Posts Tagged ‘science’

Drinking during your pregnancy…what should you believe?

 

Have you ever wondered about wine, women, and pregnancy? This has been going on with me since the warnings first began to emerge in the 1980s… By then, I had already had three happy, healthy daughters, and I was an occasional wine drinker during the 70s through 1980, when I gave birth to my third and final daughter.

For instance, I wonder how Europeans even have any population left at all, considering that they don’t have the same prohibitions in place against all wine during pregnancy… And, I wonder how I gave birth to these three really gorgeous, talented, and smart daughters, considering that I occasionally had a bit of wine while carrying each one?

I’m not going on record as advocating for having a bit of wine while you’re pregnant. Each woman has to make her own decisions about that one.

I do enjoy studying this one, however.

A bit of Prohibitionism background, from my life’s chair… by Dr. Peggy Drexler Nov. 17, 2012; author, research psychologist and gender scholar, published by the Huffington Post, entitled, “A Loaded Question: On Drinking While Pregnant. ”

Until the early 1970s, moderate drinking while pregnant was both common and, for the most part, unquestioned. Many share stories of how their own mothers drank or smoked throughout their pregnancies, a cultural standard revisited in television shows like Mad Men, in which a very pregnant Betty Draper is seen smoking in the maternity ward. In 1973, however, a University of Washington study identified a group of physical and mental birth defects caused by drinking alcohol, together now known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS. Though studies showing that FAS was a very rare outcome of largely severe alcoholism emerged as early as 1980 — with numbers never rising over 1 case in 1,000 — FAS as a notion was transformative.

According to a 1999 report published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, FAS was key in turning excessive drinking from a moral (and largely private, family) concern to a viable public health matter, and by the 1990s was widely associated with child neglect and abuse, poverty, rising crime, and mental illness. In 1990, Wyoming became the first state to charge a drunk pregnant woman with felony child abuse.

Here’s one source, a Danish study, that has a European perspective and is close to my own personal beliefs… Again, each pregnant woman must make up her own mind and not be swayed by anything I’m personally writing. I have no academic studies on this on… I’m just wondering out loud and giving you links for your own considerations:

 

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Throughout human history, alcoholic beverages have treated pain, thwarted infections and unleashed a cascade of pleasure in the brain that lubricates the social fabric of life, according to Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

For the past several decades, McGovern’s research has focused on finding archaeological and chemical evidence for fermented beverages in the ancient world. The details are chronicled in his recently published book, “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.”

He argues that the mind-altering effects of alcohol and the mysterious process of fermentation may explain why these drinks dominated entire economies, religions and societies. He’s found evidence of fermented beverages everywhere he’s looked, which fits his hypothesis that alcohol “had a lot to do with making us what we are in biological and cultural terms.”

The author, shown here examining an ancient pottery sherd, spoke with msnbc.com about his research. Click the “Next” arrow above to learn about 8 ancient drinks uncorked by science.
China: First known brew

Dogfish Head Brewery While the human relationship with alcohol may trace back to our ancestors, the earliest chemical evidence for an alcoholic beverage dates back 9,000 years to the ancient village of Jiahu in China’s Henan province.

Based on the analysis of residues extracted from pottery fragments, McGovern and colleagues concluded that the people were drinking a mixed wine-and-beer-like beverage made with grapes, hawthorn fruit, rice and honey. The finding was published in December 2004. The following year, McGovern collaborated with Sam Calagione and his crew at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware to re-create the millennia-old drink. Their creation, called Chateau Jiahu, won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2009.

“We worked hard on getting this interpretation right. Since it does represent the oldest alcoholic beverage, it was really gratifying to get that gold tasting award,” McGovern said.

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A big drug firm seems less interested in resveratrol-related research; grapes offer heart benefits

A new study provides good news for breast cancer survivors—there is no need to give up wine drinking in moderation. According to a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, drinking before and after breast cancer diagnosis does not impact survival from the disease. In fact, a modest survival benefit was found in women who were moderate drinkers before and after diagnosis due to a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, a major cause of mortality among breast cancer survivors.

Previous research has linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, though the nature of the link and exact risk of consumption patterns is unclear. For this study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, about 5,000 participants with breast cancer were questioned about alcohol consumption habits.

The researchers found that the amount and type of alcohol a woman reported consuming in the years before her diagnosis was not associated with her likelihood from dying from breast cancer. They also discovered that women who consumed three to six drinks per week in the years before their cancer diagnosis were 15 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers. Moderate wine drinkers showed an even lower risk, the study states.

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The origin of French wine.

The origin of French wine.

A new study finds evidence that ancient Gauls began wine production in 425 B.C. in the Languedoc

Dom Pérignon, Pétrus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti—the roots of these iconic wines and all of French wine culture may lie in a simple stone press, according to new scientific research. Uncovered in the Mediterranean town of Lattes, just south of Montpelier, the roughly 2,400-year-old artifact was originally identified by archaeologists as an olive-oil press. But a new round of chemical and archaeological analysis now identifies the press as the earliest evidence of wine production in France.

The analysis, headed by Patrick McGovern, the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and reported in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses an array of evidence to not only hypothesize when the French started making wine, but who originally taught them how to do it.

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Also read:

French wine industry rooted in Italy!

French wine industry has Italian roots!

The earliest evidence of wine in France suggests that it came from Italy, and that it was mixed with basil, thyme and other herbs, according to new research.

This early wine may have been used as medicine, and likely was imbibed by the wealthy and powerful before eventually becoming a popular beverage enjoyed by the masses, researchers said.

The artefacts found at the French port site of Lattara, near the southern city of Montpellier, suggest that winemaking took root in France as early as 500 BC, as a result of libations and traditions introduced by the ancient Etruscans in what is now Italy.

The analysis in the US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is based on ancient wine containers and a limestone press brought by seafaring Etruscan travellers.

“France’s rise to world prominence in the wine culture has been well documented,” said lead author Patrick McGovern, director of the bimolecular archaeology laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

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Also read:

Drinking wine may well prevent kidney stone problems.

Drinking wine may well prevent kidney stone problems.

 

Coffee, tea, beer, and wine seem to make kidney stones less likely.
PROBLEM:

Kidney stones cause the sort of pain that people rate as highly as childbirth. They also cost the U.S. about $2 billion per year, caring for them and in terms of the missed work they cause. Ounces of prevention being worth ounces of stone-free urine, what are the best things to drink to keep kidney stones from forming?

METHODOLOGY:

Researchers led by Dr. Pietro Manuel Ferraro at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome and Dr. Gary Curhan at Harvard reviewed data from 194,095 patients who had never before had kidney stones, for an average of eight years. The subjects all reported what they drank (on an annual or biennial basis), and how many stones they got.

The research did not involve ultrasounds or CT scans on all of those people to look for stones — CT scans on 194,095 people would cause at least a few to get cancer — so they only counted people who experienced symptoms from stones, like pain or blood in their urine. That means there were others who had secret stones that no one ever knew about.
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Attack of the drones?

Attack of the drones?

 

The word “drone” tends to conjure up images of planes that kill terrorists or of creepy surveillance tools.

But tiny drone airplanes made of foam may be more useful in rural environments, one researcher says. There, the fliers could revolutionize agriculture, reducing the need for pesticides and improving crop production.

Because drones can fly cheaply at a low altitude, they can get highly detailed images of cropland, said Chris Anderson, the CEO of 3D Robotics and former editor-in-chief of Wired, here on Saturday (May 18) at this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area, a two-day celebration of DIY science, technology and engineering. Drone-captured close-ups of fields could help farmers tailor their pesticide treatment and identify subtle differences in soil productivity. [Rise of the Drones: Photos of Unmanned Aircraft]

Vast unknown

The automation of farming has led to fewer farmers tending massive plots of land. That means they don’t know how each leaf looks, notice changes in the height of plants, or the color of soil

“Once upon a time farms were small and people could walk the farm,” Anderson said. Now, however, “farms are too big to measure and too big to manage.”

