A smoky haze greets customers walking into any of Yangon’s tea shops as patrons light up hand-rolled cigarettes known locally as cheroots.
Elsewhere in Myanmar’s main city, vendors sell cheap cigarettes smuggled from China to drivers stopped at traffic lights. The pavement is painted red with the spit of people chewing tobacco wrapped in betel leaves.
Tobacco is already a problem in this impoverished Southeast Asian country where anti-tobacco legislation is weak. But as Myanmar opens its doors to the world after half a century of military rule, it faces a new threat: Large multinational cigarette companies looking for new markets.
Health leaders from across the Americas have agreed a pledge to cut the number of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases by 25% by the year 2025.
The action plan has been agreed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). This is a regional body of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the world’s oldest international public health organization, working with all the countries of the Americas to improve health and quality of life.
PAHO says the leading causes of death in the Americas, excluding infections, are preventable. The organization says a common thread runs through the four leading non-communicable diseases: their risks are raised by the same factors.
Common risk factors:
- Tobacco use
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excess alcohol.
Member countries from across the Americas have pledged to give priority to non-communicable diseases in their state health and development agendas. PAHO says they have agreed to implement “the necessary policies and programs” to achieve the health organization’s goals.
The following list of objectives has been set for all the health authorities signed up to the Pan American Health Organization’s plan:
- Involve sectors beyond health to promote the prevention of non-communicable diseases, including agriculture, trade, education, labor, finance, the environment, transport and urban development
- Provide universal access to health services for non-communicable diseases
- Reduce tobacco consumption and exposure to second-hand smoke by 30% by the year 2025
- Reduce the impact on children of marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages
- Promote active lifestyles through policies that reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents
- Improve access to essential medicines and technologies for detecting, diagnosing, treating and controlling non-communicable diseases and for rehabilitation and palliative care
- Improve surveillance of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors and strengthen research to improve interventions and evaluation of policies and programs.
Member states pledged to work beyond health institutions to “promote dialogue and coordination with other sectors and institutions with a view to ensuring integrated implementation of interventions.” The strategies were approved on October 3rd by the 52nd directing council of PAHO, following a week of deliberations.
- 2011 report on non-communicable diseases (WHO)
- U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health (CPOP)
- American Health Lags Behind Other Countries – Blame the Food! (Natural Society)
- America Has Higher Rate of “Death from All Causes” than 16 Other Developed Nations (Natural Society)
The federal 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has for the first time paid out cash awards for cancer.
Two claimants — one with bladder cancer, one with urinary-tract cancer — will receive “substantial amounts,” with one award exceeding $1 million, VCF special master Sheila Birnbaum told The Post.
“They are only the first. There are going to be many more,” Birnbaum said.
At least 1,000 cancer claims are in the pipeline, she added.
Here’s a familiar script: medical researchers in the 1950s in a democratic country conduct forgotten experiments which yield no useful data on a vulnerable population. This week’s revelation comes from New York’s skid row, the Bowery. An oncologist from Columbia University recruited alcoholics for his study of prostate cancer by offering them three square meals, a clean bed and free medical treatment if they had cancer. In return they agreed to have a medical biopsy.
What the men were not told was that the biopsy could cause impotence and rectal tears and that treatment would probably involve removal of the prostate and testicles – but would not necessarily prolong their lives. “The failure to provide full informed consent and exposing a vulnerable population to undue risk—are disturbing. Yet the [research was] published in leading medical journals and frequently cited, joining the long list of unethical studies performed in full public view,” says Robert Aronowitz, the author of a highly critical essay in the American Journal of Public Health.
What many commuters choking on smog have long suspected has finally been scientifically validated: air pollution causes lung cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared on Thursday that air pollution is a carcinogen, alongside known dangers such as asbestos, tobacco and ultraviolet radiation. The decision came after a consultation by an expert panel organized by IARC, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, which is based in Lyon, France.
“The air most people breathe has become polluted with a complicated mixture of cancer-causing substances,” said Kurt Straif, head of the IARC department that evaluates carcinogens. He said the agency now considers pollution to be “the most important environmental carcinogen,” ahead of second-hand cigarette and cigar smoke.
