Human Sense of Fairness Evolved to Favor Long-Term Cooperation

Newswise — ATLANTA—The human response to unfairness evolved in order to support long-term cooperation, according to a research team from Georgia State University and Emory University.

Fairness is a social ideal that cannot be measured, so to understand the evolution of fairness in humans, Dr. Sarah Brosnan of Georgia State’s departments of Psychology and Philosophy, the Neuroscience Institute and the Language Research Center, has spent the last decade studying behavioral responses to equal versus unequal reward division in other primates.

In their paper, published in the journal Science, she and colleague Dr. Frans de Waal of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Psychology Department at Emory University, reviewed literature from their own research regarding responses to inequity in primates, as well as studies from other researchers. Although fairness is central to humans, it was unknown how this arose. Brosnan and de Waal hypothesize that it evolved, and therefore elements of it can be seen in other species.

“This sense of fairness is the basis of lots of things in human society, from wage discrimination to international politics,” Brosnan said. “What we’re interested in is why humans aren’t happy with what we have, even if it’s good enough, if someone else has more. What we hypothesize is that this matters because evolution is relative. If you are cooperating with someone who takes more of the benefits accrued, they will do better than you, at your expense. Therefore, we began to explore whether responses to inequity were common in other cooperative species.”

Brosnan and de Waal began their studies of fairness in monkeys in 2003, becoming the first in the field to report on this subject for any non-human species, Brosnan said. This paper, titled “Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay,” was published in Nature.

In this study, brown capuchin monkeys became agitated and refused to perform a task when a partner received a superior reward for that same task. To view video footage of the study, visit Since then, Brosnan has tested responses to inequity in nine different species of primates, including humans. She has found that species only respond to inequity when they routinely cooperate with those who are not related to them.

However, responding to getting less than a partner is not the only aspect of fairness. For a true sense of fairness, it also matters if you get more. Brosnan and de Waal hypothesize that individuals should be willing to give up a benefit in order to reach equal outcomes and stabilize valuable, long-term cooperative relationships. Thus far, this has only been found in humans and their closest relatives, the apes.

“Giving up an outcome that benefits you in order to gain long-term benefits from the relationship requires not only an ability to think about the future, but also the self-control to turn down a reward,” Brosnan said. “These both require a lot of cognitive control. Therefore, we hypothesize that lots of species respond negatively to getting less than a partner, which is the first step in the evolution of fairness, but only a few species are able to make the leap to this second step, which leads to a true sense of fairness.”

Posted in Human Behavior: Cooperation, Human Behavior: Fairness | Leave a comment

FDA takes special care that animals receive careful, humane treatment.

You may know the primary mission of the Food and Drug Administration is to promote and protect the public health—but are you aware of the important role of animals in achieving it?

According to John S. Graham, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine’s (CVM) Office of Research (OR), “The Office supports CVM’s mission to approve new medications for animals and monitor marketed animal drugs, food additives, and veterinary devices to assure their safety and effectiveness. Our work with animals also helps protect the U.S. food supply to keep people healthy.”

Graham doesn’t mean only familiar laboratory animals such as mice. The Office of Research houses a wide variety of animals, including beef and dairy cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, poultry, and a broad range of aquatic species.

FDA takes special care that all of these animals receive careful, humane treatment.

To that end, all FDA animal programs are accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. In addition, all FDA components are in compliance with regulations and requirements of the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, at the National Institutes of Health.

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at the Office of Research includes veterinarians, research scientists, biostatisticians, and nonscientists from the community. The committee meets monthly to review animal use protocols and other animal-related issues, to ensure the continued humane treatment of laboratory animals, and it conducts a complete review semi-annually to evaluate all aspects of the animal care and use program and the research facilities.

The research complex—including laboratories, animal buildings, pastures, a feed mill and an extensive aquaculture facility—covers 165 acres in Maryland and is staffed by experts in veterinary medicine, animal science, biology, chemistry, microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, pathology, and pharmacology.

It comprises three divisions in animal and food microbiology; residue chemistry; and applied veterinary research. Each division plays an important role in supporting FDA’s regulatory actions regarding the veterinary medicines and the animal-derived foods that we eat, says Graham.

Studying Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria in the Foods We Eat

For example, in the Division of Animal and Food Microbiology, researchers are focusing on the use of antimicrobials (drugs that kill or slow down the growth of bacteria) in food-producing animals. “When antimicrobial drugs are used in food-producing animals, they can potentially increase drug resistance among bacteria that reach humans via the food supply,” Graham explains. This makes illnesses caused by these bacteria harder to treat.

