Here’s Why Some People Look Like Their Names

If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking, “She looks like a Sue,” or “He doesn’t look like a Bob,” a new study may back up your instincts about whether people’s names suit them. In fact, people often do “look like their names,” perhaps especially those named Tom or Veronique, the research suggests.

In the study, researchers found that people could correctly match an unfamiliar face to that person’s name at a rate higher than expected due to chance, according to a new study. In two experiments involving 185 participants in Israel and France, people were shown only color headshot photographs of 25 total strangers, and the researchers asked them to guess the stranger’s name from a list of four or five name possibilities.

For example, a participant who is shown a face and given four names to choose from has a 25 percent chance of guessing the right name. But in the study, the 70 participants in Israel matched the correct name to the face about 30 percent of the time.

And when a similar experiment was repeated with the 115 participants in France, these men and women matched the correct name and face 40 percent of the time.

Which names were some of the easiest to connect to a face? The study found that French participants could accurately identify a Veronique nearly 80 percent of the time, while Israeli participants could accurately recognize a Tom more than 52 percent of the time.

The ability to match a name with a face requires the reliance on existing name stereotypes, said study author Yonat Zwebner, who conducted the research as a doctoral candidate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

When people attempt to match a name to a facial image, they may use personal, social and historical information to get some clues, Zwebner and her colleagues wrote in their findings, published today (Feb. 27) in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Names and faces

The findings also suggested that people’s hairstyles play an important role in how easy it is for their names to be guessed correctly. In one experiment, the researchers Photoshopped some of the images so that a few of them clearly showed the hairstyle, ears and neck while the facial features were blurred. In a second scenario, only the facial features — such as the eyes, nose, mouth and cheeks — were clear, and the hairstyle and neck were digitally removed. And a third set of images showed the full facial image, including hair and facial features.

The results showed that the participants matched the correct name and face 36 percent of the time, on average, in the full-facial photos; about 33 percent of the time when the hairstyle was visible; and 30 percent of the time in the photos with only the facial features visible.

It’s possible that people tend to choose hairstyles that fit the stereotype of their name, Zwebner told Live Science.

However, the overall findings also revealed that the participants were able to best match the faces to the names when the faces they looked at came from within their own culture. In one of the study’s eight experiments, French study participants were unable to match Israeli names and faces at a level above random chance, and this same effect was observed when Israeli participants were asked to match French names and faces.

A familiarity with local names and faces through repeated exposure to them may help people develop the ability to know the “right” facial appearance linked with a name, the researchers said.

But it was not just people who could put names and faces together; a computer could do it, too, according to the study.

The researchers developed a learning algorithm that taught a computer how to match 94,000 faces with their names. Then, the computer was presented with a new facial image and two possible names for each. Random guessing would have given the computer a 50 percent chance of being accurate, but the trained computer was shown to be 54 to 64 percent accurate when predicting a name.

The results are extremely strong support for the idea that there are indeed facial features associated with certain names, Zwebner said.

The findings also may demonstrate that names, which were chosen for us by others, can influence the way people look based on interactions with society, Zwebner said.

Zwebner suspects that a self-fulfilling prophecy — or the idea that if other people expect certain things from a person, that individual may eventually fulfill these expectations — may be one possible explanation for the face-name-matching effect.

If, for example, society assumes that people with the name Katherine share a similar stereotype, including those based on her appearance, then people will interact with a woman named Katherine in a way that matches this shared stereotype, Zwebner explained.

As a result, over time, Katherines become more and more like a Katherine is expected to be, resulting in a specific matching look, she said.

Is Zika Still A Problem In Our State?

There’s no doubt about it: Zika is on the retreat in the Americas.

In Brazil, cases are down by 95 percent from last year. Across the Caribbean, outbreaks have subsided. And in Florida, the virus seems to have gone into hiding. Health officials haven’t investigated a new Zika case for more than 45 days in Miami-Dade County.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted the last travel warning for southern Florida. The agency is no longer recommending that pregnant women avoid the region.

