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Latest Blog Posts: Education, Health, Archaeology, Ecology, Hospice Care

Grizzly bear ‘highway’ in coastal British Columbia

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Bears, Wolves And Ecology – 22 minutes ago

A novel, First Nations-led research collaboration has revealed a previously undocumented grizzly bear aggregation in coastal British Columbia, one of the most southerly aggregations of salmon-feeding grizzlies in North America. Using non-invasive DNA analysis, the authors describe a grizzly bear “highway,” identifying nearly 60 individual bears, many who travelled hundreds of miles from surrounding areas to feed on autumn-spawning salmon in the Koeye River. The research was guided by the customary law and cultural practices of the Heiltsuk First Nation and recently published in the… more »

Eating lean beef daily can help lower blood pressure

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Health News Report – 44 minutes ago

Contrary to conventional wisdom, a growing body of evidence shows that eating lean beef can reduce risk factors for heart disease, according to recent research by nutritional scientists. “This research adds to the significant evidence, including work previously done in our lab, that supports lean beef’s role in a heart-healthy diet,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State. “This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that reduces blood pressure, which can help lower the risk for cardiovascular… more »

U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Math Tests

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Education Research Report – 15 hours ago

When viewed from a global perspective, U.S. schools seem to do as badly teaching those from better-educated families as they do teaching those from less well educated families. Overall, the U.S. proficiency rate in math (35 percent) places the country at the 27th rank among the 34 OECD countries that participated in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). That ranking is somewhat lower for students from advantaged backgrounds (28th) than for those from disadvantaged ones (20th). In many places, students from highly educated families are performing well below the … more »

Teachers’ Work Hours and Wage Comparisons

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Education Research Report – 15 hours ago

Researchers have good data on teachers’ annual salaries but a hazy understanding of teachers’ hours of work. This makes it difficult to calculate an accurate hourly wage and leads policy makers to default to anecdote rather than fact when debating teacher pay. Using data from the American Time Use Survey, this paper reports that teachers work an average of 34.5 hours per week on an annual basis (38.0 hours per week during the school year and 21.5 hours per week during the summer months). When hours per week are accurately accounted for high school teachers earn in the range of 7… more »

The ‘obesity paradox’: Cardiovascular mortality lowest among overweight patients

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Health News Report – 1 day ago

High body mass index (BMI) is associated with multiple cardiovascular diseases. However, emerging data suggest that there is an “obesity paradox,” that being overweight may actually protect patients from cardiovascular mortality. Investigators have now confirmed that the risk of total mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and myocardial infarction is highest among underweight patients, while cardiovascular mortality is lowest among overweight patients, according to two reports published July 16, 2014 in *Mayo Clinic Proceedings.* Currently more than two-thirds of adult Americans are… more »

The Mediterranean Diet Has Varied Effects on Cognitive Decline Among Different Race-Specific Populations

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Health News Report – 1 day ago

While the Mediterranean diet may have broad health benefits, its impact on cognitive decline differs among race-specific populations, according to a new study published in the *Journal of Gerontology.* The team of researchers, including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU Prof. Danit R. Shahar RD, Ph.D, analyzed an NIH/NIA prospective cohort study [Health ABC] conducted over eight years in the U.S. to measure the effects of adherence to a Mediterranean diet.. more

High School Exit Exams Hinder Common Core Implementation, New Report Finds

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Education Research Report – 1 day ago

In the 2013-14 school year, twenty-four states required students to be proficient on standardized tests in order to graduate from high school. But starting next year, and in the years to come, states will launch more rigorous, college- and career-ready assessments aligned to the Common Core. As they do so, they should revisit the stakes on these tests for students and consider eliminating, or modifying, their exit exam policies, according to a new report from New America. As states transition to more challenging academic standards – with assessments to match those expectations – ex… more »

Unintended Consequences of Raising State Math and Science Graduation Requirements

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Education Research Report – 2 days ago

Raising state-mandated math and science course graduation requirements (CGRs) may increase high school dropout rates without a meaningful effect on college enrollment or degree attainment, according to new research published in Educational Researcher (ER), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association. “Intended and Unintended Effects of State-Mandated High School Science and Mathematics Course Graduation Requirements on Educational Attainment,” by Andrew D. Plunk, more »

Fish oil supplements reduce incidence of cognitive decline, may improve memory function

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Health News Report – 2 days ago

Rhode Island Hospital researchers have completed a study that found regular use of fish oil supplements (FOS) was associated with a significant reduction in cognitive decline and brain atrophy in older adults. The study examined the relationship between FOS use during the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and indicators of cognitive decline. The findings are published in the journal *Alzheimer's & Dementia.* "At least one person is diagnosed every minute with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and despite best efforts, we have not yet found a cure for this pervasive and deb… more »

Cognitively Stimulating Activities Are Associated with Greater Brain Volumes and Higher Cognitive Test Scores

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Health News Report – 3 days ago

Prior studies have suggested that participation in activities that stimulate thought, new ideas, new memories, and that challenge us mentally may encourage brain health as we age and possibly reduce risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. The mechanisms underlying this possible effect are not currently well understood. At Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2014 (AAIC® 2014) in Copenhagen., Stephanie Schultz, BSc, and colleagues at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute and the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center reported on the results of a study of 329 cog… more »

Moderate Exercise in Middle Age Is Associated with Decreased Risk of Dementia

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Health News Report – 3 days ago

Of the growing body of research concerning lifestyle and brain health, and also the possibility of reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, perhaps the strongest and most consistent evidence exists for regular physical activity. Yonas E. Geda, M.D. and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic investigated the relationship between timing of exercise (mid-life/50-65 vs. late-life/70 and above) and risk of new cases of dementia in 280 older adults (median age=81) with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, and reported on their findings at the Alzheimer’s As… more »

Prehistoric ‘bookkeeping’ continued long after invention of writing

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Archaeology News Report – 3 days ago

An archaeological dig in southeast Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade until the advent of writing, or so it had been believed. But the new find of tokens dates from a time when writing was commonplace – thousands of years after it was previously assumed this technology had become obsolete. Researchers compare it to the continued use of pens in the age of the word processor. The tokens – small clay pieces in a range of simple shapes – are thought to have been used as a rudimentary bookkeeping system in prehistoric times. … more »

Physical Fitness Associated with Less Pronounced Effect of Sedentary Behavior

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Health News Report – 3 days ago

Physical fitness may buffer some of the adverse health effects of too much sitting, according to a new study by researchers from the American Cancer Society, The Cooper Institute, and the University of Texas. The study appears in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and finds the association between prolonged sedentary time and obesity and blood markers associated with cardiovascular disease is markedly less pronounced when taking fitness into account. Sedentary behavior has been linked to an increase risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular dise… more »

Antibiotic use prevalent in hospice patients despite limited evidence of its value

Jonathan Kantrowitz at Hospice Care Research – 3 days ago

New research suggests that use of antibiotics is still prevalent among terminal patients who have chosen hospice care as an end-of-life option, despite little evidence that the medications improve symptoms or quality of life, and sometimes may cause unwanted side effects. The use of antibiotics is so engrained in contemporary medicine that 21 percent of patients being discharged from hospitals directly to a hospice program leave with a prescription for antibiotics, even though more than one fourth of them don’t have a documented infection during their hospital admission. About 27 … more »