In addition, to better understand how bacteria develop antimicrobial resistance in both animals and humans, FDA partners with the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in managing the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), which:

  • Monitors trends in antimicrobial resistance among foodborne bacteria from humans, retail meats, and animals.
  • Disseminates timely information on antimicrobial resistance to promote programs that reduce it among foodborne bacteria.
  • Conducts research to better understand how antimicrobial resistance develops and spreads.
  • Helps FDA in making decisions related to the approval of safe and effective antimicrobial drugs for animals.

Drugs in Food?

Are the medicines that treat animals making their way into our food supply?

That’s a key focus of the Division of Residue Chemistry.

“We look at animal feed and edible tissues from food-producing animals, for example, for drug residues that shouldn’t be there,” says Graham.

Researchers are looking at the role animal feed may play in transmitting foodborne pathogens (organisms that cause disease) into the animal production environment before they enter our diets. The Office of Research maintains and operates its own feed mill—a miniature version of those used by manufacturers—and mixes feed and animal drugs in a controlled way for use in experiments. By milling and mixing its own feed with the studied medications and additives, researchers can ensure the mixture is evenly distributed throughout, and every sample provides accurate results.

The division also examines food products for trace amounts of veterinary drugs used in livestock to ensure that milk and other food from the treated animals are safe for people to eat, and that the drugs do not harm the animal or the environment.

Aquaculture Research

The Division of Applied Veterinary Research does work in antimicrobial resistance and milk and meat safety that complements that of the other two divisions. Another key focus is its work in aquaculture (the farming of fish and other aquatic animals).

“It’s a lot less expensive and more efficient to do experiments in fish than it is in, say, cattle,” Graham explains, “but it can be equally illuminating.”

For example, most of the fish we eat in the U.S. is imported. Because fish farmers in other countries could follow different standards for using drugs and chemicals—which may not be approved for use in the United States—FDA scientists have developed methods and models to find illegal drugs and chemicals in edible fish.

“We are working on methods to detect antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, hormones, and drugs in fish to ensure there are no harmful pathogens (bacteria or virus) or drug residues in what we eat,” Graham says.

Researchers are also developing safe and effective therapies for use in aquaculture by developing data on pharmacokinetics in different fish species. (Pharmacokinetics is the study of how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes and excretes drugs.) This work helps FDA predict when an animal should stop getting certain drugs to ensure food produced from that animal has no harmful drug residues.

Vet-LIRN: A Network of Shared Data

Finally, FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN) collaborates with veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the country to share scientific information, build laboratory capacity and train scientists. Vet-LIRN helps CVM investigate potential problems with animal feed and drugs. The network has been investigating the illnesses in dogs and some cats associated with eating jerky pet treats. Member laboratories have been testing both the treats and samples from the affected animals to find the elusive source of these illnesses. In addition, labs share data collected by FDA, often enabling the agency to pinpoint problems more quickly.

“The work we are doing here is state-of-the-art,” Graham says. “We are providing research solutions that ensure the safety of animal-derived foods and products to improve both animal and human health.”

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

September 18, 2014

Posted in Animal Cruelty, Animals | Leave a comment

New Poll: Americans Fear Blindness More Than Loss of Other Senses, Strongly Support More Funding for Research

Newswise — Washington, D.C.—According to a new poll, Americans across racial and ethnic groups describe losing eyesight as potentially having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life — more so than other conditions, including loss of memory, hearing and speech. A higher percentage of African-Americans (57%) cite this concern compared to non-Hispanic whites (49%), Asians (43%) and Hispanics (38%).

Blindness ranked among the top four “worst things that could happen to you” for all respondents, alongside cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS. More African-Americans cited blindness as their top fear.

The poll generated another key finding: A large majority of respondents strongly consider research to improve the prevention and treatment of vision disorders a priority (83% of African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites, 80% of Asians and 79% of Hispanics).

When told that the federal government spends on average $2.10 per person each year on such research, half of African-Americans (51%) and Hispanics (50%) say this is not enough followed by non-Hispanic whites (47%) and Asian-Americans (35%).

About half of all groups believe that non-governmental sectors — industry, patient groups and philanthropies — should also increase funding for eye and vision research (57% of Hispanics, 51% of African-Americans, 49% of Asians and 47% of non-Hispanic whites).

