News from Experimental Biology

Senior editor Janet Raloff blogs from the 2009 meeting gathering dozens of societies together in New Orleans


Birth control pills can limit muscle-training gains
Mildly ‘androgenic’ hormones in some birth-control pills appear to sabotage strength-building exercise.

Some female athletes may pay a price for using oral contraception: lower strength gains from resistance exercise. These muscle-building exercises depend on lifting weights (like barbells and those in the big machines at your local gym) or working against tension bands and bars (like those in Bowflex devices).
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ED in women: Drugs for men might not help
Women can experience sexual dysfunction just as men can, but the little blue pill will likely not solve the problem, new animal data suggest.

Watch television, especially stations with a large male audience, and you’ll have a hard time avoiding commercials for pills that promise “male enhancement” — a euphemism for tackling ED (itself a coy abbreviation for erectile dysfunction). Well, it turns out that women suffer from ED as well, and for much the same reason as men, according to Kyan Allahdadi, a vascular physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia. Unfortunately, his new animal data indicate, women aren’t likely to gain the same benefits from the little blue pill and its kin.
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Mom’s exercise helps fetal lungs mature
Unique way of monitoring the fetus reveals benefits when mom pursues a heart-pumping workout

Studies have shown that pregnant women derive plenty of health benefits from engaging in regular moderate to vigorous exercise. But there has been some concern about whether mom’s fitness might be coming at the expense of baby’s. A new study now suggests that babies also show fitness gains, albeit it more subtly.
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George Roth and his team have been mining avocados for an alternative — MH (for mannoheptulose).
George Roth and his team have been mining avocados for an alternative — MH (for mannoheptulose).
Coming: Ersatz Calorie Restriction
Avocados may hold a key to longer, better health.

You’ve been reading about it in Science News and elsewhere for years: how you can live longer and healthier by cutting back on calories. Way, way back. And for much of the rest of your life.
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Apple a day may keep cardiologist at bay
Apple a day may keep cardiologist at bay
Apple a day may keep cardiologists at bay
Nutrition scientists think apples might replace some drugs as a way of limiting heart disease.

Researchers at Florida State University have an all-natural alternative to statins and other cholesterol lowering drugs: apples. And owing to their natural anti-inflammatory agents, these popular fruits might one day even take the place of baby aspirins for the senior set.

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To limit sweet indulgences — chew, chew, chew
A new study suggests chewing gum might serve as a potential diet aid.

Chewing sugarless gum throughout the afternoon can significantly curb your cravings for sweet snacks. Gum chewing also makes people feel more energetic and alert through the p.m. doldrums than when they pass the hours gumfree. And when gum chewers do snack, they consume fewer calories than on gum-less days.

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Some data doesn't confirm what we expected.
Some data doesn’t confirm what we expected.
Counterintuitive nutrition findings
Some data don’t confirm what we expected
Results from several new studies or data analyses presented today at the Experimental Biology meeting here in New Orleans caught my eye — precisely because they didn’t conclude what I would have expected. Here are two. Their authors aren’t exactly sure what to make of their data. Maybe they’ll make sense to you. Read more .
Janet Raloff

Janet Raloff is the editor of Science News for Students, a daily online magazine for middle school students. She started at Science News in 1977 as the environment and policy writer.

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