Friday, August 22, 2014

Science Links for 8/22/14: Breakfast, Stars, and Alcohol

Article: Is Breakfast Overrated?

Skipping breakfast had no effect on weight, but did seem to have an effect on activity level. People who skipped breakfast were more sluggish, but then, neither did they overeat later to compensate.
For now, the slightly unsatisfying takeaway from the new science would seem to be that if you like breakfast, fine; but if not, don’t sweat it. “I almost never have breakfast,” Dr. Betts said. “That was part of my motivation for conducting this research, as everybody was always telling me off and saying I should know better.” Based on the results of these studies, he said his habits won’t change.
Article: Traces of One of Universe's First Stars Detected

The first stars formed would have been made entirely from the hydrogen and helium left over from the big bang. There would have had a range of sizes from the 1 solar mass up to 100 solar masses or more.

When they went supernova they would create and scatter other elements into space.
The second generation of stars [were] formed from the material forged in the heart of the first generation. The interior of SDS J0018-0939, a star in the Milky Way's halo, reveals information about the makeup of the first stars in the universe.
Article: The Truth We Won’t Admit: Drinking Is Healthy

In the early 1800's, cheap distilled spirits like rum and gin became widely available. This led to a lot of drunkenness in the "lower orders." A moral panic ensued. And for the first time in 1800 years the Bible was found to endorse total abstinence from drinking anything with alcohol in it. While the Bible frequently denounced drunkenness, it evidences no support for total abstinence.

However, Methodists and Baptists adopted this doctrine, as did a number of other conservative denominations. However, prohibition was also a progressive cause, something often conveniently forgotten. The moral panic reached a height in Prohibition.

The progressives ran away from prohibition when it failed, but even today many conservative denominations reject any drinking of alcohol. The ideas engrained by the prohibitionists, that alcohol is bad for you, are also still found in the medical community (many of whom drink alcohol on the their own).

The idea, I would rudely guess, is that the elites are still afraid of the lower orders getting out of control. Hence high "sin" taxes on alcohol (about 80% of the cost of a bottle of liquor goes to some sort of taxes, somewhat less so for beer and wine).
Given the multitude of studies of the effects of alcohol on mortality (since heart disease is the leading killer of men and women, drinking reduces overall mortality significantly), meta-analyses combining the results of the best-designed such studies can be generated. In 2006, the Archives of Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association journal, published an analysis based on 34 well-designed prospective studies—that is, research which follows subjects for years, even decades. This meta-analysis, incorporating a million subjects, found that “1 to 2 drinks per day for women and 2 to 4 drinks per day for men are inversely associated with total mortality.”

So the more you drink—up to two drinks a day for woman, and four for men—the less likely you are to die. You may have heard that before, and you may have heard it doubted. But the consensus of the science is overwhelming: It is true.

Although I dispute many of the caveats offered against the life-saving benefits of alcohol, I will endorse two. First, these outcome data do not apply to women with the “breast-cancer gene” mutations (BRCA 1 or 2) or a first-degree (mother, sister) relation who has had breast cancer, for whom alcohol consumption is far riskier. Second, drinking 10 drinks Friday and Saturday nights does not convey the benefits of two or three drinks daily, even though your weekly totals would be the same

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