“That’s really exciting news,” says Dr. Christine Curry, an OB-GYN at the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital. “Everybody has sort of exhaled.”

But the threat to pregnant women, whether residents or travelers, isn’t over — not in the least — Curry says, neither in Florida nor abroad.

So what should pregnant women and their families, or women who are trying to get pregnant, do? Let’s start with Florida. Then we’ll swing back to the international question at the end.

Living or traveling in South Florida

“We can’t go back to the days before Zika, where you just walked around without thinking about bug spray or the clothes you’re wearing,” Curry says. “People still need to practice good mosquito-bite prevention when they’re living in South Florida or traveling there.”

The CDC outlines the precautions needed in Miami-Dade County and other areas of the U.S. where Zika has circulated, such as Brownsville, Texas.

These precautions are most important for pregnant women, those trying to get pregnant and their mates. For example:

  • Expectant couples should continue to use condoms “every time they have sex (including vaginal, anal, and oral sex),” the CDC writes, because the Zika virus can stay in the semen of an infected man for months.
  • Pregnant women should continue to get tested for Zika up to eight weeks after the travel ban has been lifted for a region — which would be until about August of 2017 for South Florida.

Such precautions are important, Curry says, for several reasons.

First, even when it looks like Zika has “disappeared,” Curry says, it could still be circulating. About 80 percent people who are infected with the virus don’t have any symptoms at all.

And if the virus is merely lurking below detectable levels, Zika cases could start cropping up again at any moment. Last summer, Zika likely circulated in Florida for months before it was detected by health officials, a recent study found.

So if you live in South Florida, or are headed there this summer, pack the DEET, cover clothes in permethrin and be on the lookout for skeeters.

Traveling overseas

Although Zika cases have dropped across the Caribbean and Latin America, the CDC’s travel recommendations haven’t changed. Pregnant women should not travel to places where Zika is circulating. If a spouse travels to one of these areas, the couple should use condoms for at least six months.

Couples trying to get pregnant should also not travel to these regions. If they must, the CDC recommends waiting at least six months before trying to conceive after a man returns from a country with Zika and waiting at least eight weeks after a woman returns.

Fetal medicine expert Dr. Neil Silverman worries that some doctors are forgetting to give their patients these travel warnings.

“We’ve gotten calls at our practice from women who have traveled to areas where’s there’s clearly active transmission of Zika,” says Silverman, an OB-GYN at the Center for Fetal Medicine in Los Angeles.

“Either their doctors have essentially decided the risk is over or the woman forgot to ask. Then they come back home and realize that there was a risk.”

Even if a country has reported only a few cases — or hasn’t had a case in months — Silverman says the recommendations are the same.

Take for instance, India, which reported its first official cases in May. There were only three cases recorded, across the entire country. But the virus has likely been circulating in India for decades, studies show. And pregnant women should avoid travel there, Silverman says.

For the purpose of a traveler, there’s not a huge distinction between whether a country has a large number of new cases occurring or whether there’s sort of a background, long-standing risk,” he says.

Places with this sort of background risk include large parts of Southeast Asia and Africa.

So if you’re pregnant or “trying,” check out the CDC’s Zika map before booking a plane ticket, and avoid all the areas that are purple on the map.

“With everything else going on in the country and in the world, Zika has taken a little bit of a backseat in the news cycle,” Silverman says. “But it’s still a big concern.”

Why Are Atheists Generally Smarter Than Religious People?

For more than a millennium, scholars have noticed a curious correlation: Atheists tend to be more intelligent than religious people.

It’s unclear why this trend persists, but researchers of a new study have an idea: Religion is an instinct, they say, and people who can rise above instincts are more intelligent than those who rely on them.

