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This post falls into the category of “Molecular Gastronomy”. That term may be a bit silly, since everything about food is molecular. But when it comes to food there’s usually something to be said for taking a look under the hood. This will be about cooking a hamburger that’s better than what you get at your favourite fast food joint. So if you don’t eat meat, and don’t even want to read about eating meat, exit now.… Read the rest “The Science of Better Burgers”

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In April 2017 I published a post titled “Why is there so much talk about Epigenetics?”. I think I did a pretty decent job explaining what Epigenetics is, and why it is such a critically important part of biology. The gist is, that the regulated output of our genomic information depends on Epigenetics. This is achieved by specific chemical groups and protein along the chromosomes that control their expression into the proteins and other products needed for the life of a particular cell.… Read the rest “Why there is so much talk about epigenetics”

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Dr. Brian Druker and Ms. LaDonna Lopossa, one of the earliest patients to benefit from Gleevec

Rob Schick is the Branch Manger of the Baird Wealth Management Group in Portland, Oregon. Most people would probably consider him lucky. For starters, Portland is one of the most desirable cities in the United States to live in. He and his wife have three grown children, one of whom works at the same company. In addition to his success in business, Rob Schick’s efforts on behalf of the Knight Cancer Institute, where he has helped raise millions of dollars for research, were nationally recognized in 2015 by a National Community Service Award from the Invest in Others Foundation.Read the rest “Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: A Molecular Solution”

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It’s a good idea to look critically at any powerful new technology, and the creation of genetically-modified organisms, GMOs, is no exception. Like any new technology, it might have unanticipated, deleterious consequences that outweigh any benefit. Many criticisms of GMO have of course been raised, as a brief interrogation of the internet will show. But unfortunately, the criticisms of GMOs we hear most often are not the most important ones, and the ones that are most important are often not heard clearly.Read the rest “GMO”

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Some people have a hard time keeping to the conventional clock. They strongly prefer to sleep and stay up late. Some people show the opposite behaviour; they wake up very early, but are ready for bed well before the late evening news. Although there may be exceptions (teenagers and jazz musicians come to mind), both kinds of behaviour are often related to a changed circadian rhythm. Late sleepers are referred to as “delayed phase” in their circadian rhythm, while those who are exceptionally early to bed – early to rise are said to have “Familial Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome” (FASPS).Read the rest “Circadian Rhythm II – Us”

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If, like most of us, you carry more weight than you wish you did, you may have wondered, from time to time, how much that extra poundage affects your health. This has been intensively studied over the past decades. Generally, studies compare health outcomes at different values of Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a useful way to describe body type. BMI is the ratio of weight to the square of height, in metric units.Read the rest “You can eat fat, but don’t get fat”

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(Microscopic image of C. elegans with Nomarski DIC optics: by permission, Prof. Sander van den Heuvel, Developmental Biology, Universiteit Utrecht. About 200x lifesize.)

How long can we expect to live in the future? The longest recorded human life is that of a French woman, Jeanne Calment, who died aged 122 and a half, in 1997. The eighth oldest, and currently oldest living person, is an Italian woman named Emma Morano, who will be 117 on November 29, 2016.… Read the rest “Life Expectancy II: It’s in the Genes”

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A surprising link has been uncovered between cheese consumption and deaths of women from lung and bronchial cancer. This link is entirely unexpected: doctors had not previously noticed this association. Cheese contains quite a lot of fat, which does apparently have a link to certain cancers, such as breast and bowel cancers. But there hasn’t previously been an association of cheese consumption and lung cancer.

The correlation between lung cancer and cheese production

The data showing the production of cheese in the USA between 1975 and 1995, and the age-adjusted deaths of women from lung cancer are in the following graph (1):

The correlation is striking.Read the rest “Unexpected link between cheese consumption and lung cancer”