Category Archives: Health

9/11: 2,500 Ground Zero workers have cancer

Susan Edelman reports for The New York Post:

2,500 Ground Zero workers have cancer‘More than 2,500 Ground Zero rescuers and responders have come down with cancer, and a growing number are seeking compensation for their illnesses, The Post has learned. The grim toll has skyrocketed from the 1,140 cancer cases reported last year.

In its latest tally, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts 1,655 responders with cancer among the 37,000 cops, hard hats, sanitation workers, other city employees and volunteers it monitors, officials told The Post.

The tragic sum rises to 2,518 when firefighters and EMTs are added. The FDNY, which has its own WTC health program, said Friday it counts 863 members with cancers certified for 9/11-related treatment.’

READ MORE…

Nigeria ‘on red alert’ over Ebola death in Lagos

From BBC News:

Members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) wearing protective gear walk outside the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital, on 23 July 2014 in Conakry.‘Nigeria says it has put all entries into the country on red alert after confirming the death of a Liberian man who was carrying the Ebola virus. The man died after arriving at Lagos airport on Tuesday, in the first Ebola case in Africa’s most populous country.

Surveillance has been stepped up at all “airports, seaports and land borders”, says Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu. Since February, more than 660 people have died of Ebola in West Africa – the world’s deadliest outbreak to date. It began in southern Guinea and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.’

READ MORE…

Doctors often do more harm than good in a culture of over-investigation and over-treatment

Dr. Aseem Malhotra writes for The Guardian:

‘Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, Dr Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale, described a syndrome that starts to develop close to discharge from hospital. Physiological systems are impaired, reserves are depleted, and the body cannot effectively mitigate health threats. It is instructive to note that this syndrome – created by the stressful hospital environment – is a significant contributor to hospital re-admissions. It is estimated that 10-20% of patients discharged from hospital in the UK and US will be re-admitted within 30 days, often with a condition entirely unrelated to their original admission. Poor sleep and inadequate nutrition have an adverse effect on physical performance and co-ordination, cognitive function, immunity, and even cardiac risk. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to being re-admitted with falls and infection, with one study revealing that a fifth of hospitalised patients over 65 had an average nutrient intake of less than 50% of their daily requirements.

[...] A culture of over-investigation and over-treatment is now one of the greatest threats to western health. In the US it is estimated that a third of all healthcare activity brings no benefit to patients. Examples include excessive use of antibiotics, imaging for non-sinister headaches, use of surgery when watchful waiting is better and unwanted intensive care for patients at the end of life who would prefer hospice and home care. In the US, a fee-for-service model encourages high volume and expensive procedures. But we should be alert to similar possibilities here: the UK’s “payment by results” – which in reality is a payment-by-activity model – potentially incentivises “doing more” on the part of physicians. As a profession we have also been guilty – unwittingly or otherwise – of exaggerating the benefits of medications often perceived as magic pills by patients when their benefits are often modest at best. This also detracts from more meaningful lifestyle interventions by giving the public the illusion of protection.’

READ MORE…

Sick chicken: The dirty truth about food and the UK’s poultry industry

‘Two-thirds of fresh retail chicken in the UK is contaminated with campylobacter, a nasty bug that affects about 280,000 people a year.’ (The Guardian)

Russia Sues McDonald’s, Questioning Quality of the Food

The New York Times reports:

‘The McDonald’s cheeseburger will have its day in court. Russia’s consumer protection agency has filed a claim accusing the restaurant chain of violating government nutritional and safety codes in a number of its burger and ice cream products, a Moscow court announced Friday.

The suit could temporarily ban the production and sale of the chain’s ice cream, milkshakes, cheeseburgers, and Filet-o-Fish and chicken sandwiches, said Yekaterina Korotova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court, where the case will be heard.

“We have identified violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald’s chain in doubt,” Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer protection agency, said in statements reported by the Interfax news agency.’

READ MORE…

Pesticide linked to three generations of disease: Methoxychlor causes epigenetic changes

Science Daily reports:

Washington State University researchers say ancestral exposures to the pesticide methoxychlor may lead to adult onset kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity in future generations. “What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like the pesticide methoxychlor, may promote a dramatic increase in your susceptibility to develop disease, and you will pass this on to your grandchildren in the absence of any continued exposures,” says Michael Skinner, WSU professor and founder of its Center for Reproductive Biology. He and his colleagues document their findings in a paper published online in PLOS ONE.

Methoxychlor — also known as Chemform, Methoxo, Metox or Moxie — was introduced in 1948 and widely used during the 1970s as a safer replacement for DDT. It was used on crops, ornamental plants, livestock and pets. It is still used in many countries around the world. It was banned in the U.S. in 2003 due to its toxicity and ability to disrupt endocrine systems. Methoxychlor can behave like the hormone estrogen and profoundly affects the reproductive system.’