These and other findings are from a national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR). The poll, which was carried out by Zogby Analytics, was funded by a grant from Research to Prevent Blindness and released at a National Press Club event in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18.

Leaders from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) played a role in both the development of the poll and the release event, which featured a panel discussion with Neil Bressler, MD (Wilmer Eye Institute), Paul Sieving, MD, PhD (National Eye Institute), James Tsai, MD (New York Eye and Ear Infirmary) and Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD (Ohio State University College of Optometry). The panel discussion was moderated by Michelle Miller of CBS News.

More poll results:

The Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders.

Visit us at:

Posted in Bllindness | Leave a comment

3 reasons to not hold grudges

They stress you out

“Countless studies have shown that holding grudges and keeping in negative feelings is bad for your mental health, increasing anxiety and frustration,” says psychologist Seth Meyers. Case in point: Research published in the journal Psychological Science found that when people were told to nurse a grudge when thinking about wrongdoers, they had stronger negative emotions and greater stress responses (namely, higher heart rate and blood pressure) than those who were instructed to imagine granting forgiveness.

They may hurt your physical health

Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia found that people who said they held grudge for years had an increased risk of multiple health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, back pain, and headaches.

They may not be worth fixing

When you notice that you’re holding on to hostile feelings, ask yourself, “Is this person truly important to me?” If so, you’re going to need to have a frank conversation with them and say why you feel hurt so you can attempt to work through it. But more often than not, the people we hold grudges against aren’t terribly vital in our lives, Meyers says. If this is the case,


Posted in Human Behavior: Anger, Human Behavior: Angst, Human Behavior: Competition, Human Behavior: Forgiveness | Leave a comment

Blood test could identify when cancer treatment has become detrimental

Some treatments for prostate cancer, while initially effective at controlling the disease, not only stop working over time but actually start driving tumour growth, a major new study shows.

Researchers identified the emergence of drug-resistant cancer cells by testing repeated blood samples from patients with advanced prostate cancer.

They set out a new ‘treatment paradigm’ – the constant monitoring of patients using a blood test for signs that therapy is becoming counter-productive.

The study was conducted at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Trento in Italy.

It was mainly funded by Prostate Cancer UK with support from the Movember Foundation and Cancer Research UK, and is published today (Wednesday) in Science Translational Medicine.

The research showed use of glucocorticoids – steroid drugs often given alongside hormonal therapy – coincided with the emergence of mutations that resulted in the drug becoming an activator of the disease rather than an inhibitor.

The results also provide robust evidence that ‘liquid biopsies’ analysing tumour DNA circulating in blood could give an accurate picture of cancer development in individual patients.

The findings suggest that in future, men with advanced prostate cancer could be carefully monitored for circulating tumour DNA, allowing doctors to spot the emergence of dangerous mutations and alter treatments before they drive the disease into more aggressive forms.

The study, based on complex genetic analysis of biopsies and blood samples from 16 patients with advanced prostate cancer, shows that treatments can act as an evolutionary force on the population of cancer cells in a tumour.

Researchers were looking in particular for clues that glucocorticoids could favour the survival of cells containing androgen receptor mutations – affecting how cells respond to hormones. They used repeat biopsies from tumours and analysed circulating tumour DNA over time, monitoring the emergence of cancer cell clones containing each mutation.

In several patients, use of glucocorticoids coincided with the emergence of androgen receptor mutations and the progression of cancer into more advanced forms.

The study also showed that measuring circulating tumour DNA levels – which is less expensive and invasive than taking repeated samples of tumours with needle biopsies – could be used to monitor the emergence of treatment-resistant prostate cancer.

Study leader Dr Gerhardt Attard, Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Honorary Consultant at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our study showed that a steroid treatment given to patients with advanced prostate cancer and often initially very effective started to activate harmful mutations and coincided with the cancer starting to grow again.”

“Our results introduce a new paradigm for the management of patients with advanced prostate cancer. In the future, we hope to routinely monitor genetic mutations in patients with advanced disease using just a blood test – enabling us to stop treatments when they become disease drivers and select the next best treatment option. We need to confirm these findings in larger numbers of patients but using these types of blood tests could allow true personalisation of treatment for prostate cancer patients, based on the cancer mutations we detect.”

