Monthly Archives: May 2017

Is ‘Chicken Sashimi’ Safe?

It’s not uncommon to find raw foods on a restaurant menu — think sushi or steak tartare — but if you see uncooked poultry as an option the next time you’re dining out, you may want to opt for something else.

Several restaurants in the United States are serving up a raw chicken dish that’s referred to as either chicken sashimi or chicken tartare, according to Food & Wine Magazine. Though the “specialty” hasn’t caught on much in the U.S., it’s more widely available in Japan.

But if you’re wondering whether raw chicken served in a restaurant has suddenly become safe to eat, the answer is still no. [Top 7 Germs in Your Food That Make You Sick]

Eating chicken sashimi puts a person at a “pretty high risk” of getting an infection caused by Campylobacter or Salmonella, two types of bacteria that cause food poisoning, said Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist and an associate professor at North Carolina State University.

“There’s a pretty good chance that one or both of these pathogens are on/in the chicken meat itself,” Chapman told Live Science in an email.

Campylobacter infections are one of the most common causes of diarrheal infections in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria cause gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, cramping and abdominal pain, and in some cases can also cause nausea and vomiting, the CDC says. There are an estimated 1.3 million cases in the U.S. each year and fewer than 100 deaths, on average, each year from the infection.

Salmonella infections also cause symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, according to the CDC. About 1.2 million people contract Salmonella each year, and about 450 people die from the infection, the CDC says.

Chapman noted that eating raw chicken is different from eating raw fish, which can be found in sushi dishes. With raw fish, the germs that are most likely to make a person sick are parasites, and these parasites can be killed by freezing the fish, he said. Salmonella, on the other hand, “isn’t going to be affected by freezing.”

Chicken sashimi is sometimes prepared by boiling or searing the chicken for no more than 10 seconds, according to Food & Wine Magazine.

But these preparations probably only kill off the germs on the surface of the chicken, Chapman said. “But even that I’m not sure about,” he added. In addition, when a chicken is deboned, other germs can get into the inside of the chicken, he said.

In Japan, where the dish is more popular, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare advised restaurants in June 2016 to “re-evaluate raw and half-raw chicken menus,” according to The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper. The ministry urged restaurants to cook chicken to an internal temperature of 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit).

The recommendation from the ministry came after more than 800 people said they were sickened several months earlier after eating

Marijuana with ‘CBD’ May Pose Less Risk for Long Term Users

Marijuana with relatively high levels of a compound called cannabidiolmay be less risky to smoke over the long term, because this ingredient may counteract some of the drug’s harmful effects, according to a new study in mice.

The study found that adolescent mice injected with frequent doses oftetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high” — showed signs of impaired memory and increased anxiety over the long term. But mice that received daily doses of THC combined with an equal amount of cannabidiol (CBD) did not experience these negative effects.

The study “suggests that strains of cannabis with similar levels of CBD and THC would pose significantly less long-term risk due to CBD’s protective effect against THC,” study author Dr. Ken Mackie, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, said in a statement.

Over the last several decades, THC levels in marijuana used in the United States have increased 300 percent, while levels of CBD in marijuana have decreased, the researchers said. But the long-term effects of exposure to THC and CBD need to be studied further, they said. [25 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

Studies on whether CBD can counteract the negative effects of THC have been mixed, according to a 2013 review paper on the topic. For example, some studies have found that people experience fewer symptoms of anxiety when they smoke marijuana with high CBD levels, compared to when they smoke marijuana with high THC levels, but other studies failed to replicate these results, according to the review. Another study,published in 2011, found that people who tended to use marijuana products with high CBD levels were at lower risk for psychotic symptoms over the long term, although the effect was subtle.

In the new study, the researchers examined the effects of THC and CBD on both adolescent and adult mice. The mice were divided into five groups: a group that received THC only; a group that received CBD only; a group that received THC and CBD; a group that received a placebo; and a group that received no treatment. The mice in the first four groups were injected with the substances every day for three weeks. The researchers examined the mice shortly after their drug treatment and after a six-week drug-free period.

The researchers found that, immediately after treatment, the mice exposed to THC alone showed signs of impaired memory and increased obsessive-compulsive behavior. Six weeks later, the adolescent mice still showed these symptoms, while the adult mice did not. (This finding agrees with research in humans suggesting that teens may be at greater risk for long-term problems from marijuana, compared with adults.)

