Why you should care
Because there’s great benefits in doing the opposite of what others expect.
From GMOs to that new car smell, it seems a day doesn’t go by without finding out something thought was good for us is instead really, really bad. It’s hard to know where to turn, what to eat, whom to trust! Well, we’re here to tell you the opposite can also be true. That there are things conventional wisdom has gotten completely wrong, such as multitasking. It turns out that it is good for the development of your brain. What about fried food and reality TV? OK, that’s still pretty bad for your heart health. But read on for the good news.
The pressures of modern life lead us to believe we must do more than one thing at once. Like talking on the phone, making dinner and opening your mail at the same time. Just as often, we find ourselves apologizing when something falls through the crack because, you know, we were trying to multi-task. And everyone understands that’s a bad thing, right? Well, it turns out it can be good for you—at least when you’re working out. Researchers from the University of Florida placed groups of adults stationary bikes while performing increasingly complex brain games. Rather than slowing down while completing the tests, participants actually pedaled faster. While it remains to be seen if these benefits apply to other forms of exercise, this much is clear: Multitasking could be the next fitness craze. Read more here.
Few people are more villainized than smokers today. Cigarettes can cause cancer and stoners, apparently, get little done. But a new study from the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas looked at the effect of smoking on memory and the results were shocking. The study involved groups of participants that were separated based on their type of smoking habit – cigarettes, marijuana, both or neither – and they found those who abstained from both substances for a prescribed period and then smoked weed at least four times a week and 10 cigarettes a day showed the greatest improvement in their memory. The study did have its limitations as it’s possible the outcome was the effect of nicotine jump-starting the brain after a period of withdrawal. But after so much research into the health hazards of smoking tobacco or weed, this study is the first to look at the impact on brain activity from inhaling both. Read more here.
Porn has no shortage of critics attacking it as a host of all evils, from degrading women to contributing to sexual dysfunction in the bedroom. Defenders of porn would seem to have a near-impossible job, then, but a recent study will help their case. Men who watch porn for up to 25 hours a week, the study found, are better able to achieve and maintain an erection than men who abstained. We’re not advocating a steady diet of X-rated films, but the finding certainly challenges the notion that men who watch lots of sex have trouble getting it up. Read more here.
Texting while driving? You shouldn’t do it. But texting to help boost kids’ reading ability is a big yes, according to a recent Stanford study. A program was designed to send parents of preschoolers weekly tips on how to improve their children’s literacy. Of the 500 low-income families who signed up, the kids whose parents received the tips scored better on early literacy tests. The program uses technology to bridge the gap between school and home and does it without placing additional burdens on overworked parents or by straining school budgets. Read more about the full cost of the program here.
Say the word “arsenic,” and most people think “poison.” And for good reason, since you can die from arsenic poisoning, the result of ingesting water containing elevated levels of the chemical. But researchers at Berkeley may be rehabilitating arsenic’s image with a study suggesting it can also be an effective weapon in treating breast cancer. Working with women from a region in Chile known to have extremely high concentrations of arsenic in the drinking water, the scientists found incidents of breast cancer dropped by as much as 70 percent when compared to a region with normal levels of arsenic in the water supply. Even more exciting: After crunching the data over a 60-year period, the team was able to replicate the effect — called cell suicide — in breast cancer cells back at the lab. With other studies using arsenic to successfully treat other forms of cancer in animals, the chemical might be ready to be re-purposed as a potential life-saver. Read more here.