May 10, 2021
If you want to know about the wonders of a healthy pelvic floor, you could do worse than look to Coco Berlin, who styles herself “Germany’s most famous belly dancer,” writes Emine Saner of The Guardian.
Berlin started belly dancing in 2002, but it wasn’t until a few years later, when she went to Egypt to study dancers there, that she wondered why they were so much better. She concluded that they were seriously in touch with their pelvic floors—the internal muscular structures that supports the internal organs and prevent incontinence, among other important functions.
“When I connected to my pelvic floor, for the first time in my life, I had this feeling of embodiment,” Berlin recently told Saner in an interview for The Guardian.
It improved her dancing—before, she says, it had felt “like mimicry” – but also affected the rest of her life. She felt more confident, “I had the feeling that I own my body”. Her enjoyment of sex was greatly improved, and she felt stronger and less stressed. She thinks it is a prime reason why people assume she is much younger than she is (she’s 42 and, speaking over Zoom from her home in Germany, Saner says she looks like a woman in her 20s).
Berlin is about to release the English translation of her book Pussy Yoga, which shares her boundless enthusiasm for pelvic floor health. “Normally, the pelvic floor is only something that you get in touch with when you’re pregnant, incontinent, or have other issues,” she says. “It was such a fringe topic.”
But not anymore. Berlin’s book comes just as we are seeing an increase in the number of features in women’s health magazines about pelvic floor exercises (also known as kegels), apps (Britain’s NHS recommends Squeezy, which sets exercise plans and sends reminders), and devices that train you from the inside.
Indeed, the Elvie Trainer— an internal trainer launched in 2015 that enables users to monitor their exercise achievements via smartphone—has been ranked 41st among Europe’s 1,000 fastest-growing companies by The Financial Times.
There are podcasts, such as Why Mums Don’t Jump, which are aimed at ending the stigma around vaginal prolapse and incontinence; and other issues with pelvic floor dysfunction.
Nobody in the world of pelvic floor health would say the increased awareness is a bad thing—up to 33% of women will experience a pelvic floor problem—but numerous surveys show many women have no idea what it is or its purpose. One survey of 1,000 women found one in six didn’t know where it was, and a quarter didn’t know what it did.
“It’s a part of the body people haven’t been given nearly enough information about for years,” says Amanda Savage, a pelvic health physiotherapist. “The wonderful thing about pelvic health is there are a lot of things you can do that will improve the situation, through natural methods: exercise, diet, knowing how to help your bowel empty, knowing how the bladder fills and empties. There’s a lot one can do to help oneself. It’s a shame when people haven’t found out about those things they could be doing, and they are like, ‘Why did nobody tell me this ten years ago?’”
But could this become yet another body part women are supposed to be anxious about? With our outsides under more scrutiny than ever, do we need to start worrying about the insides too? “I think it’s everything in moderation,” Suzanne Hagen, professor of Health Services Research at Glasgow Caledonian University, who researches pelvic floor disorders, recently told The Guardian.
Research contact: @guardian
May 7, 2021
Although fairy tales featuring wicked stepmothers are an integral part of popular culture, the effects of blending children with their new stepfamilies may not be as grim as once thought, Eureka Alert reports.
In fact, new research demonstrates that stepchildren are not at a disadvantage compared to their peers from single-parent households—and actually experience better outcomes than their half-siblings. Wicked
Led by East Carolina University anthropologist Ryan Schacht and researchers from the University of Utah, the study has been published in the May edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
The study challenges the “Cinderella effect” theory—which contends that conflict within stepfamilies over physical, financial, and emotional resources leads to higher mortality risks for stepchildren, and is a main factor in higher rates of abuse and neglect. The phenomenon suggests that step-parents play a major role in this abuse, hoarding resources for their biological children and leading to negative outcomes for stepchildren.
Schacht proposes that previous studies have placed blame for the negative outcomes associated with parental loss on step-parents yet have done so through an an “apples-to-oranges comparison.” Specifically, they compare of the long-term outcomes of children who have suffered trauma like parental loss versus children from stable households. When the team compared stepchild outcomes more appropriately among those children who too have experienced the economic and emotional hardships associated with parental loss, they found no difference. Specifically, the introduction of step-parenents did not increase stepchild mortality.
