Dog Origins, Macaroni and Cheese (Abstract Science: July 17 - 21)
Jillian Scola

Dog Origins, Macaroni and Cheese (Abstract Science: July 17 - 21)

Where exactly do dogs come from, can dementia be prevented and should you really worry about eating macaroni and cheese?

You (Probably) Don’t Need to Worry About the Chemicals in Your Macaroni and Cheese

(New York Magazine, 7/18/2017, Jess Singal)

Eating healthy is no easy task. While there is more information available than ever before about nutrition, it can be difficult to sift reliable sources of information online from questionable ones.  A perfect example of this was a recent article about “The Chemicals in your Mac and Cheese.”  But neither the article nor the study it summarizes offers solid evidence that there’s any cause for alarm about the quantities of phthalates — the chemicals in question — found in boxed mac ‘n’ cheese.  The mere presence in food of a chemical, even a potentially harmful one, isn’t necessarily a big deal — the amount of that chemical is really important. We eat trace amounts of all sorts of different substances all the time that, were we to eat a hundred or a thousand times more of them, might land us in the hospital.


We Still Don’t Really Know Where Dogs Came From

(Popular Science, 7/19/2017, Sara Chodosh)

Pinpointing the where and the when of dog domestication has been difficult. With recent advances in ancient DNA (aDNA) extraction and sequencing, it’s only natural that researchers would be rushing to answer those questions. A recent study looked at some of the oldest dog remains and performed genetic analysis to figure out how related they were to each other. Researchers have determined that their genomes were the probable ancestors of modern European dogs.  Their findings also suggest a single domestication event of modern dogs from a population of gray wolves that occurred between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.


A Third of Dementia Cases Could Be Preventable

(Gizmodo, 7/20/2017, Ryan F. Mandelbaum)

Rising rates of dementia have frustrated medical experts for years, but a new report appearing in The Lancet suggests that adopting certain lifestyle changes could prevent as many as one-third of dementia cases worldwide. The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care looked specifically at factors in early, middle and late life that could change dementia risk, and percentage of cases it might eliminate. The largest early life factor seemed to be education, where a better education in childhood could offer an eight percent reduction. Later in life, preventable risk factors include the usual, like smoking, depression, physical activity, social isolation, and diabetes. In midlife, those factors include hypertension, obesity, and surprisingly, hearing loss.


—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola