Plastic water bottles

Yes, it is true.  There is very little point in using these unless you live in an area where drinking water is contaminated with sewage/agricultural run-off (West Bank, Palestine), high arsenic (areas of India and Bangladesh) or nitrate concentrations (any of the above places, and possibly agricltural areas in the US.).  Bisphenol A, a major ingredient in many plastics is an endocrine disruptor.  The health effects of Bisphenol A are still under investigation.  How much is safe is not known.  Biological systems effected are not well understood.  How much is coming off the water bottle and into the water it contains is unknown.

On environmental impact level, plastic water bottles just use petroleum and create mountains of waste.  Yes, they can be recycled, but recycling is not cost free.  Someone pays for it (whether through taxes, higher costs, or energy consumption and more pollution). 

Carry a glass bottle, carry a cup, use a drinking fountain.

Dipping into Psychology, but keeping focus on Oxytocin and Cortisol

Briefly here, on today’s NY Times article on touch , and that warm touches (and who knows, maybe the playful punch in the arm or slap to the back of the head) results in release of oxytocin and reduction of cortisol.  Oxytocin is released within the brain and triggers feelings of relaxation, well-being and warmth towards others. For more info look that hormone up on Wikipedia.  Cortisol is elevated in people who are under prolonged stress and is associated with a range of undesirable health effects like cancer, elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and if I remember correctly possibly diabetes. Oxytocin is probably signalling “its OK.  You are not alone”  “The threat is gone”, or “we will fight this battle together”.

So, reach out and support your friends, colleagues, team-mates and loved ones.  It is likely to do a statistically significant world of good

Androgen and Estrogen Disruption

Could write a book here, but will be brief for now.  First listen to (and watch if you want) this clip:  Tone setting music.  Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic or interfere with “signals” from the endocrine system (glands).  Examples of hormones are androgens (such as testosterone), estrogens, thyroid hormones, epinephrine (aka adrenaline) etc.  Examples of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment (and/or food and drinking water) are phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) and perchlorate.  You can read numerous articles on endocrine disruption in Environmental Health Perspectives, including that of Reproductive Toxicology Rock Star Shanna Swan.  This is a great source of information because its peer-reviewed and you can get the entire article for free.

Phthalates and BPA are part of many plastics and they interfere with sex hormones (in this case estrogen mimics).  This is hugely important during fetal development as organsystems (including brain) are being formed.  Had a student ask if increased exposures to estrogenic compounds would results in higher rates of homosexuality.   Not sure that this is appropriate to discuss here, but estrogen is the hormone that  masculinizes the brain, so you might see a tendency towards masculinization and associated behavioral traits.  Yes, sex hormones are important for brain development. A lot of other chemicals may have similar effects. Will link to an interesting article reporting on prenatal exposure to phthalates and aggressive, disruptive behavior during childhood.
Click “manufacturer’s point of view” for information on industry response.  Businesses often put their own interests first.  There is nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.  My opinion.

Climate change and the hoax question I get in class

There are a number of planetary patterns such as the Milankovich cycles that influence climate in relatively predictable ways. Volcanic outputs of particulates and sulfer dioxide also influence global climate, as may the billion tons of dust swept from the Sahara each year. However human activities add large quantities of material to the atmosphere as well. This is something over which we have some degree of control. I will agree that modelling future events is something done with risk of error and it is foolish not to acknowledge this simple fact. Any scientist will freely discuss this in reports and publications unless he or she is a complete messianic whacko. I think the press often oversimplifies science articles either because they don’t fully understand what they are writing about, or because they assume most readers won’t be able to understand any degree of complexity.  However, as intelligent beings we CAN attempt to understand what drives our world, evaluate relative risks, make decisions and plan for the future.

It is fun to get attention and make people upset (believe me, I know this from personal experience).  One can make people upset by bringing bad news. Attention and fun can also be had by going against the deeply held (and sometimes rational) belief’s of others.  This is especially true with scientists, who expect any attacks to be well-thought out, supported by hard data, and properly cited. Our culture requires that all opinions be heard and given equal consideration.  I support listening to others, but do not support believing whatever happens to be most forcefully expressed.

CrossFit Health and Science

How to Read About Health and Science for CrossFit

CrossFit has many devoted followers.    Crossfit health, crossfit training, crossfit nutrtion: the CrossFit world seems to teem with experts.  Some can get quite dogmatic.  There are several ways by which an idea becomes dogma, or an idea becomes “truth.” Sometimes an idea gets picked up and  passed around.  And gets momentum.  And repeated is so often that it becomes true in people’s minds.  Because it seems true to so many people it is not questioned.  And some people seem to be more vulnerable to dogma than others.

