Sunday, December 11, 2011


Alla Katsnelson

Published online 8 July 2010/ Nature /doi:10.1038/news.2010342

Level of difficulty **


1.       How important are hobbies, interests and excitement in people’s lives?

2.       How important is trying something new or taking on a challenge?

3.       How do the above make you feel?

4.       Do you think the effect is only physical?

5.       Read the title of the text. How do you think an interesting environment helps?


1.       Read the studies done with mice as far as “Unexpected effects” and answer the following three questions: What is the immediate conclusion we can draw from this study? What is the ultimate conclusion we can draw from this study? What is the take-home point about stress mentioned in this study?

2.       Look back at the section you have just read and explain in your own words what “enriched”, “restrain” and “reduction” mean. There are plenty of contextual clues so no dictionaries.

3.       Read the section titled “Unexpected effects”. What does “its” in the first line of this section refer to?

4.       During and his colleagues wanted to know “why the natural history of cancer differed so dramatically from one individual to the next”. What seem to be the two reasons according to this section?

5.       The two reasons stated above are closely connected. What is the connection?

6.       Read “The health challenge”. In the second paragraph in this section, John Hall says “This is a novel finding”. What is he referring to? Be very precise.

7.       What is the take-home point concerning tumor growth in humans gleaned from the findings concerning mice?

8.       Read the last paragraph of the text. What typical features of a concluding paragraph does it have? What phrases you personally start the conclusions in your essays is lacking. What is the take-home point in that case?


Now write a short summary of the text having discussed organization with your teacher.


Alla Katsnelson


You may be forgiven for being tempted to just turn to something else on reading the title. Doing so, however, would be a great mistake.  Despite not being a science graduate, I found the text riveting as it proves what we seem to know instinctively anyway. The text itself also lends itself to some serious comprehension questions, which is why I have given it two stars despite the relative simplicity of the passage. For those of you who know the book, it is sort of mid-College Reading 2 level. My thanks go to Hamide Koz who sent me the text.

  1. A mild boost in stress hormones seems to be what keeps the cancer at bay by switching on a molecular pathway that restrains tumor growth. / Making home more complicated increases stress in mice but keeps them healthier. / A little stress may be no bad thing.
  2. Made richer, control or inhibit, a drop
  3. Environmental enrichment's
  4. Reduced levels of the hormone leptin; a dramatic increase in the expression of a gene encoding the signaling protein BDNF.
  5. The action of stress hormones
  6. That enrichment can reduce tumor growth
  7. Humans could benefit from a more active life style – not just physically but socially and cognitively.
  8. Future applications of these findings. Phrases like in conclusion, to sum up and the like. These phrases are by no means necessary.


The discovery concerning an enriched environment/ what physical changes took place in mice in these environments / what exactly enrichment means / the significance of all this for treating cancer in humans.

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