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Toxicant Exposures Show Health Effects Across Generations

While exposure to a single substance like DDT has been shown to create inherited disease susceptibility, a recent study in animals found exposure to multiple different toxicants across generations can amplify those health problems.

In the study, published in the journal Environmental Epigenetics, the researchers exposed an initial generation of pregnant rats to a common fungicide, then their progeny to jet fuel, and the following generation to DDT. When those rats were then bred out to a fifth unexposed generation, the incidence of obesity as well as kidney and prostate diseases in those animals were compounded, rising by as much as 70%.

The researchers also found that their epigenetics, molecular processes independent of DNA that influence gene expression, were also greatly altered.

“We looked at multiple-generation exposures because these types of things are going on routinely, and previous research has only looked at single exposures,” says Michael Skinner, a Washington State University biology professor and the study’s corresponding author. “We found that if multiple generations get different exposures, then eventually there’s an amplification or compounded effect on some diseases.”

The study did show that for other diseases, those associated with the ovaries and the testes, the incidence rose in the first generation of progeny but appeared to plateau with the additional generational exposures.

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Good Men Project

Teachers’ growth mindset appears more important than warmth

Students tend to like friendly teachers, but they like those who believe they can improve even more, new research indicates.

Students in a study still responded positively to instructors described as being cold but who also had a growth mindset, meaning they felt students’ ability in a subject could improve by working hard and trying different strategies. The opposite was also true: more participants reacted negatively to a warm, smiling teacher when they stated a fixed mindset, which is a belief that innate abilities cannot be changed, such as someone being naturally good at math.

“It’s not enough to just be nice,” said lead author Makita White, a Washington State University psychology Ph.D. candidate. “If teachers can change their demeanor to be warmer, it does have a good impact, but it’s a lot better to convey a growth mindset than a fixed mindset to students.”

Previous research has noted that students tend to view teachers who have growth mindsets as friendly and warm, so this proof-of-concept study, published in the journal Motivation Science, was designed to evaluate those factors separately.

“At a very simple level, being friendly is good, but the mindset messages that you send students are really important. They can be even more powerful than just being friendly or welcoming to students,” said Elizabeth Canning, a WSU psychology researcher and the senior author on the paper.

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Phys.org

Electric Water Wars: It’s a Dam Crazy World

More than half of the world’s lakes and two-thirds of its rivers are drying up, threatening ecosystems, farmland, and drinking water supplies. Such diminishing resources are also likely to lead to conflict and even, potentially, all-out war.

The situation is beyond dire. In 2023, it was estimated that upwards of three billion people, or more than 37% of humanity, faced real water shortages, a crisis predicted to dramatically worsen in the decades to come. Consider it ironic then that, as water is disappearing, huge dams — more than 3,000 of them — that require significant river flow to operate are now being built at an unprecedented pace globally.

[Recent] research suggests that hydro-powered dams can create an alarming amount of climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. Rotting vegetation at the bottom of such reservoirs, especially in warmer climates (as in much of Africa), releases significant amounts of methane, a devastating greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

“We estimate that dams emit around 25% more methane by unit of surface than previously estimated,” says Bridget Deemer of the School of Environment at Washington State University in Vancouver, lead author of a highly-cited study on greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs. “Methane stays in the atmosphere for only around a decade, while CO2 stays several centuries, but over the course of 20 years, methane contributes almost three times more to global warming than CO2.”

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CounterPunch
The Nation

High maternal cortisol levels linked to unexpected birth problems

A snippet of hair can reveal a pregnant person’s stress level and may one day help warn of unexpected birth problems, a study indicates.

Washington State University researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in hair samples of 53 women in their third trimester. Of that group, 13 women who had elevated cortisol levels later experienced unpredicted birth complications, such as an early birth or hemorrhaging.

While more research is needed with larger groups, this preliminary finding could eventually lead to a non-invasive way to identify those at risk for such complications. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

“There was otherwise nothing about these women that would suggest a disease or anything else complicating the pregnancy. This confirmed some hypotheses that levels of stress, related specifically to cortisol levels, might be associated with adverse birth outcomes,” said Erica Crespi, a WSU developmental biologist and study’s corresponding author.

As part of the study, the participants all answered survey questions about their levels of psychological distress in addition to having cortisol measurements taken in the third trimester of pregnancy and after they gave birth. The women who experienced unexpected birth complications had elevated cortisol concentrations in their hair, a measure that indicates the stress hormone’s circulating levels in the body during the three months prior to collection.

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Physician’s Weekly
Contemporary OB/GYN

Multi-generational toxicant exposures show cumulative, inherited health effects

While exposure to a single substance like DDT has been shown to create inherited disease susceptibility, a recent study in animals found exposure to multiple different toxicants across generations can amplify those health problems.

In the study, published in the journal Environmental Epigenetics, an initial generation of pregnant rats was exposed to a common fungicide, then their progeny to jet fuel and the following generation to DDT. When those rats were then bred out to a fifth unexposed generation, the incidence of obesity as well as kidney and prostate diseases in those animals were compounded, rising by as much as 70%.

Researchers also found that their epigenetics, molecular processes independent of DNA that influence gene expression, were also greatly altered.

“We looked at multiple-generation exposures because these types of things are going on routinely, and previous research has only looked at single exposures,” said Michael Skinner, a WSU biology professor and the study’s corresponding author. “We found that if multiple generations get different exposures, then eventually there’s an amplification or compounded effect on some diseases.”

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Fortune
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