Study Finds That A Healthy Lifestyle Can Help Combat ‘Life-Shortening’ Genes 

Your genetic makeup plays a major role in shaping your overall health and lifespan. Some individuals are naturally predisposed to living a longer life, while others may have genes that will cause aging to be more difficult for them. 

However, according to a new large-scale study published in the British Medical Journal, healthy lifestyle decisions can help combat those negative predispositions. The study stated that your daily decisions regarding diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices can cancel out around 60% of the impact of “life-shortening” genes. In fact, a healthy and consistent lifestyle can add another five years to your life, Forbes reported.

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Researchers involved in the study utilized genetic, biological, and health data from 353,742 participants and tracked their health for around 13 years, according to reports. The timespan of the study allowed the researchers to see how lifestyle and genetics specifically interact to influence longevity in life. 

Participants within the study were placed into three lifespan categories based on their genetic makeup, including protective and/or harmful variants. 

20% of participants were in the category of having genes that boost lifespan. Another 20% had genes that set them up for a shorter lifespan, and a majority of the participants, 60%, had genes that were “suggestive of an intermediate lifespan.” 

The researchers also categorized each participant into a lifestyle-score category: favorable (23%), intermediate (56%), and unfavorable (21%), according to Forbes

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These lifestyle “scores” were calculated by analyzing participants’ sleeping habits, diets, their physical activity, and how much they drank or smoked. Healthcare providers and scientists alike tend to agree that the best lifestyle habits attributed to living a long life include never smoking, a healthy diet, getting eight hours of sleep a night, and getting regular exercise. 

Individuals who are genetically predisposed to a shorter life due to their specific genetic makeup are 21% more likely to die at an earlier age compared to those with favorable genes. That percentage remains the same regardless of one’s lifestyle choices. 

One of the points of the study was to show that those with “life-shortening” genes can offset the effects of those genes by more than 60%, allowing them to live a longer and healthier life by nearly 5 years. 

The study also found that those with an unhealthy lifestyle are 78% more likely to die at an earlier age, regardless of their genetic predispositions. Healthy genes cannot protect an individual from the damaging effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

A major takeaway that the researchers are hoping the general public will gain from this information is that a healthy lifestyle really can make a difference in how you feel day-to-day.


Latin American Countries Label Ultra-Processed Foods, Inspiring Others 

Latin America is currently leading the world in a nutritional initiative that puts warning labels on the fronts of ultra-processed food packages. The labels specifically warn consumers if a certain product contains more than the daily recommended value of certain nutrients; mainly salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Some countries have also placed warnings for excessive artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and trans fats. 

Latin America is responsible for some of the most efficient global research into the health impacts of ultra-processed foods. These foods often contain high levels of fats, starches, sugars, and additives like colorings and preservatives. Latin America initially began labeling and researching these additives in the early 2000s, according to reports from The Guardian.

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Research has shown that many Latin Americans get up to 20% to 30% of their daily caloric intake from ultra-processed foods. In the US, the average is as high as 60%. 

The idea for labeling these products was first brought up in the early 2010s at the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office for the World Health Organization. One of the goals of these labels is to combat the rising rates of disease in the region. 

“The initial proposals for front-of-pack labeling emerged because the information for consumers based on the nutrition facts table was completely insufficient for consumers to have a quick and easy understanding”, said Fabio Da Silva Gomes, the regional adviser on nutrition and physical activity for the Americas at the PAHO.

In 2010, Mexico became the first nation in the region to move their “daily guidance amounts” nutritional label to the front of food packaging. In 2014, Ecuador began adding a label that looked like a traffic light to their packaging. Each color of the traffic light (red, yellow, and green) represent a level of different nutrients in the food itself. The same kind of label is also used in parts of Europe. 

Chile also changed how seriously Latin American nations took labeling these foods in 2014/2016. In 2014, they implemented a tax on sugary drinks and began seriously studying proper package labeling. 

