August 17, 2007

As if We Needed More Reasons

Just add this one to the list:

Want Yet Another Reason to Have Sex?

A study shows that men who have three or more orgasms a week are 50 percent less likely to die from coronary heart disease.

These findings suggest that sex can be used to help prevent heart attacks and strokes as one means of fulfilling physicians' recommendation for sustained physical activity for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. Conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Bristol and Queen's University of Belfast, the researchers studied 2,500 men aged 45 to 59 for 10 years.

"The relationship found between frequency of sexual intercourse and mortality is of considerable public interest," says study co-author Shah Ebrahim, Ph.D., a University of Bristol professor of epidemiology and aging, who presented the study results at the fourth World Stroke Congress. "It may however be a confounding [relationship] due to other aspects of a healthy lifestyle." Ebrahim cautions that further research is necessary.

Right. More research is needed! Let's not just assume that men who have orgasms three times a week are in better physical condition than men who don't, and that being in shape is what really makes the difference here. That would be jumping to conclusions...

Look, the study says that having sex prevents heart attacks and that's that. Thank you.

July 27, 2007

Not Knowing What We're Missing

A short and very moving story does more to sum up what we at L2si and The Speculist believe about the crucial, positive role that technology has played, continues to play, and will play in improving the human condition. The story begins

At some point when I was a child, it became apparent that I was a bit different from the other kids. Namely, I couldn’t hear the things they heard.

You'll want to read the rest at the source.

Glenn Reynolds comments:

And yet there are people who think that technology is dehumanizing. They're basically idiots.

Technology is one of the means by which we translate things we have imagined into real aspects of the world around us. There is no more fundamentally human function than that -- turning ideas into reality. For all we know, in the entire universe, that capability is unique to human beings.

Stephen Gordon adds:

Imagine what we - with our normal senses - still miss. Imagine what it will be like when we "wake up."

Not only is technology not dehumanizing, it provides the possibility for us to be more human than we were before -- or at least for "being human" to mean something more than it did before.

February 05, 2007

Smashing Winter Wonderland

The sledge hammer is such a useful tool. Sure, we normally think of it as a piece of exercise equipment, but that's just, shall we say, the tip of the iceberg.

August 20, 2006

A Cup, A Cup, A Cup, A Cup, A Cup

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

Manhattan Transfer

shiner.jpgIt just simply does not get any better than this:

Coffee as a Health Drink? Studies Find Some Benefits

Coffee is not usually thought of as health food, but a number of recent studies suggest that it can be a highly beneficial drink. Researchers have found strong evidence that coffee reduces the risk of several serious ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

I can't tell you how vindicated this makes me feel about...well, virtually every morning for the past 25 years or so. What can I say? Just trying to ward off diabetes and heart disease. Call me a health nut.

Let the research continue. If coffee turns out to be a health drink, there's no telling what amazing discoveries are about to be made concerning Snickers bars, bratwursts, and -- dare we even say it -- Shiner Blonde.

Science. You have got to love it.

August 18, 2006

Shrinking Fat Cells

More good news for those who are watching their weight:

Exercise may be especially helpful in reducing the size of fat cells around the waistline -- more so than diet alone, a study suggests. That's important, because fat specifically in the abdomen has been linked to the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Among a group of obese women who were placed on a regimen of calorie cutting alone or diet plus exercise, those who exercised showed a reduction in the size of fat cells around the abdomen. Women who only dieted showed no such change.

The article doesn't explain why, exactly, smaller fat cells are a good thing, but my better-than-eighth-grade education tells me that if you have the same number of smaller fat cells as you once had big ones, you'll be thinner. Also, this reaffirms the importance of exercise, which some folks are likey to respond to more enthusiastically than others:


August 13, 2006

The Fat Vaccine

This could be good...

newphil.jpgAugust 11, 2006 - Researchers are testing a new anti-obesity vaccine. They say the drug has worked for animals and could eventually be used for humans.

