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The green tea–iron disconnect

© Getty Images Vesna Sajn
Green tea ©Getty Images Vesna Sajn

Green tea is a well-known antioxidant, and we also know that iron is an important nutrient. However, researchers recently found that consuming green tea and an iron-rich meal at the same time may actually negate the green tea’s health benefits.

Penn State nutritionists Matam Vijay-Kumar and Beng San Yeoh and colleagues published a study yesterday (March 8) in the American Journal of Pathology revealing their findings about the effects of consuming green tea and dietary iron at the same time. You can read the full Penn State News article by Marjorie Miller here.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, is the main compound in green tea and is what researchers believe gives the tea its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

I asked Vijay-Kumar a few questions about this research. Read on to learn more.

Continue reading The green tea–iron disconnect

The House of Cards characters have terrible sleep habits

By Jordan Gaines Lewis

Editor’s note: As Sleep Awareness Week is upon us, (March 6-13, 2016), and the release of the fourth season of House of Cards was Friday, (March 4, 2016), we are republishing the following article, which originally appeared on The Conversation on March 5, 2015.

Please be aware, this article contains spoilers from season three of House of Cards.

It’s entirely possible that I’ve been staying up too late this week. After leaving the lab at the end of the day, I’ll head home to binge on the political drama House of Cards, the third season of which has been dumped onto our Netflix queues.

Simultaneously, the National Sleep Foundation is sponsoring Sleep Awareness Week from March 2nd to 8th, which makes me feel guilty for how poor my sleep hygiene has been lately. But perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on myself – after all, I’m not the leader of the free world who needs to make rational, clear-headed decisions about my country on a daily basis.

Since the first episode of the show, I’ve been pretty appalled by the Underwoods’ poor sleep habits. So here are three simple sleep hygiene rules that Frank and his wife Claire would be wise to follow.  Continue reading The House of Cards characters have terrible sleep habits

Fear itself: Disease outbreak reports could cause health problems

“There is evidence that fear of disaster or disease can bring about coronary heart disease, a weakened immune system, and psychological distress,” says James Dillard. “In the case of Zika, women of child-bearing age who are attentive to media coverage might be particularly vulnerable to the type of fear that can have health repercussions.”

Aedes aegypti , one of the transmitters Zika virus. Wikimedia Commons
Aedes aegypti , one of the transmitters Zika virus. Wikimedia Commons

Less than two years after the Ebola scare spread through the country, the threat of a Zika virus outbreak is starting to frighten Americans, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

The fear of these diseases, however, may end up affecting more people’s health and causing more disruption to society than the diseases themselves, said James Dillard, professor of communication arts and sciences.  Continue reading Fear itself: Disease outbreak reports could cause health problems

How climate change affects bunnies

Along with rising sea levels, warmer winters, and worsening heat waves, climate change could raise our odds of getting malaria or other parasite-born diseases. One reason for that is because mosquitos and other disease-carriers are able to expand into areas that used to be too cold for them.

Earlier this week, Penn State biologist Isabella Cattadori published a paper about how climate change can impact parasites living in the soil, therefore impacting infection.

Cattadori and colleagues observed Scottish rabbits for nearly two and a half decades and found that the warming climate over that period enabled soil parasites to live longer, putting the rabbits at an increased risk of infection. The extent to which this increased risk affects the severity of an infection, she says, depends on the strength of the host’s (in this case, the rabbit’s) immune response. Cattadori’s findings could eventually help treat and prevent infections in humans from similar parasites.

She tells us more in the video below:

Members of the news media interested in talking to Cattadori should contact Barbara Kennedy at 814-863-4682 or