Allergies are a pain, but a new study suggests that they may actually be helpful. The immune systems of people with contact allergies may be primed to protect against some forms of cancer, including breast and non-melanoma skin cancer, according to a new study.
Scientists focused on nearly 17,000 Danish adults who were tested for contact allergies, when an allergic reaction occurs due to direct contact with chemicals such as acetone and common metals, including nickel and cobalt. People with contact allergies usually develop a rash on the area that touched the allergen within 24 hours.
About one-third of the study participants tested positive for at least one contact allergy, with women more likely to test positive (41 percent) than men (26 percent). The participants were tested between 1984 and 2008.
Scientists estimate about 20 percent of the general Danish population has contact allergies; In the United States, 30 million to 45 million people have contact allergies —or more than 10 percent of the U.S. population, according to an April 2011 Harvard study.
Researchers at the National Allergy Research Centre at Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Hellerup, Denmark, examined cancer cases among the study participants over the long term. The findings showed that men and women with contact allergies had significantly lower rates of breast cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer.
The study also showed that women with contact allergies had lower rates of brain cancer compared with women without contact allergies, though that was not statistically significant. However, researchers found that both men and women with contact allergies had higher rates of bladder cancer, which “could be due to accumulations of chemical metabolites in the bladder,” according to the study.
The lower rates of brain, breast and non-melanoma skin cancer among those with contact allergies may be the result of how their immune systems function. According to researchers, the findings support the immunosurveillance hypothesis — the theory that individuals with so-called hyperimmunity have the side effect of allergies. This hyperimmunity is what may protect against some cancers.
The researchers caution that the results show a correlation between contact allergies and lowered rates of some cancers, but do not mean that one caused the other.
The study was published on July 12 in the journal BMJ Open.
Flight attendants may have a higher risk of a number of cancers, a new study finds.
Researchers found that women and men on U.S. cabin crews have higher rates of many types of cancer, compared with the general population. This includes cancers of the breast, cervix, skin, thyroid and uterus, as well as gastrointestinal system cancers, which include colon, stomach, esophageal, liver and pancreatic cancers.
One possible explanation for these increased rates is that flight attendants are exposed to a lot of known and potential carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, within their work environment, said lead study author Irina Mordukhovich, a research associate at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. [10 Do’s and Don’ts to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer]
One of those carcinogens is cosmic ionizing radiation, which is elevated at higher altitudes, Mordukhovich told Live Science. This type of radiation is particularly damaging to DNA and is a known cause of breast cancer and nonmelanoma skin cancer, she said.
Air cabin crews receive the highest yearly dose of ionizing radiation on the job of all U.S. workers, she added.
In the new study, the researchers looked at data from more than 5,300 flight attendants from different airlines who completed an online survey as part of the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study. The analysis looked at the cancer rates in these flight attendants compared to a group of about 2,700 people who had a similar income and educational status but were not flight attendants.
The researchers found that in female flight attendants, the rates of breast cancer were about 50 percent higher than in women from the general population. In addition, melanoma rates were more than two times higher and nonmelanoma skin cancer rates were about four times higher in female flight attendants compared with women from the general population. (Nonmelanoma skin cancers include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.)
These elevated cancer rates were observed despite indications of good-health behaviors, such as low levels of smoking and obesity, in the flight-attendant group as a whole, the study authors said.
Cancer rates in male flight attendants were nearly 50 percent higher for melanoma and about 10 percent higher for nonmelanoma skin cancers compared with men from the general population group, according to the findings.
Risks of very frequent flying
The potential cancer risks for flight attendants are not limited to cosmic ionizing radiation. Cabin crew members are also regularly exposed to more UV radiation than the general population, which can make these workers more vulnerable to skin cancers, Mordukhovich said.
In addition, some studies have found that circadian rhythm disruptions, such as jet lag, might be linked with an increased risk of cancer, she said. These disruptions could lead to changes in immune function and cell metabolism, which can reduce the suppression of tumors.
Another possible threat to the health of cabin crew members is chemical exposure, according to the study. The women and men who worked as flight attendants prior to 1988, when smoking was first banned on some U.S. flights, were routinely exposed to secondhand smoke while on board the aircraft.
