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Jewish World Review
July 31, 2009
/ 10 Menachem-Av 5769
M&M's For Your Health
M&M's are good for you. I could have told you that years ago. As a matter of fact I think I did tell everybody I knew because how could anything so tasty be bad for you? Well, now the results are in, and guess what? I was right all the time. Researches have found that the same blue food dye found in M&Ms (and Gatorade) could be used to reduce damage caused by spine injuries, offering a better chance of recovery.
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have discovered that when they injected the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, the rodents were able to walk again, albeit with a limp. Can't you see those little rats looking up toward heaven, tears in their little eyes and crying "Thank you lord! It's a miracle!" No jokes about tiny little rubber-tipped canes or walkers, please.
Oh, yes, there is one teeny-weeny side effect… the rodents turned blue. But so what, right? It's a small price to pay to be able to walk (or limp) again. I've heard of blue cross, blue shield, blue bonnet, and even blue ice, but blue rats? Blue, limping rats. Wow, that image ought to keep you awake nights. Some idiots used to dye chicks and bunnies pink for Easter, so I guess blue rats are not so far fetched.
The results of the study, published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," build on research conducted by the same center five years ago. In August 2004, scientists revealed how Adenosine triphosphate, which is known as ATP and described as the "energy currency of life," surges to the spinal cord soon after injury occurs.
Researchers found that the sudden influx of ATP killed off healthy cells, making the initial injury far worse. But when they injected oxidized ATP into the injury, it was found to block the effect of ATP, allowing the injured rats to recover and walk again… albeit with a limp. (I wonder if they could teach those rats to do a Walter Brennan impersonation?)
The reasearchers were quick to add that even though they got good results when oxidized ATP was injected directly into the spinal cord, that method would not be practical for use with spinal cord-injured patients. The chief researcher said, "First, no one wants to put a needle into a spinal cord that has just been severely injured, so we knew we needed to find another way to quickly deliver an agent that would stop ATP from killing healthy motor neurons. Second, the compound we initially used, oxidized ATP, cannot be injected into the bloodstream because of its dangerous side effects."
Back in 2004, medical researchers discovered that the spinal cord was rich in a molecule called P2X7, which is also known as "the death receptor" for its ability to allow ATP to latch onto motor neurons and send the signals which eventually kill them. They knew that BBG could thwart the function of P2X7, and its similarity to a blue food dye approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1982 gave them the confidence to test it intravenously. And abracadabra! Quicker than you can say "Mickey Mouse" green rats are walking again all over the place… albeit with a limp.
Scientists say it could be several years before their findings lead to a practical application for BBG in humans and more testing is needed to assess the safety of BBG before human clinical trials could even begin. But its blue M&M's! Isn't that great? I hope they sart testing the other colors too. I mean, who knows what wonderful health properties they might find in the rest of them?
Yellow M&M's might contain an anti-jaundice agent. Maybe the reds could help with bloodstream problems. Green M&M's might serve as an aid to digestion. The browns… well, I don't know if the brown M&M's really have any healthful properties at all. But you never know. We as health conscious consumers should not take any chances. Eat 'em all. Buy a bunch of bags (both plain and peanut) and eat every color. The worse thing that could happen is that you put on a little weight. Oh, and maybe turn a little blue?
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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