“Intelligence — in rationally solving problems — can be understood as involving overcoming instinct and being intellectually curious and thus open to non-instinctive possibilities,” study lead author Edward Dutton, a research fellow at the Ulster Institute for Social Research in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

In classical Greece and Rome, it was widely remarked that “fools” tended to be religious, while the “wise” were often skeptics, Dutton and his co-author, Dimitri Van der Linden, an assistant professor of psychology at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, wrote in the study.

The ancients weren’t the only ones to notice this association. Scientists ran a meta-analysis of 63 studies and found that religious people tend to be less intelligent than nonreligious people. The association was stronger among college students and the general public than for those younger than college age, they found. The association was also stronger for religious beliefs, rather than religious behavior, according to the meta-analysis, published in 2013 in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review.

But why does this association exist? Dutton set out to find answer, thinking that perhaps it was because nonreligious people were more rational than their religious brethren, and thus better able to reason that there was no God, he wrote.

But “more recently, I started to wonder if I’d got it wrong, actually,” Dutton told Live Science. “I found evidence that intelligence is positively associated with certain kinds of bias.”

For instance, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that college students often get logical answers wrong but don’t realize it. This so-called “bias blind spot” happens when people cannot detect bias, or flaws, within their own thinking. “If anything, a larger bias blind spot was associated with higher cognitive ability,” the researchers of the 2012 study wrote in the abstract.

One question, for example, asked the students: “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” The problem isn’t intuitive (the answer is not 10 cents), but rather requires students to suppress or evaluate the first solution that springs into their mind, the researchers wrote in the study. If they do this, they might find the right answer: The ball costs 5 cents, and the bat costs $1.05.

If intelligent people are less likely to perceive their own bias, that means they’re less rational in some respects, Dutton said. So why is intelligence associated with atheism? The answer, he and his colleague suggest, is that religion is an instinct, and it takes intelligence to overcome an instinct, Dutton said.

The religion-is-an-instinct theory is a modified version of an idea developed by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, who was not involved in the new study.

Called the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, Kanazawa’s theory attempts to explain the differences in the behavior and attitudes between intelligent and less intelligent people, said Nathan Cofnas, who is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom this fall. Cofnas, who specializes in the philosophy of science, was not involved with the new study.

The hypothesis is based on two assumptions, Cofnas told Live Science in an email.

“First, that we are psychologically adapted to solve recurrent problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors in the African savanna,” Cofnas said. “Second, that ‘general intelligence’ (what is measured by IQ tests) evolved to help us deal with nonrecurrent problems for which we had no evolved psychological adaptations.”

The assumptions imply that “intelligent people should be better than unintelligent people at dealing with ‘evolutionary novelty’ — situations and entities that did not exist in the ancestral environment,” Cofnas said.

Dutton and Van der Linden modified this theory, suggesting that evolutionary novelty is something that opposes evolved instincts.

The approach is an interesting one, but might have firmer standing if the researchers explained exactly what they mean by “religious instinct,” Cofnas said.

“Dutton and Van der Linden propose that, if religion has an instinctual basis, intelligent people will be better able to overcome it and adopt atheism,” Cofnas said. “But without knowing the precise nature of the ‘religious instinct,’ we can’t rule out the possibility that atheism, or at least some forms of atheism, harness the same instinct(s).”

For instance, author Christopher Hitchens thought that communism was a religion; secular movements, such as veganism, appeal to many of the same impulses — and possibly ‘instincts’ — that traditional religions do, Cofnas said. Religious and nonreligious movements both rely on faith, identifying with a community of believers and zealotry, he said.

“I think it’s misleading to use the term ‘religion’ as a slur for whatever you don’t like,” Cofnas said.

The researchers also examined the link between instinct and stress, emphasizing that people tend to operate on instinct during stressful times, for instance, turning to religion during a near-death experience.

The researchers argue that intelligence helps people rise above these instincts during times of stress.

“If religion is indeed an evolved domain — an instinct — then it will become heightened at times of stress, when people are inclined to act instinctively, and there is clear evidence for this,” Dutton said. “It also means that intelligence allows us to be able to pause and reason through the situation and the possible consequences of our actions.”

