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ACS in the News - January 4, 2010

ACS in the News - January 4, 2010

ACS  in the News

January 4,  2010

'ACS in the News' publishes daily articles from newspapers, blogs and magazines about the American Chemical Society and its 38 peer-reviewed journals. Full-text links to the articles below can also be found in the attached document.

USA Weekend Magazine (McLean, Va.: weekly circulation 23 million)
“Think Smart: Reach for heart-healthy snacks”
December 27, 2009

Want some popcorn with your movie this holiday season? Eat up: Research shows that popcorn and other snack foods, such as breakfast cereals, have the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Scientists at the University of Scranton recently announced that whole-grain cereals and snacks, lauded as good sources of fiber, also contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which remove free radicals (potentially harmful chemicals) from the body. Whole-grain products have comparable antioxidants per gram to other sources of polyphenols, including chocolate, tea, coffee and wine. Popcorn, in particular, reigns supreme among whole-grain snack foods, with the highest level of antioxidants. University of Scranton researcher Joe Vinson, lead author of the study, warns that consumers must read food labels carefully to make sure the whole grain is listed as the first ingredient. If it's listed farther down, he says there is no way to tell if there is enough whole grain to be beneficial. (ACS National Meeting)

Wall Street Journal (New York, N.Y.: daily circulation 2.07 million)
“Good News in the Daily Grind”
December 30, 2009

To judge by recent headlines, coffee could be the latest health-food craze, right up there with broccoli and whole-wheat bread. But don't think you'll be healthier graduating from a tall to a venti just yet. While there has been a splash of positive news about coffee lately, there may still be grounds for concern. This month alone, an analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who drink three to four cups of java a day are 25% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups... One theory gaining credence is that some of those beneficial components may counterbalance some of the harmful effects of caffeine. For example, while caffeine keeps people awake in part by blocking adenosine, a brain chemical that brings on sleep, the chlorogenic acid in coffee keeps adenosine circulating in the brain longer. And while caffeine seems to boost adrenaline that primes the body for action, coffee itself may have a calming effect. Even the aroma of coffee beans can help ease stress in rats, researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea showed in a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry last year. Chlorogenic acid also slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal, which may counteract caffeine's glucose effect.

New York Times (New York, N.Y.: daily circulation 928,000)
“A Simple Paper Test May Detect Pesticides”
December 28, 2009

Testing food or water for pesticide contamination usually involves sending samples off to a laboratory for analysis, at significant cost in time and money. But scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, are reporting the development of a simple paper sensor — a “laboratory on a strip” — that can be dunked in a sample and give a reading a short time later, like a litmus test. The sensor, developed by John D. Brennan and colleagues, makes use of the fact that organophosphate pesticides like diazinon inhibit the action of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme involved in nervous system function. The paper strip, which is described in the journal Analytical Chemistry, includes an area near one end containing the enzyme and an area near the other end containing a compound called IPA, which turns blue when broken down by acetylcholinesterase. (St. Louis, Mo.: 15.5 million monthly unique users)
“Top 10 science stories of 2009 -- #4: up to 90 percent of US paper money has traces of cocaine”
December 31, 2009

This story actually begins in a classroom. Dr. Yuegang Zuo of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth was teaching a course in forensic chemistry, and he needed a real-world project for his students. Previous studies of this sort had been conducted in the past, but new technology made it a unique project for college kids. The results, however, made it a unique study for academics and law enforcement alike. Analysis of 234 US bills from 17 cities revealed that up to 90 percent of paper money was laced with cocaine, a 20 percent jump from a similar study conducted two years ago. The smallest amount detected was .006 micrograms, showing that the new modified form of a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer was capable of seeing traces of the drug that was several thousands times more miniscule than a single grain of sand. The highest amount was 1,240 micrograms on a single banknote, an amount equal to 50 grains of sand. (ACS National Meeting)

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario: daily circulation 322,807)
“Creeping heat, young and unlucky, not a Facebook fan, News for your nose”
December 29, 2009

