Around the Web; and “A Ray of Hope in the Dark Horizon of Obesity”

Our prayers to those in harm’s way: To the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan, and earlier in Christchurch, our prayers and best wishes.

Here are things that caught my eye this week:

[1] Congratulations, Emily! Dr. Emily Deans is now writing for Psychology Today. It’s great that a wide audience will now be hearing her helpful ideas – for instance, that magnesium may be the healthiest antidepressant.

P.S. – Kurt Harris will be there too!

[2] Secrets to longevity: Longevity project authors say that careful, conscientious people live longer than optimists; hard-working people live the longest; worrying is OK; good marriages extend lifespan, difficult marriages don’t; starting school at a very young age shortens lifespan (that’s bad news for Shou-Ching, she started school early to be with her older brother). Their advice: make a lot of friends, and be active doing things you enjoy.

[3] What’s He up to now?: When commenters leave blog addresses I visit their blogs. Mary of Midlife Makeover Year made me smile with this:

Love this picture of Mary … keeping an eye on her Son who is probably messing up the spice rack again.

[4] Self-Recommending Paper: With Staffan Lindeberg, Loren Cordain, Pedro Bastos, and other leading Paleo figures in the author list, “The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization” is bound to be good. Download here.

[5] Nice to hear: Our Ox Feet and Seaweed Soup is “Absolutely fantastic!”

[6] A new difference between chimps and humans: Penile spines. John Hawks explains that chimpanzees have pointy cactus-like penises while Neandertals and humans don’t. Scientists are wondering when and why our ancestors lost these prickly appendages. The loss makes sex far more enjoyable.

I’m glad I’m human!

[7] Animal photo for no reason whatsoever: Via Yves Smith

[8] Are smokers more creative?: Bruce Charlton wonders if smoking improves mental function.

[9] Don’t eat cardboard: Barry Groves says cardboard breakfast cereal boxes are no longer healthier than the cereals they contain. Sadly, not because the cereals got better.

[10] Don Rumsfeld works at a standing desk, Piers Morgan thinks it’s odd: There are few single life adjustments more likely to improve your health than working at a standing desk. I’ll blog about why after I finish building mine. Don Rumsfeld looks great for 78, and his standing desk probably has something to do with it. Here’s Piers Morgan trying to make it sound weird:

I wonder what would have happened if Rummy had worn his Vibrams!

[11] Cure worse than the disease syndrome: In Science Daily, some excited scientists proclaim a new cure for obesity:

An important discovery in mice may make a big difference in people’s waistlines thanks to a team of Harvard scientists who found that reducing the function of a transmembrane protein, called Klotho, in obese mice with high blood sugar levels produced lean mice with reduced blood sugar levels. This protein also exists in humans, suggesting that selectively targeting Klotho could lead to a new class of drugs to reduce obesity and possibly Type 2 diabetes for people….

“Our study is a small step toward reducing the sufferings of obese and diabetic individuals to bring back the joy of healthy life,” said M. Shawkat Razzaque, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Oral Medicine, Infection and Immunity at Harvard School of Dental Medicine in Boston. “In the dark horizon of obesity and diabetes, Klotho brings a ray of hope.”

I happen to have a passing familiarity with Klotho; it is discussed in this paper which was cited in my post The Amazing Curative Powers of High-Dose Vitamin D in Aging and Autism. Klotho knockout mice experience accelerated aging and die young. Another paper summarizes, “Klotho hypomorphic mice (klotho(hm)) suffer from severe growth deficit, rapid aging, and early death.” From a Nature article, here’s a picture of a normal mouse and a Klotho deficient mouse. Can you guess which mouse had its obesity cured?

Of course, rapid aging and early death is a problem for the longevity researcher, not the obesity researcher. If Klotho blocking cures obesity, the obesity researcher’s job is done, and it’s up to longevity researchers to find a drug that extends the life of anti-Klotho-drug-consuming humans.

[12] 88% of Bavarian doctors have prescribed placebos: Guardian story here.  The study (in German) is here. Hat tip: Tyler Cowen.

I suspect that if US doctors could follow their own clinical judgment without fear of lawsuit or clinical review or patient complaints, placebos might make up a majority of prescriptions. And health might improve! Not because the patients are psychosomatic, either.

[13] Jamie Scott, “That Paleo Guy,” is eloquent about constipation.

