Just the Facts
Rats Laugh When Tickled
Like humans, rats laugh when tickled. Animal behaviorists have found that rats chirp when they are tickled. Some laugh more than others, and those rats who chirp less seem more prone to anxiety.
Pectin, found in citrus fruits, apples, and other fruits, has been shown to help stop cancer from spreading. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in jams and jellies.
Arizona doctors got a surprise in the operating room when they were expecting to remove a tumor from a woman’s brain but found a worm instead. The woman had a tapeworm in her brain stem, and this parasitic worm is only found in undercooked pork.
Get Fit or Pay
Alabama, ranked third in national obesity scores, is cracking down on overweight and obese state employees. The state has given its almost 40,000 employees one year to get in shape—or they will pay $25 every month for insurance that is otherwise free. Some states reward employees for adopting healthy lifestyles, but Alabama will be the first to charge workers for their weight.
Trick or Treat
The brain’s reaction to tasty food may predict obesity. Researchers recorded women’s levels of dopamine, a pleasure-providing brain chemical, while they were slurping milkshakes, and they found that obese women had a muted pleasure response. When the brain does not sense enough pleasure from food, people often overeat to compensate, leading to obesity and other diet-related problems.
Bad for Babies
Compared with the 15 other wealthy countries that have at least 100,000 annual births, the United States has the highest infant mortality rate and the highest maternal mortality rate.
Doctors across the country are seeing a steep rise in kidney stones in children as young as 5. Some hospitals are even opening pediatric kidney stone clinics. Dietary factors, especially animal protein and salt, are the leading cause of kidney stones.
A study of more than 3,800 inner-city children showed that neighborhood greenspace—parks, grass, flowers, and trees—helps children avoid overweight.
PCRM Illustrations - Doug Hall