Why Smarter People Are More Likely To Be Mentally Ill

A rising sense of dread heralds the new morning for our thinking man, who first considers the shotgun leaning by the door before turning to the coffeemaker — deciding that maybe tomorrow is the day.

Higher Intelligence Linked To Mental Illnesses

For the late American novelist David Foster Wallace, that doomsday came Sept. 12, 2008. After suffering for years from major depression, one of the greatest and most influential writers in a generation succumbed to illness with a hangman’s rope in the garage. In death, Wallace joined a pantheon of notable artists and thinkers plagued by mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar polar disorder, and schizophrenia, among other ailments.

Indeed, society has long associated higher intelligence and creative thinking with mental illnesses ranging from the slight to the severe. Affecting some 2.5 percent of the U.S. population, bipolar disorder alone has touched many of our greatest achievers, including Vincent Van Gogh, Buzz Aldrin, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, and Jackson Pollock to name just a handful. And although lacking a modern diagnosis, surely Virginia Woolf — who drowned herself in 1941 — fit the type.

Like the Sword of Damocles, higher intelligence may in some ways curse its beneficiaries. Aside from the usual desire to self-medicate, smarter people tend to drink alcohol and do drugs more than average — perhaps seeking to drench a burning sense of curiosity described by the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis. Long before the Agricultural Revolution brought alcohol to humankind, life on the African savannah during the Pleistocene helped design the modern mind. “The human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment,” evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, of the London School of Economics, says of his theory.

In modern life, the opportunity to imbibe — or to otherwise ingest mind-altering substances — presents an “evolutionarily novel” situation explored more readily by the smarter, bolder ones among us. In fact, the correlation is so strong scientists say the inverse is true: People of lower intelligence are the least likely to drink or use drugs. Now, scientists have identified a biomolecular connection between curiosity as a trait and intelligence in general, as evidenced by a 2009 study in Neuron from researchers at the University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital. Specifically, the neuronal calcium sensor-1 protein was associated in a mouse model with spatial memory and curiosity. Interestingly, that same protein has been linked in humans to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Other research supporting a link between intelligence and mental health problems shows bipolar disorder may be four times as common among young adults who’d earned straight-A’s in school. Though long suspected, evidence for this connection was found by researchers at King’s College London, in a collaboration with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden by comparing Swedish national school records to diagnoses for the disorder. “We found that achieving an A grade is associated with increased risk for bipolar disorder, particularly in humanities and to a lesser extent in science subjects,” lead researcher James MacCabe, wrote in a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. “These findings provide support for the hypothesis that exceptional intellectual ability is associated with bipolar disorder.”

Perhaps not surpisingly, the correlation between A grades and bipolar disorder was strongest among students excelling in music and language, supporting popular notions about writers and artists with regard to mental health. A similar study from Jari Tiihonen at the University of Kuopio in Finland also supports the link, although with arithmetic as a correlative for IQ. In mining data on Finnish military conscripts, the Finnish researchers found an almost unbelievably high correlation between high-scorers and those who later received bipolar diagnoses — 12-fold.

“The finding of an association between progressively increasing risk of bipolar disorder and high arithmetic intellectual performance is rather surprising,” Tiihonen wrote, explaining the arithmetic test requires not only mathematical skill but rapid information-processing for the purpose of successfully completing the timed exam. High scorers with such rapid processing power may also share a tendency to experience mania, a state of high focus and psychomotor activity. Along with bequesting humanity with advanced arithmetical or psychomotor performance, past generations may have also left us with a heightened risk for bipolar’s ups and downs.

Although some studies have shown no connection, more than 30 academic papers support a link between intelligence and bipolar disorder — among related illnesses — as researchers continue to experiment with mouse models and proteins, and to mine databases in search of what’s missing. Soon, science may give us improved medicines to treat our maladaptive maladies of the mind. But at what cost to society? Known for his mercurial moods and heavy substance abuse, the late “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson once insisted he’d have it no other way. “Without the booze and drugs,” he said, “I’d have the mind of a third-rate accountant.”

Scientists Reveal A Dirty Secret About SunChips

Bad news: Frito-Lays SunChips have just tested positive for weed killer and GMO ingredients. The chips are marketed as a ‘healthy’ alternative to regular chips as a means to lessen the chance of developing heart disease, but if your dining on Round Up (glyphosate residues) and GM Bt toxins found in most genetically modified corn, then ‘healthy’ as Frito-Lay defines it takes on a new meaning.

sunchips gmo

Samples were sent to a lab by GmoFreeUSA.org. They used quantitative PCR test verification by DNA analysis only to find that 100% of the chips contained DNA sequences known to be present in insecticide-producing Bt and Roundup Ready corn, as well as traces of the active ingredient known as glyphostae, used in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Round Up.

That means BT toxins are inside your cells when you eat this product. It means you are eating a pesticide that has been registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The glyphosate residue test was conducted by an accredited lab using the Specific LC/MS/MS testing method with a minimum detectable level of 0.02 ppm. This test proved the presence of glyphosate in SunChips at a level of 0.14 ppm, or 0.14 mg/kg. This is a significant enough level to cause concern, but really, any residue level at all, even in miniscule amounts, is linked to ill health.


Guess who owns Frito-Lay who makes SunChips? Pepsi-Co, one of the largest contributors to the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), responsible for fighting GMO labeling in numerous states. They’ve donated millions to keep you from knowing this very information.


As GMOFreeUSA puts it:

“…$13,166,299 million is an obscene amount of money to spend fighting transparency and it makes you wonder what Pepsi is trying to hide. NOW WE KNOW.”

Looks like Pepsi’s dirty secret has been left out in the sun.

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life

Scientists have captured the first detailed microscopy images of ultra-small bacteria that are believed to be about as small as life can get. The research was led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley. The existence of ultra-small bacteria has been debated for two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive electron microscopy and DNA-based description of the microbes until now.

The cells have an average volume of 0.009 cubic microns (one micron is one millionth of a meter). About 150 of these could fit inside an Escherichia coli cell and more than 150,000 cells could fit onto the tip of a human hair.

The scientists report their findings Friday, Feb. 27, in the journal Nature Communications.

The diverse bacteria were found in groundwater and are thought to be quite common. They’re also quite odd, which isn’t a surprise given the cells are close to and in some cases smaller than several estimates for the lower size limit of life. This is the smallest a cell can be and still accommodate enough material to sustain life. The bacterial cells have densely packed spirals that are probably DNA, a very small number of ribosomes, hair-like appendages, and a stripped-down metabolism that likely requires them to rely on other bacteria for many of life’s necessities.

The bacteria are from three microbial phyla that are poorly understood. Learning more about the organisms from these phyla could shed light on the role of microbes in the planet’s climate, our food and water supply, and other key processes.

“These newly described ultra-small bacteria are an example of a subset of the microbial life on earth that we know almost nothing about,” says Jill Banfield, a Senior Faculty Scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and a UC Berkeley professor in the departments of Earth and Planetary Science and Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

“They’re enigmatic. These bacteria are detected in many environments and they probably play important roles in microbial communities and ecosystems. But we don’t yet fully understand what these ultra-small bacteria do,” says Banfield.

A lifeline to other cells? Cryo-transmission electron microscopy captured numerous hairlike appendages radiating from the surface of this ultra-small bacteria cell. The scientists theorize the pili-like structures enable the cell to connect with other microbes and obtain life-giving resources. The scale bar is 100 nanometers. Credit: Berkeley Lab

Banfield is a co-corresponding author of the Nature Communications paper with Birgit Luef, a former postdoctoral researcher in Banfield’s group who is now at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

“There isn’t a consensus over how small a free-living organism can be, and what the space optimization strategies may be for a cell at the lower size limit for life. Our research is a significant step in characterizing the size, shape, and internal structure of ultra-small cells,” says Luef.

The scientists set out to study bacteria from phyla that lack cultivated representatives. Some of these bacteria have very small genomes, so the scientists surmised the bacteria themselves might also be very small.

To concentrate these cells in a sample, they filtered groundwater collected at Rifle, Colorado through successively smaller filters, down to 0.2 microns, which is the size used to sterilize water. The resulting samples were anything but sterile. They were enriched with incredibly tiny microbes, which were flash frozen to -272 degrees Celsius in a first-of-its-kind portable version of a device called a cryo plunger. This ensured the microbes weren’t damaged in their journey from the field to the lab.