IARC had previously deemed some of the components in air pollution such as diesel fumes to be carcinogens, but this is the first time it has classified air pollution in its entirety as cancer causing.
The risk to the individual is low, but Straif said the main sources of pollution are widespread, including transportation, power plants, and industrial and agricultural emissions. Air pollution is a complex mixture that includes gases and particulate matter, and IARC said one of its primary risks is the fine particles that can be deposited deep in the lungs of people.
However, now a top Spanish medical association is saying that users of the e-cigarettes are likely to suffer exactly the same short-term health effects with them as they would with regular tobacco cigarettes.
After his eighth round of chemo, Trai Nguyen is exhausted, his body ravaged. The 60-year-old has a rare and aggressive form of cancer that he believes resulted from his contact with the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
His doctors believe his cancer may now be in remission, but that is little comfort. “My hands shake violently. I can’t do anything,” he says, sitting on a mattress in the two-bedroom apartment he shares with relatives.
The aftermath of war brought Trai to the United States where he rebuilt his life, but now he’s destitute. His fortunes could have taken a better turn had one thing been different in his past: The uniform he wore during the conflict.
As a soldier in the South Vietnamese army, Trai gathered intelligence that helped American soldiers. He fought alongside the Americans and was exposed to the defoliants that are known to have injured them. But he’s excluded from the compensation and health care afforded to U.S. veterans for the same service-connected disabilities.
At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.
But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.
It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death”-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.
“We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.
If you have US$50 billion or so in cash lying around, you can afford to spend some of it on out-there projects. Which is what internet search behemoth Google is doing.
It announced this week that it was launching a new project called Calico, which will investigate the possibility of life-extension. CEO Larry Page says, “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.”
Google’s interest in health is not new. In 2008 it introduced a medical records service, Google Health, but that sputtered out in 2011. Nothing daunted, it has invested in the gene-sequencing company 23andMe, which was co-founded by the wife of Google co-founder Sergei Brin, Anne Wojcicki. And earlier this year, Apple Chairman and former Genentech CEO Art Levinson and Brin joined Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a Russian entrepreneur, Yuri Milner, in organizing the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, to “recognize excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life.” It is the largest science award in the world.
The commission that vets cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands says cases rose by 13 percent in the Netherlands in 2012 from 2011, the sixth consecutive year of increases.
Doctor-administered euthanasia for terminally ill people facing unbearable suffering was legalized in the Netherlands in 2002. For several years, the reported number of cases declined, but since 2006 they have risen steadily. In 2012, 4,188 cases were recorded, or approximately 3 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — a record, and up from 1,923 in 2006.
Most cases are due to cancer.
The commission said in its annual report published Tuesday the reasons for the increase cannot be determined with certainty. Leading theories include a growing awareness and acceptance of the practice among both Dutch doctors and patients.
Japan is to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into building a frozen wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant to stop leaks of radioactive water.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said an estimated 47bn yen ($473m, £304m) would be allocated.
The leaks were getting worse and the government “felt it was essential to become involved to the greatest extent possible”, Mr Suga said.
The plant was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The disaster knocked out cooling systems to the reactors, three of which melted down.
Water is now being pumped in to cool the reactors, but storing the resultant large quantities of radioactive water has proved a challenge for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).
