Meghan blabs: Tells friends she found royal life ‘toxic’ and ‘soul-crushing’

January 20, 2020

Life with the Windsors was simply a royal pain, as Meghan Markie is telling friends now—and it was “a matter of life or death” to escape the UK with Harry and baby Archie, The Daily Beast reported at the end of last week.

A friend told DailyMail on January 16 that Meghan felt that living within the royal confines was “soul crushing” and that she didn’t want Archie growing up within such a “toxic environment ….”

According to both newspaper reports, the Duchess of Sussex told her friends that “her soul was being crushed and that the decision to leave was a matter of life or death. Meaning the death of her spirit. She felt she couldn’t be the best mother to Archie if she wasn’t being her true, authentic self. She didn’t want Archie picking up on her stress and anxiety. She felt like it was a toxic environment for him because there was too much tension.”

The Mail also reported that staff at their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, are being let go from those positions and reassigned to other jobs within the royal household. Palace sources told the Mail that Meghan will never return to live in Britain in “a meaningful way.”

However, The Daily Beast said, cracks are now appearing in the couple’s delicate plans to move to Canada, amid signs that the royals might have overestimated the willingness of the Canadians to have an unemployed prince and his wife on their hands.

Indeed, The Globe and Mail, billed as Canada’s national newspaper, has spoken out against the Duke and Duchess settling in Canada if they remain tied to the Royal Family professionally. The publisher claimed Canada was not a “halfway house” for the Royals while they “work out their own personal issues”.

In an article posted online, the publisher said: “The Canadian monarchy is virtual; it neither rules nor resides. Our roys don’t live here. They reign from a distance. Close to our hearts, far from our hearths.”

What’s more, findings of a poll conducted on behalf of the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute found that a stunning 73% of respondents said they would prefer Canada not to pitch in as much as a red cent to the cost of keeping the Sussexes safe.

Michael Behiels, an emeritus professor of political and constitutional history at the University of Ottawa and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, said the Sussexes’ decision to move could end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

He told The Times of London: “They can visit Canada on behalf of the Queen but they can’t take on any other royal family responsibilities or live in Canada permanently or part-time. I hope that [the] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet fully respect the nature and scope of Canada’s Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982.”

Trudeau tweeted before Christmas that Harry, Meghan, and eight-month-old Archie “were among friends, and always welcome here,” but he may live to regret the open invitation.

Research contact: @dailybeast

Use it or lose it: Sexual activity may help delay menopause

January 17, 2020

It turns out that the old saw, “use it or lose it,” is true when it comes to copulation and procreation. Women with more active sex lives may experience menopause later in life, according to the results of a ten-year study conducted at the University College of London.

Published by Royal Society Open Science, the study found that women who reported weekly physical intimacy over a decade were about 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who reported less-than-monthly sexual activity, ABC News reported this week.

The reason may be because “ovulation requires a lot of energy, and it has also been shown to impair your immune function. From an evolutionary standpoint, if a person is not sexually active it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to such a costly process,” the study’s lead author, Megan Arnot, told the news outlet.

“Doctors have long known that there were many benefits from continued sexual activity,” Dr. Jennifer Wu, a New York-based OB/GYN who didn’t participate in the project, told ABC News. “This study highlights a new finding: Women who do not engage in regular sexual activity go through menopause at an earlier age. With the earlier onset of menopause, patients experience more loss of bone and adverse cholesterol profiles.”

The study doesn’t explain the exact connection between sex and menopause, but it illustrates a possible association. Further studies would be required to establish stronger links.

The study began with a look at approximately 3,000 women— 46%  of whom were perimenopausal, meaning they had some symptoms; and 54% were premenopausal, meaning they had no symptoms. Over the next decade, 45% of the women began menopause, at an average age of 52.

The women studied were described as having sex weekly, monthly or less than once a month. Sex was defined as intercourse, oral sex, touching or caressing, or self-stimulation.

“It’s the first time a study has shown a link between frequency of sex and onset of menopause,” Arnot added. “We don’t want to offer behavioral advice at this point at all. These results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant. More research will need to be done in the future.”

Research contact: @ABC

Release the clutch: Prolonged handshakes can trigger anxiety

January 16, 2020

When somebody has got you in his clutches, it’s usually not a good feeling, the Irish Examiner reports. In fact, based findings of a study conducted at the University of Dundee’s School of Social Sciences in Scotland, handshakes that are held for longer than three seconds can trigger anxiety, negatively impact business meetings, and affect the state of relationships.

There were two parts to the study. First, the 36 participants were interviewed about their work and career prospects. Then, they were introduced to a second researcher, who would either shake their hands in a “normal” fashion (for less than three seconds), in a “prolonged” way (for longer than three seconds)—or not at all.

The participants were unaware of the significance of the handshake throughout the study period, with their subsequent reactions analyzed.

Dr. Emese Nagy, a reader in Psychology who led the study, told the Examiner that the findings highlight the importance of introducing ourselves appropriately. She noted, “Handshakes are a particularly important greeting and can have long-lasting consequences for the relationships that we form.

“There has been evidence,” she said, “to suggest that many behaviors, such as hugs, fall within a window of approximately three seconds and this study has confirmed that handshakes that occur [within] this time frame feel more natural to those who participate in the greeting.

Nagy notes, “While shaking hands for longer may appear to be a warm gesture on the surface, we found that they negatively affected the behavior of the recipient, even after the handshake was finished.

“Politicians are particularly keen on prolonged handshakes, which are often used an expression of warmth but also as a means of demonstrating authority. However, our findings suggest that while doing so might look impressive for the cameras, this behavior could potentially jeopardize the quality of their working and personal relationships from the beginning, which could have repercussions for millions of people.”

The team found that participants showed less interactional enjoyment after the longer handshake—laughing less and showing increased anxiety. Handshakes lasting less than three seconds resulted in less subsequent smiling, but did feel more natural to those who participated.

No behavioral changes were associated with the no-handshake control experiment.

Research contact: @irishexaminer

Yusaku Maezawa ‘promises the moon’ for love

January 15, 2020

Japanese fashion billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is looking for that “special someone” to join him as he becomes the first private passenger to fly to the moon, Sky News reports.

Maezawa, 44, is due to travel to the moon in 2023 on SpaceX’s first tourist flight. But rather than go on his own, he wants to “visit such a special place” with someone who also is special.

Since he recently split from actress girlfriend Ayame Goriki, 27, Maezawa is looking for a “life partner” with whom he wants to “shout our love from outer space

His preference is for a woman who is “always positive,” age “20 or over,” and wants to “enjoy life to the fullest,” says the news outlet. She must be “interested in going into space and able to participate in the preparation for it.”

On his website, he explains that all applications for the date-slash-moon voyage should be entered online by January 17. Selection will be conducted on January 26 and 26; and matchmaking dates will be scheduled in February. By mid-March, candidates will be narrowed down for “special dates getting to know Yusaku Maezawa,” and he plans to make his final choice by the end of that month.

Maezawa, who made his money from fashion retailer Zozo, according to the Sky News report, is believed to have a net worth of US$1.8 billion.

In his online post, he says that “until now” he has “lived exactly as I’ve wanted to”, acquiring his “share of money, social status, and fame along the way”.He has “a passion for collecting contemporary art, Japanese antiques, supercars, wine etc.”

Research contact: @SkyNews

This woman’s stomach photo ‘might make you uncomfortable’—and that’s why she shared it

January 14, 2020

Many women have a “pooch”—not a dog, but a “muffin-top” stomach, caused by water retention, hormones, or a poor diet. Among them is Ashley Dorough of North Decatur, Georgia. The 35-year-old has seen her body change in shape and size over the years—however, despite the ups and downs, the mom of two isn’t being hard on herself. Instead, she’s celebrating her body by posting about those changes on Instagram, she told Health magazine recently.