People who are able to rise above their instincts are likely better problem-solvers, Dutton noted.

“Let’s say someone had a go at you. Your instinct would be to punch them in the face,” Dutton told Live Science. “A more intelligent person will be able to stop themselves from doing that, reason it through and better solve the problem, according to what they want.”

The study was published May 16 in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

A Strawberry “MiniMoon” Will Appear Tonight, Here’s What You Need To Know

If you happen to gaze up at the night sky tonight you’ll see a mini Strawberry Moon.

So what exactly does that mean?

What’s a Strawberry Moon?

June’s full moon is also known as the “Strawberry Moon.”

The fruity moniker doesn’t actually have anything to do with the moon’s color, shape or size. The Strawberry Moon celebrates the coming of prime strawberry-picking season, which reaches its peak in June, according to Space.com. Strawberries are one of the earliest fruits to ripen, second only to rhubarb. With this in mind, the Algonquin Native American tribes lent this month’s full moon its nickname as a reminder to pick the quintessential summer fruit come June.

Why is it a “minimoon”?

There’s a very straightforward explanation: The Strawberry Moon is a bit smaller than the other full moons, due its changing position in relation to the Earth. According to Space.com, the June full moon coincides almost exactly with the apogee — the annual point in time when the moon is farthest from the Earth — popping up just 14 hours and 40 minutes after this moment. This places the Strawberry Moon about 252,445 miles from Earth, causing it to appear about 14% smaller than the moon does at its largest point.

How to see the Strawberry Moon

So when’s the best time to spot this annual sign of summer?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the fullest point passed Friday morning at 9:10 a.m. Eastern, when the sun and moon were on completely opposite sides of the Earth.

If you missed it, don’t fret. The Strawberry Moon will still appear completely full for the entire day after the peak, too. You should be able to catch the moon wherever you are Friday night, permitting clouds, but check out this light-pollution map to find the clearest stargazing spot near you.

A New Test Could Detect Cancer Years Before Symptoms Show

Cancer research is one of the busiest fields in medical technology, and understandably so, as cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. While there are existing treatments available for cancer, these usually cause a terrible amount of strain on the body and aren’t always effective. But what if much of that could be avoided by early detection using a simple, non-invasive test? Researchers from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and genomics company Grail are close to developing such a procedure.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), a technology to test for cancer years before its symptoms manifest just delivered promising results in an early-stage feasibility study. This technology, referred to as liquid biopsy, scans the blood for traces of DNA shed by tumors — or circulating tumor DNA.

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“Our findings show that high-intensity circulating tumor DNA sequencing is possible and may provide invaluable information for clinical decision-making, potentially without any need for tumor tissue samples,” lead researcher Pedram Razavi told Medical Xpress.

For the test, however, the researchers had to rely on samples of 124 metastatic lung, breast, and advanced prostate cancer cells taken from blood and tissues of patients. Scanning for 508 different gene mutations, they detected 864 genetic changes in the tissue samples and 73 percent of these were found in the blood as well.

At least one mutation was spotted in both the cancer tissue and blood samples in 89 percent of the patients, with breast cancer detection succeeding 97 percent of the time.

“Our combined analysis of cell-free DNA and white blood cell DNA allows for identification of tumor DNA with much higher sensitivity, and deep sequencing also helps us find those rare tumor DNA fragments,” Razavi explained in the interview with Medical Xpress.

This liquid biopsy is promising, so much so that Grail — which is funded by the likes of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates — is backing it up. While this isn’t the first study to explore the potential of detecting cancer using blood tests, it’s generated 100 times more data than other sequencing techniques, the researchers told Reuters.

“It’s an important first step. We show that what we call a high-intensity approach works,” Razavi added in the interview.

