Sci on the Fly

The trouble with “truthy” headlines and science

Coined by American humorist Stephen Colbert, "truthy" science headlines that sacrifice accuracy for sensationalism don't serve science or the public
A press release, issued this week by the University of Leuven in Belgium, set off a flurry of reports about a “newly discovered” ligament in the human knee.
There’s only one problem. This “discovery” was made in 1879.

Organic Agriculture ≠ Equal No Spray

As a plant pathologist who has researched diseases of cacao (the chocolate tree), my work is an interesting topic for conversation at dinner parties. There are two comments I commonly receive when discussing my research on the organic production of cacao. The first always is, “It must be wonderful to work on chocolate”. It was a wonderful experience full of interesting meetings, international research and delicious chocolate samplings.

Toxic Lunch: Questions Concerning Nutrition Aid Programs in Developing Countries

Twenty three children died of poisoning in the Indian state of Bihar on Tuesday after eating a free midday meal at school. The children fell sick almost immediately, which means they ate a large amount of a highly toxic substance. Sure enough, an organophosphate chemical was found in their bodies upon autopsy. Organophosphates are commonly used in insecticides and solvents, and are highly toxic.

Cessation of tobacco use may improve lives of cancer patients

We all know that tobacco use (either through smoking or the use of smokeless tobacco) is bad for our health. Smoking leads to deadly ailments such as heart disease, vascular disease, or cancer.  We also know that quitting improves our overall health, beginning the day that you quit. However, some who have been diagnosed with cancer think that it’s too late to quit smoking. They believe that the damage has already been done and quitting will not improve their health; but it will.

You are What Your Grandmother Ate: How Diet Can Affect Your Genes

We have all heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, but until recently, we had no idea that what your grandparents ate could affect your health, and at a genetic level! Studies show that your grandmother’s childhood nutrition may have influenced your birth weight, or if your grandfather overate between the ages of 9 and 12, you could be more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease.


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