OTHER FUKUSHIMA NEWS:
- Fukushima radiation levels ’18 times higher’ than thought (BBC)
- TEPCO Using Wrong Equipment To Test For Radiation? (BBC)
- Japanese Government Trying To Quiet Fears About Radiation Leaks (BBC)
- TEPCO Is Trying To Reassure People It’s All Under Control (CCTV)
- “Tepco Has Lost Control” – What Is Really Happening At Fukushima In Four Charts (Zero Hedge)
- Fukushima radioactive plume to hit the U.S. by early 2014 (Clean Technica)
- FLASHBACK: Nearly 50 U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Are Leaking Radioactive Tritium (Gizmodo)
- Russia Offers Fukushima Cleanup Help as Tepco Reaches Out (Bloomberg)
- Governor: N-crisis shouldn’t affect Tokyo Olympic bid (Press TV)
- Mr. Yamashita: ’If you are smiling, you will not have any radiation effect’
- Fukushima operator reveals leak of 300 tonnes of highly contaminated water (Guardian)
- Emergency Level At Fukushima Raised From 1 To 3 (CNN)
- TEPCO Apologizes For Radioactive Water Leaking Into The Pacific (NHK)
- Scientists Call For More Radiation Testing Of Fish Caught Off U.S. West Coast (KONG TV)
- Japan’s nuclear crisis deepens, China expresses ‘shock’ (Reuters)
- Vast Amounts Of Radioactive Water Creeping Towards Sea (TPM)
- WHO Is Delaying Release of Iraqi Birth Defect Data? (Kelley B. Vlahos)
- Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah ‘worse than Hiroshima’ (Independent)
- ‘Falluja Babies’ and Depleted Uranium — America’s Toxic Legacy in Iraq (Al Jazeera)
- Fallujah and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Peace and Conflict Monitor)
- Beyond Treason (Documentary)
CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon, apologized on Wednesday for publicly opposing marijuana legalization, saying science was clearly on the side of the drug.
“I think we have been terribly and systematically misled in this country for some time, and I did part of that misleading,” he told CNN host Piers Morgan.
Though studies on marijuana in the United States tended to focus on the drug’s negative effects, Gupta explained, research from across the world had made marijuana’s positive effects clear. He said there was “no scientific basis” to claim marijuana had no medical benefits.
Nine years ago, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo made a promise to victims of nuclear fallout from Cold War weapons testing in Nevada. Idaho had four of the five hardest-hit counties in the nation, and those residents were entitled to the same federal benefits paid to those in 21 counties in Utah, Nevada and Arizona, Crapo said.
When Crapo spoke at the band shell in Emmett City Park in 2004, the government had made “compassionate payments” of $50,000 to victims of 19 types of cancer, totaling $360 million under the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
Now, the figure is $855 million. But not a dollar has been paid to Idaho downwinders, whose counties were not originally included by Congress because the extent of fallout was unknown.
“It’s terribly frustrating because of the human impact,” said Crapo, who has introduced a string of RECA expansion bills since 2005, none of which has received a hearing. “We haven’t been able to get the appropriate level of national support to move it.”
On Saturday, Crapo will be back in Emmett, where a new documentary, “Downwinders,” will be viewed at the sold-out Frontier Theater at 3 p.m. The senator will then lead a 5 p.m. public hearing.
In a finding that surprised even the researchers conducting the study, it turns out that both rich and poor Americans are walking toxic waste dumps for chemicals like mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and bisphenol A, which could be a cause of infertility. And while a buildup of environmental toxins in the body afflicts rich and poor alike, the type of toxin varies by wealth.
Air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer even at levels lower than those recommended by the European Union, which are also standard in the UK, says a paper in the Lancet Oncology journal. Although smoking is a far bigger cause of lung cancer, a significant number of people will get the disease because of where they live.
The study, codenamed Escape, combined data from 17 cohort studies in nine European countries covering a total of almost 313,000 people. The size of the research gives it greater authority than previous work.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis recently carried out the first-ever study to consider dietary exposure to 11 toxins simultaneously, including acrylamide, arsenic, lead, mercury, dioxins and several banned pesticides (chlordane, DDE, dieldrin). The study’s participants included 364 children aged two to seven, 446 parents of young children, and 149 older adults, all living in California. To assess exposure levels, researchers used food-frequency questionnaires along with toxin content datasets from the Environmental Protection Agency. Exposure levels were then compared with the “cancer benchmark” of each toxin, which is the exposure level that would generate one excess cancer per million people over a 70-year lifetime. Non-cancer benchmark levels were also considered, for health effects other than cancer.
The researchers found that average exposure levels of the children and adults exceeded cancer benchmark levels for arsenic, lead, dieldrin, DDE and dioxins, while the children also exceeded cancer-benchmark levels of chlordane. Both children and adults also exceeded the non-cancer benchmark for acrylamide exposure. Most worrying was that for each of these toxins, children showed greater exposure margins than adults. In fact, children exceeded the cancer benchmark levels 10-fold for DDE, nearly 100-fold for dieldrin, and over 100-fold for arsenic and dioxins. Researchers noted that children are most at risk from these toxins because they are still developing.