NASA Announces its 2017 Astronaut Candidates

After receiving a record-breaking number of applications to join an exciting future of space exploration, NASA has selected its largest astronaut class since 2000. Rising to the top of more than 18,300 applicants, NASA chose 12 women and men as the agency’s new astronaut candidates.

Vice President Mike Pence joined NASA leaders Wednesday as they introduced the members of the 2017 astronaut class during an event at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. While at Johnson, the vice president toured the International Space Station mission control center, and the historic mission control center, which was used during early NASA spaceflights, including the first moon landing mission, Apollo 11. He also was presented with a model of the International Space Station and a framed U.S. flag that was flown to and from the orbiting laboratory this winter.

“These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and whose personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery and who I know will inspire our children and our grandchildren every bit as much as your forebears have done so in this storied American program,” said Vice President Pence. “And to this newest class of astronauts, it’s my honor to bring the sincere congratulations of the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. Your President is proud of you, and so am I.”

The astronaut candidates will return to Johnson in August to begin two years of training. Then they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

“We look forward to the energy and talent of these astronauts fueling our exciting future of discovery,” acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said. “Between expanding the crew on board the space station to conduct more research than ever before, and making preparations to send humans farther into space than we’ve ever been, we are going to keep them busy. These candidates are an important addition to the NASA family and the nation’s human spaceflight team.”

Applicants included U.S. citizens in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa. The talented women and men selected for the new astronaut class represent the diversity of America and the career paths that can lead to a place in America’s astronaut corps.

The 2017 astronaut candidates are:

Kayla Barron, 29, Lt., U.S. Navy, is originally from Richland, Washington. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge. As a submarine warfare officer, Barron was a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community. She’ll come to NASA from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she has been serving as the flag aide to the superintendent.

Zena Cardman, 29, calls Williamsburg, Virginia, home. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Science in Marine Sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Cardman is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow working on her doctorate at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research has focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments. Her field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels as both scientist and crew, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho and Hawaii.

Raja Chari, 39, Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force, hails from Waterloo, Iowa. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He continued on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Chari has been serving as the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Matthew Dominick, 35, Lt. Cmdr., U.S. Navy, was born and raised in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Dominick was at sea on the USS Ronald Reagan, serving as department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115, when he got the call saying he’d been selected as an astronaut candidate.

Bob Hines, 42, considers Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, his hometown. He graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. From there, he went on to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, and then the University of Alabama, where he earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. He has served in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves for 18 years. For the last five years, Hines has served as a NASA research pilot at Johnson.

Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 31, is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. He continued on to earn a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkley. He is a private pilot and has extensive experience with wilderness search and rescue efforts. Hoburg will come to NASA from MIT, where he currently is leading a research group as an assistant professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Dr. Jonny Kim, 33, Lt., U.S. Navy, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, then trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat V. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kim is a resident physician in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Robb Kulin, 33, hails from Anchorage, Alaska. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Denver before going on to complete a master’s degree in materials science and a doctorate in engineering at the University of California, San Diego. He has previous experience as an ice driller in Antarctica on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Taylor Glaciers, and as a commercial fisherman in Chignik, Alaska. Since 2011, Kulin has worked for SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, where he leads the Launch Chief Engineering group.

Jasmin Moghbeli, 33, Maj., U.S. Marine Corps, considers Baldwin, New York, her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology at MIT, followed by a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. She also is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Moghbeli currently tests H-1 helicopters and serves as the quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 in Yuma, Arizona.

Loral O’Hara, 34, calls Sugar Land, Texas, home. She earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University. As a student, she participated in NASA’s KC-135 Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program, the NASA Academy at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the internship program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. O’Hara is currently a research engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Dr. Francisco “Frank” Rubio, 41, Maj., U.S. Army, is originally from Miami. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Rubio has accumulated more than 1,100 hours of flight time in helicopters, including 600 hours of combat and imminent danger time. He’s currently serving as a surgeon for the 3rd Battalion of the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Jessica Watkins, 29, hails from Lafayette, Colorado. She graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences, then went on to earn a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Watkins has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory and currently is a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborates on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

With the addition of these 12 members of the 2017 astronaut candidate class, NASA now has selected 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 in 1959.

