Category Archives: Health

Cops are the most obese workers in America, study reveals

Tim McFarlan reports for the Daily Mail:

‘Their job is to protect and serve – but it seems some police officers interpret this as an excuse to enjoy too many extra servings at the lunch table.

A study has revealed US cops have the highest rates of obesity among any profession in the country.

Along with firefighters and security guards, nearly 41 per cent of boys in blue are obese, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.’

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New Study Raising Alarms About ‘Superbugs’

Inside an internet addiction treatment centre in China

Chris Baraniuk writes for New Scientist:

‘In China, if you are a kid who spends a long time online, you had better watch out. Your parents may send you off for “treatment”.

At the Internet Addiction Treatment Centre in Beijing, children must take part in military-style activities, including exercise drills and the singing of patriotic songs. They are denied access to the internet. One of the first experiences internees undergo is brain monitoring through electroencephalography (EEG). The programme is run by psychologist Tao Ran, who claims the brains of internet and heroin addicts display similarities.’

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Study: Vast Majority of Vegetarians and Vegans Return To Meat

Fast Company reports:

‘After decades of a growing appetite for meat, U.S. consumption is finally dropping after hitting “peak meat” a decade ago. But while many people are eating less meat, giving it up totally is much harder. Few people stick with their decision to become vegetarian or vegan.

In an attempt to move animal-free diets “from the margins more towards the center,” the Humane Research Council just put out the first study to put numbers to the lapsed vegetarian phenomenon. Their main takeaway is essentially what people have said for years: getting people to reduce their meat and dairy intake will be more effective overall than demanding “purity,” or complete elimination of animal products from their diet.’

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BPA in Cans and Plastic Bottles Linked to Quick Rise in Blood Pressure

Anahad O’Connor reports for The New York Times:

‘People who regularly drink from cans and plastic bottles may want to reconsider: A new study shows that a common chemical in the containers can seep into beverages and raise blood pressure within a few hours.

The research raises new concerns about the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, which is widely found in plastic bottles, plastic packaging and the linings of food and beverage cans. Chronic exposure to BPA, as it is commonly known, has been associated with heart disease, cancer and other health problems. But the new study is among the first to show that a single exposure to the chemical can have a direct and fairly immediate impact on cardiovascular health.

The study found that when people drank soy milk from a can, the levels of BPA in their urine rose dramatically within two hours – and so did their blood pressure. But on days when they drank the same beverage from glass bottles, which don’t use BPA linings, there was no significant change in their BPA levels or blood pressure.’

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Prenatal Exposure to Common Chemicals Linked to Lower IQ in Kids

Agata Blaszczak-Boxe reports for Live Science:

‘The children of women who are exposed to higher levels of chemicals called phthalates during pregnancy may have lower IQ scores than those whose mothers are exposed to lower levels of those chemicals, according to a new study. Phthalates are common in products such as plastics and the fragrances used in shampoos, air fresheners and dryer sheets.

In the study, researchers followed 328 women in New York City who were either African-American or Dominican-American, as well as their children, who were born between 1998 and 2006. The researchers measured the levels of four types of phthalates in the women’s urine, and looked at the children’s IQ scores at age 7.

They found that the children of mothers with the highest urine levels of two chemicals — called di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP) — had IQ scores that were about 6 to 8 points lower than those of the children whose mothers had the lowest levels of those chemicals in their urine.’

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Henry Kissinger’s secret role in the Bhopal tragedy

Rob Edwards reports for The Scottish Herald:

‘Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger put pressure on the Indian Government to agree a legal settlement that let the American chemical company Union Carbide off the hook for the 25,000 people killed by the toxic gas disaster in Bhopal 30 years ago.

A letter released under freedom of ­information legislation reveals that the late Indian steel magnate JRD Tata wrote secretly to the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in May 1988 conveying ­Kissinger’s concern about the delays in reaching agreement on the compensation to be paid to victims.

At the time, Kissinger – who became notorious around the world in the 1970s for being involved in some of most hawkish US foreign policy decisions – was an adviser to Union Carbide and other major US corporations.’

