WEIRD STUFF: Phone use can stress your heart

May 08, 2023

Phone calls put strain on the heart

A new study conducted on more than 200,000 Brits found that phone users had a seven per cent higher risk of increased blood pressure, compared with those who do not use a mobile regularly.

People who chatted for 30 minutes per week had a 12 per cent higher risk, and more than six hours spent on the phone each week increases blood pressure risk by a quarter -- significantly increasing the chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Professor Xianhui Qin wrote in the European Heart Journal: "The number of minutes people spend talking on a mobile matters for heart health. More minutes mean greater risk.

"Use of a hands-free set-up had no influence on the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.

"More research is required to replicate our results, but until then it seems prudent to keep mobile phone calls to a minimum."


Giraffes are able to do maths

A team from Barcelona Zoo believe giraffes have figured out basic statistics by predicting the odds of getting their favourite snack.

The experts tested the abilities of two male and two female giraffes and showed each animal two containers containing various amounts of their preferred snack -- carrot sticks -- and less-preferred courgette sticks.

The researcher discreetly picked up some food from each container in a closed fist, so that the giraffes could not see what had been selected, and gave them both options to choose from.

In 17 out of the 20 trials, the giraffes selected the carrot sticks.

The ability to make inferences based on statistics has only previously been studied in large-brained animals such as parrots, but the boffins believe that the function could be widespread across the natural world.

Alvaro Caicoya, first author of the study and a PhD student at the University of Barcelona, said: "The results of the study suggest that large relative brain sizes are not a necessary prerequisite for the evolution of complex statistical skills.

"Statistical abilities might provide crucial fitness benefits to individuals when making inferences in a situation of uncertainty, and it should not be surprising if these abilities are widespread across animal taxa."


Scientists discover Alzheimer drug

A new drug can reduce symptoms of Alzheimer's disease by 35 per cent.

Results of a study -- released in preliminary form by drug maker Eli Lilly -- show that the world is "on the cusp of a first generation of treatments" for the brain disorder.

The drug, donanemab, reduced the rate of cognitive decline of Alzheimer's patients in a trial between 27 per cent and 35 per cent.

Dr Cath Mummery, clinical lead for the cognitive disorders clinic at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, said: "This result confirms that we are now entering the treatment era of Alzheimer's disease."

The drug has been engineered to target amyloid, the 'sticky' junk protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

It showed the ability to completely clear the build-up of amyloid, which is believed to be the reason for its effectiveness.

No drug has yet been shown to stop or reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's, but the development is a promising breakthrough after years of failure.

AI could create new religion

Artificial intelligence (AI) is capable of creating a new religion.

The historian Yuval Noah Harari -- known for his best-selling book Sapiens -- is convinced that software such as ChatGPT could attract worshippers by writing sacred texts.

Harari told a science conference that AI is "gaining mastery" of human language and is now capable of using it to shape our culture.

He said: "In the future, we might see the first cults and religions in history whose revered texts were written by a non-human intelligence.

"Of course, religions throughout history claimed that their holy books were written by unknown human intelligence. This was never true before.

"This could become true very, very quickly, with far-reaching consequences."

The academic has added his voice to growing calls for more regulation over the sector.

Harari said: "We need to act quickly before AI gets out of our control. Drug companies cannot sell people new medicines without first subjecting these products to rigorous safety checks."

Gardening could reduce the risk of breast cancer

A new study of more than 48,000 women in Britain has revealed that light physical activity, such as walking and housework, is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer.

Females who managed over five hours and 45 minutes of light physical activity per day had a 21 per cent reduced risk of breast cancer.

Experts think that the target is easily achievable for people if they plan their day appropriately.

Dr Carlos Celis-Morales, senior author of the study from Glasgow University, said: "People know physical activity will reduce the risk of cancer, but it can be difficult to find the motivation to do vigorous exercise.

"These study findings are exciting, because they suggest women can reduce their risk of breast cancer simply through being active as part of their daily routine.

"It is more evidence that every step counts, and doing things like gardening or walking to work can make a difference."

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