Professor Paul Workman, Interim Chief Executive at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Drug resistance is the single biggest challenge we face in cancer research and treatment, and we are just beginning to understand how its development is driven by evolutionary pressures on tumours. This important discovery reveals how some cancer treatments can actually favour the survival of the nastiest cancer cells, and sets out the rationale for repeated monitoring of patients using blood tests, in order to track and intervene in the evolution of their cancers.”

Dr Matthew Hobbs, Deputy Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “There are currently too few treatment options for men living with advanced stage prostate cancer. Not only do we desperately need to find more treatments for this group of men, we also need to understand more about when those that are available stop working and why. This research is important as it shows that there might be a new way to monitor how a man’s cancer is changing during treatment and that could help us to pinpoint the stage at which some drugs stop being effective. In the future this could arm doctors with the knowledge they need to ensure that no time is wasted between a drug that stops working for a man and him moving on to another effective treatment.

“However, this is an early piece of research, carried out in very few men. We now need to see this tested in a bigger group of men to establish its true potential. Anyone currently taking medication for advanced prostate cancer should not stop doing so as a result of these findings, but should speak to their clinician or a Prostate Cancer UK Specialist Nurse if they have any concerns.”

Nell Barrie, Science Information Manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s vital to understand the genetic twists and turns that offer tumour cells an escape route to become resistant to treatment. And this study provides an important first step towards working out how to use tumour DNA from blood samples as a way to monitor how prostate cancer evolves during treatment.

“Cancer Research UK scientists have played an important role in unravelling how groups of cancer cells can be genetically distinct, even within the same tumour. And these latest findings shed more light on how tumours evolve.”


Posted in Cancer: Prostate, Rapid Diagnostics | Leave a comment

The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others

By Leo Babauta

We all do it: we look at what others are doing and wish we were doing that too.

Or, alternatively, we scoff at what they’re doing and judge them, and see ourselves as better.

One makes us feel bad, the other makes us feel superior.

Neither makes us happy.

Let’s take a couple of quick examples.

Example 1: Looking at Instagram

I’m not an Instagram user, but family members are, and I see the kinds of things that are posted: people going to parties, to the beach, having a great dinner, traveling, going on a run, doing yoga … generally living an amazing life.

If you were to look at these on a regular basis, it would be easy to compare your boring life (looking at your phone) to the incredible lives of your friends. Why aren’t you doing more? Why aren’t you eating more beautiful food? Why aren’t you traveling or exercising or doing anything other than what you’re doing right now? Why don’t you have a better body?

It’s not a fair comparison, of course. They’re not posting photos of themselves when they’re doing the more mundane things, including sitting around looking at their phones. They’re not posting about their anxieties or boredom, their arguments and procrastination, their insecurities.

But even if you do an apples-to-apples comparison — your highlights to theirs — what use is that? Do the highlights of our lives need to be better than anyone else’s? Why?

Do the highlights determine our happiness? Do they show us what life is about?

No: happiness comes from appreciating what’s in front of you, not wishing you were doing something else. You find out what life is about by paying closer attention to it, not wishing you were living a fantasy.

We don’t need to be better than anyone else: we just need to love where we are and what we’re doing and who we are. That’s what matters.

The comparisons don’t make us happier or appreciate life more — they make us feel horrible about ourselves. And that’s heartbreaking.

Example 2: Judging Someone Else

Let’s say I have worked hard to change my habits, quitting smoking and then taking up regular exercise and eating a lot healthier. I’ve worked hard to make myself into a healthy person, and I’m proud of it.

Then I see someone else who is overweight, who eats junk all the time and smokes and can’t seem to stick to an exercise plan.

One common reaction is to look at this overweight person and judge them: why don’t they stop eating all that junk? Go for a daily walk, eat some vegetables? They have no self-control! They are to blame for their problems.

So we judge them, and in comparison we feel superior for not having those bad habits. But this doesn’t make us happy: judging someone else only makes us dislike them. That’s not happiness — that’s shaking our heads in disgust.

We wish they were more like us, and might even feel some frustration that they don’t take action to do something good for themselves.

This doesn’t make us appreciate life more — it makes us wish it were different, and frustrated that it isn’t.

Instead, we might consider trying to understand the person. Have we ever struggled with habits? Have we ever felt bad about ourselves? Of course we have.

We know what it feels like to go through difficulty, to feel hopeless, to not think we can change. We don’t know what it feels like to be this person, but maybe we can imagine that they’re suffering, and we can wish for their suffering to end.