“The idea of a step-parent, especially the stepmother, as being an agent of evil seems to be a story as old as time,” Schacht said. “It’s easy to sell the Cinderella effect’s result because we’ve been told these stories about the problems that stepfamilies experience for hundreds of years.
“We’re not denying that some stepchildren suffer,” he said. “However, if we truly believe it is the step-parent that is the source of negative outcomes for a stepchild, then we need to compare similar environments and experiences. A child that hasn’t lost a parent through death or divorce hasn’t experienced the same trauma that a stepchild has; comparing those two experiences and blaming the step-parent for diverging outcomes isn’t a fair comparison.”
The study compared the mortality of stepchildren whose parents remarried after the death of a spouse to children whose parents did not remarry and found three key findings:
- Parental mortality has a negative effect on children under 18 years old, especially for infants losing a mother;
- Children whose parents remarried after the loss of a spouse did not suffer a mortality rate any greater than children whose parents did not remarry; and
- Stepchildren received a protective effect when a half-sibling was introduced to their new family.
“The metrics of what makes a family successful—household stability, relationship stability, and economic stability—are achieved by step-parents investing in their stepchildren to make that a reality. Coming in with an antagonistic approach doesn’t make sense if step-parents want their relationship to succeed.”
The research team analyzed a data set of more than 400,000 children from Utah from 1847-1940. Schacht said the time period provided an opportunity to analyze stepchild mortality rates in families during a natural fertility period where families were larger in size and most stepfamilies were formed due to the death of a parent.
The study adds that children who have suffered parental loss have more in common with their peers from single-parent households, facing many of the same educational, economic and health care disparities.
Schacht hopes the study will shed a light on public policy funding for interventions for families that have suffered parental loss.
Research contact: @EurekaAlert
May 6, 2021
The Duchess of Sussex penned the book—scheduled to be released in the United States on June 8 by Random House Books for Young Readers— after originally writing a poem for Harry’s first Father’s Day with their son Archie, who will turn two next month.
Not only do both books feature a colorful cover illustration of a bench under a tree surrounded by birds—but one illustration by award-winning artist Christian Robinson in Meghan’s book shows a dad with his baby boy dozing on a lounge chair outside.The text says: “From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy.”
Some have claimed the image is similar to one in “The Boy and the Bench,” which features a birds-eye view of a dad and son on a bench, The Sun notes.
“Before you run out and waste money on the book by Harry’s wife, read ‘The Boy on the Bench’ by Corrinne Averiss and Gabriel Alborozo … The original,” one Twitter user wrote of the apparent likeness, according to a report by The New York Post’s Page Six.
Dozens of others soon complained on Twitter that the Duchess of Sussex’s book, “The Bench,” didn’t only share a similar title to UK author Averiss’ 2018 book — but also similar artwork from Christian Robinson.
One online critic, Emma Kaye Wootton, even suggested that the book was “blatantly plagiarized” and that Markle’s work should be “boycotted.”
Another British reader said, “This woman is incapable of an original thought. “The Boy on the Bench” is a story about the love between a father and son, and describes how the boy learns to socialize confidently. I hope that Corrine Averiss considers legal action.”
Yet another, “British born & bred @Dianne Zecher,” commented, “I find it quite a coincidence that someone else named Corrine Averiss wrote a book called “The Boyon the Bench” in 2018 about a young boy & his father. Surely the duchess wouldn’t have accidently [sic] lifted someone else’s work, tweaked it, & served it up to be published?”
At the time Cosmopolitan magazine noted, “Apparently, Meghan ‘helped produce’ (read: wrote an essay for) “The Game Changers” by Samantha Brett and Steph Adams about three years before guest editing Vogue’s Force of Change issue—and it also uses a grid cover with black-and-white photos.”
Meghan, herself, has said: “The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born. That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life. This representation was particularly important to me and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens.
“My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the make up, as much as it does with me.”
But, The Sun notes, royal experts have pointed out it comes at a time when Meghan and Harry’s relationships with their own fathers could not be more strained.
Meghan has not spoken to her father Thomas, 76, for three years and even embroiled him in a High Court privacy case.
Meanwhile Harry, 36, accused his father Prince Charles of being trapped in the Royal Family and told Oprah Winfrey in their interview that his family had cut him off financially.
A press release that accompanies the announcement describes it as a story that “touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between fathers and sons and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family.”
Meanwhile, the author of the 2018 book, Corrine Averiss, refuses to become involved in the ruckus—denying that she sees any similarities.
