Health Buzz: Tasters Try Stem-Cell Burger

Cellphone use and cancer: new study suggests a link; Plus, what's wrong with artificial sweeteners?


Taste Test Held in London for a Lab-Made Burger

What's a stem cell burger taste like? Well, it certainly looks a lot like a regular burger. According to Reuters, the burger that scientist Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands and his team created resembled a typical meat patty, in that it was circular and reddened with beet juice and saffron. It helped, too, that the patty was made with typical burger ingredients, such as salt, breadcrumbs and egg powder. What's not so typical about this burger: It's made from laboratory-grown stem cells taken from a cow. The idea behind the experiment is to show that future meat can be less "environmentally and economically costly," Reuters reports.

Monday, at a televised London event, two tasters gave this burger a try. While lack of fat in the burger seemed to throw off the tasters a bit, they did deem the taste to be "close to meat," with a that bite felt like the real deal. "It's a very good start," Post told journalists at the event, Reuters reports.

Cellphone Use and Cancer: New Study Suggests a Link

Whether cellphone use causes cancer is an ongoing question with, as yet, incomplete answers. But a new study may shed light on the subject with the finding of "oxidative stress" in the saliva of cellphone users.

The experiment, led by Yaniv Hamzany, an ear, nose and throat specialist with Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, compared the saliva of 20 heavy cellphone users (those who spoke on their cellphones an average of 30 hours per month) with the saliva of 20 individuals, most of whom are deaf and either don't use a cellphone or use it for non-verbal functions like texting. The results: The heavy cellphone users showed more signs of oxidative stress.

What does that term mean? Essentially, cell damage. More specifically, it's a molecular imbalance between antioxidants and pro-oxidants, or free radicals. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of metabolism but are also linked with aging and, when they outnumber the antioxidants, cell damage occurs. [Read more: Cellphone Use and Cancer: New Study Suggests a Link]

What's Wrong With Artificial Sweeteners?

That's certainly not because I buy into the conspiracy theories, some of which contend these were introduced into the food supply to kill people on purpose, writes U.S. News blogger David Katz. Really, that's just silly.

But it's also not because I think the prevailing sweeteners are terrible toxins. There is a case to make that aspartame can adversely affect the nervous system. But there is a case to make that peanuts can cause life-threatening allergy. We have not concluded as a result that peanuts are poison; we've just concluded that some people are sensitive to them and need to avoid them. That appears to be the case with aspartame as well.

There are concerns about sucralose and cancer, but to my knowledge, no real evidence of any harm. And concerns about saccharin and cancer may have been valid but misdirected. Sweet'N Low actually contained something called cyclamate along with saccharin, and current thinking is that cyclamate may have carcinogenic potential, while saccharin likely does not. [Read more: What's Wrong With Artificial Sweeteners?]

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