The frozen samples were transported to Berkeley Lab, where Luef, with the help of Luis Comolli of Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, characterized the cells’ size and internal structure using 2-D and 3-D cryogenic transmission . The images also revealed dividing cells, indicating the bacteria were healthy and not starved to an abnormally small size.

The bacteria’s genomes were sequenced at the Joint Genome Institute, a DOE Office of Science User Facility located in Walnut Creek, California, under the guidance of Susannah Tringe. The genomes were about one million base pairs in length. In addition, metagenomic and other DNA-based analyses of the samples were conducted at UC Berkeley, which found a diverse range of bacteria from WWE3, OP11, and OD1 phyla.

This combination of innovative fieldwork and state-of-the-art microscopy and genomic analysis yielded the most complete description of ultra-small bacteria to date.

Among their findings: Some of the bacteria have thread-like appendages, called pili, which could serve as “life support” connections to other microbes. The genomic data indicates the bacteria lack many basic functions, so they likely rely on a community of microbes for critical resources.

The scientists also discovered just how much there is yet to learn about ultra-small life.

“We don’t know the function of half the genes we found in the organisms from these three phyla,” says Banfield.

The scientists also used the Advanced Light Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Berkeley Lab, where Hoi-Ying Holman of the Earth Sciences Division helped determine the majority of the cells in the samples were bacteria, not Archaea.

The research is a significant contribution to what’s known about ultra-small organisms. Recently, scientists estimated the cell volume of a marine bacterium at 0.013 cubic microns, but they used a technique that didn’t directly measure the cell diameter. There are also prior electron microscopy images of a lineage of Archaea with cell volumes as small as 0.009 cubic microns, similar to these bacteria, including results from some of the same researchers. Together, the findings highlight the existence of small cells with unusual and fairly restricted metabolic capacities from two of the three major branches of the tree of life.

Stars found forming at Milky Way’s outer edge

Brazilian astronomers said Friday they had found two star clusters forming in a remote part of our Milky Way galaxy where such a thing was previously thought impossible.

Seen from above, the Milky Way has arms of stars, gas and dust flailing out in a spiral shape from the centre.

From the side, it resembles a flat disk with a big bulge in the middle—it has been likened to two fried eggs stuck together back-to-back.

Stars normally form inside clumps of gas in so-called giant molecular clouds (GMCs), found in the inner part of the galactic disk, said a statement from Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society, which published the findings in its Monthly Notices.

Each of these clouds contains several gas clumps, which means that most stars, possibly all of them, are created together in clusters.

Using NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope, a team led by Denilso Camargo of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre found GMCs far outside the central galaxy—seen from the side they lay at distances thousands of light years above and below the Milky Way’s disk.

And not only that, one of these remote clouds “unexpectedly” contained two star clusters, said the statement.

“This is the first time astronomers have found stars being born in such a remote location”.

The two clusters, named Camargo 438 and 439, lie in a cloud named HRK 81.4-77.8.

Estimated to be about two million years old, the cloud lies 16,000 light years “beneath” the galactic disk—”an enormous distance away from the usual regions of star formation”.

“Our work shows that the space around the Galaxy is a lot less empty than we thought,” said Camargo.

IAP ACVIP recommendations on H1N1 vaccination-Feb 20, 2015


From the desk of Zedie.

1 billions at risk of hearing loss from music, noise .

Reuters / Lucas Jackso

The unsafe use of personal audio devices and high sound volumes at events are putting over a billion teens and young adults at risk of permanent hearing loss, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday.

Data analyzed by the UN agency indicates that almost half the population of developed countries between the ages of 12 and 35 are exposed to unsafe levels of noise from personal audio devices, while 40 percent risk hearing damage at entertainment venues.

“More and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss,” warned Dr. Etienne Krug, director at the World Health Organization’s Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.

Potential hearing loss has been linked to both sound volume and the duration and frequency of exposure. While a noise level of 85 dB can be safe for up to eight hours a day, an audio device at maximum volume registers at 105 dB, and is safe for just four minutes. A loud concert at 120 dB stops being safe after 28 seconds, while sirens or vuvuzelas – South African trumpets that became notorious during the 2010 FIFA World Cup – threaten hearing loss after just nine seconds.

