Alcohol deaths hit record high during pandemic
The BBC reported that deaths caused by alcohol hit a record high during the first nine months of 2020, according to provisional figures from England and Wales.
Between January and September, 5,460 deaths were registered with this cause of death, which is up 16% on the same months in 2019.
It is the biggest number recorded since records began in 2001.
The high rates stretched the period of the first lockdown, and afterwards as well. The peak was 12.8 deaths per 100,000 people in the first three months of 2020 and remained at this level through to September, which is higher than any other period on record.
Similar to past years, rates of male alcohol-specific deaths were twice those seen for women.
Experts say the coronavirus pandemic will have had little effect on how the data was gathered and recorded.
Traffic noise impairs songbirds’ abilities
A test of songbirds’ problem solving skills has revealed how traffic noise impairs the birds’ abilities.
Zebra finches were set a “battery of foraging tasks” in the presence or absence of noise.
Scientists found that the sound of passing cars diminished the birds’ ability to find food. The results were published in the journal Proceedings B, and they suggested that noise pollution has “previously unconsidered consequences for wildlife”.
Lead researcher, Professor Christopher Templeton from Pacific University in Oregon, US, said “Just hearing a car drive by is enough to really affect their performance”.
The study was carried out in a behavioural laboratory with zebra finches. The researchers set the birds the tasks both in a quiet setting and while a recording of road traffic was played.
“They’re almost twice as likely to do [the foraging tasks] correctly if they don’t hear traffic noise,” Professor Templeton explained.
Set times of the day better for exercise
A new study suggests that it is better for, at least some people, to work out at certain times of day.
The study, published in the Physiological Reports journal, looked at men at high risk for Type 2 diabetes and found that those who completed afternoon workouts upped their metabolic health far more than those who performed the same exercise earlier in the day.
The abstract of the study suggests that the finding is related to the fact that metabolism and the circadian rhythm are tightly interconnected.
Research into the circadian rhythm has also shown that disrupting our normal, 24-hour circadian patterns can have a negative impact on our health. Cited as evidence for this are many people who work overnight shifts, whose sleep patters are less regular. Such people tend to be at a higher risk of metabolic problems such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes.