Riviste scientifiche

Ötzi the Iceman ran out of rock to make his tools before he died

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 21:00
Ötzi the Iceman, a prehistoric man found mummified in a mountain glacier, was short of crucial supplies in the days and weeks before his violent death

Eating less red meat protects against endometriosis

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 17:59
Minimising red meat consumption seems to protect against endometriosis, according to a study of more than 80,000 women who were followed for two decades

Children seized at US border will face lasting health effects

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 16:55
The psychological and physical effects of serious trauma are likely to impact the children being separated from their families at the US border for years

Cocaine in the water makes eels hyperactive and damages muscles

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 15:01
There are low levels of cocaine and other drugs in many rivers, and lab studies suggest that European eels are suffering muscle damage as a result

The Milky Way has devoured 15 other galaxies since it formed

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 13:15
Our galaxy formed fast, and with an appetite. It’s devoured 15 other galaxies, including a big one nicknamed Kraken that we didn’t know existed until now

Robo bomb squads compete to gather evidence after a drone attack

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 12:52
Obstacle courses, simulated chemical spills, and IEDs are just some of the challenges bomb squads tackle with ground robots and drones at the Robot Rodeo competition

The New York bird with a song that may be a thousand years old

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 12:00
A walk in the Hudson Valley 1000 years ago may have sounded similar to today. A simulation shows the songs passed down by swamp sparrows can last a millennium

Stealth sheets can make you appear invisible to infrared cameras

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 11:00
A cloaking material renders objects almost completely invisible in infrared light and could have military applications

Black men are left out of cancer trials because of their biology

New Scientist - Me, 20/06/2018 - 09:00
Prostate cancer is more common in African Americans, but they are less likely to be included in drug trials. Unintended biological biases are partly to blame

The association of lifetime alcohol use with mortality and cancer risk in older adults: A cohort study

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 23:00

by Andrew T. Kunzmann, Helen G. Coleman, Wen-Yi Huang, Sonja I. Berndt


While current research is largely consistent as to the harms of heavy drinking in terms of both cancer incidence and mortality, there are disparate messages regarding the safety of light-moderate alcohol consumption, which may confuse public health messages. We aimed to evaluate the association between average lifetime alcohol intakes and risk of both cancer incidence and mortality.

Methods and findings

We report a population-based cohort study using data from 99,654 adults (68.7% female), aged 55–74 years, participating in the U.S. Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. Cox proportional hazards models assessed the risk of overall and cause-specific mortality, cancer incidence (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer), and combined risk of cancer and death across categories of self-reported average lifetime alcohol intakes, with adjustment for potential confounders. During 836,740 person-years of follow-up (median 8.9 years), 9,599 deaths and 12,763 primary cancers occurred. Positive linear associations were observed between lifetime alcohol consumption and cancer-related mortality and total cancer incidence. J-shaped associations were observed between average lifetime alcohol consumption and overall mortality, cardiovascular-related mortality, and combined risk of death or cancer. In comparison to lifetime light alcohol drinkers (1–3 drinks per week), lifetime never or infrequent drinkers (<1 drink/week), as well as heavy (2–<3 drinks/day) and very heavy drinkers (3+ drinks/day) had increased overall mortality and combined risk of cancer or death. Corresponding hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for combined risk of cancer or death, respectively, were 1.09 (1.01–1.13) for never drinkers, 1.08 (1.03–1.13) for infrequent drinkers, 1.10 (1.02–1.18) for heavy drinkers, and 1.21 (1.13–1.30) for very heavy drinkers. This analysis is limited to older adults, and residual confounding by socioeconomic factors is possible.


The study supports a J-shaped association between alcohol and mortality in older adults, which remains after adjustment for cancer risk. The results indicate that intakes below 1 drink per day were associated with the lowest risk of death.

Trial registration

NCT00339495 (ClinicalTrials.gov).

Developing cardiovascular disease risk programs in India—Why location and wealth matter

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 23:00

by David Peiris, Dorairaj Prabhakaran

In a Perspective, David Peiris and Dorairaj Prabhakaran discuss implications and challenges of cardiovascular disease risk assessments in the population of India.

Geographic and sociodemographic variation of cardiovascular disease risk in India: A cross-sectional study of 797,540 adults

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 23:00

by Pascal Geldsetzer, Jennifer Manne-Goehler, Michaela Theilmann, Justine I. Davies, Ashish Awasthi, Goodarz Danaei, Thomas A. Gaziano, Sebastian Vollmer, Lindsay M. Jaacks, Till Bärnighausen, Rifat Atun


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality in India. Yet, evidence on the CVD risk of India’s population is limited. To inform health system planning and effective targeting of interventions, this study aimed to determine how CVD risk—and the factors that determine risk—varies among states in India, by rural–urban location, and by individual-level sociodemographic characteristics.

Methods and findings

We used 2 large household surveys carried out between 2012 and 2014, which included a sample of 797,540 adults aged 30 to 74 years across India. The main outcome variable was the predicted 10-year risk of a CVD event as calculated with the Framingham risk score. The Harvard–NHANES, Globorisk, and WHO–ISH scores were used in secondary analyses. CVD risk and the prevalence of CVD risk factors were examined by state, rural–urban residence, age, sex, household wealth, and education. Mean CVD risk varied from 13.2% (95% CI: 12.7%–13.6%) in Jharkhand to 19.5% (95% CI: 19.1%–19.9%) in Kerala. CVD risk tended to be highest in North, Northeast, and South India. District-level wealth quintile (based on median household wealth in a district) and urbanization were both positively associated with CVD risk. Similarly, household wealth quintile and living in an urban area were positively associated with CVD risk among both sexes, but the associations were stronger among women than men. Smoking was more prevalent in poorer household wealth quintiles and in rural areas, whereas body mass index, high blood glucose, and systolic blood pressure were positively associated with household wealth and urban location. Men had a substantially higher (age-standardized) smoking prevalence (26.2% [95% CI: 25.7%–26.7%] versus 1.8% [95% CI: 1.7%–1.9%]) and mean systolic blood pressure (126.9 mm Hg [95% CI: 126.7–127.1] versus 124.3 mm Hg [95% CI: 124.1–124.5]) than women. Important limitations of this analysis are the high proportion of missing values (27.1%) in the main outcome variable, assessment of diabetes through a 1-time capillary blood glucose measurement, and the inability to exclude participants with a current or previous CVD event.