“Once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back,” warned Krug.

Individuals, venues, and governments have all been urged to take steps towards preventing hearing loss. The WHO has urged governments to organize public information campaigns, and develop and enforce “strict legislation on recreational noise.” Managers of entertainment venues such as bars, clubs, and concert halls are advised to use sound limiters, issue earplugs, and set aside “chill-out rooms” for patrons. Individuals can prevent hearing loss by turning down the volume on their audio devices, and by using “carefully fitted, and if possible, noise cancelling” earphones.

The WHO estimates that 360 million people around the world suffer from disabling hearing loss, citing exposure to excessive noise as one of the leading causes after injury and infectious disease. The report comes on the eve of International Ear Care Day, marked annually on March 3.

The WHO-recommended safe listening times are:

85 dB (the level of noise inside a car) – eight hours

90 dB (lawn mower) – two hours and 30 minutes

95 dB (an average motorcycle) – 47 minutes

100 dB (car horn or underground train) – 15 minutes

105 dB (music player at maximum volume) – four minutes

115 dB (loud rock concert) – 28 seconds

120 dB (vuvuzela or sirens) – nine seconds

​Smoking marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol .

Reuters/Marcos Brindicci

As the debate over marijuana legalization continues in the United States, a new study suggests that smoking the controversial plant is about 114 times safer than drinking alcohol.

In fact, alcohol was found to be the deadliest drug on an individual level, at least when it comes to the likelihood of a person dying due to consuming a lethal dose. Heroin and cocaine were the next most deadly substances, followed by tobacco, ecstasy, and meth. Trailing up the rear was marijuana.

According to the team of international researchers behind the study, published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports,’ the findings suggest that marijuana risks – at least those related to mortality – are trumped when compared to substances like alcohol.

“The results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past,” the report reads. “At least for the endpoint of mortality, the [margin of exposure] for THC/cannabis in both individual and population-based assessments would be above safety thresholds (e.g. 100 for data based on animal experiments). In contrast, the risk of alcohol may have been commonly underestimated.”


As reported by the Washington Post, the study’s results aren’t exactly new, though they do confirm similar findings first reported a decade ago. In a separate story last year, the Post noted that Wayne Hall of the World Health Organization said it’s nearly impossible for even those who smoke large amounts of cannabis to overdose on the drug.

“The estimated fatal dose [of THC, the primary active compound in marijuana] in humans derived from animal studies is between 15 and 70 grams. This is a far greater amount of cannabis that even a very heavy cannabis user could use in a day,” Hall wrote last year.

Even alcohol’s unsafe margin of exposure (MOE) ratio isn’t all that surprising since, unlike heroin and cocaine, it is legal and much more readily available and accepted.

Marijuana legalization advocates are welcoming the new study, using it to suggest that America’s current ban on the drug is wrong and misguided, considering the mortality rates associated with alcohol and tobacco – both of which are legal and easily accessible to those of age. Marijuana, meanwhile, is still illegal on the federal level and largely illegal on the state level – except in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

Even the researchers noted that compared to other drugs, their findings support regulating pot as a legal substance instead of a banned one.

“Currently, the MOE results point to risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs,” the report reads. “The high MOE values of cannabis, which are in a low-risk range, suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach.”

Despite the new study, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that pot should not be smoked by children or teenagers, as there have been studies suggesting a link between youth smoking and impaired child development.

Soda Ingredient Poses Cancer Risk to Millions of Americans

A new study carried out by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) has found that millions Americans who consume soda every day are putting themselves at risk of developing cancer as a result of an ingredient contained in many soft drinks.

New Study: Soda Ingredient Poses Cancer Risk to Millions of Americans

4-Methylimidazole, commonly known as 4-MEI, is a coloring used by soft drink makers to give their beverages that distinctive dark hue. It can be found in many popular soft drinks, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Diet Cola.

