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Bras don't work

Countering everything we've ever been told about supporting the upper curves, a new study from France says we've got it all wrong. Wearing a bra does nothing to decrease back pain, and the support offered by a brassiere actually encourages the breasts to sag. Quelle horreur!

As reported in The Local, a 15-year study led by Jean-Denis Rouillon, from the University of Besancon in eastern France, found that "bras are a false necessity."

"Medically, physiologically, anatomically -- breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra," Rouillon, a sports science expert, told France Info radio.

In a job presumably envied by many, Rouillon spent a decade and a half measuring the changes in breasts of hundreds of women using a slide rule and caliper at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Besancon. The participants were all between the ages of 18 and 35.

Of the braless women, the researchers concluded that "on average, their nipples lifted, on average ,seven millimetres in one year in relation to the shoulders."

A 28-year-old woman who took part in the study hasn't worn a bra for two years now and doesn't expect to go back.

"There are multiple benefits: I breathe more easily, I carry myself better, and I have less back pain," she told France Info.

-- Mother Nature Network

Kids really do age you

Your parents always said you were giving them grey hair. Now, science is backing them up, at least in the case of bees.

Researchers have found that nurturing the hive's progeny accelerates aging in the insects. In summer, worker honey bees usually spend several weeks feeding the queen's new larvae (the queen is marked in green). Workers then change careers, living out their days as pollen-collecting foragers. They die a mere two weeks after making the switch, showing a steep decline in brain function. But bees born just before winter, without a brood to nourish, live nearly a year.

To investigate, researchers placed winter bees in a summer-like environment, both with and without young bees to care for. The bees with a brood played along, feeding the babies and then developing into foragers who died after two weeks. But brood-free foragers lived up to 10 weeks with no cognitive decline, the researchers reported online Wednesday in The Journal of Experimental Biology. They noticed high levels of lipofuscin, an "age pigment," in short-lived foragers and much lower levels in longer-lived bees.

These changing levels suggest that, for bees, aging is a dynamic process that can be slowed or even reversed. Maybe that explains why your dad started playing bass in a garage band after you left the nest.


-- ScienceNOW

Something fishy about this graft

By mimicking a technique used by an intestinal parasite of fish, researchers have developed a flexible patch studded with microneedles that holds skin grafts in place more strongly than surgical staples do. After burrowing into the walls of a fish's intestines, the spiny-headed worm Pomphorhynchus laevis inflates its proboscis to better embed itself in the soft tissue.

In the new patch, the stiff polystyrene core of the 700-micrometre-tall needles penetrates the tissue. Then a thin hydrogel coating on the tip of each needle -- a coating based on the material in disposable diapers that expands when it gets wet -- swells to help anchor the patch in place. In tests using skin grafts, adhesion strength of the patch was more than three times higher than surgical staples, the researchers reported online Tuesday in Nature Communications.

Because the patch doesn't depend on chemical adhesives for its gripping power, there's less chance for patients to have an allergic reaction. And because the microneedles are about one-quarter the length of typical surgical staples, the patches cause less tissue damage when they're removed, the researchers contend. Besides holding grafts in place, the patch could be used to hold the sides of a wound or an incision together -- even, in theory, ones inside the body if a slowly dissolving version of the patch can be developed. Moreover, the researchers say, the hydrogel coating holds promise as a way to deliver proteins, drugs or other therapeutic substances to patients.


-- ScienceNOW

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2013 J14

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