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30 Years After Bhopal Gas Leak, U.S. Company Responsible Remains Unpunished: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Of mice and men: Comparing genetics raises new questions about reliability of rodent studies

David Warmflash reports for Genetic Literacy Project:

mice‘Whether for cancer research, heart disease, strokes, the effects of different diet, drug research, or animal evolution, we are accustomed to hearing about major medical and biological discoveries announced with results of studies using laboratory mice. The areas just mentioned constitute just the tip of the iceberg; throughout biological science, laboratory mice are ubiquitous. They are used to make the transition from cell culture, in in vitro work, to studies on human subjects with direct clinical implications. There are some exceptions, of course. Along the spectrum from cell to clinic, mice often are not useful for investigations involving new surgical procedures, treatment of head trauma, and various other areas, which require larger animals, such as dogs or primates. Excluding selected areas, though, the laboratory mouse really lies at the foundation of numerous life science studies, but is it an appropriate model in all cases?’

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Most Brits don’t eat five a day (unless you count chocolate)

Georgie Keate reports for The Times:

Fruit and vegetables‘More than three million people have not eaten any greens in the past week with most of them believing chocolate, cheese and meat are part of their five fruit and vegetables a day.

A recent study has found that despite the Department of Health issuing guidelines in 2002, men eat only 2.4 portions a day on average, while women are only slightly healthier, eating 2.7 daily portions.

Birds Eye, which commissioned the reserach, discovered that 10 per cent of adults were earting fewer greens than they did as a child, while 11 per cent claimed bad memories of school dinner.’

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Land of Waste: How Albania Became Europe’s Rubbish Tip

‘Albania is slowly sinking under the weight of Europe’s waste. This report investigates an industry of waste that is both necessary for survival, yet a threat for many Albanians. For how long can it continue? “For us, the Roma, it is our only work, because nobody will hire us”, says Renato, a scavenger earning half the average national wage. In the “dustbin of Europe”, countries such as Serbia, Slovenia and Russia dump their scrap in vast quantities. Yet Albania’s infrastructure is insufficient for dealing with this often toxic waste. Despite efforts to restrict imports, waste continues to enter under the guise of “raw material”. In towns such as Elbasan, home to a large metallurgical plant, the poor control on the industry is beginning to destroy the health of its workers. As one doctor describes, “On one hand, the community has been here for a long time, and needs work. But on the other, it cannot afford the sacrifice”.’ (Journeyman Pictures)

Belgian euthanasia group tours Auschwitz

Michael Cook writes for BioEdge:

‘About 70 people accompanied Belgian euthanasia doctor Wim Distelmans on his tour of Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp in German-occupied Poland, last month. The German magazine Der Spiegel ran a long, reflective feature which attempted to explain why he dared to link euthanasia to Nazi atrocities.

The tour was highly controversial. In Antwerp ultraorthodox Jews were outraged that Dr Distelmans had described Auschwitz as “an inspiring venue”. They called him “a professional killer”. The deputy director of the Auschwitz memorial commented: “We feel that the attempt to link the history of Auschwitz with the current debate about euthanasia is inappropriate.”

Distelmans was not deterred by the protests. His point was that the Nazis violated autonomy while he esteems it. He is killing patients out of humility and love. “What does this mean to us?”, Distelmans asked the tour group.’

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U.S. Buys Up Ebola Gear, Leaving Little for Africa

Drew Hinshaw and Jacob Bunge report for The Wall Street Journal:

‘[…] For months, companies like DuPont Co. have struggled to fill all the orders coming in for the niche products—chemical suits, boot covers, face masks, hoods—that make up what doctors call PPEs, or Personal Protective Equipment. Now, PPE orders are piling up faster than DuPont and others can fill them.

One of the demand spikes isn’t coming from West Africa—but from America. U.S. hospitals and government agencies have strained PPE supplies in some regions, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. This month, the CDC itself said it ordered $2.7 million in PPEs, a collection it calls a Strategic National Stockpile. CDC guidelines state American hospitals and firefighters need PPEs on hand, in case a potential Ebola suspect wanders into an emergency room or dials 911.

The shortage shows how the deep anxiety over Ebola’s arrival in the U.S. has complicated efforts to fight it in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Ebola has sickened more than 15,000 people in West Africa, more than 5,400 of them fatally. The U.S. has had six cases. Two people died.’

