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Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 2:14 PM
— Well men, if you need more encouragement to hit the gym, here it is.
A new scientific study suggests that women definitely prefer stronger men.
The research, published this week in Royal Society journal Proceedings B, had 160 women rate faceless images of male bodies. Unanimously, the women chose those that appeared physically stronger, with bigger pecs and larger arms.
"We weren't surprised that women found physically strong men attractive ... what did surprise us was just how powerful the effect was," Aaron Sell, a senior lecturer at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, who led the study, told The Guardian.
"Our data couldn't find even a single woman that preferred weaker ... male bodies."
For the study, the researchers created a database of photos of shirtless or tank-top wearing men, with their faces obscured. All of the men were university students, but 60 were recruited from the gym while 130 were just normal psychology students. All the men were also given tests with weights, to quantify their physical strength.
Women and men were then asked to judge how strong they thought the men were, on a scale of 1 to 7, based on the images. Their guesses were strikingly accurate, correlating well with the strength tests. Furthermore, the women's ratings of the men's attractiveness correlated directly to their physical strength.
"No one will be surprised by the idea that strong men are more attractive," Aaron Lukaszewski, an evolutionary psychologist at California State University at Fullerton and an author of the study, told The Washington Post. "It's no secret that women like strong, muscular guys."
However, the researchers were less interested in ascertaining the obvious, and more interested in discovering.
"People are going to wonder why scientists needed to study it," Holly Dunsworth, an anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island who was not involved in the research, said. "The answer would be because they want to know how these preferences evolved."
The researchers point to "ancestral cues," an evolutionary relic of ancient human mating rituals. Ancient women would instinctually have chosen men who were better able to provide for and protect them and their families. It's only natural to assume bigger and stronger men would do this more adequately.
But when it comes to male attractiveness, a popular theory says that there's a "sweet spot" for brawn. Beyond a certain point, too much muscle and strength becomes unattractive. This new study seems to prove the opposite.
"The theory is that, yes, there would have been benefits ancestrally, in terms of the ability to acquire resources, protecting offspring, hunting and so on. But at a certain point, mating with highly dominant men, they can exert all this aggressive coercive control and there might be costs," Lukaszewski explained, pointing out that his study shows that women prefer brawnier guys, regardless of the potential downsides.
Even if strength is the key factor that attracts women to men, the research also suggest it's not all about perfect physique and chiseled muscles.
"Our results suggest that even if you're a bit overweight, looking strong can buffer that. Basically, being a strong, fat guy is OK, which I think would bring comfort to many," Lukaszewski said.
Despite the findings, less muscular men shouldn't feel too disheartened.
Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 1:05 PM
— Having surgery to treat obesity may seem like a drastic option, but a new study suggests it may actually be a safer route than more traditional options.
Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Clalit Research Institute in Israel, recently published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The analyzed data, which traced patients history for 10 years, revealed that middle-aged men and women who had bariatric surgery have a death rate 50 percent lower than those who had traditional obesity treatments (such as dietary changes, behavioral adjustments and exercise).
"We showed that a long-term effect of bariatric surgery is a longer life for obese patients," study co-author Dr. Philip Greenland, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University said in a news release. "They had half the death rate, which is significant."
Among individuals who did not have surgery, the rate of death was 2.3 percent as opposed to 1.3 percent in those who had surgery. Researchers analyzed the medical data of 8,385 people who had the surgery (65 percent women and 35 percent men), compared to 25,155 who chose non-invasive treatments.
After the data was adjusted to take into account factors such as sex, age and related diseases, the researchers noted that individuals who did not have a bariatric procedure were twice as likely to be dead within the ten year period of the study.
Additionally, bariatric surgery patients showed a greater reduction in body mass index (BMI), improved blood pressure and lower rates of new diabetes diagnosis. A higher percentage of those who had diabetes, and chose surgery, went into remission as well.
"Surgery sounds like a radical approach to managing obesity, and a lot of people reject it because it seems like a risky thing to do, but it's actually less risky to have the surgery," Greenland told The Guardian.