The Two Habits

In both cases, the comparisons led to feeling really bad about ourselves or others. This is heartbreaking, because we are good people, and so are they. It’s only in comparison that we take what’s wonderful and turn it into something cruel.

I propose two habits to replace comparison:

Appreciate where you are. Instead of looking at the lives of others, see the goodness in front of you. Inside of you. Appreciate each moment, one at a time, and be happy where you are. When you find yourself comparing your life to the lives of others, turn to the moment in front of you and find ways to appreciate it.

Seek to understand, not judge. When you find yourself frustrated with others, or judging them … instead, try to understand them. Are they going through a hard time? Are they frustrated? Sad? Angry? Feeling hopeless? Do you know what that’s like? When we understand a person, we let go of judgment.

With these two strategies, our heart comes to the right place. And we let go of the cruelty of comparisons, as unthinkably unnecessary.


Posted in Human Behavior: Authenticity, Human Behavior: Envy, Human Behavior: Happiness, Human Behavior: Jealousy, Human Behavior: Values | Leave a comment

Salt plus smoking raises rheumatoid arthritis risk

(Reuters Health) – Eating a diet high in salt may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis among smokers, according to a large study from Sweden.

Researchers set out to see if a salty diet might be linked to the onset of RA, but found a connection only among smokers – who were more than twice as likely as anyone with a low-salt diet to develop the condition.

“Although we could not confirm our original hypothesis, we were surprised by the large influence of sodium intake on smoking as a risk factor,” Björn Sundström told Reuters Health in an email.

“Smoking is a strong risk factor for developing rheumatoid arthritis, and this risk is further amplified by less than ideal food habits with high sodium intake,” said Sundström, a researcher in the departments of public health and clinical medicine at Umea University who led the new study.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain and swelling in the joints. About 1.5 million Americans, three-quarters of them women, have been diagnosed with the condition, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.



Posted in Arthritis: Rheumatoid, Nutrition: Salt, Smoking | Leave a comment

Migraine-Sufferers at Possible Risk for Parkinson’s, Movement Disorders Later

Newswise — Bethesda, MD –Migraine suffers may be at greater risk for developing Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders later in life, according to a new study published in the Sept. 17, 2014, online issue of Neurology ®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Those who have migraine with aura may be at double the risk for developing these disorders.

“Migraine is the most common neurologic disorder in both men and women,” said study author Ann I. Scher, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda, MD. “It has been linked in other studies to cerebrovascular and heart disease. This new possible association is one more reason research is needed to understand, prevent and treat the condition.”

Scher and her colleagues from the National Institute on Aging, the University of Iceland, and the Icelandic Heart Association, studied 5,620 people between the ages of 33 and 65 for more than 25 years. At the beginning of the study, 3,924 of participants did not suffer from headaches, 1,028 had headaches without migraine symptoms, 238 had migraine with no aura, and 430 had migraine with aura. They later assessed whether participants had any symptoms of parkinsonism or had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or had symptoms of Willis-Ekbom disease, a related disorder more commonly known as “restless legs syndrome (RLS).”

The study found that people with migraine with aura were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than people with no headaches. A total of 2.4 percent of those with migraine with aura had the disease, compared to 1.1 percent of those with no headaches. People with migraine with aura had 3.6 times the odds of reporting at least four of six parkinsonian symptoms, while those with migraine with no aura were 2.3 times the odds of these symptoms. Overall, 19.7 percent of those with migraine with aura had symptoms, compared to 12.6 percent of those with migraine with no aura and 7.5 percent of those with no headaches. Women with migraine with aura were also more likely to have a family history of Parkinson’s disease compared to those with no headaches.

The risk of RLS was increased for people with all types of headache. A total of 20 percent of those with no headaches had RLS, compared to 28 percent of those with headaches with no migraine symptoms and 30 percent of those with migraine with aura.

“These findings suggest that there may be a shared vulnerability to migraine and parkinsonism in a small number of people. This could be related to dysfunction in the brain messenger dopamine, head injury, cerebrovascular disease, or some other mechanism. More research should focus on exploring this possible link through focused longitudinal studies.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, the Icelandic Heart Association and the Icelandic Parliament.

