Archive for April 2nd, 2012
Richard Wrangham, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, has argued that the invention of cooking split the ancestors of humans from the evolutionary path that went on to include modern gorillas and chimpanzees. Cooking allowed our ancestors to develop bigger brains and, in his hypothesis, is the key reason modern humans emerged. The controlled use of fire, according to Wrangham, was a more important milestone in human evolution than the invention of agriculture or eating meat.
Critics of Wrangham's "cooking hypothesis" have pointed to a lack of archaeological evidence. If our ancestors were cooking regularly, where are the fossilised fireplaces?
In an article, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists led by Francesco Berna of the University of Boston has found strong evidence of such a fireplace. They have uncovered evidence of burned bones and ashes of plant material created in controlled fires that were lit at least 1m years ago in southern Africa.
Nearly three-quarters of dietitians report using dietary supplements regularly, with 97% recommending supplement use to clients, according to research published in Nutrition Journal. Fifty-three percent of dietitians said they take supplements for overall health benefits, and 50% said they promote supplements for that reason. Eighty-four percent said they used a multivitamin within the previous year, 63% took calcium and nearly half had used omega-3 supplements or fish oil.
The median labor time of women who gave birth between 2002 and 2008 was 6.5 hours compared with less than four hours in women who gave birth between 1959 to 1966, a study by the National Institutes of Health found. Researchers noted that women in the recent group were older and heavier before their pregnancy than women in the 1960s and that epidural use had increased in the more modern group.
Middle-aged women who are overweight or obese have a greater risk of developing venous thromboembolism after surgery and even without surgery, compared with normal-weight women, according to a U.K. study published in Circulation. Heavier women also had a 22% higher risk of needing inpatient surgery, according to the study.
More U.S. companies are tying employee health premiums to risk assessments and participation in wellness initiatives such as exercise and disease management programs, raising questions about privacy and whether the tactic saves money and improves health. Professor Kevin Volpp of the University of Pennsylvania says data show that programs offering employees choices and immediate rewards work best and that incentives to help people quit smoking are effective.
Fifty-seven percent of 51 children with urinary tract infections were reported by their parents to have had unusually smelly urine, Canadian researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics. However, 32% of parents of children without UTI said their children had bad-smelling urine, while 40% of parents of children with UTI failed to notice anything unusual in the smell of their children's urine.
The North Carolina legislature is once again contemplating a bill that would allow drugmakers, and those selling medications, to be protected from liability lawsuits. "The legislation would make it harder for North Carolina consumers to recover damages from harm allegedly suffered by a prescription drug than citizens in any other state in the U.S., except Michigan," blogger Ed Silverman writes. Also, in Michigan, an amendment was added Thursday to the state budget that requires the state attorney general to report money lost by Michigan residents because they are not allowed to participate in federal class-action lawsuits brought by states against drugmakers whose products were found to be harmful. "They are precluded from participation because the state offers drugmakers immunity," Silverman adds.
Scientists and Indian advocates are questioning why the government is not acting more quickly on a cleanup.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hammered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) failure to reduce device approval times, with at least one lawmaker saying he would end the user fee program if "significant reforms" aren't undertaken. "The purpose of the user fees is to provide the [FDA] with the resources they need to thoroughly review products in a timely manner. However, the FDA has had a difficult time delivering on a timely basis, being predictable, consistent and proactive in its process," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said in a statement entered into the record during a Feb. 15 House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee hearing on reauthorization of the device user fee program.
International Medical Device Regulatory Monitor (reg$req)