from the world's big
Researchers at University College London link waist circumference with dementia.
- Researchers at University College London have discovered a link between waist circumference and dementia.
- Seventy-four percent of volunteers that developed dementia were overweight or obese.
- Women with central obesity had a 39 percent greater risk of dementia.
Mediterranean Diet Has Huge Health Benefits, New Study Finds | The New York Times<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f003c82b77eb38381dedb83ebf2e802a"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_JiKXdZwiIg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Co-author Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology and epidemiology at the university, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/23/health/belly-fat-dementia-link-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">sums up</a> the team's work:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Dementia is one of the major health challenges of the 21st century that could threaten successful aging of the population. Our findings suggest that rising obesity rates will compound the issue."</p><p>Dr. Dorina Cadar, a senior fellow at UCL and corresponding author of the study, suggests monitoring both BMI and WC status. Her suggestions include following a Mediterranean diet, reducing alcohol consumption, and regular exercise. </p><p>Dr. Richard Isaacson, the director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/23/health/belly-fat-dementia-link-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> that brain health and waist size are linked, especially for women.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Based on emerging data from studies like this, we are now able to clarify sex differences in dementia risk. Combining these findings with my clinical experience, I have seen greater impact on visceral fat on memory function in women, likely mediated by metabolic pathways."</p><p>This is another in a long list of studies linking obesity to cognitive problems, and serves as a reminder as to why <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a> and <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">nutrition</a> remain your best defense against dementia. Regardless of the conveniences of modern society, human beings evolved during times of scarcity. We're not built for excess. Our brains pay the price when we indulge. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Thanks to modern technology, we can reexamine our assumptions about ancient warriors.
- The 2600-year-old remains of a young Scythian warrior are now known to be female.
- The young warrior appears to have been around 13 years old when she died.
- The findings shed light on the Scythian culture.
Joan of Scythia?<p>The 2600-year-old remains were discovered at Saryg-Bulun in Central Tuva in 1988 when the region was still part of the USSR. Contained in a tightly sealed coffin made of larch trunk, the remains were mummified and well preserved. One report states that <a href="https://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/news/ancient-girl-amazon-warrior-no-older-than-13-is-confirmed-by-modern-scientific-techniques/" target="_blank">a wart on the child's face was still evident</a>. The coffin also contained a battle-ax, a quiver with arrows, a headdress, coat, and various bronze ornaments.</p><p>As the young warrior was presumed to be male, the researchers were surprised when they analyzed her genome and discovered the remains belonged to a young woman. Despite how common it is to see the remains of female warriors, this coffin did not contain items typically given to deceased women, such as beads or mirrors. <br> <br> Excavator Marina Kilunovskaya explained this to <a href="https://www.archaeology.org/news/8802-200617-scythian-mummy-genome" target="_blank">Archaeology.org</a>, "This discrepancy in the norms of the funeral rite received an unexpected explanation: firstly, the young man turned out to be a girl, and this young 'Amazon' had not yet reached the age of 14 years." <strong></strong></p><p>The research team will now attempt to get a more accurate dating of the remains and will use CT scans to try and learn precisely how this <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/new-dna-analysis-reveals-an-ancient-scythian-warrior-was-a-13-year-old-girl" target="_blank">young warrior died</a>. The various artifacts discovered in the coffin will also be analyzed for metal composition and preserved. </p>
Who were the Scythians and why did they have little girls as warriors?<p>The Scythians were the rulers of the Steppes from Ukraine to Xinjiang and the probable inventors of horseback riding. These nomadic warriors also had a reasonably egalitarian society for the ancient world. Many sources agree that cross-dressing was common in their culture, and some go so far as to suggest their <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=IR6yDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA218&lpg=PA218&dq=Scythians+gender+fluid&source=bl&ots=jNeRBBfbo5&sig=ACfU3U1BcS8vFzFafib6erkEjiUXaOs_qw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwibnrSzm53qAhWbAp0JHbn1CtEQ6AEwDXoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=Scythians%20gender%20fluid&f=false" target="_blank">idea of gender was fluid.</a></p><p>Across the steppes, women were trained to be warriors just as men were and could prove fearsome in battle. Skeletal remains proven to be female (about a fifth of all discovered remains) <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2020/05-06/fierce-amazons-more-than-myth-real/" target="_blank">often show the same battle injuries as males</a>. Burial sites with weapons and all the honors of a warrior are common for both sexes. Just last year, the gravesite of other <a href="https://www.archaeolog.ru/ru/expeditions/expeditions-2019/donskaya-arkheologicheskaya-ekspeditsiya" target="_blank">female warriors were found.</a> </p><p>They were known as a warlike people, and it is thought entire tribes participated in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYL5CLJ2prA" target="_blank">battles</a>. It was said that no nation could stand against them without outside help. However, they also made beautiful <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythian_art" target="_blank">art</a>, had an elaborate <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythian_religion" target="_blank">religious system,</a> and were known for their <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythians#Clothing" target="_blank">unique clothing.</a> They had no written language, but descriptions of their culture endure in the writings of their neighbors. </p><p>Even if the Amazons weren't quite real, they were based on an existing culture. As we learn more about how the Scythians lived and died, we're better able to contextualize the stories and myths they appear in. As with all archaeological discoveries, it also allows us to better understand where humanity has been, so we might make a better choice of where we're going. </p>
In spite of a government mandate, females are often treated as afterthoughts in scientific research.
- A new study finds that though more females are included in experiments, sex-specific data often goes un-analyzed.
- Only about a third of studies analyzed published participant breakdown by sex.
- Some researchers say considering females more fully as research subjects is logistically too challenging.
In 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a directive that scientists receiving NIH funding must consider sex as a biological variable in pre-clinical research on vertebrate animals and human cells and tissues. According to a new study published in eLife that looked at over 700 journal articles, the number of women included as participants in pre-clinical research has jumped from 28 percent in 2009 to 49 percent in 2019. However, it's also unfortunately still the case that few studies actually consider sex as a biological influence that may potentially affect outcomes, and that data from women participants continues to be simply combined with data from men.
Study co-author Nicole C. Woitowich of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine tells INSIDE Higher Ed, "In the last 10 years, there has been a major in increase in sex inclusion, but it's still not where it's needs to be."
What's missing in current research
Image source: Hush Naidoo/Unsplash
Woitowich and others see two particularly problematic aspects to the continuing disregard of sex as a meaningful biological research variable.
First, female-specific data is rarely considered in study conclusions, despite the fact that it may have implications for women's health. According to L. Syd M Johnson of SUNY Update Medical University, who was not involved with the study, "This becomes highly problematic both scientifically and ethically, because women, children, and the elderly also need medical care, and they shouldn't be treated as if they have adult, male bodies. When they are excluded from research, and from the reported results, treatment for them becomes, effectively, off-label.
Second, Woitowich tells INSIDE Higher Ed it's, "troublesome to me as a scientist [that] a little under one-third [of studies] did not even report the number of males and females used as subjects." This makes it impossible for scientists to replicate the results. "If I don't have all the information," Woitowich says, "I'm left guessing."
On top of that, Woitowich laments that too much of the female-focused research that is undertaken is what's been called "bikini science," research surrounding issues related to female reproductive organs.
Why is this happening?
Image source: Image Point Fr/Shutterstock
"Many scientists, I don't even know if this is on their radar," says Woitowich. She proposes, therefore, that in the short term it may be the research gatekeepers — the funding entities, journal editors, and peer reviewers — who will have to step up and demand more inclusive science. She expresses surprise that they aren't already doing more to enforce the NIH's mandate. In the longer term, training for medical students should include a fuller awareness of the role that can be played by sex differences in research.
In a 2014 letter to the journal Nature, Janine A. Clayton and Francis S. Collins of the NIH admitted the problem even extends to female researchers. Noting that roughly half of the scientists doing NIH-funded research are women: "There has not been a corresponding revolution in experimental design and analyses in cell and animal research — despite multiple calls to action."
Another possible explanation
Image source: Ousa Chea/Unsplash
There are some researchers who feel that a greater inclusion of women and their data in studies would unnecessarily complicate the problems inherent in designing research and getting it funded.
