AMSA's 2015 Annual Convention
Join Us Next Spring
in Washington, DC!

February 26 - March 1, 2015 

Side Effects

The New Physician March-April 2014 Volume 63, Number 2


Size does matter when it comes to breakfast flakes. Nutritional sciences researchers at Penn State crushed wheat flakes to as little as 40 percent of their original volume and monitored study participants’ behavior when they were serving themselves weekly over four weeks. Even though study subjects did pour less cereal for themselves when the flakes were smaller, they didn’t compensate enough and still wound up significantly overeating. Our reluctant advice? To keep that part of your “well-balanced breakfast” from tipping the scales, stop turning the dregs of your Lucky Charms into rainbow milk soup when you get to the end of the box.


Burning chicken to a crisp on the grill isn’t just unappetizing for your cookout guests; it could also be unhealthy for them. When meat is grilled—especially when charred—potentially carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can form. However, there may be a satisfying solution. Researchers publishing in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that marinating meat in beer—especially a dark ale—reduced the levels of the compounds by as much as half. Finally, a healthy food trick that sounds like a secret family recipe.


To further ease your mind, warmer months mean better cholesterol levels: After spending winters fattening up for a hibernation that never comes, most people have worse cholesterol levels in the colder months. Presenting at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, Johns Hopkins researchers compared the lipid profiles of 2.8 million adults on a seasonal basis and found that on average, cholesterol numbers were worse in the winter months than in the summer by a small but significant margin. The researchers speculated that longer days and more outdoor activity may nudge cholesterol levels in the right direction. The finding should lead to a little less grill-out guilt, but it doesn’t make up for doubling down on an entire pack of hot dogs.