July 13, 2018

Weekend reads: The health risks that the boys rescued from a cave in Thailand might face

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Think hoppy beers taste like Pine-Sol? Blame your genes. Genetics might explain why some people don't like India pale ales (IPAs)—hoppy beers known for their bitter taste. Anywhere from 25 to 40 different genes can change how we detect a bitter taste, and,on top of that, 25% of the population can't detect bitterness at all, according to the Huffington Post's Courtney Iseman. That said, if you want to like IPAs, there's hop(e): You can train yourself to like bitterness. According to John Hayes, director of the Sensory Evaluation Center at Penn State University, and Nicole Garneau, who has a doctorate in microbiology, immunology, and pathology, people who drink IPAs for reasons other than taste—such as social pressure—may subsequently experience "positive post-ingestion consequences, like having a good time with friends." This experience leads them to "learn to pair that positive reward with that [hoppy, bitter] taste," Iseman writes

    Cancer incidence higher among airline crews. Flight attendants have higher cancer rates than the general population, according to a study published in Environmental Health. Specifically, researchers found flight attendants had increased rates of breast, cervical, gastrointestinal, skin, and thyroid cancers. According to Irina Mordukhovich, a co-author on the study and research associate at Harvard University, the study does not establish a causal relationship between specific exposures and causes. However, she noted that flight attendants have "a unique mix of exposures," such as disrupted sleep patterns and "exposure to possibly carcinogenic contaminants" such as insecticides, flame retardants, and jet fuel.

    Rachel Schulze's reads

    'They survived it, but this will mark them for life.'  One of the week's biggest news stories was the rescue of a group of boys in Thailand who'd been trapped in a cave for more than two weeks—but the boys' ordeal may not be over yet. The Los Angeles Times' Deborah Netburn talked with a Roger Mortimer, California-based physician and a caver, about the health risks the boys might face after their rescue. Mortimer said, "In Southeast Asia," he "would be most concerned about ... leptospirosis." The disease "lives in rodents that can be transmitted by physical contact with water that has rodent urine in it—especially if a person has scraped skin." According to Mortimer, the disease can be treated with antibiotics. However, he added that "the biggest story" is the potential psychological effects the experience might have on the boys. "They survived it, but this [experience] will mark them for life." 

    The geopolitical significance of having an orange cat on your head. It was time for Polish historian Jerzy Targalski to give a news interview on what he "the controversial forced removal of Polish top judge Malgorzata Gersdor"—but the serious topic didn't stop his orange tabby cat from climbing his arm "like a personal Everest" as the camera rolled, according to the Washington Post's Amy Wang. While Targalski discussed the political significance of former secret police agents in certain countries, his kitty "nuzzled in his ear" and "at one point, curled its tail across Targalski's face," according to the Post. In case you haven't see the video, here it is.

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