“These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations,” said astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. “Children all across the United States right now dream of being in their shoes someday. We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers.”

The astronaut candidates will be available to talk to media in person at Johnson and by remote satellite link on June 8. Media interested in this limited opportunity should contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111.

Find photos and additional information about the new astronaut candidates at:

https://www.nasa.gov/2017Astronauts

Follow NASA astronauts on Twitter at:

https://www.twitter.com/NASA_Astronauts

Drinking Four Cups Of Coffee Before The Gym ‘Helps You Burn MORE Calories’

Scientists have long noted that coffee boosts performance, however it was thought that you’d need to abstain beforehand in order to benefit.

However, the study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology claims sipping coffee everyday will still produce positive results.

Researchers at the University of São Paulo quizzed 40 competitive male cyclists about their regular caffeine intake and split them into groups.

The men were asked to ride as hard as possible until they had burned 450 calories – a task designed to take about 30 minutes.

An hour before they cycled the group were asked to swallow a tablet containing 400mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to about four cups of coffee.

Afterwards they found the riders had completed their ride 3.3 per cent faster on average compared to when they had no pill.

In another trial they were asked to take a placebo and in that instance they performed 2.2 per cent faster.

For athletes these results could shave seconds of a race time that could lead to a world breaking record.

Also, the results found the cyclists who normally consume large amounts of caffeine had the same boost as the light coffee drinkers.

Bruno Gualano, a professor of physiology and nutrition who carried out the research, said: “No matter the habitual caffeine intake in the diet, acute caffeine supplementation can improve performance.”

Dr Gualano noted that the study sample only involved young fit men and women would still need to be tested.

The findings also contradict recommendations by doctors who say that more than one cup a day can increase cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attacks.

However, the general advice is that four or five cups of coffee a day is safe, around 400mg of caffeine and half that for pregnant woman.

The Food Standards Agency says there is no limit set for healthy individuals and recommend a balance of drinks and a sensible, moderate approach to coffee-drinking.

It comes after recent research found that drinking five cups of coffee a day could slash the risk of liver cancer in half.

While the research found coffee will boost your workout, it’s worth noting the nutritional benefits of protein before you ditch the shakes altogether.

Protein helps make up the structure of every cell, tissue and organ in the body and are important for muscle production.

Without an adequate amount muscles don’t heal as quickly and could lead to injury, according to bodybuilding.com.

World No Tobacco Day: Tobacco Isn’t Just Bad For Humans, It’s Also Killing The Environment

From cancer to heart disease and many things in between, the health effects of smoking tobacco are well known. But a new report from the United Nation’s World Health Organization tries to show how all this smoke has affected the environment.

The WHO report is being released in advance of World No Tobacco Day (which, honestly, needs a catchier name) on May 31. It looks at the agricultural impacts of cultivating tobacco and the negative consequences of manufacturing and distributing it, including the use of fossil fuels and production of hazardous waste.

It also focuses on the environmental damage caused by the immediate consumption of tobacco products, as well as “the post-consumption waste and health implications that continue to play out long after the tobacco has been smoked.”

A few key figures from WHO’s report:

• Tobacco waste contains more than 7,000 toxic chemicals that pollute the environment, including human carcinogens.

• Smoke emissions from tobacco have added up to thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxicants, and greenhouse gases going into the environment.

• Cigarette butts and other tobacco waste account for a huge amount of trash. A 2014 study found that these items make up more than 1/3 of the refuse collected during coastal cleanups. Meanwhile, nearly 2/3 of all cigarettes purchased each day end up discarded into streets, grass, water — anywhere but a trash receptacle.

“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said. “Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices and pollutes indoor air.”

