- Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?
Randomly, I added several articles that took existing thinking around health and argued that they are wrong. The first is around sunscreen and whether everyone needs to wear as much as experts say.
At the same time, African Americans suffer high rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, internal cancers, and other diseases that seem to improve in the presence of sunlight, of which they may well not be getting enough. Because of their genetically higher levels of melanin, they require more sun exposure to produce compounds like vitamin D, and they are less able to store that vitamin for darker days. They have much to gain from the sun and little to fear.
And yet they are being told a very different story, misled into believing that sunscreen can prevent their melanomas, which Weller finds exasperating. “The cosmetic industry is now trying to push sunscreen at dark-skinned people,” he says. “At dermatology meetings, you get people standing up and saying, ‘We have to adapt products for this market.’ Well, no we don’t. This is a marketing ploy.”
- You Don’t Need Sports Drinks To Stay Hydrated
Next is an article about Gatorade. Do you really lose enough electrolytes while being active to need it?
Deborah Cohen, an investigations editor at the BMJ who was involved in the project and wrote a summary of the findings, recalls a study in which volunteers who fasted overnight were divided into two groups, one whose members were given a sports drink containing water, salts and sugar and another whose members received water. “People who were given the sports drink fared better,” she says. “Well, no shit.” If you haven’t had any food in 12 hours and then you get a bit of sugar, of course you’ll perform better than the people still running on empty. But to say that this means the sports drink is superior to whatever a normal person would consume leading up to or during exercise just isn’t generalizable, she says. “Who starves themselves overnight and then goes to perform some exercise?” And yet the BMJ investigation found that this type of study design is surprisingly common among tests of nutritional products.
- White gold: the unstoppable rise of alternative milks
And finally, there is a rise in alternative milks (soy and others), but do and should they replace cow’s milk?
We are all born milk drinkers. Babies’ guts produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, the sugar in breastmilk (and cow’s milk), into the simpler sugars glucose and galactose. But for the majority of humans, production of the enzyme lactase plummets after weaning. “From a human perspective – no, to go further than that, from a mammalian perspective – the norm is to be able to tolerate your mother’s breast milk, and then as you get past infancy, to stop producing lactase and become lactose intolerant,” said Adam Fox, a consultant paediatric allergist at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospitals, and one of the UK’s leading food allergy experts. “Then you’ve got a small group of humans that have a mutation which means they maintain production of lactase into adulthood. Northern Europeans, the Masai [in east Africa], some Arab groups as well. But that’s the exception, not the rule.”
- How chicken became the rich world’s most popular meat
On a similar but less controversial topic, here are some reasons why chicken is so cheap (and popular).
Fans of cheap chicken have selective breeding to thank. In the 1940s America launched a series of “Chicken of Tomorrow” competitions for farmers. The aim, as described by a newspaper at the time, was to produce “one bird chunky enough for the whole family—a chicken with breast meat so thick you can carve it into steaks, with drumsticks that contain a minimum of bone buried in layers of juicy dark meat, all costing less instead of more.” The result was something along the lines of the modern broiler chicken.
Since then chickens have continued to get bigger. A study by Martin Zuidhof of the University of Alberta and colleagues documented this shift by comparing chickens that were selectively bred in 1957, 1978 and 2005. The authors found that at 56 days old the three birds had average weights of 0.9kg, 1.8kg and 4.2kg (see chart). As raising a single big bird is more efficient than raising two smaller ones, it now takes farmers just 1.3kg of grain to produce 1kg of chicken, down from 2.5kg of grain in 1985.
- The Goalie Is a Hired Gun, and He’s Yours for $50 a Game
This was a strange article because it appeared in the NY Times but is a very Canadian topic of the Uber market for goalies.
Some even try to make itinerant goaltending their profession. Hamilton is one of those.
A musician who plays the vibraphone in a six-person folk band called Beams, Hamilton said he makes more money being a rental goalie than playing music in clubs.
He averages 10 games a week and keeps 40 Canadian dollars per game, paying 10 dollars in commission to a rental agency. His cut works out to about 1,600 Canadian dollars, or $1,220 in United States currency, a month. By his estimate, he has made well over 100,000 dollars in eight years as a rental goalie. And, yes, he said, he declares all of his income on his taxes.