Posted in Headaches: Migraines, Parkinson's | Leave a comment

9 fats to include in a healthy diet

Newswise — CHICAGO—Fats are often considered the enemy of good nutrition, but when included in a healthy diet they can boast several potential health benefits. In the September issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about how fatty acids and nutritional oils may benefit cognition, weight management, heart health, eye and brain development, and even mood.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with brain development, cognition, eye health, dementia and depression. They are also widely well-known for their heart health benefits.
2. Pinolenic Acid: Pinolenic acid is based on pine nut oil derived from a specific Korean pine tree, and is especially rich in long-chain fatty acids. Clinical trials have shown that it can help suppress appetite and promote a feeling of fullness.
3. Conjugated Linoleic Acid: Conjugated linoleic acid has been shown to affect weight management by helping reduce body fat and increase lean body mass.
4. Flaxseed Oil: Flaxseed oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids which can contribute to heart health and help reduce inflammation.
5. Hemp Oil: Hemp seed oil contains a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 linolenic essential fatty acids, and also contains vitamin E.
6. Fish Oil: Fish oil is known for its effect on cardiovascular, neurological, and cognitive health.
7. Canola Oil: A study showed that a canola oil-enriched, low-glycemic-diet improved blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics, especially those with raised systolic blood pressure (Jenkins, 2014).
8. Soybean Oil: High oleic soybean oil has reduced saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat, and delivers three times the amount of monounsaturated fats compared to commodity soybean oil.
9. Coconut Oil: Although not as much research has been done compared to olive or fish oil, it is thought to aid in areas such as energy, skin health, and dental health.

Read the full article in Food Technology here

About IFT
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food, both today and tomorrow. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit

Posted in Nutrition: Fat, Nutrition: Fish Oil, Nutrition: Food: Canola Oil, Nutrition: Food: Flax, Nutrition: Omega-3 | Leave a comment

Fighting Parents Hurt Children’s Ability to Recognize and Regulate Emotions

Newswise — Exposure to verbal and physical aggression between parents may hurt a child’s ability to identify and control emotions, according to a longitudinal study led by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The findings, which appear in the journal Development and Psychopathology, also suggest that household chaos and prolonged periods of poverty during early childhood may take a substantial toll on the emotional adjustment of young children.

“Our study points to ways in which aggression between parents may powerfully shape children’s emotional adjustment,” says C. Cybele Raver, professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author. “Arguing and fighting is psychologically stressful for the adults caught in conflict; this study demonstrates the costs of that conflict for children in the household as well.”

Research has demonstrated that exposure to conflict and violence in the home can shape children’s neurobiological, cognitive, and behavioral responses. Increased hypervigilance may support children’s safety in the short term, but can be detrimental for their long-term emotional adjustment. For instance, children who hear or witness their parents fighting may have trouble regulating their emotions in less risky situations, such as a classroom.

While earlier research established a link between parental conflict at a single point in time and children’s adjustment later in life, Raver and her colleagues saw a need to explore how children may be adversely affected by prolonged exposure to this aggression.

“We also were interested in other forms of adversity in the children’s environment, including poverty and household chaos, that could affect their emotional adjustment, since few studies have considered multiple factors,” says study author Clancy Blair, professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt.

In the study, the researchers measured children’s exposure to several forms of adversity, and how they predicted their ability to recognize and regulate negative emotions, such as fear and sadness. The researchers followed 1,025 children and their families living in eastern North Carolina and central Pennsylvania, two geographical areas with high poverty rates.

The researchers evaluated the families in a series of home visits from the time a child was two months old through 58 months of age. They gathered data through parent questionnaires, administering tasks to the parents and children, and measuring the level of household chaos – including the number of times children moved, changes in caregiver, noise levels, cleanliness, and the number of people compared to the number of rooms – versus stability. At approximately 58 months of age, the researchers assessed the children’s ability to correctly recognize and identify emotions.

Verbal and physical aggression between parents from infancy through early childhood significantly predicted children’s ability to accurately identify emotions at 58 months of age. Higher exposure to physical aggression between parents was associated with children’s lower performance on a simple emotions labeling task. Surprisingly, higher exposure to verbal aggression was associated with greater emotion knowledge among the children.

Prolonged exposure to aggression between parents was also linked to children’s ability to regulate their own feelings of sadness, withdrawal, and fear, placing them at greater risk for symptoms of anxiety and depression later on.

Other forms of adversity also contributed to children’s emotional adjustment. The higher the number of years spent in poverty, the lower a child’s ability to accurately identify different emotions. Increased household chaos, especially disorganization, also lowered a child’s ability to recognize emotions.

