Friday Cartoon Fun: Take My Samples, Please!

Instruments can make our lives easier in the lab. Place your samples inside an instrument and let it do all the work—isolating nucleic acids or reading and analyzing a multiwell plate—while you walk away to read a new research paper or prepare for the next step in your experiment. However, with the array of machines now available to scientists worldwide, some confusion may result in the laboratory. Has this ever happened to you?

Copyright Ed Himelblau

Does Your Daily Cup of Coffee Affect Your Risk of Cancer?

Coffee beansIs there an association between coffee consumption and incidence of cancer? The answer seems to depend on whom you ask, the study group involved, how much and what type of coffee the study participants drank and a host of other factors. Many research studies have found no link or only a weak link between the two, but recently a new study that showed a stronger association between coffee consumption and a lower risk of prostate cancer was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1). Why should we believe this new study when so many other studies have been unable to show a strong link?
Continue reading “Does Your Daily Cup of Coffee Affect Your Risk of Cancer?”

Hold the Espresso for Now: Confessions of a Coffee Drinker

I am not a morning person. I don’t think I will ever be a morning person. Nighttime is when my mind seems to come alive; it is the best time for me to think and create. In short, I am a night owl; I always have been. Even though I was the youngest in my family, I gave up Saturday morning cartoons as soon as my older, and appallingly morning-oriented, sister did. And, although I was not willing to give up my family’s tradition of Saturday morning pancake breakfasts, I was not averse to crawling back into bed after breakfast if I could.

Despite my nocturnal tendencies, I managed, through sheer determination in high school and careful selection of my schedule in college, to avoid the need for morning coffee. That all ended with my first “real” job. Even the warm sunlight of southern California wasn’t enough to coax me awake and alert at 6:30 in the morning. Fortunately my apartment was not that far from a coffee shop. And so, my love of espresso and all other things coffee was born.   Continue reading “Hold the Espresso for Now: Confessions of a Coffee Drinker”

Hold the Expresso! Coffee Might Not Keep You Alert After All

Young man holding coffee cup, close-up, part of

Despite what many of us may believe we learned cramming for finals in college, a study published in Neuropsychopharmacology (1) suggests that your morning cup of coffee might not help you stay alert through that early morning meeting. In a study of 379 coffee drinkers, researchers found that frequent coffee drinkers developed a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing effects and the stimulatory effects of the caffeine found in their coffee.

Are you thinking that you know you feel more alert after your morning mocha or double-shot? Are you one of the many of us who shudder to think of facing the day without first drinking a cup (or two) of coffee or tea? Continue reading “Hold the Expresso! Coffee Might Not Keep You Alert After All”