What's the buzz

Nail polishes may up diabetes risk

A new study has found an association between increased concentrations of phthalates in the body and an increased risk of diabetes in women.

Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products such as moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes. They are also used in adhesives, electronics, toys and a variety of other products.

Researchers, lead by Tamarra James-Todd, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), analysed urinary concentrations of phthalates in 2,350 women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that women with higher levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to have diabetes.

Specifically: Women who had the highest levels of the chemicals mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate had almost twice the risk of diabetes compared to women with the lowest levels of those chemicals.

Women with higher than median levels of the chemical mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate had approximately a 60 percent increased risk of diabetes.

Women with moderately high levels of the chemicals mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate had approximately a 70 percent increased risk of diabetes.

Soon, mind-reading helmet that can reveal your crimes

A new website-less company is developing a technology that promises to peek into a person’s brain to reveal some of their secrets.

Veritas Scientific’s CEO, Eric Elbot’s device is a futuristic motorcycle-type helmet containing metal brush sensors that will read brain activity as images.

Scientists have shown that familiar images prompt spikes of electrical brain activity that indicate recognition. Recognition indicates memory, and memory implies knowledge.
Veritas’s goal is to create an electroencephalogram (EEG) helmet with a slideshow of images that could reliably help to identify an enemy.

“The last realm of privacy is your mind,” Discovery News quoted Elbot as telling IEEE Spectrum.

The helmet would be similar to a motorcycle helmet, though I’m envisioning more of a Daft Punk-style head piece. However, there will be no Digital Love pumping through the helmet, only metal brush sensors that will read brain activity as it responds to images flashed across the visor.

Childhood trauma may up risk of smoking in women

Women who had been physically or emotionally abused are more likely to smoke, a new study has suggested.

The research explained how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can be tied up with adult smoking patterns, especially for women, and suggests that treatment and strategies to stop smoking need to take into account the psychological effects of childhood trauma.

In one of the largest studies of ACEs survey over 60 percent of adults reported a history of at least one event. ACEs are thought to have a long term effect on the development of children and can lead to unhealthy coping behaviour later in life.  Since psychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety, are known to increase the risk of smoking, researchers across the USA collaborated to investigate the effects of psychological distress on the relationship between ACE and current adult smoking.

Even after adjusting the data for factors known to affect a person's propensity for smoking, such as their parents smoking during the subject's childhood, and whether or not they had drunk alcohol in the previous month), women who had been physically or emotionally abused were 1.4 times more likely to smoke.

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