“This study shines a bright light on the importance of supporting parents as they navigate the ups and downs of partnership or marriage,” says Raver. “Parents need help regulating their own feelings of anger, frustration, and worry when balancing the demands of work, family, and romantic partnership, especially when money is tight.”

In addition to Raver and Blair, study authors include Patricia Garrett-Peters of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Family Life Project Key Investigators. The research was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD51502; P01 HD39667) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Posted in Divorce, Human Behavior: Aggression, Human Behavior: Relationships, Parenting, Poverty | Leave a comment

PTSD symptoms associated with increased food addiction

Bottom Line: Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were associated with increased food addiction, especially when individuals had more symptoms or the symptoms occurred earlier in life.

Authors: Susan M. Mason, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues.

Background: PTSD is a potentially severe psychiatric condition. A growing body of evidence suggests that PTSD is a risk factor for obesity and obesity-related diseases. Food addiction is not established as a psychiatric diagnosis but may indicate use of food to cope with psychological distress, which is one plausible pathway from PTSD to obesity.

How the Study Was Conducted: The authors used the Nurses’ Health Study II to retrieve data on trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms and food addiction. Food addiction was defined by three or more symptoms that included eating when no longer hungry four or more times per week, worrying about cutting down on food four or more times per week, feeling the need to eat an increasing amount of food to reduce distress at any frequency and having physical withdrawal symptoms when cutting down on certain foods two or more times per week.

Results: Of 49,408 women, 81 percent reported at least one traumatic event; the most common traumatic experience in this nurse population was treating individuals with traumatic injuries. Of women with a traumatic event, 34 percent reported no PTSD symptoms, 39 percent reported 1 to 3 symptoms on a 7-symptom PTSD screening questionnaire, 17 percent reported 4 to 5 symptoms and 10 percent reported 6 to 7 symptoms. Women with PTSD, on average, reported their first symptom occurred at about age 30 years. The prevalence of food addiction was 8 percent, with a range from 6 percent among women with no lifetime PTSD symptoms to almost 18 percent among women with 6 to 7 symptoms. The most common trauma experience reported by the nurses was treating individuals with traumatic injuries. Earlier onset of symptoms predicted a higher prevalence of food addiction. Traumatic symptoms in response to physical abuse in childhood had the strongest associations with food addiction, although the PTSD-food addiction association did not differ substantially by trauma type.

Discussion: “To our knowledge, this is the first study to look at the association between PTSD symptoms and food addiction. Our findings are relevant to ongoing questions regarding the mechanisms behind observed associations between PTSD and obesity, and they provide support for hypotheses suggesting that association between PTSD and obesity might partly originate in maladaptive coping and use of food to blunt trauma-associated distress. If replicated longitudinally, these results may have implications for both the etiology of obesity and for treatment of individuals with PTSD.”


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Fast food prior to pregnancy ups gestational diabetes risk

The Consumption of fast food prior to pregnancy is a risk factor in gestational diabetes. This was highlighted by researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Medicine Faculty of the University of Navarra.

The research, recently published by the ePLOS ONE specialised journal, was carried out thanks to the monitoring, since 1999, of more than 3,000 pregnant women, within the SUN (Universidad of Navarra Monitoring) project, in which 159 cases of gestational diabetes (GD) were confirmed.

Gestational diabetes is “any degree of intolerance to glucose that starts or is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy”. This illness, one of the most common during gestation, has negative effects on the health of mothers and their children. “Each year in Europe between 104,000 and 312,000 cases are diagnosed, figures that continue to grow due to the increase of cases of obesity amongst fertile age mothers”, pointed out Ms Maira Bes-Rastrollo, the lead author of the research.

There are different biological mechanisms that explain the high consumption of fast food (hamburgers, sausages and pizzas) being a possible risk factor for GD. According to the expert, “saturated fat content and cholesterol present in red and processed meats, and nitrites, precursors of nitrosamines present in processed meats, can interfere with the effect of insulin. They can also have a prejudicial effect on the control of glucose levels, the final products that can arise in meat and in high-animal fat foods, when heated up and processed”.

On the other hand, it has been observed in the USA that the pre-pregnancy monitoring of a pattern of healthy or aMED (alternate Mediterranean) diet, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet or the aHEI (alternate Healthy Eating Index), reduces the risk of developing GD.