Research contact: @TheSun
May 5, 2021
It was a marriage made at Microsoft that produced three children, a philanthropic foundation—and now, after 27 years, a separation contract. Indeed, Melinda Gates says her marriage to Bill Gates is “irretrievably broken,” according to court documents obtained Tuesday by NBC News.
In her petition for divorce, filed Monday in King County, Washington, she said “spousal support is not needed” and a separation contract will determine property divisions.
“We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and find that our marital community ended on the date stated in our separation contract,” according to the document. It is not clear from the petition when the couple separated or if they had a prenuptial agreement.
Bill, 65, and Melinda Gates, 56, first announced their divorce on Monday, May 3, in a joint statement. The pair, who married on New Year’s Day in Hawaii in 1994, said that they no longer “believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in the statement, according to NBC. “Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.”
Jennifer Katharine Gates, 25, the oldest of their offspring, wrote in a statement that it has “been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family.”
“I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time,” she wrote.
The couple in 2000 founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private philanthropic organization which funds research and advocacy work across the globe, including in some of the world’s most impoverished nations.
Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and served as its chief executive until 2000, stepped down from the company’s board last year and has since focused the majority of his efforts on philanthropy.
He still owns roughly 1.3% of Microsoft’s shares. His net worth is roughly $130 billion, according to Forbes—making him the fourth-richest person in the world.
The Gates Foundation’s assets are nearly $50 billion, according to its financial statements, and it’s been considered the world’s largest private philanthropic organization for the past 20 years. It issued about $5 billion in grants annually during 2018 and 2019.
In their statement announcing their split, the couple—who are co-chairs of the foundation—said they would continue to work together in the philanthropic mission.
Research contact: @NBCNews
May 4, 2021
Brides and grooms won’t be dancing the night away at their Washington, D.C.-based weddings this spring and summer, Fox News reports.
In fact, on May 1, Mayor Muriel Bowser, announced that indoor and outdoor weddings this season will be capped at 25% capacity (with a waiver required for more than 250 guests)—and absolutely no shaking a leg, unless it’s to jump over a broom or stomp on a glass, as is traditional at Black and Jewish weddings, respectively.
“Attendees and guess must remain seated and socially distanced from each other, or other household groups,” the order passed by the mayor stated. The ban on dancing at all weddings, both indoor and outdoor, began on Saturday.
“It’s insane, it’s been an absolute roller coaster,” says Stephanie Sadowski, a D.C. wedding planner and owner of SRC Events. Sadowski says couples are being forced to move their weddings outside of the nation’s capital with just one or two week’s notice.
“They want to have a party. Planning their wedding, they’ve made concessions along the way; they’ve reduced, reduced and reduced their guest count in Washington, D.C,” she says.
In a statement to local affiliate Fox 5 DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office said it has the dancing ban in place as an extra layer of safety to reduce the spread of COVID-19, because when people stand and dance their behavior changes. For example, people are more likely to get close and touch each other.
“It’s very confusing why Washington, D.C., is singling that out,” says Sadowski.
It is unclear how long the dancing ban will be in place in D.C., but in the meantime Sadowski says her couples are turning to nearby Virginia and Maryland to celebrate their big day.
Research contact: @FoxNews
May 3, 2021
With a host of nutritional benefits and a taste that satisfyingly tops off everything from salads to toast, avocados have become a dietary staple of millions—but recent research results point to some extra medicinal benefits offered by the popular fruit , as well, Study Finds reports.
Researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, have discovered a new avocado compound they say may open the door for better leukemia treatments.
Researchers focused their attention on acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which doctors call the most dangerous variety of blood cancer. Most people diagnosed with AML are over 65 years old—and only about 10% survive for five years post-diagnosis.
Importantly, leukemia cells house large amounts of an enzyme called VLCAD, which is involved in their metabolism. “The cell relies on that pathway to survive,” says Dr. Paul Spagnuolo, Department of Food Science, in a university release. “This is the first time VLCAD has been identified as a target in any cancer.”
“Lo and behold, the best one was derived from avocado,” Spagnuolo notes.
“VLCAD can be a good marker to identify patients suitable for this type of therapy. It can also be a marker to measure the activity of the drug,” he continues. “That sets the stage for eventual use of this molecule in human clinical trials. There’s been a drive to find less toxic drugs that can be used.”
