Discovered: Omega-3s make cow dairy more nutritious; protons are just a tiny bit smaller than we thought, and that has huge implications; HIV's ancient origins; ADHD medicine is putting more people in the emergency room.
Cows given health food produce healthier milk. Flaxseeds—those Omega-3 fatty acid-rich morsels found in such abundance at Whole Foods—can make cows produce more nutritious milk, according to a new study from Oregon State University researcher Gerd Bobe. He and his colleagues found that cows fed a diet lower in saturated fats and higher in Omega-3s produced milk with the same texture but a better balance of unsaturated fats. "We were looking for a sweet spot," said Bobe, and that sweet spot turned out to be six pounds of extruded flax seed per day. "Too much of a good thing can be bad, especially when trying to maintain consistency with dairy products." Cows usually eat a mix of corn, grain, and alfafa in industrial feedlots. [Oregon State University]
Protons are smaller than we thought—and that's a huge deal. In physics, quadrillionths of a meter can go miles in the effort to making new discoveries about particles and forces. So you better believe scientists are paying attention to a study published today in Science that claims the proton is 4 percent smaller than what we previously thought it to be. The new study confirms previous theories that protons are 0.84 quadrillionths of a meter in radius, not 0.88 quadrillionths of a meter. "Poking at small effects you can’t explain can be a way of unraveling a much bigger piece of physics," comments Carl Carlson, a theoretical physicist at the College of William and Mary. "And this case is particularly intriguing." [ScienceNews]
Where HIV came from. The standard narrative has it that HIV emerged in the 20th century. But a new genetic study places the virus' origins in monkeys living 5 to 12 million years ago. University of Washington researchers working with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle examined genetic evidence of HIV-like viruses in a variety of primates. By looking at how these genes have changed, the scientists were able to trace the origins of HIV-like viruses back 12 million years. The Fred Hutchinson Center's Dr Michael Emerman says, "Our study reveals that, while primate lentiviruses may have modern consequences for human health, they have ancient origins in our non-human primate relatives." [BBC News]
Emergency room visits up for complications from ADHD meds. Stimulant medications used to treat ADHD have been sending lots of people to the ER lately, according to a new National Institutes of Health report. The study finds that between 2005 and 2010, emergency room visits linked to Adderall, Ritalin, and the like doubled. The problem is most prominent in people over 18. These ER visits account for half of stimulant-related emergency room admissions in 2010. "As treatment for ADHD among adults becomes more widespread, prescribing physicians (including psychiatrists and other mental health professionals) may carefully consider associated risks among those who have chronic health conditions and/or take other medications that may interact with ADHD stimulant medications," the researchers write. "A variety of treatment options, both pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical, are available for adults with ADHD." [Los Angeles Times]