Digest #2: How much wine is too much?
Also, the effects of age on IQ and why you should enjoy your bread!
We’ve had some great questions come in recently on Metafact - with some insightful responses from top experts. Here are 3 things I’ve learnt this week:
Creativity decreases with age..
Have you noticed any changes in your mental horsepower with age? I have. As I enter the latter half of a typical human life - I’ve noticed a marked change in my brain. I don’t have an illness (I think) - but I can’t seem to do as much mental work as I used to. It also seems my recall is fading and I don’t feel as creative. This is my experience (n=1) - so not scientific at all. So I was interested that one of our members asked the very good question of whether IQ (a measure of intelligence) decreases with age. “A clear decline is evident” writes Dr Alan S. Kaufman from Yale Univeristy, one of the world’s leading experts on IQ. Most worrying is that “Fluid Intelligence” (the ability to solve novel creative problems not taught in school) suffers a ‘precipitous’ decline beyond the age of 44. This matches the analysis I did a while back showing ‘82% of Nobel Prize discoveries were made by scientists younger than 45’. No wonder I don’t feel as creative anymore. (Read Dr Kaufman’s full answer here)
Half a bottle of wine each night isn’t healthy..
Like many of us, I love a glass of wine at night. Sometimes we like to trick ourselves into thinking wine is somehow better for us than other forms of alcohol. Indeed, there is some evidence suggesting light drinking is protective for cardiovascular disease as Adrian Baranchuk MD from Queens University explains here. Despite this, there is a strong consensus that moderate alcohol increases the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer. So when a member recently asked Metafact whether 1/2 bottle daily (~3.5 glasses of wine) is too much, it was a pretty clear answer:
100% “Yes” based on 4 experts so far | Read all answers here
Professor Tim Stockwell from the University of Victoria shares a good perspective on this citing a recent study suggesting one bottle of wine per week is equivalent to 5 cigarettes for men & 10 cigarettes for women. Sounds sort of scary but remember that “it is important to note that this is only risk and not certainty” he writes. Read Prof Stockwell’s full answer here and Adrian Baranchuk MD full answer here, who also gives a breakdown of different national guidelines. This topic needs a much wider investigation by us - so we plan to do a bonus member review of Wine early next year...
MRI scans are pretty safe..
You’ve probably heard of an MRI scan. It stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and is used by doctors to take pictures inside the body, particularly on soft tissues that don’t show up on x-ray examinations. So the question is, are they harmful? Dr Rebecca Dewey a neuroimaging researcher from the University of Nottingham shared an insightful answer a while back to help our understanding: “MRI’s use radio waves, like your mobile phone” says Dr Dewey. “MRI scanner manufacturers have to comply with the same safety regulations as mobile phone manufacturers in terms of the maximum amount of radio waves they are allowed to let your body absorb…When everything is done properly it really is very safe both in the short term and over a lifetime of (potentially) hundreds of scans” she writes. (Read her full answer here)
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Enjoy the rest of our digest and may the facts be with you!
Knowledge verified by many independent experts. Read the latest here.
Gluten is not unhealthy, so enjoy your baguette!
94% consensus from 35 experts. Have you noticed how many products promote ‘Gluten-Free’? From pasta, bread to soups, the gluten-free stamp is everywhere!! With such a wide signal on food, we could easily slip into thinking this means gluten is bad for our health. So is it? Should we avoid the baguette? We asked the experts. No - it’s not unhealthy. Unless someone has coeliac disease, there is very little evidence to show that gluten is unhealthy or needs to be eliminated from the diet. Foods containing gluten can be key part of a healthy diet. So enjoy your baguettes guilt-free, science says so! Read our expert summary here.
Humans are causing climate warming, let’s move on.
100% consensus from 7 climate scientists: Many people, including the US President, still doubt the link between human activity and climate warming. Here is what we know. Earth's average surface temperature has warmed ~1.2°F since 1951. This warming could not be caused by natural processes like solar radiation or volcanic activity. An increase in greenhouse gases via human activity is highly likely to be the primary driver of recent global warming. I’ve written a summary explaining the long history of how scientists worked out how humans are changing the climate. Read the expert summary here.
Someone says this, you can say..
When your friend says that “Controlled crying on young babies works”, you can say –that’s not true – according to experts there’s no evidence for beneficial effects of sleep training in infants below 6 months of age, but above 6 months positive effects have been reported…
When a blogger tells you “Humans are natural vegetarians”, you can say - that is false – based on the short length of gut, science indicates we are likely natural omnivores…
When someone says “Poor sleep is linked to Alzheimer’s Disease” you can say – that is true – another reason to go and get your daily 7-9 hours everyone!
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Ben did launch events and talks in San Francisco and London this month - thanks to those who came along. Sydney is next on the list, we may have 2 separate events with a special guest lecture lined up. Those in Sydney, keep your diaries open Dec 16 from 6-8:30pm.
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