Dogs associate their owner's scent with happy thoughts, according to a new study. The experiment involved dogs sniffing gauze pads containing the scents of a familiar human, an unfamiliar human, another dog who lives in their household, an unfamiliar dog, and their own scent. In taking an MRI brain scan of the dogs, the caudate nucleus—the area of the brain associated with positive expectations—was most activated when smelling the familiar human scent. This data suggests that dogs can associate smells with positive reactions. The study was published in the journal Behavioural Processes. Scientist and study leader Gregory Berns at Emory University in Atlanta concluded the way a dog reacts to their owner's smell is similar to the way humans react to the perfume or cologne of a loved one. "It's always difficult to prove that an animal is feeling something like a human emotion," says Berns, "although I think they do."
According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Survey of more than 178,000 US citizens, residents of Southern States are consistently the least likely to visit the dentist annually. Also, for the third year in a row, Connecticut residents have the healthiest teeth: 74.9 percent of the population claimed to visit the dentist within the last year. The other two highest ranking states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, were the only other places where nearly three in every four residents visit a dentist at least once a year. Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Louisiana are the three bottom states in the ranking, wherein only a little more than half of the population has braved the dentist chair. These states have remained within the 10 states with the least amount of dentist visits every year since 2008, along with Arkansas, Texas, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. These findings are largely related to financial implications. The bottom 10 states for dental visits have a significantly higher average uninsured rate of 20.5 percent compared to 12.6 percent in the top 10 states. The more income a person earns, the more likely they are able to afford healthcare and insurance necessary for dentist visits.
According to a new American Lung Association (ALA) report, 148 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution: nearly half of the US population. An increase of smog and soot particles, which make breathing harmful, have been found between 2010 and 2012, making for worsened environmental conditions in places like Los Angeles, New York City, Houston, Baltimore, and Chicago. One factor in the increase of smog, or ozone, is climate change; hotter temperatures put the air at a larger risk for high ozone levels. The ALA has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to combat this problem, which affects humanity on a global scale. The two agencies are attempting to tighten air pollution standards, and working on the EPA's existing movement to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Recent research also shows that air pollution is closely related to increased deaths from heart disease, respiratory illness, and lung cancer. Though 18 of the 25 US cities with the worst particulate pollution showed a decrease in year-round pollutants, with 13 even having their lowest levels in history, these regions are not on par with national standards for air pollution.
Wild boars, known formally as Eurasian boars, were largely unknown to New York until they've recently been found breeding in the wild. Small populations of boars have been reported in Tioga, Cortland, Clinton, and Onandaga Counties, and along the Delaware and Sullivan County border in the Catskills. Despite the fact that wild boars have caused over a billion dollars' worth of destruction in other parts of the US, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has banned hunting and trapping of feral swine. The DEC has been trying to rid the state of boars for years. Though hunters may believe they're helping the conservation eradicate these creatures, DEC commissioner Joe Martens points out that hunting individual animals is "counterproductive," causing the remaining animals to flee.
Source: Watershed Post
Passing gas, while somewhat socially unacceptable, may actually be a sign that your gut microbes are healthy. Researchers have found that fiber-rich foods and nutrient-rich vegetables boost levels of beneficial gut bacteria after only a few days, which are the same foods often associated with gas. According to Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, "Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients." Fart-friendly foods also make molecules that boost the immune system, protect the lining of the intestine, and prevent infections. The microbiome, a collection of organisms in the gastrointestinal tract that cause flatulence, produce a collection of molecules that may promote the growth of other beneficial bacteria. Most microbiome gasses are odorless—an unwanted stench is caused by a slip of sulfur. However, sulfur compounds in vegetables have healthy properties: those in the broccoli, mustard, and cabbage family, for example, are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
Source: NPR Salt Blog
A synthesis of data shows that global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade. The latest edition of Freedom House's press freedom survey shows that only one in seven people live in a country with a "free" press. Though many countries increased in press freedom last year, notably in sub-Sahara Africa, major setbacks have occurred in Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine, and many countries in East Africa. Free press conditions in the US suffered as well, primarily from attempts by the government to limit reporting on national security problems. Only two percent of the Latin America population lives in media environments considered "free." The overwhelming majority of people in Eurasia live in Not Free media environments, at 97 percent. The data is presented in an online interactive colored map, where each country's press freedom score can be viewed, rated from one to 100—the lower the score, the better the freedom status.
Source: Freedom House
A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report states that nearly 900,000 Americans die sooner than they might due to five causes: heart disease, cancer, stroke, lung disease, and accidents. The study concludes that 20 to 40 percent of these premature deaths are preventable. The Southeast has the highest death rates due to these five preventable causes; the lowest rates are in Colorado, Utah, and Vermont. "Your longevity and health are more determined by your ZIP code than they are by your genetic code," reflects Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the gap between states can be explained by vast differences in smoking habits, obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, drug and alcohol abuse, and access to medications, depending on each state's differing health policies. Poverty stricken areas are especially susceptible to an increased number of deaths per year. Programs such as the Center for Disease Control's Million Hearts Initiative strive to better these issues, expanding smoke-free environments, promoting physical activity, and creating farmers' markets.
Source: USA Today
Health officials are still unsure what caused an outbreak of sickness at a conference from April 8 to 10 in Baltimore. Ironically, more than 100 people were sickened at a Food Safety Summit where more than 1,300 food safety experts had gathered. No one was hospitalized and leading experts say it is unclear whether the illness was transmitted by food or between people. Most of those affected reported cases of diarrhea and nausea. After receiving complaints of illness, Centerplate, the company that catered the event, was issued a violation for condensation dripping from an ice machine. Regularly scheduled inspection of the summit's venue showed no violations.
Source: ABC News