The practice of feeding antibiotics to healthy farm animals to fatten them up is being phased out in the US, a move that should help quell antibiotic resistance. However, the Food and Drug Administration has been criticised for failing to make the move compulsory.
Antibiotic-resistant microbes are thought to kill 23,000 Americans each year and infect 2 million. In the US, 80 per cent of the antibiotics are given to farm animals. Since resistance develops when microbes are repeatedly exposed to antibiotics, giving them to healthy animals exacerbates the problem.
The FDA, which first proposed a ban in 1977, has told pharmaceutical companies that manufacture medically important antibiotics given to animals to voluntarily withdraw them from use as growth promoters.
The manufacturers have three years to change labels on the antibiotics and other antimicrobials to state that they can only be given to animals for veterinary reasons, and prescribed by a vet.
Fifty-one crew members of the USS Ronald Reagan say they are suffering from a variety of cancers as a direct result of their involvement in Operation Tomodachi, a U.S. rescue mission in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster in March 2011. The affected sailors are suing Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), alleging that the utility mishandled the crisis and did not adequately warn the crew of the risk of participating in the earthquake relief efforts.
Crew members, many of whom are in their 20s, have been diagnosed with conditions including thyroid cancer, testicular cancer and leukemia. The Department of Defense says the Navy took “proactive measures” in order to “mitigate the levels of Fukushima-related contamination on U.S. Navy ships and aircraft” and that crew members were not exposed to dangerous radiation levels.
After more than 40 years of study, the US government said Monday it has no evidence that the anti-bacterial chemicals used in countless common soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and it is reviewing research suggesting they may pose health risks.
Regulators at the Food and Drug Administration said they are revisiting the safety of chemicals such as triclosan in light of recent studies that suggest the substances can interfere with hormone levels and spur the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
The government’s preliminary ruling lends new support to outside researchers who have long argued that the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.
A young tourist in Australia was so engrossed in Facebook on her mobile phone that she walked off the end of a pier and had to be rescued by police.
The woman was on St Kilda’s pier in Melbourne when she was spotted falling into the chilly water of St Kilda’s Bay by passers-by who called the police.
Officers at the shore were able to point out the position of the distressed woman to water police units who rescued her about 20 metres (66ft) from the pier.
When they got to her, she was still holding the phone in her hand, police said.
A very refreshing report has just come out of Britain. Eleven senior doctors have presented a strong, new mandate to Prime Minister David Cameron, insisting that it’s time for diet to be placed at the forefront of health policy. Although it was research specifically into the prevention of dementia that led to this conclusion, the doctors agree that the Mediterranean diet can go a long way toward preventing many other chronic illnesses:
“The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet in preventing all of the chronic diseases that are plaguing the Western world is overwhelming,” says Dr. Richard Hoffman, one of the lead authors of the letter to Cameron. Another signatory, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, adds this common-sense statement:
“We are not going to overcome the increasing burden of chronic diseases by prescribing more pills.”
A Mediterranean-style diet is one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil. Fish is eaten at least twice a week, but meat and sugar only once. Moderate consumption of wine is advised.
Pressure is mounting on legislators in Virginia to compensate victims of its forced sterilization policy in the early years of the last century. The neighboring state of North Carolina this year approved a $10 million compensation fund for surviving victims. Two Virginian delegates, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, are now calling on their legislature to act.
Republican Bob Marshall and Democrat Patrick Hope told reporters on Monday that they would move a bill next year to recompense survivors.
“You’re not going to ever come close to compensating for their loss,” said Hope. But, he added, it’s a first step toward healing.
“It’s horrible that we participated in this and became an example for the Third Reich,” Marshall said.
Coca-Cola is running a stealth advertising campaign.
Stealth? Yes, it’s a nationwide product promotion that’s being run below the public radar! Why would a corporation as ad-dependent as Coke spend big bucks on advertising that it doesn’t want consumers to notice? Shhhh — because the campaign is a surreptitious ploy to enlist restaurants in a marketing conspiracy that targets you, your children, and — of course — your wallet.
Coke calls its covert gambit “Cap the Tap,” urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: “Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain.” Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, “by teaching (your) crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages.”
The program provides a guide for restaurant managers who agree to direct Coke’s sneak attack on customers. It also supplies a handy backroom poster to remind waitstaff “when and how to suggestively sell beverages,” plus a participant’s guide to put “suggestive selling” foremost in mind as staff confronts the enemy… uh, I mean customers. Tactics include outflanking those recalcitrant customers who insist on water. Just switch the sales pitch to bottled water — remember, Coca-Cola also owns Dasani, one of the top-selling brands of bottled water in the U.S.