On January 9, Dorough shared a photo of herself on Instagram, showing off the side of her stomach in a close-up shot. “This might make you uncomfortable to see, and if so… I want you to lean into that and think about why,” she wrote in her caption. “If I had six-pack abs would you also feel uncomfortable? This is an angle I’ve always avoided looking at in the mirror, even 100 pounds ago. But today I did it.”

Dorough told Health magazine that, in the past, she had suffered from disordered eating patterns and body dysmorphia. Because of her body image issues, she constantly felt inadequate.

“Thankfully a really busy career and a husband who NEVER commented on my body size kept me from going down an even more destructive road,” she wrote. “But today, when I finally looked … I was okay. And although it’s so incredibly different than what we’ve been taught is beautiful, I felt compassion and love for this skin and this belly and yes, even the overhang.”

She said that it’s important for her to see bigger bodies in the media, to help normalize body diversity among women. She added that body and fat acceptance helped her break her unhealthy pattern of disordered eating, and has made her want to feed herself in a way that feels healthy for her, specifically.

“So right now, I’ve had to hit pause from anything nutrition or exercise related,” she wrote. “Right now, I have to be okay with gaining a few pounds as I heal. I have to be okay with being a little weaker, because as much as I miss exercising… I know I’m not ready for it yet.”

Dorough’s message received a ton of love from her followers. Other women and mothers praised her post and shared their similar experiences.

“Ooooh yes this took me a long time to see when I first started deliberately making mirror attempts,” one person commented. “Getting past the uncomfortable part (which always lasts longer than we hoped for) is usually biggest part of our growth.”

“This makes me feel so many things, but uncomfortable isn’t one of them—I feel seen, I feel accepted, and I feel like I’m looking at a beautiful body. Thank you for all your transparency as you’re going on this journey. You’re changing hearts and minds,” another woman wrote.

It’s no secret that messages like Dorough’s not only create a positive environment on social media, but they’re also flipping the script on what it means to be beautiful. However, many dietitians and doctors might disagree. We welcome comments from our readers.

Research contact: @health_magazine

Cold comfort: The boys who wear shorts all winter

January 13, 2020

 

As the temperatures plunge this winter, a small number of teenage boys nationwide will continue to wear shorts at the bus stop, as well as throughout the school day.

The “one kid who wears shorts to school all year”: In regions that get cold and snowy in the winter, he’s a figure who is equal parts familiar and bewildering to kids and teachers alike, and his clothing choices present an annual hassle for his parents, writer Ashley Fetters said in The Atlantic last week.

To research the phenomenon, Fetters asked educators at her former middle school and high school in Minnesota—who readily confirmed to her that they can count on having two or three of him every year, arriving at school after braving the morning wind chill with bare calves.

In other words, the Boy Who Wears Shorts All Winter is a highly recognizable but largely inscrutable character, and when The Atlantic’s writer asked parents, teachers, child psychologists, and a former B.W.W.S.A.W., himself, to try to explain what exactly motivates such a totally impractical clothing choice, they all offered different answers.

A common belief among parents is that some kids just “run hot,” or get less uncomfortable in cold temperatures than other people do. One mother in the Midlands region of the U.K. said that her eight-year-old son must be “hot-blooded,” because he insists on wearing shorts to school even when it’s below freezing outside, claiming he “doesn’t feel the cold.” One of the educators I spoke with in Minnesota told me that when she asks her students why they’ve made shorts their winter uniform, the response she typically gets is just a shrug and an “I’m not cold.”

Matthew Saia, a pediatrician and assistant professor at the University of Vermont, said that he is skeptical of that notion. “In children, the average body temperature ranges from 98 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. So while there are some children who may have a higher average body temperature during the day than others, this one degree does not make a difference in protecting children from the effects of significant cold exposure,” he wrote in an email.

And when extreme cold or wind chill comes into the equation, Dr. Saia encourages parents to adopt a tough-love, no-you’re-not-leaving-the-house-in-that stance, because at “temperatures of -15 degrees or less, exposed skin can freeze within minutes.”