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Crickets Are The Latest Health Food Craze

Ag-tech: High-tech farming poised to change the way the world eats

Heather Somerville reports for the Contra Costa Times:

‘Investors and entrepreneurs behind some of the world’s newest industries have started to put their money and tech talents into farming — the world’s oldest industry — with an audacious and ambitious agenda: to make sure there is enough food for the 10 billion people expected to inhabit the planet by 2100, do it without destroying the planet and make a pretty penny along the way.

Silicon Valley is pushing its way into every stage of the food-growing process, from tech tycoons buying up farmland to startups selling robots that work the fields to hackathons dedicated to building the next farming app.

“The food sector is wasteful and inefficient,” said Ali Partovi, a Bay Area investor with large stakes in sustainable agriculture startups. “Silicon Valley has a hubris that says, ‘That’s stupid. Let’s change it.”‘

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Possible alternative to antibiotics developed – but skeptics remain

Sonya Angelica Diehn reports for DW:

Woman examining a pill‘A study published in the journal “Nature Biotechnology” unveils an engineered substance, which its makers hope will present an alternative to antibiotics in the fight against bacterial infection.

Resistance to antibiotics is a serious, growing worldwide problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) in a 2014 report warned that “antibiotic resistance is no longer a prediction for the future; it is happening right now, across the world.”

Although any new substance would have to undergo a lengthy process before it can be used as medicine, the Geneva-based biomedical startup Lascco has already announced clinical trials for next year. Some doctors and scientists stress that the new substance will likely not be able to replace the use of antibiotics.’

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FIXED (Documentary Trailer): Where do we draw the line on bioehancement?

‘A new American documentary examines the ethical issues surrounding human enhancement for people with disabilities. The documentaryFIXED, contains interviews with a range of physically impaired people, as well as specialists in bioehancement. It presents an exciting picture of technological advance, while at the same time giving voice to scepticism and concerns. Overall the documentary presents the bioehancement project in a favorable light. Some may disagree with its conclusions, but it is a resource for understanding the ethical issues surrounding emerging enhancement technologies.’ (BioEdge)

The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed

Adrian Chen reports for Wired:

[…] So companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on an army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us. And there are legions of them—a vast, invisible pool of human labor. Hemanshu Nigam, the former chief security officer of MySpace who now runs online safety consultancy SSP Blue, estimates that the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook.

This work is increasingly done in the Philippines. A former US colony, the Philippines has maintained close cultural ties to the United States, which content moderation companies say helps Filipinos determine what Americans find offensive. And moderators in the Philippines can be hired for a fraction of American wages. Ryan Cardeno, a former contractor for Microsoft in the Philippines, told me that he made $500 per month by the end of his three-and-a-half-year tenure with outsourcing firm Sykes. Last year, Cardeno was offered $312 per month by another firm to moderate content for Facebook, paltry even by industry standards.’

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Did Military Burn Pits Make U.S. Soldiers Sick?

Noam Chomsky: The Other Side of Technology

Why Adele was right to ignore Bob Geldof and Band Aid

Bryony Gordon writes for The Telegraph:

[…] Nobody wants a world full of Ebola, but nor do I want a world full of Malaria and HIV and Tuberculosis and numerous other diseases – not to mention conditions such as hunger and poverty – that are destroying the lives of many millions of Africans every day.

Certainly, I don’t want to be told how to behave philanthropically by a man worth an estimated £32 million, a man who is said to use tax avoidance schemes (it is telling that when a journalist asked him two years ago how much tax he paid, Geldof exploded at her, saying: ‘My time? Is that not a tax?’ Well, no, Bob, it isn’t).

I don’t want to be implored to give charitably by a band that travels in separate private jets because they don’t get on (One Direction), or by a man who avoids Irish taxes while simultaneously telling the Irish government to help developing countries (Bono).

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Eugenics making a comeback as a respectable policy

Xavier Symons reports for BioEdge:

After hibernating for 60 years, eugenics is making a comeback, both in academic and popular spheres. Nazi enthusiasm for eugenics, as well as sterilisation campaigns throughout the Western world in the 1920s and 1930s, gave eugenics a bad name. However, In the Huffington Post recently, Joe Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project made the case for Eugenics 2.0:

“Modern eugenic aspirations are not about the draconian top-down measures promoted by the Nazis and their ilk. Instead of being driven by a desire to “improve” the species, new eugenics is driven by our personal desire to be as healthy, intelligent and fit as possible–and for the opportunity of our children to be so as well. And that’s not something that should be restricted lightly.”