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Sometimes a health or science story comes up in the news that catches people’s interest. Often a journalist will pick up on one aspect of a study and not mention other aspects, or limitations, or may misinterpret the conclusions of the study authors.  So take a look at the original yourself if you can.  Peer-reviewed articles published in highly-ranked journals put out quality work.  Sure, its not perfect, but its better than stuff that’s been pulled straight out of someone’s hopeful ass.  Getting through peer-review is a rigorous process as exemplified in this video Scientific Peer Review ca. 1945. [embedplusvideo height=”350″ width=”430″ standard=”″ vars=”ytid=-VRBWLpYCPY&width=430&height=350&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep8516″ /] Here is some simple advice:

If you are wondering “what is dogma anyway?” it is: A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. Dogma cannot be changed or put aside without threatening the foundation of the organization or institution that sets it in stone.  The problem with dogma is that it cannot change and we are always learning new things.  We are also adding to data, improved technology, increasing understanding of how things work.   It gets harder and harder to make dogma fit.  Ideas should change and grow.  The only people who are helped by dogma are those trying to gain and keep control of power, prestige, or wealth.   I’m not talking about religion although some can be quite dogmatic. I’m thinking of people who think of something, maybe innocently, and present it as truth.  Or of people who state something unknown or unknowable as fact so they can sell you something.   They may become very defensive or offensive if you question them.  If they are questioned they are faced with the possibility of losing status and wealth.  Such people may sincerely believe that what they are saying is true.  And that can make them quite convincing.  When many people believe something and remain loyal to the idea (because they are loyal to their friends and the “experts” they follow) beliefs turn into dogma.   But belief does not make something true.

Telomeres and aging and exercise

Telomeres and Aging

Teleomeres are little caps on the ends of DNA that protect DNA from damage during cell division.  They get a little shorter with each cell division.  Telomeres are shorter in older people than in younger people. Telomere length has been reported to be longer in older endurance athletes than in older couch potatoes  Telomeres are thought to be important in aging.  You can find the abstract and access the full text through:   This is hopefully good news for older endurance athletes and an encouragement to others to get moving.   (It is also possible that people with more resistant telomeres are the ones able to continue intense exercise into middle age and that the exercise did not change the nature of the telomeres.)  But interesting . . . Take a look at table 1.  There are a number of other variables aside from telomere length that you’d think would have been statistically significant but weren’t.  More research?

Congratulations to authors Larocca, Seals and Pierce.  And thank you for publishing this, Mechanisms of Ageing and Development (journal).


Light controls our circadian rhythms.  These determine our daily pattern of waking and sleeping, and probably how our energy levels vary throughout the day as well.  In the modern environment, most of us spend most of our time indoors with artificial light.   The signals our brains get from light are no longer triggered exclusively by the rising and setting of the sun.  A number of health effects from altered light exposure have been noted including

  • Increased incidence of cancer (esp. breast and colorectal cancer in shift workers)
  • Insomnia
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Timing of onset of puberty

For more detailed discussion, references to specific papers and the above image see:

AND for a more detailed discussion with emphasis on blue light and photoreceptors.

Human Health and Environmental Factors

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Mens Eye Pood Kettlebell Shirt

There are a lot of things that influence health beyond diet and exercise, and many ways in which our health may be influenced by the world we create.

  • Exposure to light:
  • Temperature control
  • Psychological stress (traffic, kids, job etc.)
  • Quality of friendships and community
  • Exposure to environmental agents
  • Drugs
  • Air Quality
  • Water Quality

and etc.  It is important to keep in mind that all of these things can impact your physical health, and that they can all influence each other.   We’ll do our best to discuss these things and try to make sense of them as new research comes to our attention.  Subscribe to hear the latest on human health research.  We’ll be looking at peer-reviewed scientific studies and writing about them.  Hopefully we’ll learn something and be able to share it.

About us:

Articles and commentary on fitness, aches, pains, research, and adventure.  The WODMasters started as a small group of masters crossfit athletes. We wanted high quality shirts that fit well and looked good. We wanted crossfit shirts that went beyond telling everyone we had great snatches, could squat, beat up other children’s parents and/or were covered with death skulls. We wanted crossfit shirts that were about us. So we made our own. That was about five years ago, in 2009. We now design and produce unique, high-quality athletic shirts. They are ideal crossfit shirts in that they are crossfit themed and made by people who do crossfit. They are also ideal apparel all those who are stiff, inflexible and off-beat. We are not affiliated with CrossFit the brand. Or with Reebok CrossFit. We are our own thing. We also write and talk about nutrition, health, fitness, aches and pains, and adventure expeditions and how to stay tough and have fun. WODMasters creates and provides original content. If you would like to use it please reference our site and provide a link.

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