To address this threat to global development, WHO is urging governments to take control with measures like banning tobacco marketing and advertising, promoting plain product packaging, and making indoor public places and workplaces smoke-free.

Another valuable tool to fight tobacco use? Taxation: While it’s one of the least used methods, increasing tobacco tax and prices is one of the most effective tobacco control measures available, says Dr. Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for NCDs and Mental Health

And although governments pull in almost $270 billion in tobacco excise tax revenues each year, WHO says this could increase by over 50% for an additional $141 billion simply by raising taxes on cigarettes by $0.80 per pack in all countries.

“By taking robust tobacco control measures, governments can safeguard their countries’ futures by protecting tobacco users and non-users from these deadly products, generating revenues to fund health and other social services, and saving their environments from the ravages tobacco causes,” Dr. Chan said.

Scientists Conduct Yet Another Study That Suggests Coffee Can Combat Cancer

Researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburgh have found that it’s possible that the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to develop hepatocellular cancer (HCC) — the most prolific form of liver cancer. Analyzing data from 26 studies, which involved more than 2.25 million participants in total, they concluded that people who drink 1 cup of coffee per day have a 20% reduced risk, 2 cups per day reduces risk by 35%, and 3 cups per day decreased risk by 50%. These findings showed that decaffeinated coffee also affects your risk, but the team could not deduce the precise amount.

Lead author Dr. Oliver Kennedy, a member of the Primary Care and Population Sciences Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton, told The Guardian: “Coffee is widely believed to possess a range of health benefits, and these latest findings suggest it could have a significant effect on liver cancer risk.” Coffee has also been said to have painkilling capabilities and the potential to prevent heart attacks.

The main consequence of this study is that doctors may be able to use coffee to help in the prevention of liver cancer.  It’s a step that is both inexpensive and easy for people to incorporate into their daily lives, if they haven’t already. These benefits are also present in decaffeinated coffee, meaning that this means of prevention would also be accessible to those who can’t or do not drink caffeinated coffee.

The study authors wrote “It may be important for developing coffee as a lifestyle intervention in chronic liver disease, as decaffeinated coffee might be more acceptable to those who do not drink coffee or who limit their coffee consumption because of caffeine-related symptoms.”

Now, this development is not necessarily an encouragement to drown yourself in Starbucks. There are dangers in consuming too much caffeine, and much more research still needs to be done before coffee can be used medically with certainty. There is not enough existing research into the possible repercussions of consuming large quantities of caffeine over time, especially as a preventative medical measure. Hopefully in the future, preventing liver cancer will be cheap, easy, and delicious.

Keeping Cool: The Science of Sweat

While sweating, or perspiration, can be embarrassing, it is an important body function. Sweating, and a lack of sweating, can also be a helpful sign that there is something wrong with the body.

Sweating is the release of a salty liquid from the sweat glands. The liquid has one main purpose: as it evaporates, it helps to cool the body. Sweating is regulated by the autonomic, or sympathetic, nervous system. Signals, using the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, are sent to the sweat glands. The sweat is then released to the skin surface through ducts.

A person has 2 million to 4 million sweat glands, with the highest density of sweat glands on the palms of hands and soles of feet, according to the National Library of Medicine.

“From baby to adult, the number of sweat glands does not change. Therefore, babies have the highest number of sweat glands per square inch, i.e. 8 to 10-fold higher than adults,” said Dr. Eugene Bauer, chief medical officer at Dermira and former dean of Stanford University’s School of Medicine.

Sweat is odorless. Bacteria on the skin mixing with sweat is what produces body odor. Most sweat is colorless, too. Both odor and sweat stains are caused by the apocrine sweat glands.

“Yellow underarm stains are caused by your apocrine glands, which contain proteins and fatty acids and thus make underarm secretions thick and milky,” said Dr. Niket Sonpal of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York.

The secretions also attract bacteria from the skin, which breaks down the secretion and creates the bad smell.