[14] Fallon, Nevada, provides evidence for an infectious origin of leukemia.

[15] Weekly Video: The rhythms of traditional life (via Fanatic Cook)

Leave a comment ?


  1. Apparently Kurt was invited first and recommended Emily, perhaps the congratulations and p.s. ought to be reversed?

  2. Hi Sean,

    The order of our links means nothing. Or that I learned of Kurt’s move after I had already written my congratulations to Emily. Or that Emily is a friend and I am very happy for her.

    We offer hearty congratulations to both of them. It is great for the Paleo/evolutionary movement, great for Psychology Today, and great for the practice of psychology.

  3. That paper (Francis et al 2011) is very interesting. Thanks, always finding interesting things in your posts.

  4. Thanks Paul! Looking forward to meeting you and Shou-Ching tonight.

  5. Paul,

    You mean it’s not all a big conspiracy 😉

  6. Hi Sean,

    Maybe we can hatch a conspiracy at dinner tonight, but as of now, no conspiracy.

  7. Paul,

    I wish you all well with dinner and conspiracies.

  8. Re #10, I’ve been using an old bookshelf as a standing desk for my computer for more than a year now. Not ideal, but the price was right.

    There’s a photo here:

    Highly recommend everyone give standing a try!

  9. I also love my standing desk. I just used a paper holding thing (don’t know the technical term :)) and an old textbook. It’s not pretty, but it does the trick.

  10. I’ll third the standing desk. I have two bookcases like Brandon shows above, and I finished a 6 ft x 1.5 ft board to lay on top. Perfect height for me. I use my computer there and still have a regular desk for when I want to sit for a bit. Standing takes adjusting, but I like it now, roughly two months into my experiment. I would like to make a permanent desk some day, so I look forward to your upcoming post.

  11. Thanks for the link-love Paul, and for the well wishes following our recent earthquake… we are slowly getting back on our feet.

    I must say, I am incredibly envious of both yourself and Emily! What superb company to have a dinner with!

  12. I’m glad to see that drs. Kurt Harris and Emily Deans are going to be writing for psychology today, I find it kind of scary the amount of drugs some people are getting in order to try and cure mental illnesses that are often not that serious.

    I don’t believe supplements or a healthy diet/exercise program can completely replace drugs, but I do think they could go a long way and possibly even be enough in some people.

    One of my family members was diagnosed with a mental illness and was given many kinds of drugs for it, but when she finally quit all of them and got a dog to walk with twice a day she reached full health again and has been healthy ever since.

  13. Hi Jamie,

    Even better company than you think, Aaron Blaisdell was with us – in fact he arranged the dinner.

    He talked us into attending the AHS so maybe we can duplicate it in August with you present!

    Hi Kris,

    I agree. A dog is a safe therapy, and probably as likely to be effective! Alas, it’s not covered by insurance. 🙂

  14. That was nice of you to pop over! I finished your book yesterday, ordered the supplements, am shopping for white rice today, and am very excited to get my family on the program. Will promote on my humble blog this week. My readers are mostly the women in my family…but I have a pretty big family!


    Happy Sunday, all!

  15. Congrats to Kurt and Emily, both part of my daily blog reading (although for some reason Kurt’s website is blocked by our filter at work due to a weapons warning! Guess the blocker didn’t like that turkey post way back when). LOL

    The Carrera-Bastos paper (which includes Cordain), is a major, and I mean major, new stance on saturated fats. Finally coming to their senses! Congrats to them too.

  16. Hi Paul,

    I wonder how that constipation fat link in [13] jives with your advice to eat some carbs to provide enough glucose for mucus to be made to prevent constipation?

  17. Hi Wout,

    Well, first, our advice to eat some carbs for mucus production is primarily aimed at avoiding GI cancers and infections. One can be glucose deficient and not constipated.

    One can also be constipated on a high-fat diet. Constipation can be caused by hypothyroidism, by nutrient deficiencies, and other causes that have nothing to do with macronutrient ratios.

    I wanted to give Jamie a link and I thought his post would be of interest to our readers. It was interesting to me anyway. You don’t often hear of fat as a remedy for constipation – fiber is the usual suggestion. Jamie is a clinician so his experiences are significant evidence.

    Since we also believe ordinary people should eat more fat, we support Jamie’s advice whether or not it fixes constipation!

    Best, Paul

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