One perennially popular joke about kids who wear shorts all winter is that the persistent refrain of “I’m not cold” is the entire point of the habit.  The insistence has a boastful quality: “It’s attention-seeking,” an observer told The Atlantic’s writer.

Phyllis Fagell, a therapist and school counselor who wrote the book ‘Middle School Matters,’ largely agreed with that assessment: Particularly in late elementary and middle school, she said, kids “have such a desire to not seem like a baby.” And boys are “suddenly so aware of societal messages about what it means to be tough, and what it means to be masculine.”

Perhaps most important, Fagell noted that adolescent kids are in a unique spot developmentally, one in which they’re particularly hostile toward adults’ assessments of them. “When you are a tween, you do not like adults telling you how you feel, how you should feel, or what you should do, even. [Tweens] like to be treated like the expert in their own life,” she told Fetters. “If a parent says to a 12-year-old, ‘You’re sad,’”—or, for that matter, ‘You’re going to be cold’—“that can make them bristle, because kids that age don’t want to be told how they’re feeling. They’ll tell you how they’re feeling, thank you very much.”

Fagell advises parents to talk to their kids with curiosity instead of authority, and to keep an open mind.“Start with ‘I’m really curious,’ or ‘I’m wondering,’ or ‘I’ve noticed that you don’t like wearing [long pants] in the winter. Tell me more.’ What you might find is that it’s a sensory issue, that they say, ‘I don’t like the way the fabric feels against my skin,’” she said. “You might actually be able to work with that. You could be able to find something that would keep them warm but work for them a little bit better.”

Angela Mattke, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, Minnesota, also recommends meeting kids in the middle whenever possible, especially if shorts are simply more comfortable for the kid in question. “Sometimes a compromise like wearing sport tights under shorts will work for those children who want to wear shorts all year,” she said—and added that this is something she sees frequently among kids during the chilly Minnesota winter.

But sometimes, Fagell noted, kids just want to do things their own way, or for their own reasons—and in climates where the cold is milder, perhaps above freezing, Fagell advises parents to just “pick their battles … If they’re not going to [get] frostbite—say, if it’s in the 40s—it’s a dumb decision, but they’re unlikely to suffer real harm,” she said.

Perhaps the most important truth about boys who wear shorts all winter, though, is that they do—most of the time—eventually grow out of it.

Research contact: @TheAtlantic

Have a ‘cuppa’: 74% fewer tea drinkers develop glaucoma

January 9, 2020

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, more than 3 million Americans have glaucoma—the second leading cause of blindness worldwide—but in England, only 480,000 suffer from the same condition, the National Eye Research Centre estimates.

Could the Brits’ affection for a cuppa tea, rather than a mug of coffee, be protecting their eyesight?

According to findings of a study published in the British Journal of Opthalmology, drinking at least one cup of hot tea daily can reduce your risk of developing glaucoma.

The study, which was conducted by scientists from the University of California, involved volunteers who consumed hot tea at least once per day. Findings showed that regular tea drinkers enjoy an incredible health benefit: They were fully 74 percent less likely to develop a condition called glaucoma, according to a report by the UK’s National Health Service. .

Strangely enough, other beverages such as coffee, iced tea, and soda didn’t improve the eye health of the participants.

A person with glaucoma experiences interocular pressure, or a buildup of fluid pressure in their eye. This pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve.

For the study, researchers analyzed information gleaned from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an annual survey done in the United States. The NHANES aims to collate data and tests to provide an accurate picture of the health and nutritional status of adults and children.

The researchers reported that out of the 10,000 people involved in the annual survey, about 1,678 had full eye test results. Findings showed that 84 of the adult participants have developed glaucoma.

Meanwhile, almost half of the participants reported drinking coffee often. Fewer than 10% drank hot tea daily.