In a 2015 letter to the journal Science, a group of researchers wrote that sex considerations added an additional investigational layer to research, one that was often irrelevant to the purpose of a research project. They asserted that, "nonhypothesis-driven documentation of sex differences in basic laboratory research is more likely to introduce conceptual and empirical problems in research on sex and gender than bring new clarity to differences in men's and women's health outcomes."
The writers also suggested that sex may be less of a biological variable than gender and weight. If, for example, women are more likely to be taking multiple pharmaceuticals than men and tend to be lighter in weight, these factors may be more influential on experiment outcomes than sex. Reluctant to commit to considering sex as a variable, they suggested instead two generalized studies to determine if it should be, writing, "we see a stronger empirical basis for directed funding initiatives in two areas: scientific validation of preclinical models for studying human sex differences, and human studies of the interaction of sex- and gender-related variables in producing health outcomes that vary by sex."
Image source: Valeriy Lebedev/Shutterstock
A 2019 analysis by Harvard University's GenderSci Lab found that basic science researchers, "repeated again and again that their experiments were in large part constrained by practicalities of various sorts. These practicalities were often used to explain why they don't or can't account for sex in their research," says the lab's Annika Gompers. Among the practicalities noted were the acquisition of study materials such as cells from deceased patients, test animals, fat from cosmetic surgery patients, and so on. Gompers said researchers often simply work with what they can get.
She adds, "While my participants recognize that considering sex can be important for the generalizability of results, in practice it is often impractical if not impossible to incorporate sex as a variable into biomedical research. Such a finding is consistent with scholars who have long looked at science as practice and observed how practicalities — as mundane as the availability of materials — are often central to the reduction of complexity into 'doable problems.'"
As far as sample composition goes, the choice of subjects may have to do with researchers wanting to avoid the constraints and costs of the safety regulations that accompany studies of pregnant women, women of child-bearing age whom may become pregnant, children, and the elderly.
Finally, though it may be that having enough females in a sample to draw valid conclusions would likely require larger participant cohorts. Woitowich's co-author, Smith College's Anneliese Beery, says that fears of doubled sample sizes are overblown, asserting that such increases in participant numbers would be "not actually necessary."
Avoiding wasted research opportunities
One of the authors of that Science letter was Harvard's Sarah S. Richardson, who suggests a sort of middle path, though it does give researchers license to ignore the NIH requirement as they see fit. Richardson proposes something she calls "sex contextualism," which is the "simple view that the definition of sex and sex-related variables, and whether they are relevant in biological research, depends on the research context."
Science journalist Angela Saini agrees , saying, "While it's valuable to include a broad spectrum of people in studies, it doesn't necessarily follow that the sex differences will be significant or important. So disaggregating for sex, while useful sometimes, doesn't always matter."
The above points, however, don't seem to acknowledge the potential for findings important specifically to female health, and seem more concerned with protecting the efficacy of studies that benefit males.
In any event, Woitowich finds that things are progressing more slowly than the NIH and others may have hoped. While Beery says it's "exciting to see increased inclusion of female subjects across so many different fields of biology," there are potentially meaningful scientific insights being lost. The disinclination toward fully collecting and analyzing female data for research experiments "means we are still missing out on the opportunity to understand when there are sex differences and losing statistical power when sex differences go unnoticed."
Women and girls must be front and centre of coronavirus response and recovery.
Evidence shows that disease outbreak affects women and men differently, that pandemics exacerbate inequalities for girls and women, who are also often the hardest hit, and that women play an outsize role responding to crises, including as frontline healthcare and social workers, caregivers at home, and as mobilizers in their communities.
A 12-year long study examines the differences between how same-sex and different-sex couples argue, with some surprising results.
- A 12-year long study by the Gottman Institute examines the differences between how same-sex couples and different-sex couples resolve conflicts.
- Overall, the relationship satisfaction and quality were about the same across all couple types (gay, straight, lesbian). However, the study did find some differences in how same-sex and different-sex couples argue, including using humor to diffuse tense situations, not taking things so personally during an argument, and offering encouragement rather than criticism.
- No matter the relationship, there are key points to be taken away from this research in how we can all strive for healthier conflict resolution in romantic relationships.
Heterosexual couples show higher levels of physiological distress during arguments than same-sex couples, impacting their ability to stay calm.
