What do humans taste like & other questions you probably never thought to ask

Those darn scientists—they’re always delving into matters we mere mortals never thought to ask about (at least out loud), busting myths, and providing interesting blog fodder in the process. Well, at least I think it’s interesting—see if you agree:

What do humans taste like?

Here’s one for the foodies among us: Biologist Bill Schutt has written a book entitled Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, in which he explores the often-taboo topic of animals and humans eating their own kind. As part of his research for the book, Schutt chowed down on placenta Italiana, an osso bucco-like preparation (the other choice was Tex-Mex-style). His comment? “I cleaned my plate.” Read more about it in this Scientific American interview with the author. P.S. It didn’t taste like chicken.

Does silver-lined underwear prevent infertility in men?

Guys, if you’re still into procreating and think you need to protect your swimmers from exposure to radiation from modern-day hazards like cell phones and laptops, a company called Spartan has a solution. It’s $45-per-pair boxer-briefs made with silver threads, which Spartan claims blocks 99% of infertility-causing radiation. But, according to an article in STAT, a Yale Fertility Center doctor says the company is trying to fix something that isn’t a problem. The silver-threaded skivvies apparently do have antibacterial properties, though, so “your downstairs will stay fresh at the end of the day,” says Spartan’s founder. Wouldn’t soap and water do the same thing?

Does weather really make joints ache?

The short answer: Nope. Despite the long-held belief that barometric shifts trigger arthritis pain, science is saying it’s a myth. While studies over the years have been inconclusive, two recent Australian studies—discussed in this STAT article—concluded that osteoarthritis and back pain are not dependent on the weather. But one scientist doesn’t think people will buy it, saying “Myths die hard.”

Is high blood pressure always a bad thing?

Apparently not. Researchers recently announced study results in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association that suggests lower blood pressure isn’t always better. A new analysis of 559 people, most of them women, found those who develop high blood pressure in their 80s have a 42% lower risk of developing dementia after age 90 vs. those with no history of high blood pressure, and people in their 90s who developed hypertension were 63% less likely to develop dementia—contradicting the widely held belief that high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems increase our risk for dementia. Apparently, some risk factors for dementia change—and even reverse—over our lifetime (like how being overweight at midlife increases the risk of Alzheimer’s, but extra weight after age 75 appears to lower the risk).

Note to scientists:
Please get your stories straight and
stop gaslighting us.

Just kidding with the haiku…I really am grateful for scientists’ continual curiosity and commitment to making life better for all of us. But it does get confusing when studies contradict each other, doesn’t it?

Do we need a library stocked with salamander genes?

For its promise in helping humans, yes. A team of researchers from Brigham & Women’s Hospital and MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute has compiled a catalog of the genetic material in the axolotl, a salamander that’s famous for its ability to regrow limbs after they’ve been severed. This catalog aims to make it easier for scientists to study bone, cartilage and muscle regeneration—and perhaps someday apply the salamander’s unique tissue-regeneration abilities to humans. John Bobbitt aside, this could offer great hope to amputees.

Will the GOP try to regulate this, too?

Another item from STAT: Researchers at Northwestern have created a tiny, lab-made female reproductive system on a chip. It contains pieces of ovarian, uterine, cervical, fallopian tube and liver tissue, and can release hormones on a 28-day cycle like the female body does. One of the researchers said this platform will help them study drugs to treat conditions that affect women’s reproduction (like fibroids and polycystic ovary syndrome), and provide a way to develop or test new contraceptives. Any bets on how long before male members of the GOP feel compelled to control this?

So, what do you think? Have you ever wondered what a human tastes like? Can you predict the weather by how your bones feel? Do the seeming daily contradictions in medical advice make you crazy? Please share—I love comments!



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