Other chemical contaminants found in the cabin may include engine leakages, pesticides and flame retardants, which contain compounds that may act as hormone disruptors and increase the risk of some cancers, Mordukhovich said.
Further complicating matters is that flight attendants in the U.S. don’t have the same occupational protections as their counterparts in the European Union. There, exposure levels to radiation as well as work schedules are routinely monitored and adjusted to make sure flight attendants don’t exceed certain guidelines for carcinogen exposure, Mordukhovich said. [5 Real Hazards of Air Travel]
There has been only limited research on the health of flight attendants, but they may not be the only air travelers to experience higher rates of cancer. The rates may also be higher for pilots and people who fly often as passengers, Mordukhovich said. Studies of pilots have generally shown higher rates of skin and prostate cancers, she noted, adding that pilots also have been found to have circadian rhythm disruption, but these workers have somewhat more built-in protections around their scheduling and rest times than flight attendants do.
Although the cancer risks for frequent flyers have not yet been studied, there is no reason to suspect these people would not have similar risks as those faced by cabin crews, Mordukhovich said.
Some limitations of the study are that researchers were not able to take into consideration individual UV exposures, such as sunbathing habits or leisure-time activities, which could influence skin cancer risk. In addition, cancer rates were self-reported by study participants, and these diagnoses were not confirmed by a check of their medical records by the researchers, according to the study.
How to dominate the universe in three easy steps …
Step 1: Harvest all of your planet’s resources.
Step 2: Harvest all of your nearest star’s energy.
Step 3: Harvest all the energy from all the stars in your local galaxy; then move on to another galaxy.
Congratulations! Your species now has all the elbow room it needs to grow into a universal superpower.
That’s one Russian astronomer’s perspective, anyway. Astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev first proposed these three phases (called Level I, II and III) of galactic expansion — which he referred to as the three “types” of technologically advanced civilizations — in 1962 as a way to measure the energy consumption of increasingly powerful societies. Recently, a paper posted June 13 to the preprint journal arXiv.org has revived Kardashev’s model and added a new, apocalyptic twist. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Aliens]
According to the author of the paper, Dan Hooper — a senior scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago — harvesting energy from distant stars isn’t just the best way to increase a civilization’s available resources. It’s also the only way to prevent the ever-expanding universe from leaving that civilization totally alone in the vastness of space. (This study has yet to be peer-reviewed.)
“The presence of dark energy in our universe is causing space to expandat an accelerating rate,” Hooper wrote in the new paper. Over the next approximately 100 billion years, the stars beyond our Local Group, or a group of gravitationally bound galaxies that includes the Milky Way, will fall beyond the cosmic horizon, meaning an observer here could never retrieve information from them over the course of the age of the universe.
At that point, “the stars become not only unobservable, but entirely inaccessible, thus limiting how much energy could one day be extracted from them,” Hooper wrote in the paper.
Any advanced civilization worth their starships would understand the grim reality of universal expansion, Hooper wrote, and they wouldn’t just sit around idly while the universe literally passed them by. Rather, they would capture stars from other galaxies, reel them in and harvest their energy first, before those stars (and their energy) became inaccessible forever. [12 Possible Reasons We Haven’t Found Aliens]
“Given the inevitability of the encroaching horizon, any sufficiently advanced civilization that is determined to maximize its ability to utilize energy will expand throughout the universe, attempting to secure as many stars as possible before they become permanently inaccessible,” Hooper wrote.
So, how do you lasso a star in the first place? Scientists and science-fiction authors alike have pondered this question for decades, and their favored answer is this: Throw a giant net around it, of course.
This net wouldn’t be made of twine or even metal, but of satellites — a swarm of millions of solar-powered satellites known as “Dyson spheres.” Such a colossal cloud of harvesters could permanently hover around a star, beaming energy back to a nearby planet — or, as Hooper proposed in his new paper, actually use that star’s energy to accelerate the whole ball of fire back toward the planet that wanted to use it.
This may seem like a tall order for humans, who are still bumbling around Level I of Kardashev’s scale. (Carl Sagan placed us at about a 0.7 in 1973). But some scientists think there could be alien civilizations thousands, or even millions, of years older than ours who are already well into their Level III, star-harvesting phase.
