Dogs for Diabetics

Dogs4Diabetics Founder Mark RueffenachtDogs have an incredible sense of smell – it’s so good, people can train dogs to sniff our everything from illegal drugs and explosives to lost people and even computer “thumbnail” drives, that maybe someone is trying to sneak into a high security building so they can sneak out information.  So how about dogs sniffing for something life-saving, such as a dangerous drop in blood sugars for an insulin-injecting diabetic? For a healthy person, the amount of sugar in the entire bloodstream at anytime is roughly 1 teaspoon. One teaspoon of sugar in around 5 liters of blood. That’s it.  For most people, the body’s own insulin production keeps blood sugars in a relatively healthy range, with the pancreas adjusting insulin levels in miniscule amounts to keep blood sugars in balance. For a diabetic who injects insulin, the injection itself can end up putting too much or too little insulin into the body, and this is especially dangerous when it forces blood sugar levels to go far lower than they normally would.  Modern technology is reducing the risk, somewhat, through continuous blood glucose monitoring devices. But even these have a lag time, and since sometimes a diabetics blood sugar levels can change dramatically in just 30 minutes, there’s still risk. But now, there are new “blood sugar monitors”. They don’t require batteries. They’re very friendly, they have incredible noses, and they even come equipped with wagging tails.  In today’s edition of How on Earth, we talk about “Dogs for Diabetics”.

For more information, visit these links:

Host, Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributions by: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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How Food Affects Your Brain

MasleyTwo epidemics sweeping the developed world are Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.This week on How on Earth, Beth interviews Dr Steven Masley about his book, The Better Brain Solution in which he explores the connection between diet (and other lifestyle factors) and these diseases. Based on the results of numerous clinical trials he has conducted in his medical practice, Masley presents a program to prevent and possibly reverse this metabolic syndrome. You can find his book and other information at

Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Newton’s Football // Strontium Clock

The science of football. (image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library)
The science of football. (image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library)

Newton’s Football (start time 5:45)  This Sunday the Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, so we thought we’d bring you a scientific perspective on the game of football. How on Earth’s Ted Burnham talks with the co-authors of the book Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, journalist Allen St. John and science evangelist Ainissa Ramirez.


13PML042_strontium_clock_LRStrontium Clock (start time 14:10) We’ve got a full-house of physicists in the studio today to help us understand the new timepiece and why it’s important. Travis Nicholson and Sara Campbell are graduate students on the team led by Professor Jun Ye. Dr. Ye is a Fellow of JILA, a Fellow of NIST, and Adjoint Professor with CU’s Department of Physics.

Hosts: Ted Burnham, Jim Pullen
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Kendra Krueger, Beth Bartel, Joel Parker, Jim Pullen

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Harvard Epidemiologist Dariush Mozaffarian on Salt (extended version)

Here’s an extended version of Shelley Schlender’s interview with Dariush Mozaffarian on Salt.  Note that in the interview, Shelley asks Dr. Mozaffarian to comment on some of the assertions made in the popular press, Scientific American story, It’s Time to End the War on Salt.”  The interview mentions a citation in the popular press article about the Cochrane Collaboration’s view on salt.  After the interview, Mozaffarian’s pointed out this more recent assessment from the Cochrane Collaboration:

The most recent on salt and blood pressure is below:
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(3):CD004937.
Effect of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure.
He FJ, MacGregor GA.

Here are the verbatim conclusions from that report:
“CONCLUSIONS: Our meta-analysis demonstrates that a modest reduction in salt intake for a duration of 4 or more weeks has a significant and, from a population viewpoint, important effect on blood pressure in both individuals with normal and elevated blood pressure. These results support other evidence suggesting that a modest and long-term reduction in population salt intake could reduce strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure. Furthermore, our meta-analysis demonstrates a correlation between the magnitude of salt reduction and the magnitude of blood pressure reduction. Within the daily intake range of 3 to 12 g/day, the lower the salt intake achieved, the lower the blood pressure.”

Additionally, Mozaffarian suggests that people interested in this topic check out a meta-analysis by the British Journal of Medicine Titled, Salt intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease: meta- analysis of prospective studies.

Last but not least, for a recent speech by Mozaffarian that provides even more detail on these topics, click here.