Arsenic has been linked to liver, lung, kidney, and bladder cancers. Dieldrin is a banned insecticide suspected to cause cancer, Parkinson’s disease and low birth weight. DDE is a metabolite of the banned pesticide DDT, and is known to damages cells’ genetic material. Chlordane is also a banned pesticide and has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity and low birth weight. All of these toxins, and especially dioxins, are also suspected endocrine disruptors and may therefore also disturb the development of the children’s immune, nervous and reproductive systems.
As a helpful guide, the researchers identified the top five food items responsible for exposure of preschoolers to each toxin:
Arsenic: poultry, cereal, salmon, tuna, mushrooms
DDE: dairy, potatoes, meat, freshwater fish, pizza
Dieldrin: dairy, meat, cucumber, cantaloupe, pizza
Chlordane: dairy, cucumber, meat, popcorn, potatoes
Dioxins: dairy, meat, potatoes, cereal, mushrooms
Acrylamide: crackers, fried potatoes, cereal, graham crackers, chips
Also, foods with the highest pesticide residues were (non-organic): tomatoes, peaches, apples, peppers, grapes, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, spinach, pears, green beans and celery.
Based on their findings, the researchers in this study made several dietary recommendations for reducing exposure to the main toxins in the general population as follows:
Pesticides: switch to organic fruits, vegetables and dairy products
Acrylamide: reduce intake of chips, cereal, crackers and other processed carbohydrate foods
Persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals: reduce consumption of meat, fish, dairy
It’s rare that the authors of a peer-reviewed journal article publicly recommend a switch to organic foods, but that’s exactly what these researchers have done. Far from being just for snobs, organic products now appear to be a necessity for anyone wanting to protect themselves and their children from potentially dangerous levels of multiple toxins which now pervade our environment and food supply.
- Vulnerability of children and the developing brain to neurotoxic hazards (NCBI)
- Dietary exposures to food contaminants across the United States (NCBI)
- Study: 3D Printers May Be As Hazardous To Your Health As Cigarettes (Huffington Post)
- Pancreatic Cancer: Bacteria May Play a Role (Live Science)
- Menthols Might Be Worse Than Regular Cigarettes (Newser)
- Skip Breakfast, Jack Your Risk of a Heart Attack (Newser)
Cancer is more common than flu in the Iraqi city of Najaf, a local medic tells RT. While doctors say the government discourages them from talking openly to the press on the disease, local families are scared of having more kids with birth defects.
Rates of leukemia and birth defects “rose dramatically” due to use of depleted uranium by the US military since 2003 invasion.
“After the start of the Iraq war, rates of cancer, leukemia and birth defects rose dramatically in Najaf. The areas affected by American attacks saw the biggest increases. We believe it’s because of the’ illegal’ weapons like depleted uranium that were used by the Americans. When you visit the hospital here you see that cancer is more common than the flu,” Dr. Sundus Nsaif tells RT’s Lucy Kafanov while talking on the rooftop of her house in Najaf, instead of her laboratory. Why the secrecy? As she reveals, there’s an active push by the government perhaps not to embarrass the coalition forces, not to really talk about this issue.
RT crew went to the city of Najaf about 160 km south of Baghdad that saw one of the most severe military actions during the US’s invasion. Now every residential street in several neighborhoods that RT visited has multiple cases of families whose children were ill, families who had lost children who had to bury children, families who had many relatives who were suffering from cancer.
Finally, we have direct line of sight. The sort of direct lines in which radiation travels. Shrouded in the steamy, soupy, grey of Japan‘s hot, wet season, Fukushima-Daiichi lies about 1000 metres along the beach from where we stand, stifled in brilliant white radiation suits like Clockwork Orange droogs, lost in a nuclear wilderness.
The giant cranes, red and white, mantis-like, poised over the stricken reactors. We can see three of them. This vast place is screened by thick pine forest north, west, south; and by the Pacific to the east. Invisible and miles from Futaba, the town where so many of its employees lived. It sits, a vast mangled beast, screened off and silent, its failed sea-walls pathetically low as so many said, so many warned… before it all.
In the past few days Tepco – the Tokyo Electric Power Company – has finally admitted that radioactive water is leaking from the site into the beautiful, hauntingly clear pacific waters here which teem with fish.