Researchers have discovered a “wonder drug” for many of today’s most common medical problems, says Dr. Bob Sallis, a family practitioner at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Fontana, California. It’s been proven to help treat or prevent diabetes, depression, breast and colon cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, anxiety and osteoporosis, Sallis told leaders at the 2013 Walking Summit in Washington, D.C.
“The drug is called walking,” Sallis announced. “Its generic name is physical activity.”
Recommended dosage is 30 minutes a day, five days a week, but children should double that to 60 minutes a day, seven days a week. Side effects may include weight loss, improved mood, improved sleep and bowel habits, stronger muscles and bones as well as looking and feeling better.
Biking, swimming, dancing, gardening, sports, jogging and aerobics work equally well, Sallis said, but he cites three factors that make walking the most effective treatment: 1) Low or no cost; 2) Simple to do for people of all ages, incomes and fitness levels, and 3) Walking is Americans’ favorite physical activity, so you are more likely to stick with a walking program than with other fitness prescriptions.
Sallis urges all physicians to prescribe walking for their patients because “physical inactivity is pandemic today,” as the authoritative British medical journalThe Lancetreported last year in a special issue devoted to the benefits of physical activity. Studies published in other leading medical journals show that walking and other physical activity could cut rates of many of these diseases by at least 40 percent, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. This would save Americans more than $100 billion a year in health care costs, according to the American Public Health Association.
A leading campaigner on head injuries in sport has called for a ban on children heading the ball when playing football.
Chris Nowinski is a former professional wrestler and suffered from concussion because of regular blows to the head when playing college American football.
Nowinski told BBC Radio 5 live: “In football, introduce heading at a later age.”
He also said that children should not be allowed to play contact sports.
In the first detailed account of the Veterans Administration’s psychosurgery program, the Wall Street Journal reveals the extent to which lobotomies were used on veterans in the 1940s and ’50s, before antipsychotic drugs came on the market and public opinion dipped. Unearthed documents show how one of the “most controversial figures in American medical history,” Walter Freeman—who made the ice-pick-through-the-eye, transorbital method famous and used lobotomies to treat “practically everything from delinquency to a pain in the neck,” one VA memo notes—swayed the organization in favor of the procedure, despite the fact that only a third of patients were able to lead a “productive life” afterward.
After doctors saw Freeman perform a lobotomy in 1943, a VA report recommended the surgery be performed on veterans suffering from mental illnesses. The memo, which noted a lobotomy “does not demand a high degree of surgical skill,” was approved. The US government went on to lobotomize some 2,000 veterans with Freeman at the head, the WSJ notes. And while many at the VA had their doubts—in one case, Freeman posed for a photo op during surgery and penetrated too far into the patient’s brain, killing them—the neurology division’s chief wrote that if properly handed, the advantages “outweigh the disadvantages.”
In March 2011, an unknown amount of radiation was released into the atmosphere after a powerful tsunami slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors on the Pacific coast in Japan. Because people had little access to detailed information about radiation levels, they bought up every Geiger counter they could find in stores and online. Soon the counters were all but sold out worldwide, and in Japan a grey market of shoddy Geiger counters sprouted up, some with faulty or fake parts.
Now, as workers at the plant attempt to move 1,500 highly radioactive spent fuel rods from Unit 4, the most heavily damaged reactor, the risk of radioactive contamination is escalated. The rods, housed in a damaged and leaking concrete pool 100 feet above the plant’s floor, are being moved to a second enclosed pool where it’s hoped they’ll be secure if another earthquake hits Japan’s coast.
The situation at Fukushima has received limited coverage in the Western media, but many scientists have grave concerns about the health and safety ramifications of the procedure—which has never been tried before—should something go wrong.
- Impending Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Be ‘Worse than Chernobyl’
- They’re Going to Dump the Fukushima Radiation Into the Ocean
- Fukushima nuclear disaster is warning to the world, says power company boss
- 300k Fukushima refugees still living ‘in cages’ in makeshift camps
- Japanese Government Has Loaned TEPCO Approximately $50 Billion Since Tsunami
- Record outdoor radiation level that ‘can kill in 20 min’ detected at Fukushima
- Tepco lost the layout drawing of pipes and drains in Fukushima plant
- Japan nuke-plant water tanks flawed, workers say
- Masked artist makes sticky issue out of radiation in Japan
- Yakuza cleans up Fukushima, neglects basic workers’ rights
- Fukushima fallout damaged thyroid glands of California babies
- Thyroid cancers up in Fukushima
- Fukushima land grab eyed
In announcing a final agreement in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday morning [Dec 7th], head of the World Trade Organization Roberto Azevedo, said: “For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered.”