Photo by B-D-S Piotr Marcinski on Shutterstock<p><strong>Same-sex couples use fewer controlling and hostile tactics during disagreements.</strong></p><p>Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues discovered that, during a disagreement, same-sex couples are less likely to display belligerence or domineering attitudes than heterosexual couples. </p><p>"The difference in these 'control' related emotions suggests fairness and power-sharing between the partners is more important and more common in gay and lesbian relationships than in straight ones," Gottman explains. </p><p><strong>Things don't get as personal in same-sex disagreements. </strong></p><p>"In a fight," Gottman says, "gay and lesbian couples take it less personally. In straight couples, it is easier to hurt a partner with a negative comment than to make one's partner feel good with a positive comment. This appears to be reversed in gay and lesbian couples." </p><p>This trend suggests that same-sex couples are able to disagree without taking things personally, whereas straight couples are more likely to be offended when their partner comes to them with a conflict.</p><p><strong>Same-sex couples show low levels of physiological arousal, different-sex couples show higher levels during conflict. </strong></p><p>According to Gottman's observations, unhappy gay and lesbian couples were less likely to show visible signs of aggravation such as elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and jitteriness. Different-sex couples, on the other hand, had elevated physiological symptoms that signify they may have trouble calming down in order to resolve the conflict constructively. </p><p><strong>Same-sex couples are more likely to try to offer encouragement rather than criticism or lecturing when it comes to lifestyle choices.</strong></p><p>Your partner can have a very positive or very negative impact on your lifestyle. Gottman's study isn't the only research available that examines the differences in same-sex and different-sex marriages. </p><p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30052080/" target="_blank">A later (2018) study</a> suggests that same-sex couples are much more likely to try to influence each other's lifestyle habits (good or bad) with praise or encouragement. The opposite can be said for different-sex couples who tend to lecture or criticize to prove their point. </p>
Simple ways every couple can strive towards healthier conflict resolution skills<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3MTAwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjM3MjA1MX0.OaArbSg4ARcW43Qym-S9g8uEBNIr_WOgT87Fe7gQ7i8/img.jpg?width=980" id="b4e0a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="94dc27cb278e8eb5fe17baadb0613c23" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="two men consoling each other after an argument concept of same-sex conflict resolution" />
There are simple ways you and your partner can strive for healthier conflict resolutions in your relationship.
Photo by ArtOfPhotos on Shutterstock<p>While these differences in same-sex and different-sex marriages are important and interesting to observe, there are a few universal goals that should be placed on any couple trying to better themselves by striving for healthier conflict resolutions. </p><p><strong>Recognize your differences and take space from the other person when you need to.</strong></p><p>Each person brings their own experiences, opinions, values, and beliefs to the relationship. Acknowledging that you are two different people who are bound to disagree on things is a healthy part of any relationship. </p><p>Accepting and even appreciating those differences for what they can bring to your relationship should be something every couple - gay or straight - should keep in mind, especially during conflicts.</p><p>Julie S. Gottman, Ph.D. explains: "If you find that your heart is pounding during an argument, take a break. If you need to leave, you should explain when you're going to come back and rejoin the conversation. During the time when you're apart, don't think about the fight. Instead, practice something that is self-soothing (like reading a book) so that your body can calm down."</p><p><strong>Positivity and laughter might be more important than ever during disagreements.</strong></p><p>While it may feel strange to crack a joke during an argument, this 2003 study suggests that one of the reasons same-sex arguments may be healthier is because there is an air of humor and positivity to them. It's important to end a disagreement on a positive note, and same-sex couples do this far more often than different-sex couples, according to Dr. Gottman's research. </p><p><strong>Equality, understanding, and respect should be paramount in any relationship.</strong></p><p>Perhaps one of the reasons same-sex couples are able to resolve conflicts in a healthier way is because they aren't tied to traditional societal roles or the ideas of how they are "supposed" to relate to each other. This kind of freedom allows the couple to create their own dynamic. When possible, try to understand or sympathize with the other person's point of view. If you have two very different opinions on something, attempt to communicate your side respectfully and, perhaps more important, really listen to and acknowledge their feelings.</p><p>Respect and understanding are two crucial ingredients to a healthy relationship and these are things every couple should strive for.<br></p>