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David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
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Bryan Cranston
Actor
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Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
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Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Fruit juice may raise cancer risk, study finds. Here's why.

A new study found a positive association between sugary drinks and cancer.

Photo credit: Sergi Alexander / Getty Images for SOBEWFF®
  • The study monitored the health of more than 100,000 adults over a five-year period.
  • During this time, some 2,200 people developed cancer, the majority of whom regularly consumed sugary drinks.
  • Still, the researchers said the results don't prove that sugar causes cancer.


A new study found that drinking sugary beverages such as soda and fruit juice may increase your risk of developing cancer. The study, published in the BMJ on July 10, found that consuming sugary drinks was "significantly associated with the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer." Sugary drinks were defined as those containing more than 5 percent sugar, including soda and 100 percent fruit juice with no added sugar.

For the study, the researchers tracked the health, lifestyle and eating habits of 101,257 adults over a five-year period. During this time, cancer developed in about 2,200 people, the majority of whom regularly consumed sugary drinks.

The findings are some of the first to show a positive association between drinking sugary drinks and cancer. What's more, this positive association was observed for both soda and 100 percent fruit juices.

Still, the results don't necessarily prove that sugar causes cancer.

"These results need replication in other large scale prospective studies," the researchers wrote. "They suggest that sugary drinks, which are widely consumed in Western countries, might represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention."

It's probably safe to drink soda or fruit juice on occasion, lead researcher Dr. Mathilde Touvier told The Guardian:

"The recommendation from several public health agencies is to consume less than one drink per day. If you consume from time to time a sugary drink it won't be a problem, but if you drink at least one glass a day it can raise the risk of several diseases — here, maybe cancer, but also with a high level of evidence, cardiometabolic diseases."

The researchers said the results could help inform future policy decisions. A handful of U.S. cities have levied taxes on the soda industry, including Boulder, Colorado; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington, as well as Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco in California. Generally, distributors and wholesalers pay the tax when they deliver soda to retailers, though it's expected that consumers also end up paying more in the form of higher retail prices.

These taxes seem to decrease soda consumption. A recent study showed that soda purchases in Philadelphia dropped by 1 billion ounces in 2017, which was the first year of the soda tax.

​Does sugar cause cancer?

Although consuming large amounts of sugar has been linked to some forms of cancer, like esophageal cancer, there's no strong evidence showing that it causes the disease, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. But there is an indirect link: Eating high-sugar foods often leads to obesity, which, in turn, raises the risk of developing cancer.

To consume less sugar, the institute recommends several strategies:

  • switch sodas for flavored sparkling water without added sugar
  • opt for unsweetened tea
  • add colorful fruit like berries, melon and citrus to your water
  • sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa on your coffee beverages and skip the sugar
  • carry healthy snacks like nuts, fresh or dried fruit or whole grain crackers and cheese instead of sugary snacks.

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
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Two MIT students just solved Richard Feynman’s famed physics puzzle

Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.

Surprising Science

Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.

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Our ‘little brain’ turns out to be pretty big

The multifaceted cerebellum is large — it's just tightly folded.

Image source: Sereno, et al
Mind & Brain
  • A powerful MRI combined with modeling software results in a totally new view of the human cerebellum.
  • The so-called 'little brain' is nearly 80% the size of the cerebral cortex when it's unfolded.
  • This part of the brain is associated with a lot of things, and a new virtual map is suitably chaotic and complex.

Just under our brain's cortex and close to our brain stem sits the cerebellum, also known as the "little brain." It's an organ many animals have, and we're still learning what it does in humans. It's long been thought to be involved in sensory input and motor control, but recent studies suggests it also plays a role in a lot of other things, including emotion, thought, and pain. After all, about half of the brain's neurons reside there. But it's so small. Except it's not, according to a new study from San Diego State University (SDSU) published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

A neural crêpe

A new imaging study led by psychology professor and cognitive neuroscientist Martin Sereno of the SDSU MRI Imaging Center reveals that the cerebellum is actually an intricately folded organ that has a surface area equal in size to 78 percent of the cerebral cortex. Sereno, a pioneer in MRI brain imaging, collaborated with other experts from the U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands.

So what does it look like? Unfolded, the cerebellum is reminiscent of a crêpe, according to Sereno, about four inches wide and three feet long.

The team didn't physically unfold a cerebellum in their research. Instead, they worked with brain scans from a 9.4 Tesla MRI machine, and virtually unfolded and mapped the organ. Custom software was developed for the project, based on the open-source FreeSurfer app developed by Sereno and others. Their model allowed the scientists to unpack the virtual cerebellum down to each individual fold, or "folia."

Study's cross-sections of a folded cerebellum

Image source: Sereno, et al.

A complicated map

Sereno tells SDSU NewsCenter that "Until now we only had crude models of what it looked like. We now have a complete map or surface representation of the cerebellum, much like cities, counties, and states."

That map is a bit surprising, too, in that regions associated with different functions are scattered across the organ in peculiar ways, unlike the cortex where it's all pretty orderly. "You get a little chunk of the lip, next to a chunk of the shoulder or face, like jumbled puzzle pieces," says Sereno. This may have to do with the fact that when the cerebellum is folded, its elements line up differently than they do when the organ is unfolded.

It seems the folded structure of the cerebellum is a configuration that facilitates access to information coming from places all over the body. Sereno says, "Now that we have the first high resolution base map of the human cerebellum, there are many possibilities for researchers to start filling in what is certain to be a complex quilt of inputs, from many different parts of the cerebral cortex in more detail than ever before."

This makes sense if the cerebellum is involved in highly complex, advanced cognitive functions, such as handling language or performing abstract reasoning as scientists suspect. "When you think of the cognition required to write a scientific paper or explain a concept," says Sereno, "you have to pull in information from many different sources. And that's just how the cerebellum is set up."

Bigger and bigger

The study also suggests that the large size of their virtual human cerebellum is likely to be related to the sheer number of tasks with which the organ is involved in the complex human brain. The macaque cerebellum that the team analyzed, for example, amounts to just 30 percent the size of the animal's cortex.

"The fact that [the cerebellum] has such a large surface area speaks to the evolution of distinctively human behaviors and cognition," says Sereno. "It has expanded so much that the folding patterns are very complex."

As the study says, "Rather than coordinating sensory signals to execute expert physical movements, parts of the cerebellum may have been extended in humans to help coordinate fictive 'conceptual movements,' such as rapidly mentally rearranging a movement plan — or, in the fullness of time, perhaps even a mathematical equation."

Sereno concludes, "The 'little brain' is quite the jack of all trades. Mapping the cerebellum will be an interesting new frontier for the next decade."

Economists show how welfare programs can turn a "profit"

What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments?

A homeless man faces Wall Street

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A recently published study suggests that some welfare programs more than pay for themselves.
  • It is one of the first major reviews of welfare programs to measure so many by a single metric.
  • The findings will likely inform future welfare reform and encourage debate on how to grade success.
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Unhappy at work? How to find meaning and maintain your mental health

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