Tea, particularly green tea, is rich in antioxidants that have powerful benefits for the human body. Among the benefits of consuming green tea are the following:

  • It contains bioactive compounds—Green tea contains polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins, which are powerful antioxidants. These nutrients aid in reducing the number of harmful free radicals in our bodies, and also protect our cells and molecules from damage.
  • It can improve brain function—It contains just the right amount of caffeine to keep you awake without making you feel jittery. Green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can increase dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves indicate calmness and relaxation.
  • It increases fat burning and physical performance—because it ramps up metabolism and short-term fat burning.
  • It contains antioxidants that may reduce the risk of certain cancers—Green tea contains potent antioxidants that are known to combat developing cancer cells; particularly of the breast, prostate, and colorectal varieties.
  • It may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in old age — According to animal studies, the catechin compounds in green tea can protect neurons and decrease the likelihood of developing these conditionsl
  • It can kill bacteria in your mouth and improve dental health—The polyphenols in green tea, most notably catechins, can kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. Green tea may also reduce bad breath.
  • It may lower the risk of getting Type-2 diabetes– Green tea has been known to reduce blood sugar levels,a problem for those living with diabetes.

So substitute a cuppa tea for your usual morning coffee and enjoy the results.

Research contact: @NHSEnglandLDN

Run for your life: Training for your first marathon may reverse aging

January 8, 2020

Training for six months and completing your first 26-mile marathon run can add back up to four years to your heart health, according to new UK research findings, ABC News reports.

The study, published January 6 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, says the training can lower blood pressure and aortic stiffness to the equivalent of a four-year reduction in vascular health.

This result isn’t surprising to Dr. Alton Barron, clinical associate professor of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, who was not involved in the study but has run 15 marathons and 50 half-marathons.

“Running has long-term health benefits,” he told ABC News. “The beautiful part of running is that it’s just our body—it doesn’t require a membership fee or using equipment. You just go outside and start running.”

Aerobic exercise is good for your health because it decreases blood vessel stiffness and increases blood flow. It reduces vessel stiffness by reducing inflammation and ramping up wall stress. Wall stress causes the release of nitric oxide, which relaxes the smooth muscle in the blood vessels.

Marathons attract millions of people every year, ranging from first-time enthusiasts to professional athletes. According to RunRepeat’s State of Running 2019, participation in races peaked in 2016 with a total of 9.1 million—with the highest number of participants running in 5-kilometer races and half marathons.

For the study, researchers from various institutions in the United Kingdom examined 138 untrained, relatively healthy adults who underwent six months of training for their first marathon in London.

They found that after six months of training and completion of the marathon, it was possible to have reduced blood pressure and vessel stiffness and reversed the consequences of aging large vessels by approximately four years. Older males with slower marathon run times and higher blood pressure at baseline benefited the most.

However, doing so is a major commitment: Training for marathons can be expensive and experts suggest that long-distance runners should cover a minimum distance of 18.6 miles per week before a marathon to reduce their risk of running related injury. What’s more, first-time runners may encounter additional barriers such as being overweight, out of sharp, and lacking motivation, Barron told ABC News.

“Starting anything can be intimidating and scary. I would suggest you find a companion who is on your level or has the same desires and start with small goals. For non-runners, walk every day and gradually build.” Barron advised.

“Stress fractures and shin splints occur by doing too much too fast,” Barron told ABC News.

Research contact: @abcnews

Researchers say there is evidence that aliens ‘stink’

January 7, 2020

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found that the presence of a molecule that is considered to be among the most noxious-smelling and poisonous on Earth may indicate that alien life is in residence.

Phosphine is among the most putrid and toxic gases on Earth, and is found in some of the foulest of places—among them, penguin dung heaps, the depths of swamps and bogs, and even in the bowels of some badgers and fish. Most aerobic, oxygen-breathing life forms on the planet avoid phosphine—often referred to as “swamp gas”—like the plague.

Now, MIT researchers have found that phosphine is produced by another, less abundant life form: anaerobic organisms, such as bacteria and microbes, which don’t require oxygen to thrive. The team found that phosphine cannot be produced in any other way except by these extreme, oxygen-averse organisms, making the gas what is known as “a pure biosignature”— a sign of life (at least of a certain kind).

