The human body: An inspiring biological work of art? Or a meaty sack of germs and fluids? Either way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what goes on in there — and scientists are constantly attempting to find out more. Here are the most interesting things they’ve discovered about our bodies in the last seven days:
Shots: Bad For Your Head, Maybe Good For Your Skeleton?
If you enjoy a good tipple and you enjoy huge leaps in logic, have we got some great news for you: Tequila is good for your bones.
According to a researcher with the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico City, it works like this: Blue agave—the variety that when baked, mashed, strained, fermented and then distilled becomes tequila—contains substances called “fructans” that improve the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Calcium, as any parent who has ever (perhaps erroneously) served milk to their small child can attest, is the element essential to strong bones.
In the study on mice suffering from osteoporosis, those that were administered agave fructans were able to absorb 50 percent more calcium than mice that were not. In addition, their little mice bones were found to have become thicker, too.
So, would it be a stretch to assume that, if agave can improve bone health, tequila, which is made from agave, must do the same? While the science does indicate that perhaps blue agave can be researched as an alternative to existing osteoporosis treatments, don’t go running to your local liquor store just yet: The research was done on agave, not on your favorite I’m-already-wasted shot. Undoubtedly, not every nutrient in agave survives the distillation process — plus, it’s highly unlikely that any doctor would ever recommend tequila to combat brittle bones, especially since other options are available that accomplish the same ends and won’t wreck your liver.
Those of us who enjoy a drink or five after work will have to settle for red wine being the only alcohol that’s “good for you.” And even so, like everything in life, only in moderation.
Why We Get the Runs After Going on a Bender
The pounding headache; the sensitivity to light; the gurgling tummy; the overwhelming dread of what the day will bring: These are a few of a hungover person’s (least) favorite things. But let’s not forget the crappiest of post-bender symptoms: A wicked case of the runs.
Diarrhea-like stomach trouble is a hallmark of overconsumption, but why is this the case? Luckily for us, Men’s Health is here with a primer.
According to gastroenterologist Andrew Black, M.D., heavy drinking creates a perfect storm of issues that can give you the runs. First, even a little bit of booze causes your stomach to begin secreting acid in large amounts, which can cause stomach inflammation. This inflammation can make your gut begin leaking fluids, which in turn prevents your stool from forming into solid clumps.
Secondly, the presence of alcohol—which is essentially a poison — tells your stomach muscles to get it out of your body as soon as possible, causing both the sensation of needing to hit the toilet ASAP, and also denying your intestines the time it needs to absorb all those excess fluids.
So now you’ve got poop headed at high speed to your bowels, which has been made liquid thanks to the stomach inflammation, and which hasn’t been given the time to have that fluid absorbed back into your body. That’s the runs. That’s what that is.
Like most every other hangover symptom, the key to preventing booze-induced liquid dookies is to drink water between drinks. It might sound counterintuitive, but water will dilute the alcohol in your stomach, making that perfect storm of tummy trouble much less pronounced, and making it less necessary for you to spend your morning dumping your brains out.
Sick Burns Take Longer to Heal Depending on the Time of Day
Unfortunately, accidents do happen: Maybe you decided to douse a pile of autumn leaves with gasoline; perhaps you forgot to blow out your flaming shot of everclear. Whatever the reason, sometimes we end up with burns, and recovery from those burns takes time. What’s interesting, however, is that when we get burned can affect how long that recovery takes. Specifically, whether we get burned during the day, or at night.
That’s right: According to research done by the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the U.K., burns sustained at night take longer to heal than those sustained during the day — on average, 28 days and 17 days, respectively.
How is this possible? The explanation, it turns out, has to do with special cells in our skin called fibroblasts, which play a critical role in how our bodies treat burns, and wounds in general. But what researchers found was, fibroblasts change how they react to a burn depending on whether it’s day or night. During the day they spring into action, but at night they’re all like, “Nah, I’m just gonna chill out.”
Why they act differently during the day and night is not entirely known, but researchers think it has to do with circadian rhythms, i.e., how body chemistry and physiological functions change depending on the time of day.
While the study was done on burn injuries, researchers believe that the behavior of these fibroblast cells react in the same manner for other types of skin wounds as well. Knowing this could change the way doctors approach surgery, and how and when we are prescribed medication.
But back to those flaming shots of everclear — honestly, why would someone ever do that?
Why Not Peeing Straight Is Potentially a Reason to Panic
If your pee tends to come out at an angle, I’ve got some bad news for you: You’re at a higher risk for developing cancer later in life.
Hear me out: According to a new study of over 1.5 million men by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, men with a condition known as Peyronie’s disease — a.k.a. penile fibrosis, a.k.a. a curved schlong— are at a higher likelihood of contracting testicular, skin, and stomach cancer than a guy whose dick is as straight as an arrow (40 percent, 29 percent and 40 percent higher, respectively).
This is because the men who suffer from Peyronie’s seemingly share a gene that predisposes them to these types of cancer. Dr. Alexander Pastuszak, lead researcher in the study, thinks this is actually good news:
“This is important because these conditions are largely taken for granted. […] these men should be monitored for development of these disorders disproportionately in contrast to the rest of the population.”
Essentially, what he’s saying is that our genes — good or bad — can manifest themselves in seemingly innocuous ways, and thus everything needs to be looked at and studied in order to catch any potential issues. That doesn’t mean guys with curved wangs should panic, though — the study concludes that men with Peyronie’s should simply be more closely monitored for cancer, just in case.
Don’t look so sad, curvies: At the very least, you can celebrate that the sex is better.