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In 2016, they began adding a black, stop-sign shaped label to their ultra-processed foods, after finding that the traffic-light labels were too colorful for consumers to really take in what it was portraying. The Guardian also reported that Chile banned the sale and promotion of products with these warning labels in schools to reduce harmful marketing to children. 

Chile’s warning label implementation quickly spread throughout Latin America. Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia now all mandate warning labels be placed on ultra-processed foods, and Venezuela is planning to join in December. 

Some of them have even taken it a step further by adding the labels to more food groups that include high levels of artificial sweeteners and caffeine. 

“The evidence suggests that right now in Argentina, in Mexico, in Colombia, with the warning labels that we have applied with nutrient profile models, we can with very good confidence state that these countries are regulating at least 97, 98% of ultra-processed foods,” Gomes stated.

“Although the science around the various components of ultra-processed foods is still emerging, the components still warrant labels because their purpose is simply to make unhealthy foods more appealing. Think of tobacco legislation, we do not necessarily need evidence on the harms of cosmetic additives to regulate them because they are used only for the purpose of stimulating the consumption of products that are harmful,” Gomes says.


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Experts Weigh In On Children’s Fixation With Anti-Aging And Skin Care 

The children and young tweens of generation Z are becoming obsessed with their skin care routines, and anti-aging, despite being so young. Generation Alpha, which includes children as young as 10-years-old, are buying expensive skin care products that contain ingredients that could actually damage their skin in the future due to the fact that they simply don’t need anti-aging and other ingredients on their skin. 

The Guardian recently interviewed multiple experts on this concerning trend of children being obsessed with their self-image, specifically regarding their views on aging. 

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We have seen an increase in teenage girls using skincare … prematurely using anti-ageing products and increasingly valuing beauty and looking young. Access to social media will be a big influence here. TikTok, in particular, has millions of videos dedicated to this topic and we are starting to see the younger generations of influencers coming through: it’s now the children of the Kardashian family sharing skincare routines online,” said Josie O’Brien, health and beauty consumer insights director at consumer analysts Kantar.

“Kantar data tells us that teens are specifically using social media for skincare and makeup recommendations. So they have access to that information, whether it is appropriate or not.

Another factor is the in-store experience. The ability to try samples, products that stand out on the shelf, and nice smells are big deciding factors for young people when choosing skincare. Brands such as Drunk Elephant and Sol de Janeiro are viral among this demographic at the minute, and if you look at the products you can see why they would appeal to younger people,” O’Brien explained

“Certain aspects of this are positive and other elements less so. The rise in people wearing sunscreen younger is positive and that awareness will hopefully bode well in adulthood,” said Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics skin clinics.

“Why are young people more interested in anti-aging products? A big factor is social media. Everything is pointing towards looking as good as we can. There is that pressure now in marketing, and social media massively influences how we perceive ourselves. If people see perfect skin and perfect routines they are more likely to follow them,” said Dr. Perry.

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“Feminine identity is very much positioned in terms of appearance and looking a certain way and the beauty standards culture and societies put upon us. We know girls and women, as well as gender-diverse people, are particularly affected by this. Historically, there is pressure on women to look a certain way as they are objectified in culture. There is a lot of pressure to manipulate and modify their bodies,” said Phillippa Diedrichs, professor of psychology at the University of the West of England.

“As a result, we see a high rate of self-objectification among women and increasingly young girls. They have internalized this societal pressure and see their bodies as objects to be modified. They spend a lot of time focused on their appearance. That gets distilled down to girls being silly and vain or trivial, but there is a cultural pressure to do it, and they see people who conform to these standards. They are often held up as the most rewarded in society.

Cosmetic procedures are also more accessible financially and in terms of who offers them. For example, Botox is now advertised at the dentist,” Diedrichs stated. 

“Unlike smoking or drinking, skincare is seen as an innocent way of playing with being older. It is not as obvious as makeup. I think brands encourage it, and like the fact it has become a luxury accessory and there are a lot of myths being peddled. People are told they must do certain things to keep their skin healthy and that exposure is good for brands sometimes,” explained Dr Emma Wedgeworth of the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group.