However, both the adolescent and adult mice that were exposed to THC experienced long-term increases in anxiety.

In contrast, mice that were exposed to both THC and CBD together (in equal amounts) showed no changes in their behavior, either over the short or long term.

“This is the first study in a rigorously controlled animal model to find that CBD appears to protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic THC,” Mackie said.

Animal models allow researchers to conduct experiments in a controlled way, without putting people at risk for harm from the study. But findings in animals don’t always translate to humans.

More studies are also needed to determine how CBD counters the effects of THC, and how much CBD is needed to confer a protective effect, the researchers said.

Earlier this year, Canada issued new guidelines for how people can lower their risk of health problems linked to marijuana use, if they choose to use the drug. (In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the country.) One of the recommendations was to choose products with high levels of CBD relative to THC, which the guidelines also said may be “lower- risk” products.

Long Finger You Can Predict Athletic Ability

Examine your fingers. Which is longer? Is it the index finger (the finger you use to point with – technically the second digit, or 2D, counting the thumb), or the ring finger (the fourth digit, or 4D)?

The relative length of the index and ring fingers is known as the digit ratioor the 2D:4D. For example, if your index finger is 2.9 inches (or 7.4 cm) long, and your ring finger is 3.1 inches (or 7.9 cm) long, your digit ratio is 0.935 (i.e., 2.9/3.1 or 7.4/7.9).

Males typically have lower digit ratios (the ring finger in males is typically longer than the index finger) than females (the fingers are about the same length in females). The ratio does not change much with age.

There is some indirect evidence that the digit ratio is determined during early fetal development – as early as the second trimester of pregnancy – by the balance between the steroid hormones testosterone and estrogen. The developing ring finger has a high number of receptors for testosterone: the more testosterone the fetus produces, the longer the ring finger, and so the lower the digit ratio.

Our research team wanted to take this finger research a step further: could the differences predict athletic ability, and, if so, how?

In general, those with lower digit ratios – that is, those whose ring fingers are relatively longer than their pointers – are more likely to perform better across a very wide range of sports and athletic events. This was first illustrated in a detailed study of English professional football (soccer) players.

In 2001, researchers John Manning and Rogan Taylor showed that professional football players had lower digit ratios than nonathletes, first team players had lower ratios than reserve or youth team players, footballers who played for their country had lower ratios than those who hadn’t and those who played for their country more often (more caps) had lower ratios than those who played less often.

Although considerable variability exists across different activities, subsequent research has shown that people with low digit ratios tend to be better at American football (gridiron), basketball, fencing, handball,kabaddi (an Indian contact sport), rowing, rugby, running (both sprintingand cross-country), slalom skiing, sumo wrestling, surfing, swimming,tennis and volleyball.

While the relationship between digit ratio and sports performance is generally stronger in males than in females, important relationships have been seen in females. For example, we published a study in 2015 showing that females with lower ratios rowed substantially faster at the Australian Rowing Championships than females with higher ratios.

The relationships have also generally been stronger for athletes who compete in closed-skill sports (stable, predictable, self-paced environments such as rowing, running, swimming) than athletes who compete in open-skill sports (unstable, unpredictable, externally paced environments such as basketball, football, volleyball). This is probably because single traits, such as the digit ratio, are not usually favorably related to open-skill sports performance because numerous factors determined by the collective actions of all players, not the individual, are involved in sporting success.

Nonetheless, in a recent study of Australian basketball players, we showed that men with lower ratios were more likely to reach higher competitive levels and play at the Olympic Games.

Another interesting finding is that the right digit ratio is apparently more sensitive to fetal steroid hormones than is the left digit ratio. This might be why the right ratio is sometimes better related to athletic performance.

While the digit ratio itself does not confer a sporting advantage, it is thought to be a biomarker of fetal testosterone, which has powerful, long-term effects on the developing body and brain. For example, it influences the growth and development of several organs, including the brain, heart, muscles and bones, which are important for sports and athletic performance.

Studies have shown that people with lower digit ratios tend to have better visual-spatial and cognitive ability, presumably due to better development of the right side of the brain. These abilities are important in sports where athletes have to follow the flight of the ball, read the play and make tactical decisions.