According to Study finds, right now, about half of all older AML patients enter palliative care. Others opt for chemotherapy, but that often does more harm than good.
“We completed a human study with this as an oral supplement and have been able to show that appreciable amounts are fairly well tolerated,” Spagnuolo concludes.
Research contact: @StudyFinds
April 29, 2021
Since the start of the pandemic, interest in growing mushrooms has … well, mushroomed, The Boston Globe reports.
And part of the reason for the toadstool trend is mushroom advocate and agriculturist Elizabeth Almeida, who cultivates organic mushrooms indoors on blocks of sawdust at her Westford, Massachusetts-based company, Fat Moon Farm.
The blocks are inoculated with mycelium, (or the white, hairlike tendrils of fungus that we often see on old bread).Then, they incubate for anywhere from seven days to three months, depending on the strain. The setting mimics the natural environment in whichre mushrooms thrive.
Almeida grows several varieties—lion’s main, oyster, chestnut, pioppino, and shitake—and she sells largely to chefs, but also to selected grocers and farmstands.
Since she grew up on a farm and foraged for mushrooms as a child, Almeida’s work resonates with her life experience. But surprisingly, and even without a green thumb, you can also grow mushrooms with a grow kit—and Almeida offers these too.
The kits are inoculated with the mycelium and already incubated. Spraying frequently with water, you can watch the fungi quickly emerge—from a pinhead to fully formed clusters that can later top a pizza or give depth of flavor to a pasta dish.
Interest in her kits has surged this year as people seek the adventure of growing something to create delicious meals, she says. “Sourdough bread is 2020. Grow kits are 2021.”
Most of the grow kits sold on the Fat Moon Farm website range from $25 to $40—and come with detailed instructions. The next, three-part, weekly, online course starts on May 1—and a “standard package” includes a grow kit and an eight-ounce bag of mushroom to enjoy.
Research contact: @BostonGlobe
April 28, 2021
Although once upon a time, going to the dentists was routine at best, now your local dental practice is on the way to becoming something of a destination, The Guardian reports.
At the same time, previously lackluster dental products—such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and mouthwas—are more likely to be deemed worthy of a bathroom shelfie posted to Instagram. Indeed, teeth and the right products and treatments for them, are now part of the self-care beauty boom.
There’s even been a rebranding of the sector. The dental aisle in your local chemist could soon be renamed “oralcare”. A recent article in Business of Fashion used this term and estimated that U.S. consumers spent $9 billion on oralcare in 2020.
Colgate also has seen a gap in the market. It launched CO.Colgate in the United States—a division that offers a range of products designed to appeal to a younger, fashionable consumer, without any familiar red and white logo. Instead, branding is close to that of cult beauty brand Glossier. Included in the range is a teeth whitening pen called It’s Lit.
While some might balk at the idea of $55 for toothpaste—and even £9.95 (US$14) for Moon toothpaste is triple the price of most on the market—it means young people can enter this aspirational new beauty world.
Along with shelfie-worthy packaging, they might be swayed by the growing niche of dentists turned dental influencers with large followings on Instagram, and videos on TikTok with people testing out blue-light products to whiten teeth. There are more than 680k videos on the app tagged #teethwhiteningchallenge.
The increasing interest in oralcare can be traced back to the rise of Zoom in the pandemic. “Zoom has been amazing for our industry,” Dr Uchenna Okoye tells The Guardian. “People are staring at themselves and they see angles, like the side view of their face, what other people see of them.”
Cosmetic dentistry, which can cost thousands of dollars, is part of a wider aspiration towards a polished appearance. Okoye sees it alongside the rise of “tweakments” like Botox.
According to Okoye, the most unlikely dental treatments—braces—are becoming status symbols. She points to the tracks of Invisalign, the premium braces brand with transparent, gumshield-like aligners: “Everyone showed off their Chanel [handbag], they’re now showing their Invisalign.”
Research contact: @guardian
April 27, 2021
A new color scale has been created with five different shades of “yellow,” each of which indicates whether we are properly hydrated or not, SWNS Digital reports.
Color experts from the Carlstadt, New Jersey-based Pantone Color Institute have teamed up with London nutritionist Lily Soutter and Scottish bottled water supplier Highland Spring to create the ‘shades of pee’ visual to highlight the importance of hydration.
