation institutes his administration has launched over the last year, but he said Congress needs to step in to expand the effort. Obama announced two new research hubs in Chicago and Detroit, where the government will join universities and businesses to train workers and develop new technologies. The White House tapped existing funds for the two sites and two others already underway in Ohio and North Carolina.
OPINION
February 25, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
The manipulation of human genes could lead to profound advances in our ability to cure or prevent terrible diseases. But in some cases, it might also mean introducing genetic material that could be passed from one generation to the next, changing the human gene pool in a manner that could inadvertently harm peoples' health. Such "inheritable" DNA is a hotly debated issue among bioethicists, and one that an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration will review Tuesday and Wednesday as it considers whether human trials should be allowed for a new therapy that could prevent a rare but devastating inherited disorder.
SCIENCE
February 25, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
If there's no caramel cheesecake, you are not likely to eat any. But plop one down on a table among a group of friends and forks are likely to come out. That's a simple scene that embodies some of the complex mechanisms that make it so hard for people to lose weight and keep it off. Researchers in England who were trying to sort out what makes dieters tempted and what makes them give into temptation looked at a group of 80 people -- mostly women...
NEWS
February 25, 2014 | By Stacey Leasca
After combing through 656,000 photos on Instagram from five global cities, a team of data researchers has come to a conclusion: Selfies say more about you than you think. The science of selfies is serious business, says Lev Manovich, project coordinator behind SelfieCity.net. “Selfies, you know we have interesting opinion, but they are just based on maybe a few thousand selfies we look at,” said the Russian-born researcher and author in heavily accented English. “We thought, why don't we take a more objective look.” To study the selfie phenomenon, Manovich -- a computer science professor at City University New York -- and a team of seven researchers scanned the globe.
SCIENCE
February 24, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
A vegetarian diet may help lower blood pressure, researchers who reviewed data from 39 previous studies said Monday. The researchers suggested that a vegetarian diet could be an alternative to drugs for people whose blood pressure is too high -- a condition known as hypertension and one that is a risk factor for heart disease and other problems.  About a third of Americans have high blood pressure. Seven clinical trials, with 311 participants, and 32 observational studies, including 21,604 people, were analyzed by researchers from Japan and the Physicans Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, which advocates for plant-based diets.
SCIENCE
February 24, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
Pregnant women have long been assured that acetaminophen can treat their aches, pains and fevers without bringing harm to the babies they carry. Now researchers say they have found a strong link between prenatal use of the medication and cases of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. The results, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, add to growing evidence that the active ingredient in Tylenol may influence brain development in utero. But they do not provide clear answers for mothers-to-be or their doctors about whether acetaminophen is safe during pregnancy.
SCIENCE
February 19, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
It's not enough for people to get regular moderate exercise as they age. Researchers say it's also important not to spend the rest your time sitting too much. In fact, for every hour of sedentary behavior, the odds were 46% greater that people older than 60 would have some disability in ordinary skills such as getting around the house and feeding themselves, according to the study published Wednesday in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health. Being sedentary will lead to problems “independent of time spent in moderate or vigorous activity,” concluded the researchers, from Northwestern's Feinberg Medical School, Rush University Medical Center, Harvard School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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