Mental toughness also plays an important role in sporting success.Mentally tough athletes have an insatiable desire to succeed, have unshakable confidence, are highly motivated and adapt well to stressful situations. A study of British athletes in 2011 found that those with low ratios were mentally tougher, more determined, more confident and more optimistic.

Physical fitness is an important determinant of success in many sports and athletic events. Favorable links between digit ratio andcardiorespiratory endurance and muscular strength have been found in males. In a recent study of Minnesotan high school boys, we found that those with lower ratios had better hand-grip strength (irrespective of age and body size) than their peers with higher ratios. Physical fitness is also an important indicator of good health, suggesting that people with low ratios are healthier.

The digit ratio is also assumed to be a good measure of adult steroid hormones because of its link with fetal steroid hormones. While there is little evidence to support this, men with low ratios do, however, experience more marked spikes in testosterone during challenge situations, such as those experienced during competitive sport. Males with low digit ratios also tend to be more aggressive and take more risks.

Stone Disease Tonsil, Here Cause, Removal & Prevention

While tonsil stones may seem like a bad medical hoax, they can be a real problem. Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths or tonsilliths, are benign accumulations of bacteria and debris in the crypts of some people’s tonsils. Though this problem may cause discomfort, it is not dangerous and is usually easily treatable.

The tonsils are part of a protection system that keeps foreign objects from slipping into the lungs. They are also lymph nodes that filter for bacteria and viruses while producing white blood cells and antibodies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Objects such as food, dirt and other particles can get stuck in the groves on the surface of the tonsils. The grooves, called crypts, also collect old cells and bacteria.

The body’s white blood cells proceed to attack the foreign objects stuck in the tonsils. When the white blood cells are finished, hard particles remain on the tonsils. Most people simply swallow what is left behind and never know that it was there in the first place. If the particles are lodged into the crypts, though, the particles will continue to grow. These growing objects are tonsil stones, which are also called tonsil calculi.

According to a study in 2009 by the Center for Genomic Science at the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute in the Otolaryngology journal, tonsil stones are more alive than actual stones. They are actually a living biofilm that breathes oxygen.

According to Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician and author, tonsil stones are most common in teens and those with large tonsils. Those with poor dental hygiene may also experience tonsil stones.

Some people have no symptoms when afflicted with tonsil stones. Those who do have symptoms often report redness or irritation of the tonsils. There are several other symptoms that can be related to tonsil stones, with bad breath being one of the most obvious. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacteria grow on the stones, which produces a foul odor.

People with throat stones can also feel like they have something stuck in their throats, according to Dr. Erich P. Voigt, an associate professor of otolaryngology at NYU-Langone Medical Center. Other symptoms can include chronic, mild sore throat and reoccurring tonsillitis.

Tonsil stones can often be seen in the mirror. The tonsils won’t seem smooth. “Instead, they look like prunes, with crevices where bacteria can accumulate,” said Chetan Kaher, a dentist in London.

Typically, tonsil stones can be seen as white, yellow or grey nodes on the tonsils. This isn’t always the case, though. Many tonsil stones aren’t visible because they are burrowed down inside of the tonsil, said Dr. Ileana Showalter, an otolaryngologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tonsil stones can grow to 1 to 2 millimeters across. But they can be up to 1 centimeters across, according to the Australian Government Department of Health.

One of most common treatments to cure tonsil stones is simply scraping them off with a toothbrush. If that doesn’t work, there are several other at-home options. “Gargling with salt water can help dislodge them. Using a cotton swab to express them from the little small cavities that are visible is another option,” said Showalter. A water flossing device such as a Waterpik can also be used to power wash the debris out of the tonsils.

Sometimes the tonsil stones are so deeply embedded that they cannot be removed at home. In this case, an ear, nose and throat specialist can often remove the stones. If a person gets tonsil stones often, then the patient and doctor may discuss removing the tonsils.

“A last resort cure of this problem is tonsillectomy. However, this surgery carries risks of anesthesia, pain and bleeding, as well as other risks, thus a decision of this type must be balanced by a risk/benefit discussion,” said Voigt.

Preventing the formation of tonsil stones is as simple as good dental hygiene. The Mayo Clinic suggests brushing teeth and tongue after meals, at bedtime and first thing in the morning. Flossing teeth daily can also help by cleaning out bacteria. Voigt also suggested gargling daily suing commercial gargles, or a homemade solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. The Mayo Clinic advises against using a mouthwash that contains alcohol.