Researchers look at micronutrients for Metabolic Syndrome

A recent study involving 9148 adults carried out by researchers at the US Case Western Reserve University looking at the combined effect of magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) on Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). The results showed that “women who meet the RDA for Mg and Ca have reduced odds of metabolic syndrome but men may require Ca levels higher than the RDA to be protected against metabolic syndrome.” The individual effect of magnesium and calcium has been looked at before but this is the first time researchers have concentrated on them in combination. MetS was described by the researchers as a “clustering of metabolic traits” associated with increased risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. The researchers said, “The underlying mechanisms driving the differences we and others have observed by sex are not well understood and warrant additional mechanistic studies.”

Pope Francis condemns genetically modified organisms

In his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si”, Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio has criticised the social, economic and agricultural impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and has called for a “broad, responsible scientific and social debate…one capable of considering all the available information and of calling things by their name”. This is his second encyclical since he became Pope on March 13th 2013 and the first in history dedicated to the environment and reflecting on “our common home” – planet earth. According to the encyclical, “there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated,” and, “Discussions are needed in which all those directly or indirectly affected (farmers, consumers, civil authorities, scientists, seed producers, people living near fumigated fields, and others) can make known their problems and concerns, and have access to adequate and reliable information in order to make decisions for the common good, present and future.”

Corporate control over scientific research

Professor Vincent Lariviere from the University of Montreal’s School of Library and Information Science recently carried out a study and, along with a number of other researchers, found that nearly all major scientific papers are controlled by the same six corporations. Researchers looked at scientific literature published between 1973–2013 and found that just a handful of corporations control the flow of scientific informationACS, Reed Elsevier, Sage, Taylor & Francis, Springer, and Wiley-Blackwell. Lariviere said, “Overall, the major publishers control more than half of the market of scientific papers both in the natural and medical sciences and in the social sciences and humanities. Furthermore, these large commercial publishers have huge sales, with profit margins of nearly 40%. While it is true that publishers have historically played a vital role in the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the print era, it is questionable whether they are still necessary in today’s digital era.”

Los Angeles Mayor pours chemically treated plastic balls into water supply

The people of Los Angeles are concerned that the black balls released into the Sylmar reservoir might contaminate the county’s water supply. Last week the Mayor, Eric Garcetti, poured the last 20,000 of 96 million chemically treated black balls into the reservoir. The high density polyethylene balls are supposed to reflect the suns energy, protect the water from dust, rain, birds and chemical reactions caused by additives (fluoride and chlorine) added to the water, and keep about 300 million gallons of water from evaporating each year. The balls are coated with a chemical UV blocking agent that state officials claim will not leach chemicals or affect water temperatures. However Nathan Krekula, biologist and operations manager at Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratory, believes the balls are a bad idea and says that, “this will increase evaporations due to a greater surface area as well as providing a great place for bacteria to have a nice environment to grow protected from UV light that kills it. This system will require greater levels of water treatment that in the long run will require more money to ensure public safety.”

Omega-3 for prevention of psychotic episodes

Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplementation may offer a viable longer-term prevention strategy with minimal associated risk in young people at ultrahigh risk of psychosis” says study. The study looked at 81 participants aged 13–25 years who were assessed weekly for 4 weeks, then at 8 and 12 weeks, and then at subsequent follow-ups at 6, 12 months and 7 years. The researchers showed that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) significantly reduced the risk of progression to psychotic disorder during the entire follow-up period and also that the overall psychiatric morbidity during the follow-up period was significantly lower in the omega-3 PUFA group. The same researchers have previously shown that a “12-week intervention with omega-3 PUFAs reduced the risk of progression to psychotic disorder in young people with subthreshold psychotic states for a 12-month period compared with placebo.”