A DAILY MISCELLANY OF INFORMATION
BY MICHAEL KESTERTON
20, 2002 – Print
Edition, Page A24
World o' diabetes
Brushing and flossing may help stave
off diabetes, according to U.S. studies released this month. Gum disease may be
even more important than obesity or age as a factor in the onset of diabetes in
adults, says Sara Grossi, clinical assistant professor of oral biology at the
University of Buffalo in New York. One study, presented to the International
Association of Dental Research, measured the glucose control of 75 Pueblo
Indians who had type 2 diabetes and gum disease. Results showed blood sugar
levels could be reduced and kept at a lower level most effectively with a single
dose of oral antibiotic and repeated application of a topical antibiotic to the
gums. The effects were equal to and independent of those induced by diabetes
Globally, the problems of
undernourishment are quickly being replaced by the diseases that accompany
obesity, says Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North
Carolina. He told The Chronicle of Higher Education that "a very fine
line" separates a diverse, healthy diet and one that provides too many
calories and too much fat and that leads to disease. Already, the number of new
cases of diabetes in India and China annually outpaces the rest of the world put
Curries and Alzheimer's
A nice curry now and then might be just
what you need to ward off Alzheimer's, reports The Boston Globe. "Sally
Frautschy of the University of California, Los Angeles, has shown that curcumin,
a substance in turmeric, can inhibit the formation of beta-amyloid protein
deposits in the brains of rats. Such deposits are characteristic of Alzheimer's
disease, and the work may shed light on the fact that India, where turmeric is
commonly used, has the lowest incidence of the disease."
"Helen Comstock suspected for more
than a year that something about her husband had changed," writes Faye Flam
in The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Once outgoing, Craig Comstock had become
withdrawn and apathetic. She didn't realize how serious the problem was until
someone found the Harvard-trained mathematics professor, wearing a suit and tie,
clambering into a dumpster looking for aluminum cans. The initial diagnosis was
Alzheimer's disease. Eventually, though, Comstock learned her husband suffered
from a different disease, one that robbed him not of his memory but of his
inhibitions. He had frontotemporal dementia. Though not well understood, FTD is
fairly common, afflicting 300,000 to 500,000 Americans, representing about 10
per cent of all dementia cases in the United States. FTD is always fatal,
usually killing its victims within a few years of diagnosis.
"Once most adults pass the
physical prime of their 20s, they lose an average of 10 ounces of lean body mass
a year, mostly in the form of muscle tissue," reports the Tacoma News
Tribune. "It's a process more insidious and crippling than osteoporosis,
but one few people notice until they realize it's getting difficult to climb the
stairs or heft themselves off the sofa. Unchecked, the gradual erosion of muscle
strength is the major reason elderly Americans are forced to move into nursing
homes." Several years ago, medical experts named the phenomenon sarcopenia
(from the Greek words for vanishing flesh). They also contend it can be reversed
or slowed significantly by strength-training exercises. Studies show it's never
too late to regain some muscle strength.
Skin that matches
"A dead giveaway that a person has
'had something done' to his or her face is if the skin on the backs of the hands
or the chest doesn't match the face," reports the Los Angeles Times.
"When the body skin is sun-damaged and wrinkled, while the texture and
colour of the face are fresh and clear as a teenager's, chances are a laser or
chemical peel has been applied to the face. Now, more people are having these
resurfacing procedures done to their bodies, bringing hands, arms, chest and
faces in sync."
Thought du jour
"If you are flattering a woman, it
pays to be a little more subtle. You don't have to bother with men, they believe
any compliment automatically."
-- Alan Ayckbourn.
21, 2002 – Page A22
Looking after parents
Dr. Grace Nadolny, a Colorado psychiatrist, has coined "Son from California
syndrome" to describe how Americans often deal with aging parents.
Typically, she said, the adult female child will be a parent's caregiver.
"The numbers supporting this are about three to one." Other siblings
don't know precisely what's going on. "Day in and day out, the daughter
watches Mom deteriorate" and become forgetful, lose her way home from the
grocery store, stop cleaning her house. Then the son blows in from California,
spends a few hours with his mother and determines his sister is exaggerating her
illness. "He'll say, 'What are you talking about? Mom made us a terrific
Thanksgiving dinner. She's just fine! " He is denying her -- and his own --
A husband in Wales has been told to
choose between his wife and his ventriloquist's dummy, reports The Sunday Times
of London. Ray Roberts lays a place for his dummy, Charlie Boy, at meals and
takes him on trips to the supermarket. His wife, Maureen, said her husband even
wanted the dummy to accompany the couple on a romantic meal. "Ray spends
more time talking to that lump of wood than me," she added. "If I had
my way, it'd be kindling." Mr. Roberts, 40, who rediscovered the childhood
toy in his mother's attic, is sorry his wife doesn't like the dummy but says
every man needs a hobby to keep marriage from being boring.
Last September, firefighters in
Stamford, Conn., arrived at a home where there was a reported brush fire. They
found Lucson Aladin, 32, burning a teddy bear. "He said he was burning this
bear because it was possessed," police sergeant Kevin Goettel told The
Associated Press. "He was performing a voodoo ritual to rid it of this evil
spirit." Mr. Aladin was charged with reckless burning.
The North American Robin is one of the most widespread birds on the continent,
writes George Harrison in Birder's World magazine; the thrush is found in every
corner. Among the earliest of all songbirds to nest, robins begin building nests
in Georgia and the Carolinas in mid-March. At the northern extreme, in Canada
and Alaska, they are more likely to nest in mid-June. Strange stories, he adds,
can be told about the robin's homelife:
A researcher at the Cornell Laboratory
of Ornithology watched two female robins mate with the same male and build a
nest together. They not only went about their work with little friction, they
co-operated to the extent that one female stayed at the nest while the other
gathered nesting material. Both females laid eggs and incubated them.
Near Cincinnati, birder Steve Maslowski
photographed a nest that a robin shared with a northern cardinal. "Three
young cardinals and four robins were all reared together," Mr. Maslowski
said. "The four adults shared parental duties, though each species was
apparently more inclined to take care of its own brood."
Last month, the Japanese Postal Services Agency said 344 post offices had been
giving preferential treatment to mail sent by and addressed to gangsters or
crime-syndicate offices. Some gang members mail their correspondence with the
kanji character for "violence" on the envelope. Gangster letters were
sent express mail, even though they bore normal postage, and others were
transferred in special station-to-station envelopes marked "Please open
quickly and sort." The practice began several years ago when gangsters,
angry about a postcard that had been soiled in transit, injured the postal
worker who made the error. The agency told its post offices to stop the
Sources: Ashai Shimbun, news services.
Brother and sister
In February, acting on a tip that a Florida family was keeping a child's casket
in their living room, police discovered a 53-year-old man living on an isolated
farm with his sister and their nine children and four grandchildren. Samuel
Patrick was arrested and charged with incest; Debra Patrick was not charged.
State investigators had looked into reports of incest between the couple four
times since 1995, but couldn't verify the complaints. "They were living as
husband and wife. They were actually brother and sister," Glade County
Sheriff's chief deputy Kenneth Holley told Reuters. "You have to wonder.
Didn't they know this wouldn't work out?" Deputy Holley added it was not
certain who fathered the grandchildren. A police spokeswoman said "not all
the kids look funny." Last week, a judge denied Debra Patrick's request to
regain custody of three of her nine children.
Thought du jour
"Does history repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as
farce? No, that's too grand, too considered a process. History just burps, and
we taste again that raw-onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago." --