Every science journal is rolling out a list of the top science advances of 2022. I’m going to review my favorites.
- Male birth control. Humans are a complicated hormonal mixture. Female birth control pills work by mimicking pregnancy hormones and prevent the release of an egg. Giving males hormones has been a bust—the men gain weight, get depressed, and have elevated bad cholesterol. Now, a non-hormonal male pill is on the horizon. It works by messing up vitamin A, which plays a role in cell growth. Apparently, a little damage to Vitamin A sensitive proteins stops sperm production. Congratulations to the University of Minnesota for this pioneering work.
- Being an anti-prude, sex studies top my list and finding out that snakes have clitorises was a breakthrough. Long standing prejudices against female animals is as old as the Bible. One of these biases is that female animals don’t need to enjoy sex. It was believed that female snakes and birds have “lost” their clitorises in an evolutionary sense. This lead to the idea that sexual coercion or even rape was natural in the animal world. Finding that female snakes have two clitorises to match the two penises seen in male snakes shows that both male and female snakes evolved together and have mutual attraction. It would be nice to drive a stake through the Mars vs Venus idea and support the many factors, including female choice and pleasure, are at play in sexual selection which has been so successful in promoting diversity in species.
- Playing defense. Plan B is not an abortion. No matter how you slice it, some people have been driven mad by the thought that somewhere out there could be a homeless fertilized egg. At last, scientists are getting ahead of the game and releasing what everyone should know, but doesn’t want to. Plan B prevents ovulation. It’s isn’t causing a none of your business abortion.
- In another defensive move, American Medical Association called out the Supreme Court. The AMA and more than two dozen leading medical organizations believe abortion is “safe medical care that is a decision to be made between the patient and the physician, subject to the physician’s clinical judgment, and the patient’s informed consent.” They said the “Supreme Court’s opinion would lead to government interference in the patient-physician relationship, dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine, and potentially criminalizing care.” We all know that invasion of privacy is in the realm of authoritarian dictatorships. The Supreme Court has been shoved upon us by the Federalists. They are not a scientific organization.
- When it comes to health, Iowans are not too savvy. Our covid death rate remained high and our vaccination rate was low compared to many other states.
- Cooking and cleaning are bad for you. These activities release airborne toxins. Frying is particularly dangerous, which makes me feel better about my short stint (was it one month or two?) as a fry cook when young. This might seem like bad news but hey, give yourself permission to skip the New Years scrubbing and frying and enjoy yourself!
- Feminine hygiene and hair products demystified. The life expectancy for US women is decreasing. There are many theories as to why but one thing is true—female products & their chemical content haven’t been carefully studied. One example of this is hair products, used for decades. These have been found to be a culprit in inducing some breast cancers.Another long-used product category finally getting some attention is period products. A vagina is a sensitive area as you probably know. It’s highly permeable. This means, what goes in is bound to have an effect both locally and on the reproductive system as a whole. You might think these female hygiene items are simply natural cotton but they contain thin layers of plastic (which can release microplastics) and sometimes dyes and colorants. Some such as cups are plastic and might be dyed. Many of these are not proven to be safe. Neither of these studies were new in 2022, I wrote about one here but they are finally getting attention. This year. the state of New York has ruled that the composition of period products must be put on labels. With increased scrutiny, manufacturers might be more careful about the health effects of their products. Now, consumers can make choices which are more informed.