Unfortunately, say critics, what the deal is certain to “deliver” is more pain and suffering for the world’s poorest people and farmers at the expense of the world’s largest and most powerful nations and corporations.
Anti-poverty groups and food sovereignty advocates across the world were pushing off pronouncements like Azevedo’s, saying that the agreement is a failure when it comes to fairness, poverty reduction, environmental protections, and the alleviation of hunger across the globe.
Among those slamming the final deal, director of the World Development Movement (WDM) Nick Dearden said the Bali agreement is designed to serve the interests of “transnational corporations not the world’s poor.”
That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by the Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools and spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse: something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.
The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. A girl’s head barely emerges from the haul of Chanel, Dior and Hermes shopping bags she has piled on her vast bed. It’s captioned “shoppy shoppy” and “#goldrush”, but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She’s alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.
Perhaps I’m projecting my prejudices. But an impressive body of psychological research seems to support these feelings. It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, and which the researchers define as “a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project“, is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It’s associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.
There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years seems to show causation. For example, a series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises.
A variant of a fungus that rots and kills the main variety of export banana has been found in plantations in Mozambique and Jordan, raising fears that it could spread to major producers and decimate supplies. The pathogen, which was until now limited to parts of Asia and a region of Australia, has a particularly devastating effect on the popular Cavendish cultivar, which accounts for almost all of the multibillion-dollar banana export trade. Expansion of the disease worldwide could be disastrous, say researchers.
The disease is caused by strains of a soil fungus called Fusarium oxysporum f. sp.cubense (Foc). A strain of Foc previously wiped out the Gros Michel cultivar, which was the main exported banana variety from the nineteenth century until the 1950s. In response, the industry replaced Gros Michel plants with the Cavendish variety, which is resistant to that Foc strain. But Cavendish is susceptible to the new Foc Tropical Race 4 (Foc-TR4) strain, and could meet the same fate as Gros Michel if the fungus reaches Latin America, the world’s leading banana exporter, says Rony Swennen of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and a banana breeder at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Dar es Salaam. “It’s a gigantic problem,” he adds. Although Foc strains spread slowly, they are almost impossible to eliminate from soil.
A study in the August edition of The Journal of School Health finds that the generations old theory of a “gateway drug” effect is in fact accurate for some drug users, but shifts the blame for those addicts’ escalating substance abuse away from marijuana and onto the most pervasive and socially accepted drug in American life: alcohol.
Using a nationally representative sample from the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future survey, the study blasts holes in drug war orthodoxy wide enough to drive a truck through, definitively proving that marijuana use is not the primary indicator of whether a person will move on to more dangerous substances.
History has repeatedly shown that contagion makes an easy bedfellow with human conflict.
Take the poliovirus outbreak in Syria - and Israel and Egypt too – caused by related strains that can be traced back to Pakistan.
War and insurgency provide the ideal conditions for bacteria and viruses to take a foothold, so it is little surprise that poliovirus has become entrenched – endemic – in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has now re-emerged in the Middle East.
Similarly in Africa, political obstruction to vaccination campaigns means that poliovirus continues to circulate in northern Nigeria and igniting an outbreak in war-torn Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa.
Many public health experts believe that the lack of vigorous vaccination programmes meant that this was an outbreak waiting to happen.
The evidence is clear. These viral strongholds are threatening the global polio eradication programme.
The case of a woman whose baby daughter was forcibly removed from her womb by social services was described by human-rights groups on Sunday night as “the stuff of nightmares”. The Italian woman was sedated and her baby delivered against her will, after Essex social services obtained a court order in August 2012 for the birth “to be enforced by way of caesarean section”.
The case, described by the woman’s lawyers as “unprecedented”, has further highlighted the controversial decisions made by the Court of Protection, which authorised the forced removal of the baby, as well as the powers afforded to social workers.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was visiting Britain in July last year to attend a Ryanair training course at Stansted airport in Essex when she suffered a panic attack after failing to take medication for her bipolar disorder.
Despite the woman’s mother explaining her daughter’s condition to police over the telephone from Italy, she was taken to a psychiatric hospital and sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Five weeks later, her daughter was removed from her womb without her consent.
The fast food industry is notorious for handing out lean paychecks to their burger flippers and fat ones to their CEOs. What’s less well-known is that taxpayers are actually subsidizing fast food incomes at both the bottom — and top — of the industry.
Take, for example, Yum Brands, which operates the Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut chains. Wages for the corporation’s nearly 380,000 U.S. workers are so low that many of them have to turn to taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs just to get by. The National Employment Law Project estimates that Yum Brands’ workers draw nearly $650 million in Medicaid and other public assistance annually.