Anti-hunger aromas that make one feel full could help fight the global obesity epidemic, scientists now suggest. Everyone is familiar with scents that arouse the appetite, as well as odours that turn the stomach,” LiveScience reports. “But apparently molecules that make up a food's aroma can also activate areas of the brain that trigger the feeling of fullness. As people chew food, scents wafting up to the back of the nose from inside the mouth help quench the sensation of hunger, food technologist Rianne Ruijschop at NIZO Food Research in Ede, the Netherlands, and her colleagues found.” The researchers detailed their findings in the Nov. 11 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Albany Times-Union (Colonie, N.Y.: daily circulation 90,216)
“News and Views”
January 3, 2010

Garlic is known to have some heart-healthy benefits, but how well it works may depend on what form you eat. A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports what may be the first scientific evidence that freshly crushed garlic has more powerful heart-healthy effects than dried garlic. While many believe that most of garlic's benefits are due to its rich array of antioxidants, this study says the root of garlic's heart-healthy effects is actually hydrogen sulfide. Raw, crushed garlic generates hydrogen sulfide through a chemical reaction. Hydrogen sulfide acts as a chemical messenger in the body, relaxing blood vessels and allowing more blood to pass through. In contrast, processed and cooked garlic loses its ability to generate hydrogen sulfide. The scientists studied how well lab rats' hearts recovered from simulated heart attacks after giving them freshly crushed and processed garlic. They found that both types of garlic reduced damage from lack of oxygen, but that the fresh garlic had a greater effect on restoring good blood flow in the aorta and increased pressure in the left ventricle of the heart.

Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.: daily circulation 226,990)
“USF researchers mining the Antarctic”
January 1, 2010

From the waters of a melting Antarctic glacier, a University of South Florida researcher has found an organism with the potential to fight malaria and other diseases that plague people in the tropics. It's one of several minute creatures that Bill Baker, a professor in the department of chemistry, has gathered from the freezing water and brought to USF for study. He discovered the malaria-fighting compound with Dennis Kyle, from USF's department of global health. Their findings were recently published in the Journal of Natural Products. Baker doesn't see great commercial application in the compound, found in a bright red sponge. It's doesn't improve on existing tropical disease drugs. But he said its discovery has strengthened his belief that the Antarctic waters are filled with potential cures for a variety of ailments.

Toledo Blade (Toledo, Ohio: daily circulation 119,901)
“Stable levels projected for Great Lakes”
January 4, 2010

Don't look now, but Great Lakes water levels may be more stable this summer than they've been in recent years. That's uplifting news for the region's $7 billion fishing industry, though hardly enough to make up for the biological train wreck that could be in the making if Asian carp colonize the lakes. Recent DNA evidence suggests they have slipped through a $9 million electrical barrier the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built in Lockport, Ill., 20 miles southwest of Chicago. Predicting water levels in the Great Lakes - which collectively hold six quadrillion gallons, more fresh water than anywhere else on Earth except Russia's Lake Baikal - is no easy task. A subsequent paper that appeared in Environmental Science & Technology suggested Lake Erie and Lake Ontario water levels will become largely dependent on the rainfall they pick up from additional hurricanes and tropical storms. More violent weather is anticipated as the climate warms. Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron are too far north to pick up substantial amounts of rain from storms, the report stated.

… From the Blogs

World of Wallstreet (New York, N.Y.)
“Off Topic: Best Piece On Global Warming That I've Seen”
January 1, 2010

The cover story from Chemical & Engineering News which is a weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society. It tries to deal with the science (and related evidence) rather than just relying on the usual authority arguments.

Lockergnome (Seattle, Wash.: 367,200 monthly unique users)
“Spider Web Glue Spins Society Toward New Biobased Adhesives”
December 28, 2009

With would-be goblins and ghosts set to drape those huge fake spider webs over doorways and trees for Halloween, scientists in Wyoming are reporting on a long-standing mystery about real spider webs: It is the secret of spider web glue. The findings are an advance toward a new generation of biobased adhesives and glues — “green” glues that replace existing petroleum-based products for a range of uses. A report on the study was published in ACS’ Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.