Why Spin Class Could Be Damaging Your Hearing

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Diligently dragging yourself to the gym multiple times a week is supposed to have a positive effect on your overall health. According to an investigative report by Vox’s Julia Belluz, however, your choice of exercise might wind up doing more harm than good.

Indoor cycling, also known as spin class, has become a fitness staple in recent years, with people congregating indoors to ride stationary bikes at a tempo and pace set by an instructor. These sessions are often scored by music to help motivate participants. As Belluz found out, that music is sometimes so loud that it threatens to induce early-onset hearing loss in both trainers and trainees.

Belluz measured noise levels at her own fitness studio and found the volume to be in excess of 100 decibels (dB), a dangerously high register that exceeds Department of Labor standards and can be harmful to hearing if exposure lasts longer than 15 minutes. Her finding was in line with a 2016 study that took 17 audio measurements in the Boston area—including major fitness chains—and found that classes regularly rose to the 100 dB level.

Repeated exposure to loud noise can damage the hair cells in the ear that transmit sound to the brain, an injury analogous to grass being bent as it’s being continually walked on. Eventually, the hair cells—like the grass—fail to spring back, leading to hearing loss.

Currently, no workplace safety authority (OSHA, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) has made any specific spin class-related mandates, though individual sites may face a fine if they’re reported. The best way to mitigate a chance of damage to your hearing is to take sound measurements with a smart phone app and confirm your class isn’t in the 100 dB level. If you’re concerned about the volume, talking to management or wearing earplugs can help buffer the noise pollution.

[h/t Vox]

FDA Recalls Thyroid Medications Due to Contamination Risk

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Hypothyroid medications manufactured by Westminster Pharmaceuticals have been recalled after it was discovered that one of the company’s Chinese suppliers failed to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, CNN reports.

The oral tablets contain levothyroxine (LT4) and liothyronine (LT3), which are both synthetic hormones used to treat thyroid conditions.

The medicine was recalled as a precaution after it was discovered during a 2017 FDA inspection that the Chinese supplier in question, Sichuan Friendly Pharmaceutical Co., was not practicing good manufacturing practices.

However, patients with serious thyroid conditions shouldn’t throw out their pills just yet. No adverse effects from the medication have been reported, and the risk of not taking the medication outweighs the risk of taking a recalled pill.

According to the FDA, “Because these products may be used in the treatment of serious medical conditions, patients taking the recalled medicines should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement product.”

For more information on the specific lots and products in question, visit the FDA’s website.

[h/t CNN]

A 'Zombie Gene' Might Be the Reason Elephants Rarely Get Cancer

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iStock

When it comes to cancer rates in the animal kingdom, elephants are an anomaly. As Popular Science notes, cancer should be more common among larger species, but with elephants, that simply isn’t the case. Only about 5 percent of elephants die from cancer, compared to 11 to 25 percent of humans.

In a new study, published in Cell Reports, University of Chicago researchers found what’s believed to be the genetic source of elephants’ cancer immunity. Elephants, like all mammals, have a gene called LIF that is known to suppress tumors. Humans have one copy of this gene, but elephants have 10 copies, which have developed over 80 million years of evolution. However, only one of those copies, called LIF6, is functional in elephants.

The other LIF copies are essentially dead because they lack a specific piece of DNA to make them function. At some point during the evolutionary process, the LIF6 gene copy turned back on, but scientists don’t know why or when this occurred. This “zombie gene” helps kill mutated cells, in true Night of the Living Dead fashion.

“This reanimation of LIF6 occurred perhaps over 59 million years,” Joshua Schiffman, who studies cancer in elephants but was not involved in the study, told Popular Science. “That’s an amazingly long period of time for nature to modify and perfect an anticancer mechanism.”

Scientists aren’t yet sure how this could be applied to cancer research in humans, but they say it’s a promising start and a creative approach to the problem. While these findings are still fresh and need to be duplicated, it raises the possibility of creating a drug that mimics the function of LIF6.

[h/t Popular Science]

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