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Friday, July 13, 2012

Bits and pieces

News for you, with an emphasis on science and technology

Lyme Disease and Foxes
A continued increase of Lyme disease in the United States, once linked to a recovering deer population, may instead be explained by a decline of the red fox, UC Santa Cruz researchers suggest in a new study.

Dwindling numbers of red foxes, the authors suggest, might be attributed to growing populations of coyotes, now top predators in some eastern regions where wolves and mountain lions are extinct.

More significantly is that fewer coyotes will inhabit an area once populated by more foxes, Levi said. The greater number of foxes would have consumed a larger number of small, tick-bearing animals than the coyotes that replace them.

The study used an extensive dataset from five states as well as mathematical models to determine why Lyme disease continues to rise despite stabilized numbers of deer, long known to act as reproductive hosts for adult ticks that carry Lyme disease bacteria.

The loss of red foxes can result in an increase in the abundance of the smaller animals that serve as hosts for bacteria-carrying ticks. Red foxes may have once kept those populations under control.

Revealing Salad Facts
Eating healthy with salads? It's not as simple as tossing lettuce in a bowl with a low-fat ranch dressing.

Yes, more support for the Mediterranean preference for olive oil or for monosaturated canola oil. And scientific evidence that "low-fat" does not equate with "more healthy."

Alcohol may enhance bone density
A new study assessed the effects of alcohol withdrawal on bone turnover in postmenopausal women who drank one or two drinks per day several times a week.

Bones are in a constant state of remodeling with old bone being removed and replaced. In people with osteoporosis, more bone is lost than reformed resulting in porous, weak bones. In the current study researchers studied 40 early postmenopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks a day.

The researchers found evidence for increased bone turnover – a risk factor for osteoporotic fractures – during the two week period when the participants stopped drinking. Even more surprising: the researchers found that less than a day after the women resumed their normal drinking, their bone turnover rates returned to previous levels.