Discovered: mothers' uteruses transferred to daughters; arsenic found in rice; Hispanics in U.S. say they're American; evolution observed in bacteria.
Widespread arsenic contamination in rice products. Inorganic arsenic has been found in rice products time and time again, but the FDA doesn't seem too worried according to a new Consumer Reports study on the known carcinogen's presence in common grocery products. In independent lab tests, the magazine detected considerable levels of arsenic in 200 rice products sold in the U.S. Rice-based cereals have "at least five times more than has been found in alternatives such as oatmeal," they found. Still, FDA representative Margaret Hamberg says there's no big cause for concern. "Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains," she says, "not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food." [Wired]
Hispanic-Americans say they're Americans. Some of our leaders use heated rhetoric when talking about Hispanic-Americans, proposing a huge wall on the Mexican border to keep out more "illegals." But most Hispanic-Americans still feel at home in the U.S. When asked by polling firm IBOPE/Zogby International, nearly three-quarters of Hispanic-Americans responded that they identify most with "being American." Only two percent said they feel like they don't belong. "What is interesting is that surveys and polls consistently show Latinos mostly identify with the U.S. and with being American, and yet this is continually a surprise to the general public," says NYU professor Cristina Beltrán. However, over half also said that they feel like they've been discriminated against. [NBC Latino]
Mothers share their uteruses with daughters. "She's my sister ... my daughter ... she's my sister and my daughter!" Well, this isn't exactly the same thing as Evelyn Mulwray's incestuous entanglements in Chinatown, but some serious family bonds are being tested in new research coming out of Sweden. Surgeons at the University of Gothenburg were able to successfully take two women's uteruses and implant them in their own daughters. This would potentially allow them to give birth to a child that grew inside the same uterus they came out of themselves. One woman lost her uterus after a bout with cervical cancer, while the other was born without one. If the women are able to carry pregnancies to term, then lead researcher Michael Olausson will declare his work a success. "That's the best proof," he says. [i09]
Speeding up bacterial evolution. Sometimes scientists can be pretty cruel to their test subjects. In this case, we're not talking about cute little mice or stressed-out psychological study participants, but bacterial cultures. Richard Lenski starves 12 bacterial cultures for hours on end in order to study evolution. By denying them sugar, Lenski has shown that bacteria can evolutionarily adapt new ways to survive during long, food-less stretches. He began his research in 1988, and by 2008, the bacteria evolved to use citrate as a fuel source. Now he's using the latest advances in genome research to study just how evolution works on a genetic level. He's discovered that "one branch of the citrate eaters has picked up a mutation that wipes out a gene involved in DNA repair, which causes an increased rate of mutation and an even faster diversification," reports Ars Technica. Understanding the genetic basis of evolution is a huge undertaking though, so Lenski and his colleagues still have much work cut out for them. [Ars Technica]
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