READ MORE…

Suicide’s toll: Survey says half of vets know someone who has tried it

Jon Harper reports for Stars & Stripes:

‘Nearly half of all respondents to a major survey of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans know at least one veteran from those conflicts who has tried to kill himself.

The survey, released Thursday, was conducted earlier this year by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. IAVA received responses to an extensive list of questions from more than 2,000 of the nation’s younger veterans, the vast majority of whom served in the Army or Marine Corps.

Respondents ranked suicide and mental health as the biggest issue facing post-9/11 veterans.’

READ MORE…

Study: Childhood Traumas More Common Among Military Members

The Associated Press reports:

‘Childhood traumas are more common among military members and veterans than among civilians, according to a new study. Researchers say the results support the notion that for some, enlistment serves as an escape from troubled upbringings. The study is the largest to examine how common bad childhood experiences are among military men and women. Disparities were most striking among men during the volunteer era: More than 25 percent had experienced at least four childhood traumas, versus about 13 percent of civilian men.

“These results suggest that, since the beginning of the all-volunteer U.S. military in 1973, there has been a meaningful shift in childhood experiences among men who have served in the military,” said lead author John Blosnich, a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. He said research is needed “to explore whether the differences in adverse childhood experiences are associated with health outcomes among men and women with military service history.”‘

READ MORE…

The Tree of Forty Fruits

China seals off 30,000 people after bubonic plague death

Arielle Duhaime-Ross reports for The Verge:

‘Parts of Yumen, a city in northwestern China, have been sealed off after a local died of bubonic plague last week, reports Reuters. The 38-year-old man is said to have contracted the bacterial disease, also known as “the black death,” after coming into contact with a type of rodent called a marmot.

Yumen has a population of 100,000 people, but the parts of the city that are now sealed are home to about 30,000. These residents have been told that they can’t leave the area, and police have set up roadblocks to prevent anyone from entering these zones. Moreover, 151 residents are under quarantine after coming into direct contact with the man who contracted the disease.’

READ MORE…

Len McClusky: The NHS is being taken over by Wall Street, and Cameron won’t stop it

Len McClusky, leader of Unite, writes for the Guardian:

Brighton TTIP demo‘Will David Cameron go down in history as the man who gave away this country’s greatest achievement to Wall Street, the man who enabled big American healthcare access to our hospital wards? The answer will be yes – unless the prime minister makes it clear once and for all that he will protect the NHS from the world’s largest bilateral trade negotiations, happening right now in Brussels.

Make no mistake, we are in the fight of our lives to save the NHS from being sold off lock, stock and barrel. But to make matters even worse a trade deal called TTIP (the transatlantic trade and investment partnership) will mean that reversing the damage done by this government could be impossible unless Cameron acts.’

READ MORE…

The Corporate Takeover of ‘All Natural’ Food

Clarissa A. León writes for Alternet:

‘Walk through your local grocery store these days and you’ll see the words “all natural” emblazoned on a variety of food packages.  The label is lucrative, for sure, but in discussing the natural label few have remarked on what’s really at stake — the natural ingredients and the companies themselves.

If you take a look at some of the favorite organic and natural food brands, you’ll see they’re owned by some of the largest conventional companies in the world. Coca-Cola owns Odwalla and Honest Tea. PepsiCo. owns Naked Juice. General Mills owns Lara Bar. Natural and organic food acquisitions aside, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Mills all opposed California’s GMO Proposition 37 that would require GMO food labeling. Today, some of those companies touting an all-natural list of grains and sugars can be seen changing the ingredients in their natural food products as the natural foods’ distribution channels are pushed to larger and larger markets.’

READ MORE…

McDonald’s and KFC hit by China food safety scandal

Lucy Hornby reports for the Financial Times:

Two Chinese men walk past a billboard advertising US fast-food giant McDonald's, in Yichang, central China's Hubei province on July 8, 2010. McDonald's said it was working with Chinese authorities to test its Chicken McNuggets amid reports they contained risky chemical additives, but stressed the food was safe. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)‘A supplier to McDonald’s and KFC in China has been accused of supplying rotting meat to the fast-food chains and falsifying product expiration dates, in the latest food safety scandal to hit the country. It is also the latest blow to foreign fast food companies operating in the country, where promises of rapid growth – there are more than 4,400 KFC restaurants alone – are being undermined by food safety issues.

