Posts Tagged ‘American science’

Hormonal Changes In Expectant Fathers

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-18-2014

Impending fatherhood can lower two hormones–testosterone and estradiol–for men, even before their babies are born, a new University of Michigan study found.

Other studies indicate that men’s hormones change once they become fathers, and there is some evidence that this is a function of a decline after the child’s birth. The new U-M study is the first to show that the decline may begin even earlier, during the transition to fatherhood, said Robin Edelstein, the study’s lead author.

“We don’t yet know exactly why men’s hormones are changing,” said Edelstein, U-M associate professor of psychology. “These changes could be a function of psychological changes that men experience as they prepare to become fathers, changes in their romantic relationships, or even physical changes that men experience along with their pregnant partners.

“Nevertheless, fathers’ hormonal changes could have important implications for paternal behavior once their babies are born.”

Expectant mothers experience significant hormone changes throughout the transition to parenthood, but less has been known about the prenatal hormone changes among soon-to-be fathers.

Edelstein and colleagues examined salivary testosterone, cortisol, estradiol and progesterone in 29 first-time expectant couples between the ages of 18 and 45. The saliva samples were obtained up to four times during the prenatal period at about 12, 20, 28 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Women showed large prenatal increases in all four hormones, while men saw declines in testosterone (which is associated with aggression and parental care) and estradiol (which is associated with caregiving and bonding). No changes were found in men’s cortisol (a stress hormone) or progesterone (which is associated with social closeness and maternal behavior).

So it’s not just about the presence of an infant that lowers testosterone, Edelstein said.

One limitation of the new study–as it relates to lower testosterone–is that researchers do not have a comparison group of men who are not expecting a child.

“Thus, we can’t completely rule out the possibility that the changes are simply due to age or the passage of time,” Edelstein said.

Thanks to the University of Michigan for contributing this story.

Does Turkey Make You Tired?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-27-2014

The rumor is that consuming turkey makes you tired. The thought is that the amino acid L-tryptophan found in turkey is responsible for causing drowsiness. But is the rumor really justified? Will eating this traditional thanksgiving dish really put us to sleep?

Watch the Epic Science video below to find out the truth!

The End is Near for American Scientific Supremacy

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-12-2014

For as long as most of us can remember, America has remained at the top of the scientific food chain. American scientists were generously funded, supported by robust government policies and able to secure world-class training at the best scientific institutions. All that is about to change, however, as many economists are predicting that within 5 years, China will be spending more on scientific R&D than their American counterparts.

According to the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2014, China’s total R&D budget match the US’s $400 Billion scientific budget by the year 2016 and will grow to as much as $600 Billion by 2024. In contrast, the American R&D budget is only predicted to grow by 19%, (from approximately $410 Billion to $490 Billion), during that same period.

Despite this positive outlook for China, several critics have claimed that China’s fast assent into the scientific limelight comes at the expense of research quality. Such assertions have been supported by the disproportional rate of scientific paper retraction on behalf of Chinese scientists when compared to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, since the Chinese funding sources give preference to the quantity of scientific papers published when evaluating scientific merit, the rash of retractions will not likely abate any time soon.

It is also interesting to note that the majority of Chinese funding is dedicated to building infrastructure with much less spent on bench research itself. This has led to a situation where there is a disconnect between the number of well-equipped labs in China and the quality of research papers coming out of those labs.

So should we be afraid that soon, many of our best scientists will likely explore greener pastures in China or is it possible that China’s bark is much bigger than its bite? Only time will tell.

Drinking Soda May Shave 4.6 Years Off of Your Lifespan

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 10-27-2014

Soda consumption may shorten your life. Sensationalist title? It certainly is. However, while there have been many studies demonstrating that a sugar-rich diet is harmful to your health, a unique study out of UCSF has actually measured a correlation between sugary soda consumption and shortened telomere length. When considered in conjunction with findings from other lab that have shown short telomeres to be associated with the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer, the story becomes much more worrisome.

According to the study’s principal investigator, Elissa Epel

This is the first demonstration that soda is associated with telomere shortness.This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset. Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.

Based on the way telomere length shortens on average with chronological age, the UCSF researchers calculated that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda was associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. This effect on telomere length is comparable to the effect of smoking, or to the effect of regular exercise in the opposite, anti-aging direction.

The full paper can be found in the American Journal of Public Health.

Single gene controls jet lag

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-13-2014

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a gene that regulates sleep and wake rhythms.

The discovery of the role of this gene, called Lhx1, provides scientists with a potential therapeutic target to help night-shift workers or jet lagged travelers adjust to time differences more quickly. The results, published in eLife, can point to treatment strategies for sleep problems caused by a variety of disorders.

“It’s possible that the severity of many dementias comes from sleep disturbances,” says Satchidananda Panda, a Salk associate professor who led the research team. “If we can restore normal sleep, we can address half of the problem.”

Read more…