Researchers on 9 July found levels of Caesium 134 here that were 150 times the legal limit. Levels of Caesium 137 were found to be 200 times the legal limit. These are the highest readings since the disaster and nobody knows why.
In this once delightful town on a lush plain between mountains clothed in forest and the Pacific, our radiation alarms go off regularly in “hot spots”.
Indulging in chocolate and other sweet treats such as biscuits and cakes could increase your risk of bowel cancer, researchers say.
It is the first study to link fatty and sugary snacks to bowel tumours, which claim more lives than any other form of the disease apart from lung cancer.
However, not all treats are off the menu. The British study also found drinking lots of coffee could have a protective effect.
Previous research has blamed processed meat, for example bacon and sausages, for raising the odds of bowel cancer. But the latest study suggests other popular foods fuel the disease as well.
The Japanese government withdrew its recommendation that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can be used by girls, due to possible adverse effects such as long-term pain and numbness.
On the contrary, health officials in the Unites States recommended last week that teenage girls should be HPV vaccinated more after a study showed that the vaccine is “highly” effective.
The vaccination in Japan is not suspended, but the use of the vaccine is not promoted by local governments, as instructed by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.
Sunbathing has been blamed for a massive surge in cancer rates over the past ten years.
Cancers caused by unhealthy lifestyles, such as drinking and smoking, have seen a rise of up to two-thirds in the last decade, official figures show.
Cases of malignant melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer, which affects many young people – rose more than any other type in the past decade.
The surge is in part due to people’s ‘choice of clothing’ and failure to cover up in the sun, leaving them exposed to harmful UV rays, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Lung cancer and other forms linked to smoking have also gone up, along with oral and kidney cancers, which can be triggered by alcohol. Overall, two out of five cases of cancer are blamed on poor lifestyle, with about a quarter of breast cancers attributed to lifestyle and environmental factors.
The Wall Street Journal
Lawmakers at the European Parliament on Wednesday approved a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as part of broad legislation that will sharply restrict how tobacco products can be sold across the 28-nation European Union.
The legislation would also require most electronic cigarettes—battery-powered devices that turn a liquid nicotine mixture into an inhalable mist—to be regulated like medicines. That could subject the increasingly popular devices, used primarily by smokers to help quit, to extensive safety testing in some EU countries where they are now unregulated.
The rules add another barrier to the sales efforts of tobacco giants such as Philip Morris International Inc., British American Tobacco PLC and Imperial Tobacco Group PLC. Governments around the world are cracking down on tobacco products. Australia has arguably been most aggressive, with rules that went into effect this year banning all logos or brand imagery on cigarette boxes, replacing them with gruesome images of tobacco-related diseases.
The moves coincide with heightened scrutiny of the tobacco industry in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration, which is also considering restrictions on menthol cigarettes and how to regulate e-cigarettes.
Wednesday’s vote, in a key committee of the parliament, means the ban on flavored cigarettes is likely to become law, since EU national governments also banned menthols as part of their version of the legislation last month. The entire parliament must now vote on the law, though the result will be similar, people following the legislation said.
The legislation targeted flavored cigarettes because experts believe they hold a special appeal for children.
Levels of radioactive cesium-134 in a well at Fukushima nuclear power plant are up to 90 times higher than just three days ago, and may spread into the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, 10 applications to restart reactors under stricter rules have been received.
TEPCO, the company that operated the plant and is now in charge of the cleanup and decommissioning, said that cesium-134 levels in the well water were at 9,000 becquerels per liter, 150 times the legal level. While cesium-137 measured 18,000 becquerels, 200 times the permitted level.
Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years and the readings were some 85 times higher than they had been three days earlier.
These are the highest cesium levels found since the March 2011 disaster.
CBS New York
Roughly one million people who had kicked the habit went back to smoking because of the stress of 9/11, according to a newly published report.
“Former smokers used smoking as a coping mechanism to try to alleviate that higher stress,” study author Dr. Michael Pesko of Weill Cornell Medical College told WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell.
The analysis, published in the June 20 issue of the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, is the first to look at the net costs to society of terrorism-induced smoking in the United States after 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, according to the college.