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Algal virus found in humans, slows brain activity

Algal viruses attach, enter, and infect green alga (seen in series here).‘The virus, called ATCV-1, showed up in human brain tissue several years ago, but at the time researchers could not be sure whether it had entered the tissue before or after the people died. Then, it showed up again in a survey of microbes and viruses in the throats of people with psychiatric disease. Pediatric infectious disease expert Robert Yolken from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and his colleagues were trying to see if pathogens play a role in these conditions. At first, they didn’t know what ATCV-1 was, but a database search revealed its identity as a virus that typically infects a species of green algae found in lakes and rivers.’

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How a national food policy could save millions of lives

Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter write for The Washington Post:

‘How we produce and consume food has a bigger impact on Americans’ well-being than any other human activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy; food touches everything from our health to the environment, climate change, economic inequality and the federal budget. Yet we have no food policy — no plan or agreed-upon principles — for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole.

That must change.

The food system and the diet it’s created have caused incalculable damage to the health of our people and our land, water and air. If a foreign power were to do such harm, we’d regard it as a threat to national security, if not an act of war, and the government would formulate a comprehensive plan and marshal resources to combat it. (The administration even named an Ebola czar to respond to a disease that threatens few Americans.) So when hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable — as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are — preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.’

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Inside the UN Resolution on Depleted Uranium

John LaForge writes for CounterPunch:

‘On October 31, a new United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution on depleted uranium (DU) weapons passed overwhelmingly. There were 143 states in favor, four against, and 26 abstentions. The measure calls for UN member states to provide assistance to countries contaminated by the weapons. The resolution also notes the need for health and environmental research on depleted uranium weapons in conflict situations.

This fifth UN resolution on the subject was fiercely opposed by four depleted uranium-shooting countries — Britain, the United States, France and Israel — who cast the only votes in opposition. The 26 states that abstained reportedly sought to avoid souring lucrative trade relationships with the four major shooters.

Uranium-238 — so-called “depleted” uranium — is waste material left in huge quantities by the nuclear weapons complex. It’s used in large caliber armor-piercing munitions and in armor plate on tanks. Toxic, radioactive dust and debris is dispersed when DU shells burn through targets, and its metallic fumes and dust poison water, soil and the food chain. DU has been linked to deadly health effects like Gulf War Syndrome among U.S. and allied troops, and birth abnormalities among populations in bombed areas. DU waste has caused radioactive contamination of large parts of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and perhaps Afghanistan.’

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Direct Democracy: U.S. voters decide on legal marijuana, fracking, GMO labeling

John Oliver On Sugar: It’s In Everything!

How Pinkwashing Is Creating More Cancer: Interview with Karuna Jaggar of Breast Cancer Action

Abby Martin speaks with Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, about why the pink ribbon campaign isn’t all it’s cracked out to be.’ (Breaking the Set)

Ebola Fears Turn Into an Epidemic of Racism and Hysteria

Andrew Jerell Jones wrote for The Intercept:

‘[..] Far more contagious here has been a new virus of hysteria — and of the sort of ignorant discrimination that immigrants in general and Africans specifically have endured for decades.

People are being shunned and mocked for having visited, or even for simply having been born in, Africa — and anywhere in Africa will do, afflicted with Ebola or not. Others face discrimination simply for living in the same neighborhood where a single Ebola patient once lived. Politicians and pundits have seriously discussed closing our borders to entire nations. Panic is dividing the country at a time when the U.S. and indeed the whole world needs to pull together to solve a viral health crisis.’

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Amid Ebola, ISIS and Ukraine, Britain’s Preppers Ready Themselves for Black Swan Events

Shane Croucher reports for the International Business Times:

Steve Hart's Every Day Carry kit‘The walls of society are falling down. After months of geopolitical crises tearing through every region, the global economy has seized up and there are supply shortages of everything: food, water, energy. News comes through that riots are breaking out across the UK. What would you do?

John Bland knows exactly what he would do because he is a “prepper”. Preppers are, as the nickname suggests, prepared. To them the collapse of society is not probable, but it is still possible. So they prepare for it in all ways, from boning up on survival skills to having fully stocked bunkers.’

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