Meanwhile, at the top end of the company’s pay ladder, CEO David Novak pocketed $94 million over the years 2011 and 2012 in stock options gains, bonuses and other so-called “performance pay.” That was a nice windfall for him, but a big burden for the rest of us taxpayers.
Under the current tax code, corporations can deduct unlimited amounts of such “performance pay” from their federal income taxes. In other words, the more corporations pay their CEO, the lower their tax burden. Novak’s $94 million payout, for example, lowered YUM’s IRS bill by $33 million. Guess who makes up the difference?
Combined, these firms’ CEOs pocketed more than $183 million in fully deductible “performance pay” in 2011 and 2012, lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $64 million. To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to cover the average cost of food stamps for 40,000 American families for a year.My new Institute for Policy Studies report calculates the cost to taxpayers of this “performance pay” loophole at all of the top six publicly held fast food chains — McDonald’s, Yum, Wendy’s, Burger King, Domino’s, and Dunkin’ Brands.
Scientists are testing chemicals that could delete and even re-write stressful or fear forming memories.
Potentially damaging memories of traumatic incidents can form memories that shape a person’s life. Scientists are hoping this research could one day help form medical treatments for people suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or battling addictions.
- Implanted Electrodes Reboot Brain out of Intractable Depression
- Zapping the Brain Makes People Obey Social Norms
- Why does the human brain create false memories?
- Sleep ‘cleans’ the brain of toxins
- Fear memories can be overcome during sleep, researchers say
- Brain treats rejection like physical pain say scientists
- Google admits the human brain still beats an algorithm
People have know for at least a century that cranberries can help combat urinary tract infections but scientists are only now beginning to understand how. Canadian researchers exposed bacteria that cause the infections to cranberry powder and discovered that cranberries damage bacteria’s ability to grow the whip-like flagella appendages they use to move around, LiveScience finds. The bacteria almost completely lost the ability to swim and swarm—an ability that can be especially dangerous in urinary tract bacteria.
Even Proteus mirabilis—described as a “really aggressive swarmer” that can cause serious infections in catheterized patients—was crippled by the cranberry powder. The powder could be a very valuable treatment because it disables bacteria to be flushed out harmlessly by the body, whereas antibiotics kill most but not all bacteria, leading to hardy strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One problem was the the concentration of cranberries most effective against bacteria was higher than what you would find even in a regular drinker of cranberry juice, so researchers are looking at embedding cranberry powder directly into catheters.
It’s tempting to call David Perlmutter’s dietary advice radical.
The neurologist and president of the Perlmutter Health Center in Naples, Fla., believes all carbs, including highly touted whole grains, are devastating to our brains.
He claims we must make major changes in our eating habits as a society to ward off terrifying increases in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia rates.
And yet Perlmutter argues that his recommendations are not radical at all. In fact, he says, his suggested menu adheres more closely to the way mankind has eaten for most of human history.
What’s deviant, he insists, is our modern diet. Dementia, chronic headaches, depression, epilepsy and other contemporary scourges are not in our genes, he claims. “It’s in the food you eat,” Perlmutter writes in his bestselling new book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar — Your Brain’s Silent Killers. “The origin of brain disease is in many cases predominantly dietary.”
Researchers say a new strain of HIV found in West Africa leads to faster development of AIDS.
Scientists based at Sweden’s Lund University say the new strain, known as A3/O2, is a cross between the two most common strains in the nation of Guinea-Bissau.
Their study found people infected with the new strain develop AIDS in about five years, more than a year faster than people with one of the initial strains alone.
NASA is bravely venturing into new scientific territory with a plan to start growing plants on the moon no later than 2015. The experiment is designed to yield important knowledge about life’s long-term chances in space – including for us.
The initiative comes courtesy of the Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team – a small group of scientists, students, volunteers and contractors – who plan to install specially-designed containers about the size of a coffee can, in which the plants will be encased, complete with sensors, cameras and other devices that will be relaying information down to Earth.
This is to be the first life sciences project conducted on another world and is ambitious about exploring opportunities for future human life support, apart from the obvious benefits of learning more about growing life in extreme temperatures.
The dream is to be able to freely live on the moon for decades on end – instead of hours. Follow-up experiments are already in the making.
Many children cannot run as fast as their parents could when they were young, a study of global fitness says.
Experts say the work – being presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting – suggests children’s fitness levels may be declining.
Researchers analysed data spanning 46 years and involving more than 25 million children in 28 countries.
On average, children today run a mile 90 seconds slower than did their counterparts 30 years ago, they said.