At the same time, the studies authors have cautioned that surgery may not be right for everyone. The new study also has limitations, as it was an analysis of patient data and not randomized. It's possible that those who chose to forego surgery were already sicker than their counterparts.
The risks of obesity surgery and its potential complications have long been highlighted by physicians as well.
Ray Shidrawi, a leading doctor in the United Kingdom, warned against the procedure in an interview with The Independent in 2015. Citing serious complications, Shidrawi said the surgery can "ruin people's quality of life and can affect you for the rest of your life – or at least for months and years afterwards."
"I've got patients who've not eaten solid food for four years. They have to live on soup. They can't go to a restaurant in case they vomit up their food because it gets stuck in their throat," he explained.
But another smaller recently published study also appears to corroborate the potentially greater health benefits of bariatric surgery.
Looking at 113 patients, who had been treated for obesity through traditional methods and/or surgery, the research showed those who underwent a bariatric procedure lost more weight after one year. A higher percentage of those who underwent surgery had also achieved their goals for cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and a marker of glucose.
"Bariatric surgery is an increasingly frequent treatment for severe obesity," Dr. Laura Rasmussen-Torvik,an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern, who was a co-author of the first-mentioned study, said, according to Jerusalem Post.
"It's highly effective in promoting weight loss but is also invasive and can lead to short and long-term complications. For patients and doctors to make the best-informed decisions about what weight-loss strategies to pursue, they need to understand the true costs and benefits of the procedures."
Although Greenland believes bariatric surgery may be a lifesaver for many, he also cautions of taking the new studies findings as the all-encompassing answer on obesity.
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:02 AM
— We often blame our added winter pounds on the holidays. All the gatherings of family and friends combined with good food, often take the toll on our waistlines.
But if you're one of the many who laments adding a few pounds in December, it may not actually be entirely due to changes in your diet. In fact, new research suggests that a lack of sunlight may be causing some of that unwanted weight gain.
The study, published by researchers at Canada's University of Alberta in the scientific journal Nature, reveals that blue light emitted by the sun actually causes fat cells sitting beneath the skin to shrink. In the winter months, when there is generally less sunlight in many regions and people readily cover their skin to stay warm, the cells store more fat.
"When the sun's blue light wavelengths − the light we can see with our eye - penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don't store as much fat," Dr. Peter Light, who led the research said, according to The Independent.
In other words, the illusion of looking thinner after a day tanning at the beach may not be entirely an illusion. The sunlight we're exposed to actually has a slimming effect on our fat cells.
However, Light also cautions against using exposure to sunlight as a means of losing weight.
"We don't yet know the intensity and duration of light necessary for this pathway to be activated," he told Global News, explaining that the findings are preliminary and more research is necessary.
Light also explained that the discovery happened by accident. The research team was attempting to engineer fat cells to create insulin to help treat type 1 diabetes. Along the way, the scientists noted how the fat cells responded to sunlight.
Cracking a joke about the findings, Light told CBC that he's "finally living up to his name."
Benefits of sunlight
Many people have long turned to tanning beds during the winter month, but Light said these methods don't necessarily have the same effect as direct exposure to the sun.
"We think that that great big nuclear reactor in the sky, the sun, is what's required," he explained. "We need really intense light to actually penetrate the skin."
The sun is already known to help our bodies generate vitamin D, and now Light believes his research has shown another important benefit to sunlight exposure.
"It may help regulate your body weight and a lack of it may actually lead to extra storage of [fat] in the winter," he said.
While Light cautioned against jumping to any rash conclusions, he is optimistic that sunlight may one day be used in the treatment of obesity.
"Maybe this mechanism contributes to setting the number of fat cells we produce in childhood — thought to stay with us into adulthood," he said.
"Obviously, there is a lot of literature out there suggesting our current generation will be more overweight than their parents and maybe this feeds into the debate about what is healthy sunshine exposure," he added.
As of now, the research is only preliminary and more work is needed to determine the full effects and benefits of sunlight on weight. At the same time, the discovery has already suggests many interesting possibilities.
Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 12:24 PM
PHOENIX — A young mother of two in Arizona died just one day after receiving a flu diagnosis, devastated family members said.
Alani Murrieta, 20, was diagnosed with the flu Monday and died Tuesday in the hospital, family members told KSAZ.
Murrieta, the mother of a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old, was healthy before the sudden illness, with no pre-existing health conditions, according to family. She first experienced symptoms Sunday, when she left work early. On Monday, she went to urgent care, where she was diagnosed with the flu and sent home with medications. She was admitted to the hospital Tuesday morning as her symptoms became more severe and she was having difficulty breathing, KSAZ reported.
At the hospital, doctors performed tests and diagnosed Murrieta with pneumonia. She was placed on a ventilator, but her heart stopped. The efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.
Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 4:20 PM
— "Raw water", it's the latest bizarre health craze and people are willing to pay a pretty penny to get their hands on it.
A December article in The New York Times brought the trend of drinking "unfiltered, untreated, un-sterilized spring water" into the national consciousness. In San Francisco, the report explained, the co-up Rainbow Grocery was selling 2.5 gallons of the stuff bottled by start-up Live Water for $36.99.
Since the report, Live Water has increased the price. According to what the co-up told Business Insider, the bottled water now costs $38.49. Refills go for $16.49, previously being $14.99.
Sales of the raw water have also surged, according to Live Water's website.
"First Water Delivery Might Take Longer Than Usual ~ New Orders Will Be Delivered In The Order They Are Received," the company's website says.
Although the new trend has its proponents, mainly those leery of fluoride and contamination from lead or other issues, experts have come out strongly against the idea.
"When water isn't treated, it can contain chemicals and germs that can make us sick or cause disease outbreaks," Vince Hill, chief of the CDC's Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, told TIME.
"Anything you can think of can be in untreated water," he added, mentioning agricultural runoff, naturally occurring chemicals, bacteria and viruses.
Bill Marler, a food-safety advocate and attorney said that: "almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in [untreated] water."
"The diseases that killed our great-grandparents were completely forgotten about," Marler said. "It's fine [to drink untreated water] till some 10-year-old girl dies a horrible death from cholera in Montecito, California."
Among other harmful bacteria and diseases, untreated water can contain cholera, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and giardiasis. As for fluoride concerns, experts say that as long as the chemical is added properly, humans can only see benefits.
Vincent Casey, a senior water sanitation and hygiene manager at clean water nonprofit WaterAid, explained that the levels of fluoride found in normal drinking water throughout the country are not dangerous. Problems only occur when high concentrations of the chemical are present.
"In low quantities, it is scientifically proven that [fluoride] is beneficial to dental health," Casey said.
"If a water company or a utility is carrying out its treatment to the right standards, there shouldn't be instances where these concentrations are going to hazardous levels at all," he said.
But, Mukhande Singh, the founder of Live Water, whose marketing materials feature him cross-legged and naked at a hot spring, says the goal is not pristine water.
"You're going to get 99 percent of the bad stuff out [if you use a filter]," Singh admitted. "But now you have dead water."
According to him, "real water" has an expiration date. "It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery," he said. "If it sits around too long, it'll turn green. People don't even realize that because all their water's dead, so they never see it turn green."
Singh also believes public water has been "poisoned."
"Tap water? You're drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them," he said. "Chloramine, and on top of that they're putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it's a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health."
Of course, it must be noted that there isn't any scientific evidence that fluoride is linked to mind control. However, as Casey said, it has been scientifically proven to benefit dental health in low quantities.
Despite the scientific view point, other raw water startups have cropped up. Untreated water was sold at Burning Man by Doug Evans, the man behind the failed juicing company, Juicero, which collapsed in September.
While the fad may have found a viable market, experts are simply left scratching their heads.
"Without water treatment, there's acute and then chronic risks," Dr. Hensrud the director of the Healthy Living Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said.
"There's evidence all over the world of this, and the reason we don't have those conditions is because of our very efficient water treatment," he explained.