And if another civilization has indeed begun rearranging the stars, it may not be long before Earthlings notice them, Hooper wrote.
“Those stars that are currently en route to the central civilization could be visible as a result of the propulsion that they are currently undergoing,” Hooper wrote. “Such acceleration would necessarily require large amounts of energy and likely produce significant fluxes of electromagnetic radiation.”
Redecorating the galaxy
Beyond watching for those stars being dragged unceremoniously across distant galaxies, astronomers could also keep an eye out for the unusual galaxies that have had their prime stars ripped away from them, Hooper wrote.
These hypothetical, star-harvesting aliens will probably be picky, Hooper noted: Teeny-tiny stars, hundreds of times smaller than Earth’s sun, wouldn’t produce enough radiation to be useful; significantly larger stars, on the other hand, would likely be too close to going supernova to be used as a viable battery. Only stars with a mass about 20 to 100 times the mass of our sun would be viable candidates for capturing and hauling back to the home galaxy, Hooper said. And because solar objects in that mass range radiate certain wavelengths of light more than others, alien star harvesting would show up in the light signatures from these galaxies.
“The spectrum of starlight from a galaxy that has had its useful stars harvested by an advanced civilization would be dominated by massive stars and thus peak at longer wavelengths than otherwise would have been the case,” Hooper said.
Humans likely don’t have precise enough instruments yet to detect these unusual light signatures beaming from the depths of the universe, Hooper wrote. Hopefully, astronomers will develop them before our sun becomes another flaming marble in some distant civilization’s collection.
[It is incredible to think that we are able to witness small events that occurred 100 million years ago. We get to look into a tiny time capsule and we can see what animal life was like! In the above photo, from another incident you see a spider that caught a wasp 100 million years ago. The story below is about a tick, and how a spider sorted it out … 100 million years ago. Jan]
For 100 million years, amber freezes a tableau of tick’s worst day ever
June 13, 2018
University of Kansas
This is the first time this kind of interaction between ticks and spiders has been documented in the fossil record. Even though ticks aren’t a typical staple of spider diets, spiders can occasionally prey on ticks in modern ecosystems.
This silk-wrapped tick subsequently was entombed in amber that may have dripped from a nearby tree. Its fate, literally, was sealed.
Credit: University of Kansas
One day in Myanmar during the Cretaceous period, a tick managed to ensnare itself in a spider web. Realizing its predicament, the tick struggled to get free. But the spider that built the web was having none of it. The spider popped over to the doomed tick and quickly wrapped it up in silk, immobilizing it for eternity.
We know the outline of this primordial worst-day-ever because the silk-wrapped tick subsequently was entombed in amber that may have dripped from a nearby tree. Its fate, literally, was sealed.
Fast-forward 100 million years or so, and that same tick was discovered by a German collector named Patrick Müller who was searching in Myanmar for Burmese amber pieces of scientific value. He passed the discovery on to scientist Jason Dunlop in at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, who realized it was an important specimen.
“Dunlop brought in Lidia Chitimia-Dobler, who is a tick expert at the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology, and myself because we’ve worked together on Burmese amber things,” said Paul Selden, distinguished professor of geology at the University of Kansas and director of the Paleontological Institute at the KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum.
Together with microscopy expert Timo Pfeffer, the team has just published a description of the tick in the journal Cretaceous Research.
“It’s a show of behavior, really,” said Selden. “Ticks already are known from the Burmese amber — but it’s unusual to find one wrapped in spider silk. We’re not sure if the spider wrapped it in order to eat it later or if it was to get it out of the way and stop it from wriggling and destroying its web. That’s something spiders do.”
Selden said ticks are seldom found in Burmese amber, though the few that have been discovered were proved to be among the oldest tick specimens known to science.
“They’re rare because ticks don’t crawl around on tree trunks,” he said. “Amber is tree resin, so it tends to capture things that crawl around on bark or the base of the tree. But ticks tend to be on long grass or bushes, waiting for passing animals to brush up against them, though some of them can be on birds or squirrels, or maybe a little crawling dinosaur.”
The researchers took pains to ensure the ancient tick was indeed bound in spider silk, rather than fungal filaments that sometimes can grow around a dead tick.
“We think this was spider silk because of the angles that the threads make,” Selden said. “Also, in the paper, we show a picture of a tick that started to decay — and the fungus on that tick grows from its orifices — from the inside to the outside. Whereas these threads are wrapped around externally and not concentrated at the orifices.”
According to the research team, this is the first time this kind of interaction between ticks and spiders has been documented in the fossil record. Even though ticks aren’t a typical staple of spider diets, spiders can occasionally prey on ticks in modern ecosystems.
“Just last year, I was on a field trip in Estonia and took a photo of a Steatoda spider wrapping up a red spider mite,” said Selden. “That was serendipitous.”
The KU researcher and his colleagues are unable to determine the species of spider that wrapped the tick because families of spiders known to catch ticks today lack a convincing Mesozoic fossil record. While it’s difficult to identify the producer of the fossil silk with any certainty, it’s safe to assume the spider’s behavior was characteristic of most known spiders in the forest today.
“We don’t know what kind of spider this was,” Selden said. “A spider’s web is stretched between twigs to catch prey that flies or bumps or crawls into it. As prey gets stuck, it adheres to the web and starts to struggle. Maybe some things can escape after some struggle, so the spider rushes to it out from hiding and wraps it in swaths of silk to immobilize it, to stop it escaping or destroying the web. This prevents prey from hitting back — stinging or biting — once it’s wrapped in silk it can’t move, and then the spider can bite it and inject gastric fluid to eat it or venom to subdue it as well.”
The amber that preserved the small drama occurring between the spider and tick from 100 million years ago offers a thought-provoking peek into the natural past, according to Selden.
“It’s really just an interesting little story — a piece of frozen behavior and an interaction between two organisms,” he said. “Rather than being the oldest thing or the biggest thing, it’s nice to be able to preserve some animal interaction and show it was a living ecosystem.”
[This is a fascinating topic. I had never heard of anything like this before, and it shows you how far the fantastic science of DNA is moving. At first I was not sure if this was a serious topic. But I checked out the 2 sources and this is definite science. I’ll be putting the 2 scientific sources below so you can check them out.
The idea that women somehow can obtain DNA from other sources and store that DNA in their own brains is incredible. Nature is fascinating beyond belief!
This is the first time I’ve come across this idea before. I have heard of something almost similar, but I can’t remember the word for it, so I’ll describe it. I have heard that apparently Russian/Soviet scientists discovered that if a woman has sex with a man of another race, that somehow it actually affects her body in some way and her body retains some kind of “memory” of it. I just can’t think of the term I was told. Perhaps some of you can drop some comments. The moment I see the word I’ll recognise it.
This entire topic of whether women can acquire DNA from sources other than their parents is fascinating. The strong suggestion below is that the only possible workable mechanism is sex. From these science articles that does seem like the most likely conclusion. But you never know what other twists exist in this. This would be a most fascinating topic to follow up on.
One explanation which I can’t make sense of is this term “unrecognized spontaneous abortion”. How can an abortion be unrecognised? Would this apply to a time very early in a woman’s pregnancy? I did a bit of digging and found this:
So it seems from the above that “unrecognised spontaneous abortion” may be much more common than we realise. So that appears to me to indicate (if I understand this correctly), that a woman could get DNA from a fetus she had, which aborted (knowingly or unknowingly). In the article published below, the (non-scientific) writer assumes that sex is the most common possible source of the DNA. It does appear to me as if there is a possibility that the writer below is correct in his/her assumptions that sex could be the most likely source of this DNA. Anyhow, the topic is fascinating and I look forward to getting more information/updates on this in the future. I’m very fascinated by DNA and how it works.
In the science article (above) from 2012 it says: “We report that 63% of the females (37 of 59) tested harbored male microchimerism in the brain. Male microchimerism was present in multiple brain regions. … In conclusion, male microchimerism is frequent and widely distributed in the human female brain.”
That is very fascinating. This seems to be quite common. But does this mean that every time a woman has unprotected sex that some of the male’s DNA can go into her brain? Perhaps not.
The first article above is from 2005. So I would think that by now there must be much more new information on this topic.
NB: A friend of mine told me that scientists often know things that can be quite shocking, and they keep it to themselves if they believe it could cause problems. He told me that he’d come across a reference that as far back as the 1940s, that scientists knew that 20% of the children of married women were fathered by a man the woman was NOT married to at the time. He said that the scientists kept this hushed up until the 1980s.
So I do wonder what information scientists have that would be of tremendous use to us? I suspect that with DNA and IQ and stuff like that, that scientists will be able to do all kinds of strange things that are almost beyond science fiction. Jan]
Women retain and carry living DNA from every man with whom they’ve made love with
Women retain and carry living DNA from every man with whom they have sexual intercourse, according to a new study by the University of Seattle and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The study, which discovered the startling information by accident, was originally trying to determine if women who have been pregnant with a son might be more predisposed to certain neurological diseases that occur more frequently in males.
But as the scientists picked apart the female brain, the study began to veer wildly off course. As it turns out, the female brain is even more mysterious than we previously thought.
The study found that female brains often harbor “male microchimerism“, or in other words, the presence of male DNA that originated from another individual, and are genetically distinct from the cells that make up the rest of the woman.
According to the study: “63% of the females (37 of 59) tested harbored male microchimerism in the brain. Male microchimerism was present in multiple brain regions.”
So 63% of women carry male DNA cells that live in their brains. Obviously the researchers wanted to know where the male DNA came from.
Anyone care to guess? From the women’s fathers? No. Your father’s DNA combines with your mother’s to create your unique DNA. So where else could it come from?
Through the study the researchers assumed that the most likely answer was that all male DNA found living in the female brain came from a male pregnancy. That was the safe, politically correct assumption. But these researchers were living in denial.
Because when they autopsied the brains of women who had never even been pregnant, let alone with a male child, they STILL found male DNA cells prevalent in the female brain.
At this point the scientists didn’t know what the hell was going on. Confused, they did their best to hide the evidence until they could understand and explain it. They buried it in numerous sub studies and articles, but if you sift through them all you will find the damning statement, the one line that gives the game away and explains exactly where these male DNA cells come from.
What are they so afraid of?
“CONCLUSIONS: Male microchimerism was not infrequent in women without sons. Besides known pregnancies, other possible sources of male microchimerism include unrecognized spontaneous abortion, vanished male twin, an older brother transferred by the maternal circulation, or SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. Male microchimerism was significantly more frequent and levels were higher in women with induced abortion than in women with other pregnancy histories. Further studies are needed to determine specific origins of male microchimerism in women.“
So according to the scientists, the possible sources of the male DNA cells living in the women’s brains are:
an abortion the woman didn’t know about
a male twin that vanished
an older brother transferred by the maternal circulation
Considering the fact that 63% of women have male DNA cells residing in the recesses of their brain, which of the above possibilities do you think is the most likely origin of the male DNA?
The first three options apply to a very small percentage of women. They couldn’t possibly account for the 63% figure. The fourth option? It’s rather more common.
The answer is 4. Sex.
This has very important ramifications for women. Every male you absorb spermatazoa from becomes a living part of you for life. The women autopsied in this study were elderly. Some had been carrying the living male DNA inside them for well over 50 years.
Sperm is alive. It is living cells. When it is injected into you it swims and swims until it crashes headlong into a wall, and then it attaches and burrows into your flesh. If it’s in your mouth it swims and climbs into your nasal passages, inner ear, and behind your eyes. Then it digs in. It enters your blood stream and collects in your brain and spine.
Like something out of a scifi movie, it becomes a part of you and you can’t get rid of it.
We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse.
[Nature is incredible. And we are a part of nature. We too can be incredible if we are correctly motivated. Jan]
Not all heroes wear capes, but most of them do wear masks. Even raccoons.
