In the News: Spinal Cord May Determine Handedness, Gluten-Free Diet May Be Unhealthy, Gastric Bypass Surgery May Benefit the Moderately Overweight

Lefties: Can they do anything right? Our spinal cord, not our brain, may determine handedness. For years, scientists thought our propensity to be right- or left-handed was in our brains because the motor cortex in the brain initiates movement and sends the signal down through the spinal cord. But a new study found that precursors of handedness appear before the brain and spinal cord are actively connected. To test this, scientists examined spinal cord gene expression in babies in the womb. They found differences in right- and left-side gene expression at the location of the spinal cord controlling movements of the arms and legs—suggesting that the brain isn’t determining whether or not your child will be a southpaw. While more studies need to be done, this one shows that there’s still plenty to learn about neural development. Whether you’re a righty or a lefty, check out these tips on how to ease hand pain. (SCIENCEDAILY)

Don’t give up gluten if you loaf it dough much! Gluten-free eating may be linked to health risks. Gluten (the protein that makes dough elastic) could cause gastrointestinal distress in patients diagnosed with celiac disease. And many people have gone gluten-free based on the perception that it’s healthy. But a new study reports that cutting down on the bread and pasta may lead to increased arsenic levels in blood and urine. The authors speculate that patients following a gluten-free diet are likely to eat more rice, a grain that is known to have low levels of arsenic. Although the scientists acknowledge that the urine levels they found are not toxic, it might be a good idea to lower your risk. So, if you can—feel free to eat gluten again, and here are some tips on how to work it back into your diet. Want to find out if you have a gluten sensitivity? Take this quiz. (NYT)

Gastric band may benefit the moderately overweight. An extensive study by Monash’s Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE), has found that gastric band surgery is not just useful for obese patients but is beneficial to patients who are only moderately overweight as well. This surgery was shown to reduce the odds of diabetes remission and lowered the need for diabetes-related medications. These findings indicate that the BMI requirement for gastric band surgery should be updated and made more inclusive. As of right now, you have to have a BMI of over 35 to qualify for this procedure, but based on these results, it may be helpful to lower that number to 25–30. Check out this episode to find out how gastric bypass works. (MEDICAL)