“It’s reflective of our obsession with aging as a society. We are supposed to as a society evolve and become more enlightened but we are failing in terms of how we value older people and maturity.”

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Secondhand Clothing Sales To Make Up 10% Of Global Fashion Sales 

Secondhand clothing sales are currently on track to make up a tenth of all global fashion market sales, according to a report from GlobalData which was done for the resale company ThredUp. The cost of living crisis and general concerns over sustainability are two of the reasons cited for consumers being more drawn to secondhand clothing.

According to the data, reported by the Guardian, “Global sales of pre-owned clothes surged by 18% last year to $197bn (£156bn) and are forecast to reach $350bn in 2028.” 

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The secondhand market in the US grew seven times faster than general fashion retail where sales have been relatively stagnant throughout the past year, according to the data. 

Co-founder and chief executive of ThredUp, James Reinhart, stated that the resale sector of the fashion industry likely was able to grow in an otherwise tough market because it’s “more resilient” in a housing market that’s struggling along with high energy costs and food pricing. 

“When consumer sentiment is softer, value is key. People are looking to shop secondhand to drive more value.”

Reinhart went on to explain that interest in secondhand items has been mainly prominent in younger generations, however, it’s now starting to “span generations.”

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The GlobalData report showed that more than half of the shoppers analyzed had bought something second hand within the past year; 65% of those shoppers were aged between 12 and 43 (generation Z and millennials), and 38% of the consumers stated that they shop secondhand to get better deals on higher end brands. 

Digital secondhand shopping has also made it easier for consumers to shop sustainably, especially among the younger generations. ThredUp, Depop, and other online secondhand retailers have been so successful that the sector is projected to see its sales more than double within the next five years to an estimated $40 billion. 

For the older generation, shoppers within that demographic are more likely to go to physical retail stores, as there is also now an increase in availability to secondhand clothing stores. 

Reinhart also stated that it would be beneficial to the industry if there was legislation implemented to further limit the growth of fast fashion, an industry that is responsible for a lot of the CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions that come from the fashion industry in general. 

“It is hard not to believe that there will be some activity in that space in the next three to five years given how much of the apparel ends up in landfill,” he said.


Tokyo To Offer ‘Toiler Tours’ After International Interest Sparked By Oscar Nominated Film, Perfect Days 

Japan’s high-tech toilets have consistently been a major point of interest for tourists. Tokyo has now capitalized on a recent spark in international interest in Japan’s toilets from the Oscar nominated film, Perfect Days, from German director Wim Wenders, which follows the story of a toilet cleaner in Tokyo.


New York City Celebrity Owl, Flaco, Dies A Year After Central Zoo Escape 

Flaco was the Eurasian eagle-owl who made headlines last year after escaping from New York City’s Central Park Zoo and becoming beloved by residents and individuals on social media. This past week, zoo officials announced that Flaco had unfortunately died, he was 13-years-old. 

Flaco initially escaped the Central Park after being freed from his cage in a criminal act that remains unsolved. The zoo said in a statement that Flaco likely was killed after colliding with a building in the Upper West Side. 

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“The vandal who damaged Flaco’s exhibit jeopardized the safety of the bird and is ultimately responsible for his death. We are still hopeful that the NYPD which is investigating the vandalism will ultimately make an arrest.”

The Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife rehabilitation center, sent its staff to respond to the scene of Flaco’s accident where they declared him dead shortly after he collided with the building. Flaco was then taken to the Bronx Zoo for a necropsy. 

“We hoped only to see Flaco hooting wildly from the top of our local water tower, never in the clinic,” the World Bird Fund wrote in a social media post

Flaco initially arrived at the Central Park Zoo as a fledgling in 2010. On February 2nd, 2023, someone broke in through a waist-high fence and then cut a hole through a steel mesh cage which would free Flaco. 

The zoo ended up suspending their efforts to recapture Flaco the same month he went missing, and since that point there has been no new information made public regarding his return. 

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However, since his initial escape Flaco has continued to make headlines, and has become somewhat of a mascot for New Yorkers. He was known to spend his days hanging out in Manhattan’s courtyards, parks, or the various fire escape perches, while he would spend his evenings perched on the city’s water towers waiting to hunt the rats of New York City. 

Avid bird watchers in the city would trach Flaco on his daily journeys, and some would even be surprised by him turning up outside of their windows as a place to rest. He’s become somewhat of a New York City icon, prompting an emotional response from residents everywhere. 

David Barrett is a New Yorker who’s been one of Flaco’s most dedicated watchers, and made a post online for the Manhattan Bird Alert suggesting a temporary memorial at Flaco’s favorite oak tree in Central Park where he was often spotted throughout the past year. 

Barrett wrote that this memorial would allow for fellow birdwatchers and fans of Flaco to “lay flowers, leave a note, or just be with others who loved Flaco.” 


Children Who Live Near Green Spaces ‘Have Stronger Bones,’ According To New Study 

Children who live close to “green spaces,” such as local parks, playgrounds, sports fields, etc., have significantly stronger bones which could lead to lifelong health benefits as their bodies grow, according to a new study. 


UK Universities Become First To Feature Famous Hologram Lecturers 

Some universities in the UK are beginning to enter a new era of utilizing unique technology to teach its students. The technology in question involves holograms, the same holograms that have been used to bring back retired or dead singers to the stage; like Tupac at the 2012 Coachella music festival. 

Instead of performing hit songs, these particular holograms will be notable historical / cultural figures that align with the specific class their teaching. For example, physics students could get a lecture from Albert Einstein or a masterclass in design from Coco Chanel herself, according to reports from Rachel Hall of The Guardian.

Loughborough University in London  is the first in Europe to explore this new avenue of technology and learning. The university is specifically planning on using holograms to bring sports scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to teach fashion students about the intricacies of immersive shows. Loughborough University is also planning to have the sports scientists teach students in management how to navigate various business endeavors and situations. 

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Professor Vikkie Locke, the director of undergraduate studies at Loughborough’s business school, told the Guardian that the students love the technology, especially since they’ve grown accustomed to having classes on their computers and joining lectures through a screen. 

“[The students prefer] a guest speaker from an industry beaming into a classroom to a 2D person on a wall. [Classes on Zoom made students] feel like they were watching TV, there’s a distance. A holographic image is a lot more engaging and real to them.”

After this initial year of experimentation, the technology is set to be officially introduced into the curriculum in 2025. The holographic technology and units used are from LA-based company Proto, who also has clients like BT and IBM. Proto has also been known to work with popular clothing retailers to make interactive product displays for customers. 

David Nussbaum founded Proto four years ago, and stated that the company could soon be bringing some of the best thinkers from the 20th century back from the dead.

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“Proto has the technology to project an image of Stephen Hawking, or anybody, and make it look like he’s really there. We can hook it up to books, lectures, social media – anything he was attached to, any question, any interaction with him. An AI Stephen Hawking would look like him, sound like him and interact like it was him,” he stated.

“It’s awe-inspiring, it’s jaw-dropping, I’ve been in shock at how amazing the interactions are. AI is part of our life, whether people like it or not. You shouldn’t have to be an eccentric millionaire or a celebrity to have a hologram.”

“Different immersive technologies and AI are the new forms of literacy. Students need to understand what it means to use those, to be in those worlds, to experience them, to interact … and these are all things they’re going to need for their future careers,” said Professor Gary Burnett, who teaches  digital creativity at Loughborough University.

The university’s pro-vice-chancellor, Prof Rachel Thomson, said the “technology could help the university achieve its sustainability strategy by reducing the need to fly in guest speakers and by facilitating international research collaborations, as well as by reducing the amount of material used by students building prototypes in engineering, design and the creative arts.”