Yesterday (June 12), a daredevil raccoon in St. Paul, Minnesota, captivated the Internet by climbing 23 stories up a vertical concrete wall. The raccoon, now known as MPR raccoon in honor of the Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) employees who spotted the critter scaling a nearby skyscraper, became an instant social media star as viewers around the world rooted for its safe return to the ground. [The 5 Smartest Non-Primates on the Planet]
The raccoon rested on various window ledges during its daring climb (resulting in some amazing photos) and ultimately reached the building’s roof this morning around 3 a.m. local time. At the end of the day, MPR raccoon had spent nearly 20 hours scaling the concrete building — alone, afraid and totally bereft of food and water.
The raccoon has been safely captured, but many questions remain. Why would a raccoon climb 23 stories straight up instead of climbing down? And how is this even possible? According to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee Bryan Lueth, it may be a simple mix of instinct and anatomy.
“If I had to come up with a scenario,” Lueth told MPR, “I would say it was maybe holed up in an alley … ran out onto the sidewalk, and then there’s all these people around. It’s like ‘Ah!’ The natural instinct is to climb.”
Raccoons are notoriously skilled climbers. Because many raccoons make their dens near populated human settlements where garbage is plentiful, they’re used to scurrying up trees, chimneys and buildings to stay out of harm’s way, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFD) wrote on its website.
Nature has equipped raccoons well for this job. Sharp, nonretractable nails cap each of their long fingers and toes, and are perfect for digging into craggy surfaces like trees and cliffs. Unlike your house cat, raccoons can even rotate their back paws 180 degrees to climb down surfaces headfirst, the WDFD wrote.
This means raccoons can, and will, climb pretty much anything they can get their paws around — your car, your garbage can or even your modest metropolitan skyscraper. One famous 1907 study on raccoon intelligence marveled at the animal’s ability to climb the bare steam pipes in the laboratory “with as much ease as though they were the trees of the forest.” (The study also found that raccoons are ticklish … Science was different back then.)
“Digging into tree bark is certainly a little bit easier than hard stone,” Lueth said, “but there must’ve been enough cracks or crevices or textures where [MPR raccoon] could get a grip [on the building].”
While some are hailing MPR raccoon as the hero Gotham City deserves, it seems the critter may have just been raccooning the only way raccoons know how. And that’s good enough for us.
[I keep trying to tell people that a LOT more SECRET stuff goes on than they realise and it only comes out into the public arena when they decide it is time to tell the story! Secrets CAN and ARE kept SUCCESSFULLY, much more times than you can believe! Look at an unexpected side to a story you never expected! The real mission was to hunt for sunken nuclear submarines! The Titanic was just a side dish! Look at how this secret has been kept for over 30 years! It is only now coming out because the Navy has decided to tell it! Ponder that. These kinds of things are happening all the time across the world. Jan]
(Newser) – The story of how the Titanic was found is widely known, but some of the most interesting details are only now emerging, reports USA Today. A new exhibit at National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, reveals the once top-secret story. “The Navy is finally discussing it,” Robert Ballard tells National Geographic. Ballard is the oceanographer and Navy commander who found the wreck in 1985. The exhibit, Titanic: The Untold Story, explains how the Navy had commissioned Ballard to explore the wreckage of two nuclear submarines. The subs were resting on the floor of the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Navy wanted to determine if the nuclear reactors on board were potentially dangerous and why the subs had sunk. Ballard asked if he could look for the Titanic after he had completed the mission (which would be the first of two) because he believed the passenger liner was located between the two subs. Deputy chief of naval operations Ronald Thunman agreed, never suspecting that Ballard might be successful.
“I was a little short with him,” recalls Thunman, who stressed that Ballard’s mission was to study the sunken warships, not look for the Titanic. Ballard studied every detail of the Titanic and decided to seek not the ship itself, but the debris field. He theorized that the ship had broken in half and left a debris trail as it sank. He approached it as if he were photographing a deer hiding in winter: “I’d look for its footprints and follow its footsteps,” he says. At 2am on Sept. 1, 1985, submersible robotic technology began delivering images of the Titanic’s boiler. “We were at the very spot the Titanic sank,” Ballard recalls. “We were there.” Of course, the Navy hadn’t expected Ballard to find the Titanic, so when that happened, “they got really nervous because of the publicity,” Ballard says. The exhibit will be on display through Jan. 6, 2019.