The five shades of yellow have names such as “Dry Spell” for the darkest shade and “Spring In Your Step”for the lightest. The in-between shades are aptly called “Feeling Good.” “Glass Half Full.” and “You’re At Amber.”
The guide is unveiled to mark Highland Spring’s new 10-litre (338 fluid ounce) hydration pack going on sale, and comes after a study of 2,000 adults found 40%r cent are confused about how much water they should be drinking.
Nutritionist Lily Soutter points to the NHS advice on the health benefits of proper hydration and said: “Drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated throughout the day is important for energy, concentration, mood, and even exercise performance.”
But 43% of respondents said they do not think they are getting enough—because they simply forget to drink water (63%), get distracted by their day-to-day routine (42 %), or are too busy (15%), SWNS Digital reports.
Carol Saunders, spokesperson for Highland Spring said: “Our bodies have a built-in and natural way of helping us to know if we are drinking enough fluids. We know it can be embarrassing to talk about our pee, but it’s an important indicator to help us stay hydrated.
“So we’ve partnered with Pantone Color Institute to kick start that conversation, because for many of us, drinking enough fluids is the first step to feeling more like our natural selves in any self-care routine.”
However, more than 50% of respondents do not take a bottle of water with them when they leave the house and 23% of desk workers admit that they do not keep a drink at their desk.
One in 10 of those polled via international research firm OnePoll do not even have a drink when they exercise and 14% do not have one with a meal.
Whereas the benefits adults have enjoyed from keeping on top of their water consumption were found to be clearer skin (25%), feeling more active (22%), and reduced cravings for snacks (18%).
Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said: “Eating right and drinking proper amounts of water are critical contributors to taking care of our personal health and our overall well-being.
“Being able to collaborate with Highland Spring and their expert nutrition partner Lily Soutter to create a color flow chart illustrating the relationship between urine color and hydration levels highlights how the visual language of color can be used as an indicator to provide quick and natural insights as to whether we are keeping ourselves healthfully hydrated.”
Research contact: @SWNS
April 26, 2021
If police in Worcestershire, England, could “pull a rabbit out a hat,” they would: Darius—rabbit with long floppy ears who measures a record-breaking 4 feet long—has gone missing. He last was seen in his rabbit hutch in on the property of owner, breeder, and bunny aficionado, Annette Edwards.
Police said they were hunting one of the world’s largest rabbits, if not the largest, which went missing on the night of April 10, NBC News reports.
“We are appealing for information following the theft of an award-winning rabbit from its home in Stoulton, Worcestershire,” West Mercia Police said in statement on Monday, April 12. “The rabbit is quite unique in the fact it is four feet in size.”
Darius, who became a 2010 Guinness world record holder for his huge length, was stolen from a garden enclosure in central England.
His owner, Annette Edwards, wrote on Twitter that police were working hard to find her prize-winning pet—and that she had offered a reward of £1,000 (US$1,400) for his safe return.
“A very sad day,” she said. “Darius is too old to breed now. So please bring him back.”
The pair used to tour the country together with owner Edwards donning a Jessica Rabbit style outfit to show off gigantic Darius.
At the time, she said the celebrity bunny was insured for $1.6 million, had an agent, and traveled with a bodyguard.
Darius’ disappearance comes amid a spike in pet theft in England during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity DogLost said it saw reports of thefts rise by 170% in the last year—from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.
Pet detective Jacob Lloyd, head of investigations at Animal Protection Services, which prosecutes US1,000) to £3,500 (US$5,000) in the last year.
“It’s completely disproportionate to what we would normally see,” Lloyd said. “Opportunists and organized criminals have taken advantage in the rise of prices, and dog and other animal thefts have gone up.”
With people in England locked down for much of the year, Lloyd said the need for “companionship” while spending more time at home had led to the surge in demand.
In Darius’ high-profile case, a potential “ulterior motive” could also be at stake, pet detective Lloyd added—likely the work of organized criminals who knew his value.
The U.K.’s Policing Minister Kit Malthouse called animal theft a “vile crime,” in a statement earlier this year. “Let me be clear — pet theft is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment and it must be confronted wherever it occurs,” he added.
Singer Lady Gaga’s two pet dogs, Koji and Gustav, made global headlines when they were briefly stolen and returned in February, amid her public pleas and a $500,000 reward. Her French bulldogs were taken in a violent robbery in Hollywood, in which the singer’s 30-year-old dog walker was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Research contact: @NBCNews