The human body: An inspiring biological work of art? Or a meaty sack of germs and fluids? Either way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what goes on in there — and scientists are constantly attempting to find out more. Here are the most interesting things we learned about our bodies in the last seven days…
We’re All Way Too Fucked Up
You read that right: Weed has officially become too powerful, according to a study published on Sunday. More specifically, the researchers claim that such high-potency cannabis — which contains, in scientific parlance, “gnarly” levels of THC — may contribute to smokers developing cannabis dependences and an increased risk of psychotic illness. Making matters worse, the researchers add that the price of cannabis has jumped way up. Bummer, dudes!
Artificial Sweeteners Still Make You Fat
Well, crap: Diet Coke isn’t any less fattening than regular Coke, according to research published on Wednesday. This isn’t really news, of course — we previously touched on this phenomenon while exploring the ingredients in Diet Coke, since it contains the artificial sweetener aspartame — but this recent analysis (of 56 studies!) will hopefully help more people realize that artificial sweeteners are total bullshit.
While more research is needed to fully understand why artificial sweeteners have, more or less, the same effect as straight-up sugar, we mentioned one compelling theory in our Diet Coke deep dive:
“Aspartame binds to tastebuds in our stomach, which send signals to the pancreas telling it to release insulin,” explains physician and biochemist Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. “Insulin, in turn, shuts down our fat-burning enzymes and ramps up our fat-storing enzymes.” In other words, artificial sugars trick our body into thinking we’re consuming regular sugar, causing it to go into energy-storage mode.
To that, I say, fuck you, Big Sweetener!
Worms Hold the Key to Immortality
Let’s give a standing ovation to the worms, y’all! They recently helped researchers at the University of Michigan explore how humans can live stronger, longer lives. The scientists were able to identify a molecule called SLO-1, which apparently stands for “slowpoke potassium channel family member 1.” The researchers say that this molecule, which is found in all mammals, can possibly be fiddled with to improve motor function and slow down aging.
In fact, with a combination of genetic tools and a drug called paxilline, the researchers were able to manipulate the molecule in some worms, causing them to not only maintain better motor function later in life, but also to live longer than worms that were left untouched. All of which means that worms may someday be the reason we grow super-brains and live forever. Thanks, worms!
Having Hearing Trouble Makes You Depressed
Not being able to hear is terrible, a fact which researchers at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center made even more clear this week by discovering that elderly Hispanic people with hearing loss are more depressed than those who can hear well. The researchers found that participants with even mild hearing loss were almost twice as likely to experience symptoms of clinical depression as those with normal hearing.
The good news, though, is that this means treating age-related hearing loss — which is often under-recognized and under-treated — can effectively help ward off late-life depression. So maybe take grandpa to the ear doctor — he might not want to go, but he’ll be happy you took him.
People Who Are Their Own Bosses Have Healthier Kids
You don’t even really have to be your own boss, in fact — you just have to feel at least some sense of control over how you do your job, according to new research published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. The researchers found that when parents have too many stressors, including having their boss breathing down their necks, they do a worse job of taking care of their kids. The end result? Sicker children.
On the flip side, parents who are handed more freedom and decision-making opportunities at work are more likely to bring that motivation home, where their kids can reap the benefits.
See, boss? I should be able to work from home. For the kids, man! It’s for my kids!