However, 4-MEI is a carcinogen that has been found to increase rates of malignant tumors when fed to mice and rats in laboratory studies. Despite this research, the FDA has not restricted its use as a caramel coloring agent in food and drinks.
Sampling 110 brands of soda and soft drinks, the Johns Hopkins researchers found levels of 4-MEI ranging from 9.5 micrograms per liter to 963 micrograms per liter, with diet colas generally having higher concentrations.

The study found that the majority of the beverages sampled contained potentially harmful levels of 4-MEI.

“Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes,” said senior author Keeve Nachman, PhD. “This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda.”

The study concludes that, “Federal regulation of 4-MEI in caramel color may be appropriate”.

Consumer Reports notes that the study is “another reason to cut back on soda, warning that 4-MEI is also, “found in a wide variety of foods, including bread and other baked goods, dark sauces such as soy or barbecue, pancake syrup, and soups.”

“This new analysis underscores our belief that people consume significant amounts of soda that unnecessarily elevate their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime,” asserted Urvashi Rangan, PhD, adding that the federal government should follow California’s example of setting a threshold for 4-MEI exposure. In the golden state, sodas need to be sold with a cancer warning label if they exceed the 29 ug per day limit.

Previous studies have found levels of 4-MEI that reach almost 700 ug per liter in cola soft drinks, up to 2000 ug per liter in coffee, and up to 28,000 ug/liter in dark beer.

Electric Stimulation Device Approved to Treat Obesity

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a first-of-its-kind weight loss treatment device that electronically suppresses hunger signals traveling between the stomach and the brain (http://1.usa.gov/1yAbICk). The Maestro Rechargeable System, which is manufactured by EnteroMedics of St Paul, Minnesota, consists of an electrical pulse generator, wire leads, and electrodes that are implanted into the abdomen and intermittently send electrical pulses to the vagus nerve.

CT scan taken of mummified remains in statue

A CT scan and endoscopy have revealed a master’s mummy inside a Buddha statue. These were mummified remains of an ancient Buddhist monk who lived during the 11th or 12th century. Investigations revealed the skeletal frame of Buddhist master Liuquan, said the Toronto Sun, inside the bronze statue. Liuquan lived around the year 1100.

Discovery News said Monday that Liuquan was a member of the Chinese Meditation School. The discovery awakens interest on a number of levels—inquiries into the past practice of self-mummification is but just one; the other is the very nature of mummies, which continue to intrigue people. The Drents Museum, an art and history museum in Assen in the Netherlands, held an exhibition of mummies last year and provided a working description: “we speak of mummies when in addition to the bones the soft tissues such as skin, hair and muscles of a deceased person or animal have been preserved. Mummies are not only to be found in Egypt, but in all parts of the world.” The museum noted how “New techniques give us a lot of information about life and death of the people who became mummies. This exhibition presents the results from such scientific research.” The Buddha mummy was the exhibition’s key eye-catcher, shown outside China last year at the museum’s “Mummies-life beyond death” exhibit. This Buddha mummy is an interesting discovery. On the outside, it looks like a large statue of Buddha. Scan research has shown that on the inside it is a mummy of a Buddhist monk who lived around the year 1100. Was the mummy inside the Buddha statue a case of self-mummification? This was the question that the Drents museum site asked. Self-mummification is a process used to become “a living Buddha” and to achieve a higher level of enlightenment. China Topix said “Great Buddhist masters are often mummified to help them reachthe Buddha-state.”

A CT scan was performed at the Meander Medical Center in the Netherlands. Erik Bruijn, guest curator at the World Museum in Rotterdam and expert in Buddhist art and culture, led the research. At the hospital, gastrointestinal and liver doctor Reinoud Vermeijden and radiologist Ben Heggelman worked on an internal examination.

When the researchers had the statue scanned, they knew that a was inside the statue. What they did not expect to discover, however, was that its organs were replaced by scraps of paper printed with ancient Chinese characters. Janene Van Jaarsveldt in the NL Times told the story of Vermeijden examining thoracic and abdominal cavities and finding “among all kinds of rotten material in the space where there had once been organs,” the paper scraps printed with Chinese characters. Heggelman took the scan, and took samples of bone material for DNA testing. The team’s research is expected to be published in an upcoming monograph, said Irish Archaeology. China Topix said the mummy was in a folded-up position like the Buddha statue itself.