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Letter from the editor | 129

Less stress and more poetry

Living chronically stressed really isn’t worthwhile. And it isn’t the varied cultists of the so-called alternative life who have made the most insistent warnings in this regard. It is from inside respected scientific research institutions from all over the world, including Brazil, that studies have come out in recent years, showing that stress for prolonged periods favors the emergence of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, anxiety, depression, impotence, infertility, and even some forms of cancer. Now, research carried out by groups from the University of  São Paulo (USP) and from the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) is arriving at surprising evidence that stress can also trigger off an inflammation of large proportions in the nerve cells, capable of causing the death of neurons in two regions of the brain: the hippocampus, which is associated with the formation of the memory, and the frontal cortex, related to logical thinking, amongst other competences. The idea of inflammation of the nerve cells surprises many people. But that is really what it is – and it is worth the trouble of checking it out in the excellent article by special editor Ricardo Zorzetto. It will certainly make you think about the complex reasons that have led stress, originally an efficient mechanism for adapting to new or threatening situations, to become, in contemporary societies, such a baleful condition for the fruition of life and for the physical and mental health of men and women.

Good news coming from the field of  livestock, which, by the way, has a certain abundance of this in Brazil: dozens of  breeds of domesticated animals that have been developed in the country, often from forebears brought from Europe in the early days of colonization, make up today a precious genetic heritage that now ensures us comparative advantages in getting better and more resistant animals, and, in future, may facilitate the production of transgenic animals,  from which, for example, one may want tenderer meat. With a clear vision of these commercial possibilities, Embrapa, reports the technology editor Marcos de Oliveira, in a fine article, has intensified its studies with these Brazilian breeds of horses, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. It is worthwhile checking it out.

The discussions about Brazilian foreign policy are sometimes inflamed. The Foreign Relations Ministry,  known as Itamaraty, is historically a much respected institution in Brazil, and references to the good training of career diplomats in the country are constant. However, doubts remain as to the nature of the about-turns, apparent or real, of the foreign policy practiced since the days of the Baron of Rio Branco.  So, at a moment when the theme is coming back to merit a debate with a certain heat, which was facilitated by the election campaign for the Presidency of the Republic, it is worth having elements for a critical reflection about the paradigms by which our foreign policy has been and is being driven. And it is this that the consistent article by the humanities editor, Carlos Haag. But, still in the humanities section, I would like to highlight an article on the poet and essayist Sebastião Uchoa Leite, who died three years ago. Let’s say that Pesquisa FAPESP here becomes integrated with the efforts of some people and institutions for an injustice not to be committed with this valued personage of the national literature, by forgetting him. And it does so with a fine and moving text, prepared by journalist Gonçalo Junior. Which is an invitation to calm reflections, contemplations and poetry.