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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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Polar bears are starving—and it’s only getting worse

Polar bears will not be able to adapt to ice-free environments and are likely to starve to death, new research has found. As safe habitats for polar bears continue to shrink rapidly due to the climate crisis’ impact on polar regions, scientists carried out a study to understand whether these majestic creatures can adapt to new environments.

Over three weeks in summer, Canadian researchers closely monitored 20 polar bears, employing collars equipped with video cameras and GPS to gain insights into their behaviour and energy expenditure when stranded on land. The results, published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, reveal a grim reality for these creatures as they grapple with the challenges of a changing environment.

Despite the bears attempting various strategies to maintain energy reserves, such as resting, scavenging, and foraging, nearly all of them experienced rapid weight loss, averaging around 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, per day. This weight loss occurred regardless of whether the bears were actively foraging or conserving energy through extended periods of rest, researchers from western Hudson Bay region of Manitoba, Canada, said.

Charles Robbins, the director of the Washington State University Bear Center and co-author of the study, says adapting to land like their grizzly bear relatives seems unlikely for polar bears.

“Neither strategy will allow polar bears to exist on land beyond a certain amount of time,” Mr Robbins says. “Polar bears are not grizzly bears wearing white coats. They’re very, very different.”

Some adult male polar bears opted to conserve energy by resting, and burning calories at rates similar to hibernation. Others actively searched for food, consuming bird and caribou carcasses, as well as berries, kelp, and grasses.

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The Independent
CBS News
The Daily Mail
Polar Bears International
Lewiston Tribune

Analysis of McMorris Rodgers announcement

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has announced that she is not running for reelection.

Cornell Clayton, a professor of political science and public policy at Washington State University (WSU), offered analysis on how this course change from one of the state’s most influential lawmakers will impact the political process.

Clayton’s initial reaction to the announcement was surprise.

“Representative McMorris Rodgers is chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee right now, which is a powerful position that she’s wanted for some time. In many ways, she’s at the height of her power, so that was a bit surprising,” Clayton said.

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