New study suggests that sunlight exposure can slow down the development of obesity and diabetes.
Researchers of the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Western Australia, together with their colleagues from the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton, found that mice that had consumed large amounts of food experienced a deceleration in weight gain, when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. The experimental animals showed fewer warning signs of diabetes, such as abnormal glucose levels and insulin resistance.
At the same time, vitamin D, which is produced by the body after exposure to sunlight and has been shown by numerous studies to have many beneficial health properties, did not appear to play a role against diabetes and weight gain.
According to Dr. Shelley Gorman, lead author of the study from the Telethon Kids Institute, these “findings are important as they suggest that casual skin exposure to sunlight, together with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, may help prevent the development of obesity in children.”
The benefits of sunlight exposure were associated with nitric oxide, which is produced by the skin after exposure to ultraviolet rays. The researchers came to this conclusion when it was found that the application of a cream containing nitric oxide to the skin of the mice had the same effect of reducing the weight gain as the exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
The researchers write in the journal «Diabetes», where the study was published, that the new findings add to previous research, which suggests that exposure to sunlight can have significant health benefits. Previous studies have concluded that nitric oxide can lower blood pressure in people after exposure to UV lamps.
Dr. Martin Feelisch, Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Southampton and a member of the research team, added that “these observations further indicate that the amounts of nitric oxide released from the skin may have beneficial effects not only on heart and blood vessels but also on the way our body regulates metabolism.”
However, the researchers note that further studies are needed to confirm if there is a similar effect of solar radiation in humans. It has to do with the fact that mice are nocturnal animals and their body is covered with fur, so they are not frequently exposed to sunlight. So it is not clear yet if the effect would be the same in humans.
Dr. Colin Michie, chairman of the nutrition committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “It raises critical questions for us humans – are the effects the same in our children and ourselves, and, if so, can they be applied to prevent obesity, treat metabolic syndrome and save vast amounts of pharmacological treatment? Perhaps it is just a little sunshine that we require.”
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Image: Sunlight by rishibando on Flickr
Washington State to Give Away Free Cannabis Joints With COVID-19 Jabs
Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Washington have been given the go-ahead by authorities to offer free joints to adults who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The “Joints for Jabs” program announced on Monday by the state’s liquor and cannabis board allows marijuana proprietors to offer pre-rolled joints to anyone over 21 who gets a vaccine shot at a clinic by July 12.
The offer only applies to pre-rolled weed cigarettes, and not to other products like edibles or loose cannabis flower, reports Associated Press.
So far, 58 percent of Washington residents have received at least a single dose while 49 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times.
Gov. Jay Inslee has said that he would lift all pandemic restrictions by month’s end, if not sooner, once 70 percent of residents over the age of 16 have received their first dose of the vaccine.
The new promotion is a part of increased efforts by the state to allow breweries, wineries, restaurants and entertainment venues to offer free beverages and other goods in exchange for proof of vaccination. Free sports tickets and lotteries for cash prizes have also been offered to incentivize the vaccine for hesitant residents of the state.
States and cities across the United States have offered various promotions since the pace of vaccinations began to sharply decline in April.
The Biden administration has encouraged such creative approaches in hopes to keep up the rapid pace of vaccinations across the country, with White House officials saying that states could pay for the promotions using federal relief funds.
Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.
Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.
Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.
Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.
Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.
“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”
However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.
In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
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