What do pandas, Wall Street and parasitic worms all have in common? They’ve all been part of the most trending endocrinology stories of the year! As 2015 comes to a close, we look back at some of the weird and wonderful stories from the world of hormones. Here we round up the news that got most people talking about our wide and varied discipline.
- Pandas survive almost exclusively on bamboo because of their extremely slow metabolisms
Despite spending up to 14 hours per day munching about 12.5 kg of bamboo, pandas only digest about 17% of what they consume. Writing in Science, researchers found that pandas are conservative with their energy by having low levels of thyroid hormone, which normally regulates your metabolism. Pandas also save energy by moving slowly, sometimes moving just twenty metres every hour. After eating so much, which panda wouldn’t find the thought of moving unbearable?
- WADA rejects calls to ban elite athletes from taking thyroid medication
Amid suspicion of abuse, members of the US Anti-Doping Agency and UK Anti-Doping had asked Wada to ban synthetic thyroid medication earlier this year. After consulting medical experts who were “unanimous” in their decision, Wada rejected this call and kept thyroid medication off the 2016 prohibited list. This is the third year UK Anti-Doping has asked for thyroid medication to be added to the prohibited list.
- Traders’ hormones ‘increase risky behaviour’
In an era of banking bogeymen and global economic uncertainty flooding the news, it is little surprise that a “powerful and robust” study in Scientific Reports caught the world’s imagination in July. Scientists found that male traders with higher levels of cortisol were significantly more likely to make riskier investments compared to those with lower levels of the hormone. The news featured comments from our very own members Prof Ashley Grossman and Dr Richard Quinton.
- Eating placenta ‘does not benefit health’
This story might be difficult to swallow, but eating placenta is an increasingly common phenomenon. Fuelled by media reports, blogs and websites, new mothers are convinced that paying up to £150 for placenta capsules and smoothies will give them a magical solution from “replenishing hormones” to curing post-natal depression. Researchers at Northwestern University published a review of ten studies and found that there is no proof that eating placenta in any form carried health benefits.
- Screen time linked to weaker bones in teen boys
Slouching posture, carpal-tunnel, neck strain, eye problems. The list of health impacts technology has on human bodies is increasing the more we can’t live without our screens. A Norwegian study in BMJ now adds low bone mineral density to the list, finding that boys with heavy screen time had weaker bones. Anyone else feel like twisting their neck and cracking their knuckles after reading that one?
That’s a pretty good take-home message from reading our blog, so now might be a good time to take a break from your screens! Look out for part 2 of our review of the best hormone stories in 2015 next week.