It’s not unusual for some people to only perspire a little and for others to sweat a lot. “The normal range for sweating is very wide,” said Dr. Robert Sallis, co-director of the sports medicine fellowship at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center. “Some people might only sweat half a liter during an hour of intensive activity, while some might sweat 3 or 4 liters, and both are still within a normal range.”

A person’s size and gender can play a role in how they sweat and where they sweat. People who are out of shape, for example, tend to sweat in a central pattern, such as at the center of their chest or back. Those who are more in shape tend to sweat more evenly across their body. Also, women typically sweat less than men. “People used to think women were more likely to suffer heat stroke and therefore incapable of running marathons,” explained Sallis. “The truth is, women have fewer sweat glands, but they also have less muscle mass so they produce less heat (and therefore need to sweat less).”

A person’s sweat rate is the amount of sweat lost during an activity. To prevent dehydration, marathoners, triathletes and other athletes find their sweat rate so they know how much water they need to drink during an activity.

Here is how to measure someone’s sweat rate:

  1. Weigh the body, nude, on a set of scales.
  2. Do an intensive physical activity for an hour, like running, ideally in the condition in which they will compete (hills, humidity, etc.).
  3. Weigh while nude again.

The amount of weight lost is the sweat rate. One pound (0.45 kilograms) of weight loss equals 16 ounces (0.47 liters) of sweat loss. “This rate can vary somewhat based on the intensity of the activity, humidity, blood sugar rate and other factors,” said Sallis. “Once this rate is established, it should be used as the amount of water the athlete needs to drink in that hour of activity, incrementally.”

Lack of sweat when a person is hot could be a symptom of many medical disorders. “There are a couple of things that come to mind when I hear that someone is hot, but not sweating,” Dr. Neha Pathak, WebMD’s medical editor, told Live Science. “The most concerning, depending on the rest of the story, is heat stroke.”

Heat stroke happens after prolonged exposure to high temperatures, explained Pathak. For younger people, it generally occurs after prolonged exercise or outdoor activity, without adequate hydration. For older people, it can happen without exertion because of underlying medical conditions, medications or other factors like physical disability. Hot and humid weather makes cooling off through sweat evaporation ineffective. The longer the exposure, the more dehydrated a person becomes. This can eventually lead to a body temperature above 104 F (40 C), along with feeling faint, dizzy, nauseous, and confused. “You can feel very hot without any sweating. Without treatment, there can be serious complications from heat stroke,” said Pathak.

There are many other reasons why someone may not sweat. For instance, there could be nerve damage. Conditions that can lead to this type of nerve damage include diabetes, alcoholism, Parkinson’s disease or direct damage to the skin, such as after trauma, said Bauer.

Sometimes skin diseases, such as psoriasis or heat rash, can interfere with normal sweat gland functioning, as well. Conditions called hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia and hypohidrosis, also known as anhidrosis, can also cause the sweat glands to malfunction.

Menopause can lead to the sensation of feeling hot or having episodes of “hot flashes” without associated sweating, as well, said Pathak.

A person who is not hot, but is still sweating, may have a problem with their sympathetic nervous system. “Many times, this excessive sweating is associated with stimuli, e.g. eating spicy foods or nervousness, but often there is no specific reason why this happens,” said Bauer.

Hyperhidrosis is a skin condition where the body sweats more than what is required to keep cool because of overactive sweat glands. It can affect the underarms (axillary hyperhidrosis), palms of the hands, soles of the feet and face, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If the heavy sweating is accompanied by chest pain, lightheadedness, chills, nausea or a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher, seek immediate medical assistance.

Additional facts

“Researchers are looking into harvesting energy from human sweat,” said Pathak. “They have shown that they can use the electrochemical properties of sweat to power wearable biomedical devices, like heart rate and blood pressure monitors. These techniques are being used to develop power sources for wearable electronic devices. Their work shows that human sweat can be used as a biofuel!”