Effects of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes can mean the development of type 2 diabetes subsequent to pregnancy, as well as risks to the children. “They have more probability of being obese and of having intolerance to glucose and diabetes throughout infancy and at the young adult stage”, added the expert. She also pointed out that “recent research has shown prejudicial effects in the implantation and development of the embryo, as well as pointing to an association between this condition and the cognitive and educational level of the children”.

Given all this, it is highly important to identify those modifiable lifestyles that can reduce the risk of developing GD. Despite this, this is one of the few studies that have identified a nutritional explanation – a diet that can be easily modifiable in order to reduce the risk of diabetes in pregnancy.

Participating together with Ms. Maira Bes-Rastrollo in the research was Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Francisco Javier Basterra-Gortari, Alfredo Gea, all from the University of Navarra, and Ligia Juliana Dominguez and Mario Barbagallo from the University of Palermo.


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Alzheimer’s risk can be decreased via certain behaviors

The World Alzheimer Report 2014 ‘Dementia and Risk Reduction: An analysis of protective and modifiable factors’, released today, calls for dementia to be integrated into both global and national public health programmes alongside other major non communicable diseases (NCDs).

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) commissioned a team of researchers, led by Professor Martin Prince from King’s College London, to produce the report. ADI is publishing this report, in conjunction with World Alzheimer’s Day™ (21 September) and as a part of World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma.

The report reveals that control of diabetes and high blood pressure as well as measures to encourage smoking cessation and to reduce cardiovascular risk, have the potential to reduce the risk of dementia even in late-life. The report found that diabetes can increase the risk of dementia by 50%. Obesity and lack of physical activity are important risk factors for diabetes and hypertension, and should, therefore, also be targeted.

While cardiovascular health is improving in many high income countries, many low and middle income countries show a recent pattern of increasing exposure to cardiovascular risk factors, with rising rates of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Smoking cessation is strongly linked in the report with a reduction in dementia risk. For example, studies of dementia incidence among people aged 65 years and over show that ex-smokers have a similar risk to those who have never smoked, while those who continue to smoke are at much higher risk.

Furthermore, the study revealed that those who have had better educational opportunities have a lower risk of dementia in late-life. Evidence suggests that education has no impact on the brain changes that lead to dementia, but reduces their impact on intellectual functioning.

The evidence in the report suggest that if we enter old age with better developed, healthier brains we are likely to live longer, happier and more independent lives, with a much reduced chance of developing dementia. Brain health promotion is important across the life span, but particularly in mid-life, as changes in the brain can begin decades before symptoms appear.

The study also urges NCD programs to be more inclusive of older people, with the message that it’s never too late to make a change, as the future course of the global dementia epidemic is likely to depend crucially upon the success or failure of efforts to improve global public health, across the population. Combining efforts to tackle the increasing global burden of NCDs will be strategically important, efficient and cost effective. Leading a healthier lifestyle is a positive step towards preventing a range of long-term diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

However, survey data released by Bupa* has shown that many people are unclear about the causes and actions they can take to potentially reduce their risk of dementia. Just over a sixth (17%) of people realised that social interaction with friends and family could impact on the risk. Only a quarter (25%) identified being overweight as a possible factor, and only one in five (23%) said physical activity could affect the risk of developing dementia and losing their memories. The survey also revealed that over two thirds (68%) of people surveyed around the world are concerned about getting dementia in later life.

Professor Martin Prince, from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and author of the report, commented: “There is already evidence from several studies that the incidence of dementia may be falling in high income countries, linked to improvements in education and cardiovascular health. We need to do all we can to accentuate these trends. With a global cost of over US$ 600 billion, the stakes could hardly be higher.”

Marc Wortmann, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Disease International said: “From a public health perspective, it is important to note that most of the risk factors for dementia overlap with those for the other major non communicable diseases (NCDs). In high income countries, there is an increased focus on healthier lifestyles, but this is not always the case with lower and middle income countries. By 2050, we estimate that 71% of people living with dementia will live in these regions, so implementing effective public health campaigns may help to reduce the global risk.”

Professor Graham Stokes, Global Director of Dementia Care, Bupa, said: “While age and genetics are part of the disease’s risk factors, not smoking, eating more healthily, getting some exercise, and having a good education, coupled with challenging your brain to ensure it is kept active, can all play a part in minimising your chances of developing dementia. People who already have dementia, or signs of it, can also do these things, which may help to slow the progression of the disease.”


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