Dr. Kim Janda of Scripps Research Institute says, "What we've done is taken a molecule known as ghrelin, which is known to be involved in hunger and also fat metabolism, and we've made a vaccine against this molecule known as ghrelin."

Ghrelin makes you hungry, slows your metabolism and tells your body to store fat. And that's not all, according to Dr. Janda, "It's also involved in fat storage, so basically when it's high your metabolism slows down."

Unlike other weight loss drugs or appetite suppressants, the vaccine doesn't work by speeding up your metabolism. Instead, it's said to simply block the effects of ghrelin.

The article goes on to say that the vaccine works by tricking your body into treating ghrelin like a foreign substance. With ghrelin out of the picture, diet and exercise become a lot less significant. Without a molecule in there telling your body to make fat, your body will tend to treat fat like a disease -- something to resist and eliminate.

Now speaking as a guy who has spent the better part of the past year working on resisting and eliminating fat, I have a mixed reaction to this news. On the one hand, a shot like that would have made the past 32 weeks (and counting) a lot easier. On the other hand, if I had started taking a shot like that at the beginning of this year, would I have learned as much about eating healthy as I have? Would I have gotten as much exercise?

I'm thinking no, and -- um -- no. Unfortunately.

So the good news, for me, is not only that they're coming out with something like this, but that it won't be available for a while yet. I can go through this valuable learning experience of growing healthier and -- when the time comes -- maybe get a boost from this kind of treatment in maintaining the progress I've made.

Or maybe I won't need it at all, which would be fine, too.

July 30, 2006

A Good Time to be Born

Via InstaPundit, we have this very encouraging assessment of health and longevity as generational phenomona from the New York Times:

nytgraph.gif New research from around the world has begun to reveal a picture of humans today that is so different from what it was in the past that scientists say they are startled. Over the past 100 years, says one researcher, Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, humans in the industrialized world have undergone “a form of evolution that is unique not only to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of humans who have ever inhabited the earth.”

The difference does not involve changes in genes, as far as is known, but changes in the human form. It shows up in several ways, from those that are well known and almost taken for granted, like greater heights and longer lives, to ones that are emerging only from comparisons of health records.

The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to. There is also less disability among older people today, according to a federal study that directly measures it. And that is not just because medical treatments like cataract surgery keep people functioning. Human bodies are simply not breaking down the way they did before.

Even the human mind seems improved. The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades, and at least one study found that a person’s chances of having dementia in old age appeared to have fallen in recent years.

It turns out that the obvious answers as to why this is happening -- better nutrition, better sanitation, improved health care infrastructure -- are, of course, correct, and that their impact is greatly magnified by early childhood. People are living longer today because they had a cleaner, safer, healthier, more nutritionally sound environment (by and large) than their parents did. Chances are, your mother had a healthier early childhood than her mother did, and you had a healthier early childhood than she did.

Chronic illness in early childhood predisposes an individual to complications and other illnesses throughout life, while diminishing growth rate. These later generations, which have managed to avoid or lessen the impact of childhood ilnesses, tend to be much more robust physically -- both taller and heavier than their ancestors.

We all know that increases in body weight are accompanied by a greater risk of obesity and all the complications associated with it. How interesting, then, that even though we are much fatter than previous generations -- a point that it seems to be made quite a bit -- we are much, much healthier than they were.

On a recent edition of the Glenn and Helen Show, Dr. Michael Zemel -- discussing the obesity problem -- commented that we may be pushing our luck in this regard, that with obesity rampant among younger and younger children, we may be witnessing the emergence of the first generation to be less healthy, and to have a shorter life expectancy, than their parents. While there's no question that the problem of childhood and teenage obesity needs to be addressed, Robert Fogel's research may provide some mitigation to that fear. After all, fat as they may (unfortunately) be, there's no question that the generations coming up now have had exemplary early childhoods -- probably the healthiest ever. Other than the weight problem, which we need to help them beat, these kids would appear to have a very healthy, and long, life ahead.