Does being left-handed predict heart health? Here are five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss


At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed.

Being left-handed may increase heart disease risk

Around one in 10 people are left-handed. Research suggests that those predominantly using their left hand may have shorter lifespans compared to right-handed individuals. They are also more likely to have heart health issues and related diseases like diabetes and cancer.

In a recent study published in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine researchers in the US investigated if left-handed people had lower vascular function and heart rate variability.

They found that compared to right-handers, left-handed individuals exhibit lower vascular endothelial function. The endothelium is cell layer lining blood- and lymph vessels, regulating blood pressure, immune responses, and clotting, among other things. The researchers also found an inverse relationship between how arteries dilate when blood flow increases and mean arterial pressure. This emphasizes the fact that being left-handed may represent an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and warrant earlier evaluation of traditional risk factors.

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Wildfires may not heat up soil as much as previously thought

Wildfires can cause deaths and damages, but also landslides, soil erosion, and water quality problems. The extent of soil damage depends on several factors, including fire intensity, duration, fuel load, and soil properties. It is difficult to predict how much soil damage fires cause because the contributing factors are unpredictable.

Writing in Frontiers in Earth Science, researchers in Italy have recently reproduced real wildfire conditions in a controlled experiment and monitored above- and below-ground temperatures.

These field tests showed that 2cm below ground, temperature never exceeded 70°C, and thus doesn’t affect soil components or properties in most cases. Before, it was assumed that temperatures of at least 100°C develop in the ground. The researchers pointed out that if their results could be confirmed in other situations and locations, there might be a need to re-think the processes that develop due to high temperatures in the soil because of fires.

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Coastal wetlands may significantly increase the UK’s carbon storage potential

Soil and vegetation store carbon. Coastal wetlands, too, are highly effective at storing ‘blue carbon’, which is the carbon captured by the world’s ocean and costal ecosystems. However, only Australia and the US have inventories of how much carbon is held in these ecosystems, making it difficult to develop management and protection strategies for these ecosystems in other places.

Researchers in the UK have recently modelled organic carbon storage in the soil and the above and belowground biomass of 26 Great British saltmarshes. They published their results in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Results showed that the saltmarshes of Great Britain contain around 5.2 megatons of organic carbon, 93% of which is in the soil. This is the first full assessment of organic carbon (OC) stored within these habitats and includes estimates of above and belowground biomass OC stocks alongside the OC stored within the full depth of saltmarsh soil, they wrote.

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Bridge-building robot shows significant promise

Building complex infrastructure is challenging but offers freedom of form as well as structural advantages. Using concrete to build is practical because it’s cost efficient, strong, and can be cast into almost any shape.

A team of researchers in Germany has now merged two technologies – CNC knitted stay-in-place formwork, known as KnitCrete, and robotically applied shotcrete, known as Shotcrete 3D Printing – to build a concrete bridge. They documented the process in a study published in Frontiers in Built Environment.

They successfully combined 3D knitted framework and robotic concrete spraying to build a concrete bridge, a step marking a significant advance in additive manufacturing. Their approach could potentially eliminate the disadvantages of excessive waste, high labor costs, and corrosion on one hand, and significantly extend the design space of additive manufacturing on the other hand, the researchers wrote.

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Our social networks and gender may determine our health, happiness, and well-being

Humans build social networks with which we exchange social support. These networks can vary in size, composition of network members, and contact frequency. They can also differ by the nature of individuals’ social networks and their interdependent relationships with others.

In an article recently published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers in South Korea examined links between different types of networks and health outcomes for women and men, respectively.

The researchers examined four distinct network types: diversified, family-(un)supported, friend-based, and restricted. These networks reflect different configurations of structural, functional, and qualitative aspects of relationships, for example, the size of an individual’s network and how often they were in touch with network members. Findings suggest that women benefit more from supportive networks but are also more vulnerable to a lack of supportive relationships. The researchers said that this highlights that having diversified and greater quality relationships and avoiding conflicts is critical for women’s health.

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