July 28: What's Jen Clicking on Between Newscasts?

I love the medical stories that hit on these random findings that make you ask, "why? how? who funded this study?"

There is always a study that says coffee is good for you.  Then another one that says it's bad.  Same with alcohol.  Remember when red dye was banned in the 1970s, and because people were freaked out we didn't have red M&Ms for years?  Wikipedia says that phase lasted from 1976 until 1987. 

In 1995, consumers were allowed to vote on a whole new color, and smart as consumers are, they picked blue.  I say smart because now, they're saying the blue ones could be really good for you.

Today, a story on Telegraph.co.uk claims: Blue M&Ms 'mend spinal injuries.'  It says the food dye that gives blue M&Ms their "colour," (UK, remember) called Brilliant Blue G (BBG,) blocks a chemical that kills healthy spinal cord cells around the damaged area.  It's this post-injury damage that often causes more irreversible damage, the story says, than the original injury.

The down side, is it usually turns the patient bright blue.  Brilliant blue, if you will.

That's okay if you're a rat, because your fur grows over your blue skin, but look at this little blue guy with the blue tinted nose, ears and paws. He's darn cute.


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The good news is the blue skin is only temporary, and it apparently prevents permanent damage.

"Those treated with BBG were later able to walk, although with a limp," the story says. "Rats that did not receive the BBG solution never regained the ability to walk.

"On the downside, the treatment causes the skin to temporarily turn bright blue and BBG needs to be injected soon after the trauma. The test injections were given within 15 minutes."

That means you have to have a giant bag of blue dye around if you fall off a ladder and can't move.  Not the most practical thing, but the research is interesting and shows promise.  Read the whole thing here; it explains the science part without boring you to death, which is what I usually try to do while paraphrasing but in this case I'd just be flat out plagiarizing.

Don't yell at me for putting up a cute picture of a poor little lab rat -- debate the ethics of animal testing if you will, but I'm just the messenger.  Also don't yell at me for showing animals in a zoo because I also stuck, for your viewing pleasure, this slideshow of baby zoo in here because I saw a new one that was so cute I almost couldn't stand it.

What is a baby fennec, you say?   A nocturnal fox that's found in the Sahara Desert, according to Wikipedia.  They need the gigantic ears to hear bugs and stuff walking on the sand at night so they can hunt them down -- and they also help to dissipate heat, of all things.  Click on the picture for a slideshow of all kinds of cute zoo babies from around the world -- it will make you happy.

As if finding out there are benefits from eating blue M&Ms isn't enough happiness for one day.  I'm just waiting for the study that says the yellow ones cause insomnia, or blindness, or oh yeah ... make you fat.  Wait, that's all of 'em ...

Editor's Chart: Click on the M&M distribution chart below for all kinds of useless information -- it will make you unhappy if you like yellow or red M&Ms.

See what else Jen is clicking on ...

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