The Shanghai food safety watchdog said on Monday it had closed a meat and poultry processor on the outskirts of the city after an undercover investigation by a local television station found the company to be putting new labels on expired meat, among other food safety violations. KFC and McDonald’s, both of which used the US-owned meat processor to supply their Shanghai outlets, apologised to their Chinese customers.’

READ MORE…

Billionaire Carlos Slim calls for three-day working week to improve quality of life

Helen Davidson reports for the Guardian:

Carlos Slim‘Mexican billionaire tycoon, Carlos Slim, has called for the introduction of a three-day working week, offset by longer hours and a later retirement, as a way to improve people’s quality of life and create a more productive labour force.

Slim made the comments when speaking to a business conference in Paraguay, suggesting that the workforce could be spread over a full week, with employees working up to 10 or 11 hours a day. “With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life,” the Financial Times reports Slim saying.’

READ MORE…

Chain smoker’s widow awarded $23bn in punitive damages

From Reuters:

cigarettes‘A jury in Florida has awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer 18 years ago record punitive damages of more than $23bn against America’s second-biggest cigarette maker, RJ Reynolds. The judgment, returned on Friday night, was the largest in Florida history in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a single plaintiff, said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the woman’s lawyer, Chris Chestnut.

Cynthia Robinson, of Pensacola, sued the cigarette maker in 2008 over the death of her husband, Michael Johnson, claiming the company conspired to conceal the health dangers and addictive nature of its products. Johnson, a hotel shuttle-bus driver who died of lung cancer in 1996 aged 36, smoked between one and three packets a day for more 20 years, starting at age 13, Chestnut said. “He couldn’t quit. He was smoking the day he died,” the lawyer told Reuters on Saturday.’

READ MORE…

Are bioethicists tools of policy technocrats?

Michael Cook writes for BioEdge:

‘Although bioethicists are believed to provide fearless independent advice, challenging policy-makers to make the “right” decisions, a Swiss expert in bureaucracies contends that  this is often not the case. Writing in the journal Governance, Annabelle Littoz-Monnet, of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, in Geneva, contends that bureaucrats use ethical experts to get their own way when they have to deal with controversies like GM foods or embryonic stem cell research.’

READ MORE…

5 Ways Skin Can Signal Health Problems

Bahar Gholipour writes for Live Science:

‘The largest organ in the body, the skin, is sometimes said to be a window into a person’s general well-being, because it can carry clues about the health of other organs. Changes in the skin, ranging from discoloration to new growth, may sometimes be early signs of more serious underlying health problems, dermatologists say.

“I think of us as medical detectives,” said Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “I’m always looking for that clue — when did this change happen, why it’s here, what are the other symptoms … Those clues will help me find what’s going on inside, both in the mind and the body.” A handful of skin changes have been commonly associated with internal diseases. When people spot these signs, they might need to see their doctor, Day said. “A few weeks is not uncommon to have something come and go, but if it persists beyond that, I would say see your doctor — especially if it gets worse during that time,” Day said.’

READ MORE…

Coca-Cola Forced To Shut Bottling Plant in India

Fatima Hansia reports for CorpWatch:

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage producer, has been ordered to shut down its bottling plant in Varanasi, India following local complaints that the company was drawing excessive amounts of groundwater. After an investigation, government authorities ruled that the company had violated its operating license.

…This is not the first time that the company has been in trouble in India for unsustainable water extraction practices. In 2004 a bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, was closed for excessive water consumption. Later Kerala passed legislation that allows Coca-Cola to be sued for as much as $47 million in damages as result of the operations. And last year, community organizers in Charba, Uttarakhand, defeated Coca-Cola’s plans to build a new factory as soon as the proposal went public.’

READ MORE…

Study: Organic Food Has More Antioxidants, Less Pesticide Residue

Dominique Mosbergen reports for The Huffington Post:

Organic food really is better for your health than its conventional counterparts. At least, that’s the conclusion of a new study conducted by researchers at Newcastle University and published this week. But not everyone is convinced. Specifically, the researchers said that organic fruits, vegetables and cereals contain significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. They added that organic produce and cereals were found to have lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides.

For the study — said to be the largest of its kind – the researchers analyzed more than 340 international, peer-reviewed studies that looked at compositional differences between organic and conventional crops. According to the paper, researchers found that organically grown produce and cereals have between 19 and 69 percent higher concentrations of certain antioxidant compounds than conventionally grown crops.’

READ MORE…

Lapses at high-security CDC labs reveal culture of negligence

Noelle Swan writes for Christian Science Monitor:

‘Revelations of safety breaches at federal biosecurity laboratories reveal gaping holes in safety protocols, a lack of independent oversight, and an apparent culture of hubris among researchers who work with dangerous biological agents, biosecurity experts say.