In a paper recently published in the journal, Astrobiology, the MIT team reports that—if phosphine were produced in quantities similar to methane on Earth—the gas would generate a signature pattern of light in a planet’s atmosphere. This pattern would be clear enough to detect from as far as 16 light years away by a telescope such as NASA’s planned James Webb Space Telescope.

The clincher: If phosphine were detected from a rocky planet, it would be an unmistakable sign of extraterrestrial life.

“Here on Earth, oxygen is a really impressive sign of life,” says lead author Clara Sousa-Silva, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “But other things besides life make oxygen too. It’s important to consider stranger molecules that might not be made as often, but if you do find them on another planet, there’s only one explanation.”

Sousa-Silva and her colleagues are assembling a database of fingerprints for molecules that could be potential biosignatures. The team has amassed more than 16,000 candidates, including phosphine.

She says that, aside from establishing phosphine as a viable biosignature in the search for extraterrestrial life, the group’s results provide a pipeline, or process for researchers to follow, in characterizing any other of the other 16,000 biosignature candidates.

“I think the community needs to invest in filtering these candidates down into some kind of priority,” she says. “Even if some of these molecules are really dim beacons, if we can determine that only life can send out that signal, then I feel like that is a goldmine.

Research contact: @MIT

As drones swarm the night skies over Colorado and Nebraska, authorities ask, ‘Who’s there?’

January 6, 2020

They come out at night: pinpoints of light swarming in the dark skies. They appear to be drones—flying in formation over rural Colorado and Nebraska. For weeks, they have dominated headlines in local newspapers, fueled intense speculation on social media, and unsettled residents; who have besieged law enforcement with calls, The Washington Post reports.

So far, the aircraft remain a mystery. Officials in multiple counties say they have not been able to determine who is operating them or why. The Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating, an agency spokesman told the Post on Thursday, January 2.

In the absence of information, wild theories abound in the small communities where the drones have been spotted, including government surveillance and alien activity. Others offered less-nefarious explanations, suggesting a private company is using them to map or survey land or, perhaps, practicing for drone shows.

But why wouldn’t such businesses have come forward with an explanation by now?

 “There are many theories about what is going on, but at this point, that’s all they are,” Sheriff Todd Combs of Yuma County, Colorado, wrote in a Facebook post. “I think we are all feeling a little bit vulnerable due to the intrusion of our privacy that we enjoy in our rural community, but I don’t have a solution or know of one right now.”

The drones, which The Denver Post estimates to be six feet in wingspan and flying in formations of 17, showed up in mid-December in northeastern Colorado. They emerge nightly around 7 p.m., flying in squares of about 25 miles and staying about 200 feet in the air, the newspaper reported. By about 10 p.m., they’re gone.

Local authorities say the mysterious visitors do not appear to be malicious and may not be breaking any laws. Combs noted in his post that they are operating in airspace controlled by the federal government and, as far as he could tell, abiding with federal regulations.

Yet the unexplained aircraft, buzzing above homes nightly, have still caused alarm — so much so that officials with multiple sheriff’s departments have cautioned residents against shooting them down.

“I have been made aware of several comments about shooting down a drone,” Morgan County, Colorado, Sheriff Dave Martin said in his own Facebook statement. “I ask that you NOT do this as it is a federal crime.”

Wyatt Harmon and his girlfriend, Chelsea Arnold, chased a cluster of drones after they flew over his property in the Colorado county of Washington. The couple tailed them for 15 miles, exceeding 70 mph, according to NBC’s TODAY show, which featured an interview with the two on December 31.

Harmon said during the interview that the aircraft could descend and take off “very fast.” He added,, “It’s kind of just scary. It’s more unnerving than anything.”

According to The Washington Post, now groups devoted to tracking the drones are  popping up on Facebook.

Research contact: @washingtonpost