As a result, farmers may not know about the condition of vast stretches of their land and make many decisions as if plots of land were uniform. For instance, they may blanket their entire crop with fungicide in June because fungal infections typically strike in July, whether or not their crop is actually afflicted, Anderson said.

 

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Virginia creeper leafhopper.

North Coast wine grape growers in Mendocino and Sonoma counties are on the lookout for a new, damaging pest that snuck into several vineyards last season and caused considerable damage: the Virginia creeper leafhopper.

Despite bud break that started a week or so later than usual and two frost events in the middle of the month, new shoots in the wine grape vineyards along the northern California coast had pushed out 6 inches and were growing fairly rapidly in the waning days of April.

Weather has been mostly ideal and temperatures were a warmer than normal, reports Glenn McGourty, University of California Extension viticulture advisor for Lake and Mendocino counties.

Bud break in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blocks began the first of April. Should the warm temperatures hold, he expects Chardonnay vines to be back on track to start flowering on time around May 20.

A passing cold front in mid-April sent temperatures down as low as 28 degrees in the coldest spots of Potter Valley and Redwood Valley. However, McGourty received no reports of damage. “Growers kept on top of things with their frost protection,” he says.

To mitigate the impact on endangered salmon and steelhead in diverting water from the Russian River and its tributaries, many growers in the river’s watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties have built ponds and reservoirs to store rainfall runoff for frost protection and irrigation use.

Although precipitation since the first of the year has been light, heavy rains last fall and early winter, have filled these off-stream storage facilities.

Since July 1 of last year, the two-county area has received an average of 27 inches of rain. Only 5 inches have fallen since the first of January. Normally, from July 1 through the following mid-May, Ukiah, Calif., in Mendocino County records about 35 inches of rainfall.

“With the reservoirs full, we’re in good shape for water, right now,” McGourty says. “Still, growers will be watching their water usage this season pretty carefully. Wildflowers are blooming and the vegetation in the landscape seems to be drying down about two to three weeks ahead of normal. It could be another dry summer.”

Temperatures in the 70 to 85-degree range through much of April were ideal for growth of the powdery mildew. To control it, growers have been spraying their vineyards with wettable sulfur, stylet oil or other fungicides.

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Chinese wine industry could endanger Panda's habitat.

Chinese wine industry could endanger Panda’s habitat.

The habitats of endangered giant pandas are being threatened by planned vineyard plantings in the Chinese provinces of Shaanxi and Sichuan.
According to the South China Morning Post, authorities in Shaanxi plan to plant 18,000 hectares of vineyards, and similar schemes are in the pipeline for Sichuan, putting the 1,600 wild giant pandas that inhabit the provinces at risk.

While the Chinese government has set up reserves for giant pandas, the animals don’t always remain inside them.

“Vineyards around a panda reserve can definitely affect the animals.

“Pandas move outside of reserves, so the forest outside is an important habitat. If forest is cleared to plant grapes, there may be direct loss of panda habitat,” climate change specialist Dr. Lee Hannah said in a study of the impacts of climate change on wine production and conservation.
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3 Glasses a week improves your memory.

3 Glasses a week improves your memory.

 

Champagne usually marks a memorable occasion for most of us – but scientists are now claiming three glasses a week can help to ensure it’s a memory that lasts.

Researchers say that a healthy dose of bubbly can help against brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Jeremy Spencer, a biochemistry professor at Reading University, said anyone over 40 would be wise to drink two or three glasses a week.

‘Dementia probably starts in the 40s and goes on to the 80s,’ he said.

‘It is a gradual decline and so the earlier people take these beneficial compounds in champagne, the better.’

His team say the source is a compound called phenolic acid, found in the black grapes, Pinot noir and Pinot meunier, both of which are used for champagne.

 

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