In the past week, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced three separate incidents:

  • In June, scientists at the CDC’s Bioterrorism Rapid Response and Advanced Technology lab exposed 80 unprotected workers to pathogenic anthrax.
  • Weeks earlier, the CDC’s influenza lab shipped samples of a benign avian flu virus that had been cross-contaminated with more pernicious strain to a US Department of Agriculture facility.
  • Researchers at a Federal Drug Administration lab operated by National Institutes and Health uncovered long forgotten vials containing the smallpox virus circa 1954 that were supposed to be consigned to international repositories.

The incidents have shone a light on a broader issue of lapses in safety and security at bio labs operated and funded by the federal government.’

READ MORE…

Nanotech: Big Dairy Is Putting Microscopic Pieces of Metal in Your Food

Tom Philpott writes for Mother Jones:

‘The rapid emergence of nanotechnology suggests that size does, indeed, matter. It turns out that if you break common substances like silver and nickel into really, really tiny particles—measured in nanometers, which are billionths of a meter—they behave in radically different ways. For example, regular silver, the stuff of fancy tableware, doesn’t have any obvious place in sock production. But nano-size silver particles apparently do. According to boosters, when embedded in the fabric of socks, microscopic silver particles are “strongly antibacterial to a wide range of pathogens, absorb sweat, and by killing bacteria help eliminate unpleasant foot odor.” (By most definitions, a particle qualifies as “nano” when it’s 100 nanometers wide or less. By contrast, a human hair clocks in at about 80,000 nanometers in diameter.)

According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN)—a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the Wilson Center—there are more than 1,600 nanotechnology-based consumer products on the market today. If SmartSilver Anti-Odor Nanotechnology Underwear sounds like a rather intimate application for this novel technology, consider that the PEN database lists 96 food items currently on US grocery shelves that contain unlabeled nano ingredients. Examples include Silk Original Soy MilkRice Dream Rice Drink, Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate, and Kraft’s iconic American Cheese Singles, all of which now contain nano-size titanium dioxide*. As recently as 2008, only eight US food products were known to contain nanoparticles, according to a recent analysis from Friends of the Earth—a more than tenfold increase in just six years.’

READ MORE…

The Deep Harm of Antibiotics

Dr. Cesar Chelala writes for CounterPunch:

‘Resistance to antibiotics is a growing phenomenon and has become one of the world’s most serious public health concerns. Antibiotic resistance is a form of drug resistance where some bacteria are able to survive the administration of one or more antibiotics. This phenomenon is a consequence of misuse and overuse of antibiotics in medicine and in livestock feed. As a result of this, there is a growing presence of superbugs, as are called microorganisms -mostly bacteria- that carry several antibiotic-resistance genes.

The seriousness of the problem is underscored by the World Health Organization (WHO), which in a recent report has called this phenomenon a ‘global threat.’ The WHO report follows a 2013 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report which showed that two million people in the U.S. are infected annually with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 people die each year from them. Last year, Dr. Sally Davies had called the problem a “ticking time bomb” and said that it probably will become as important in the magnitude of its effects as climate change.

As a result of antibiotic resistance and the increasing number of superbugs, common infections that could be treated without major problems have become untreatable. In 2012, the WHO reported 450,000 cases of tuberculosis in 92 countries where multiple drugs used to treat them were found ineffective.’

READ MORE…

Report: Over-fortified cereals may pose risks to kids

Michelle Healy reports for USA Today:

‘Young children who dig into a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal may be getting too much of a good thing. A new report says that “millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts” of vitamin A, zinc and niacin, with fortified breakfast cereals the leading source of the excessive intake because all three nutrients are added in amounts calculated for adults.

Outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing by food manufacturers who use high fortification levels to make their products appear more nutritious fuel this potential risk, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based health research and advocacy organization.’

READ MORE…

Kill switch: Breeding kamikaze mosquitoes

Kieron Monks reports for CNN:

Female Aedes mosquito feeding‘The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is just two to three millimeters long but its impact is devastating. Of the thousands of mosquito species, this one bears primary responsibility for one of the world’s deadliest and fastest growing diseases. In the past 50 years, incidence of Dengue Fever has multiplied by 30 according to the WHO, spreading from nine countries in 1970 to over 100 today. There is no vaccine or cure for the painful virus known as Breakbone Fever, and of the 50-100 million people infected each year, over 20,000 die.