This study identified substantial variation in CVD risk among states and sociodemographic groups in India—findings that can facilitate effective targeting of CVD programs to those most at risk and most in need. While the CVD risk scores used have not been validated in South Asian populations, the patterns of variation in CVD risk among the Indian population were similar across all 4 risk scoring systems.

A huge number of mystery microbes are living on your skin

New Scientist - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 19:00
We thought we knew about most of the species in our bodies’ microbiomes, but a study has revealed a large number of previously-unidentified organisms

Special cells could let you control your diabetes with coffee

New Scientist - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 18:00
A cup of coffee after a meal might be enough to keep diabetes under control, thanks to caffeine-triggered cells that have been engineered to release insulin

IBM’s debating robot argues it out with human for first time

New Scientist - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 17:21
IBM's AI has taken on humans in a public debate. Though it made some very robot-like errors, the AI won one debate and lost the other, based on a crowd vote

Alien preppers could hoard stars to survive in a doomed universe

New Scientist - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 16:46
Dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe, meaning eventually all galaxies will be inaccessible, but aliens could be working on a solution right now

Time to end the cruel ban on using cannabis therapy for epilepsy

New Scientist - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 13:19
Ill-conceived and outdated drug laws in the UK are denying children with severe epilepsy vital medicinal cannabis treatments. That must change, says David Nutt

Football’s a mess: don’t let technology spoil that

New Scientist - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 11:00
The video-assisted refereeing technology being introduced in this year's World Cup will supposedly cut errors – but that ignores what makes football great

A robot has performed eye surgery on humans for the first time

New Scientist - Ma, 19/06/2018 - 10:00
For the first time, six people have had eye surgery performed by a robot that was able to filter out the tremors from a surgeon's hand

Efficacy of melatonin with behavioural sleep-wake scheduling for delayed sleep-wake phase disorder: A double-blind, randomised clinical trial

PLoS Medicine - Lu, 18/06/2018 - 23:00

by Tracey L. Sletten, Michelle Magee, Jade M. Murray, Christopher J. Gordon, Nicole Lovato, David J. Kennaway, Stella M. Gwini, Delwyn J. Bartlett, Steven W. Lockley, Leon C. Lack, Ronald R. Grunstein, Shantha M. W. Rajaratnam, for the Delayed Sleep on Melatonin (DelSoM) Study Group


Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD) is characterised by sleep initiation insomnia when attempting sleep at conventional times and difficulty waking at the required time for daytime commitments. Although there are published therapeutic guidelines for the administration of melatonin for DSWPD, to our knowledge, randomised controlled trials are lacking. This trial tested the efficacy of 0.5 mg melatonin, combined with behavioural sleep-wake scheduling, for improving sleep initiation in clinically diagnosed DSWPD patients with a delayed endogenous melatonin rhythm relative to patient-desired (or -required) bedtime (DBT).


This randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial was conducted in an Australian outpatient DSWPD population. Following 1-wk baseline, clinically diagnosed DSWPD patients with delayed melatonin rhythm relative to DBT (salivary dim light melatonin onset [DLMO] after or within 30 min before DBT) were randomised to 4-wk treatment with 0.5 mg fast-release melatonin or placebo 1 h before DBT for at least 5 consecutive nights per week. All patients received behavioural sleep-wake scheduling, consisting of bedtime scheduled at DBT. The primary outcome was actigraphic sleep onset time. Secondary outcomes were sleep efficiency in the first third of time in bed (SE T1) on treatment nights, subjective sleep-related daytime impairment (Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System [PROMIS]), PROMIS sleep disturbance, measures of daytime sleepiness, clinician-rated change in illness severity, and DLMO time.


Between September 13, 2012 and September 1, 2014, 307 participants were registered; 116 were randomised to treatment (intention-to-treat n = 116; n = 62 males; mean age, 29.0 y). Relative to baseline and compared to placebo, sleep onset occurred 34 min earlier (95% confidence interval [CI] −60 to −8) in the melatonin group. SE T1 increased; PROMIS sleep-related impairment, PROMIS sleep disturbance, insomnia severity, and functional disability decreased; and a greater proportion of patients showed more than minimal clinician-rated improvement following melatonin treatment (52.8%) compared to placebo (24.0%) (P < 0.05). The groups did not differ in the number of nights treatment was taken per protocol. Post-treatment DLMO assessed in a subset of patients (n = 43) was not significantly different between groups. Adverse events included light-headedness, daytime sleepiness, and decreased libido, although rates were similar between treatment groups. The clinical benefits or safety of melatonin with long-term treatment were not assessed, and it remains unknown whether the same treatment regime would benefit patients experiencing DSWPD sleep symptomology without a delay in the endogenous melatonin rhythm.


In this study, melatonin treatment 1 h prior to DBT combined with behavioural sleep-wake scheduling was efficacious for improving objective and subjective measures of sleep disturbances and sleep-related impairments in DSWPD patients with delayed circadian phase relative to DBT. Improvements were achieved largely through the sleep-promoting effects of melatonin, combined with behavioural sleep-wake scheduling.

Trial registration

This trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12612000425897.

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