An alternative to antibiotics'
A group of tannins found primarily in cranberries can transform E coli bacteria. In ways that render them unable to initiate an infection, say scientists at the Worchester Polytechnic Institute. E coli is a class of micro-organisms responsible for a host of human illnesses, from kidney infections to tooth decay. The study shows that the compounds affect E coli in three devastating ways, all of which prevent the bacteria from adhering to cells in the body: they change the shape of the bacteria from rods to spheres; they alter their cell membranes; and they make it difficult for the bacteria to make contact with cells, or from latching on to them should they get close enough, according to the researchers.
Burping out methane
Frozen bubbles in Siberian lakes are releasing methane, a greenhouse gas, at rates that appear to be “...five times higher than previously estimated” and acting as a positive feedback to climate warming, says an article in Nature. The author studied a unique type of permafrost in Siberia, called yedoma, which contains an estimated 500 gigatons of carbon, largely in the form of ancient dead plant material. “This material has been locked up in permafrost since the end of the last ice age,” she said. “Now it is being released into the bottom of lakes, providing microbes a banquet from which they burp out methane as a by-product of decomposition.”
All work and no play
A study, published in the current Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that the interns working arduous shifts common in their training are more likely to stick themselves accidentally with needles and other medical equipment. It suggests that doctors may also be in some danger at work, since needle sticks can expose medical workers to HIV and hepatitis. The study is based on a survey of more than 2,700 doctors in the first year of their internship. Each month, the doctors reported information about their work schedules and whether they had been exposed to any potentially contaminated body fluids.
Exchanging vows does help
Marriage, new research confirms, can be good for your health. Researchers surveyed more than 80,000 Americans and found that people who never married were 58 per cent more likely to die than their married peers. Compared with people living with their spouses, those who were divorced or separated were 39 per cent more likely to die during the follow-up period.