Aedes Aegypti has spread with this epidemic, and has become the target of efforts to control the disease. But while solutions such as mass spraying of toxic chemicals have proved expensive, ineffective and environmentally damaging, scientists hope to use the insect as the agent of its own destruction. British biotech firm Oxitec is tackling the problem through pioneering genetic modification (GM) of the Aedes Aegypti. Scientists breed large numbers of the insects in laboratories and inject the sperm cells of males with a lethal gene. When the mosquito is released into the wild and mates with a female — always of the same species – the deadly transgene is passed on and the offspring dies.’

READ MORE…

Meals of the Future: Will Soylent and Ambronite Make Food Obsolete?

Amir Khan writes for U.S. News & World Report:

soylent‘[...] Old TV shows and movies depicted 21st century food as nutrient-dense capsules, giving you a day’s worth of calories and nutrients in a single pill – and two new companies are close to bringing that prediction to reality.

These California-based companies – Soylent, named after the 1973 science fiction film “Soylent Green,” and Ambronite – have both developed meal replacement mixes that are intended to free you from the burden of cooking. Simply mix the powder with water or any liquid and, in the case of Soylent, a little oil, and you have a ready-to-drink nutritious breakfast, lunch or dinner.’

READ MORE…

Growing health concerns as UK sets record for smallest properties in Europe

Jonathan Brown writes for The Independent:

‘Britain is in the grip of an invisible housing squeeze with millions of people living in homes that are too small for them, according to new research which reveals that more than half of all dwellings are failing to meet minimum modern standards on size.

The poorest households are being hit hardest, with estimates suggesting that four-fifths of those affected by the Coalition’s “bedroom tax” are already forced to contend with a shortage of space, the Cambridge University study found.

The findings will put pressure on the Government, which announced it was to develop a national space standard – although this will only be enforced where it does not impinge on development. Critics argue that the UK already has the smallest properties in Europe following the end of national guidelines in 1980. But soaring land and property prices and a shortage of new homes are fuelling overcrowding, which causes health problems including depression, insomnia and asthma.’

READ MORE…

Nafeez Ahmed: World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme ‘complicit’ in genocidal land grabs, say NGOs

Nafeez Ahmed writes for the Guardian:

A Kenyan farmer tends newly planted trees‘Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 500 million acres of land in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean was acquired or negotiated under deals brokered on behalf of foreign governments or transnational corporations. Many such deals are geared toward growing crops or biofuels for export to richer, developed countries – with the consequence that small-holder farmers are displaced from their land and lose their livelihood while local communities go hungry.

The concentration of ownership of the world’s farmland in the hands of powerful investors and corporations is rapidly accelerating, driven by resource scarcity and, thus, rising prices. According to a new report by the US land rights organisation Grain: “The powerful demands of food and energy industries are shifting farmland and water away from direct local food production to the production of commodities for industrial processing.” Less known factors, however, include ‘conservation‘ and ‘carbon offsetting.”

READ MORE…

FDA considering ban on electric shock therapy

My Fox Boston reported last month:

‘A doctor who was part of an FDA advisory panel on electric shock therapy says the Judge Rotenberg Center is not reporting device malfunctions that randomly shock students to the government as required.

“We have no data on how often this device is malfunctioning,” said Dr. Steven Miles, a physician who served on a panel advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the devices used to deliver the shocks. “Any time that you have a medical device failure, in this case administering random shocks, you cause trauma to people. And in this case you traumatize people with learning disabilities.”

The Canton-based Rotenberg Center, the only place in the country using the devices, disagrees, saying the misfires don’t meet the FDA reporting standard of causing death or serious injury. The FDA, however, is not so sure.’

READ MORE…

We Will End Disability by Becoming Cyborgs

Eliza Strickland writes for IEEE Spectrum:

Aimee Mullins Hugh Herr‘[...] The MIT scientists are part of a movement aimed at ushering medicine into a cyborg age. All over the world, engineers are building electronics-based systems that communicate directly with the human nervous system, promising radically new treatments for a variety of ailments and conditions, both physical and mental. While Herr’s team focuses on giving people better control of their prosthetic limbs, other researchers are trying to give patients better control of their emotions. One promising experiment targets depression with deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which electrodes implanted in the brain send steady pulses of electricity to certain problematic neural areas. Others are developing gear to compensate for intellectual deficits, such as a California project to build a memory-augmenting prosthetic.

In all of these projects, researchers started with the notion that a surprising range of afflictions can be most effectively treated by learning the electrical language that the brain uses to govern our movements, moods, and memories. By 2064, it’s entirely possible that neural engineers may be fluent enough to mimic those instructions, allowing them to repair a human being’s faulty systems by rewiring them.’

READ MORE…

Tory party donors handed NHS contracts worth £1.5 billion under health reforms

SOURCE: THE MIRROR