Weekend reads: Live on the edge? Maybe blame a parasite found in cat poop, study says.

Ben Palmer's reads

Did you major in business? Cat poop may have been behind your decision. People infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is found in cat poop, are more likely to start their own business or major in business than their uninfected peers, according to a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The researchers tested about 1,500 students and nearly 200 people who attended entrepreneurship seminars, determining that 22% of the people had been infected with the Toxoplasma parasite at some point. According to the researchers, students infected with the parasite were 1.4 times more likely to be business majors and 1.7 times more likely to have an emphasis in "management and entrepreneurship." Among the seminar attendees, those infected with the parasite were 1.8 times more likely to have started their own business. The parasite has been shown to make rodents unafraid of cats, and researchers suggest the parasite might affect risk-taking behavior in humans.

The veggies most likely to lower your breast cancer risk, according to science. Eating fruits and vegetables may help reduce breast cancer risk, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer—and certain vegetables may be particularly effectiveFor the study, researchers gave over 182,000 women questionnaires to examine the relationship between their diet and their risk of breast cancer. They found that participants who averaged five-and-a-half servings of fruits and vegetables each day had an 11% lower risk of developing breast cancer. The risk reduction was especially strong with vegetables like Brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, kale, squash, sweet potatoes, and yams.

Rachel Schulze's reads

Would you like fries with that trash, Mr. Raccoon? A study by Canadian researchers finds that raccoons that can easily access human food waste are more likely to weigh more than other raccoons and have high blood sugar. Raccoons in the study that lived in urban areas had GSP levels twice that of raccoons that lived in rural areas. Lead author Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, a professor in evolutionary ecology at Laurentian University in Ontario, said the idea for the study was spurred by the popular conception of large, overweight urban raccoons. "Just Google 'fat raccoon' and there's so many news stories about how some raccoon got stuck in a grate, some raccoon got stuck in a garbage can," Schulte-Hostedde said.

What a panic attack feels like. As part of a series exploring anxiety in the Washington Post's "The Lilly," Ashley Abramson, a Minneapolis-based writer, reflects on her physical experience of anxiety. Abrahamson's physical symptoms of anxiety fall into two categories, "low-level, everyday symptoms"—such as jaw pain and nausea—and "acute situational panic." Abrahamson compares having a panic attack to "feel[ing] like I'm literally dying." She continues, "Having a panic attack feels like being swallowed by something so much bigger than me. When I'm panicking, I feel like I'm about to faint: dizzy, sweaty, racing heart, short of breath, my vision starts to fade, my legs shake violently." When panic attacks become overwhelming, Abramson uses prescription medication "to reset and regain control of my body and mind."


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