Friday, July 29, 2016

Politics, not ignorance, may pollute support for pro-science solutions

It can be embarrassing to be a human!



Public Release: 1-Jun-2016
Politics, not ignorance, may pollute support for pro-science solutions
Penn State

Mentioning politics in a message about an environmental issue may turn people -- even people informed about the issue -- away from supporting a pro-science solution, according to a team of researchers.

In a study, conservative participants who were asked to react to a message about excess water runoff showed lower support for an environmental science improvement project when the message was framed around global warming terminology, according to Lee Ahern, associate professor of advertising and public relations, Penn State. The effect was even stronger among those conservatives with more knowledge about the issue, he added.

"It's the framing of the issue that's really important," said Ahern. "This is really a message for scientists and science communicators: don't pollute and politicize the information environment around the issue, because once you do that, people's political identities are going to get engaged."

This study, along with others, has established that having more knowledge about science does not necessarily translate into more support for pro-science policies, according to Ahern, who added that, in this case, the environmental solution was to add more green surface infrastructure, such as green roofs.

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Ahern said that all political ideologies, not just conservatives, are susceptible to this type of motivated reasoning.

"This is not unique to conservatives," said Ahern. "It works both ways. Studies have been done on other issues, for example, nuclear power and genetically modified organisms, that have shown similar effects among liberals."

The researchers suggest that scientists hoping to reach consensus on solutions should avoid political rhetoric in their communication.

"This is really a message for the scientists, not necessarily the public," said Ahern. "It's interesting for people to understand what's happening, but the people who really need to change what they are doing are the scientists and science communicators."
But it's those in the fossil fuel industries who have made global warming a political issue. Similarly for those in other polluting industries.

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Street lighting disrupts pollinating moths

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/nu-sld052716.php

Public Release: 1-Jun-2016
Street lighting disrupts pollinating moths
Newcastle University

Street lights change the natural behaviour of moths and disrupt nocturnal pollination, new research has shown.

The study, published today in the scientific journal Global Change Biology, reveals the shift in moth activity in street-lit areas from vegetation level to lamp-post height and the impact this is having on their ability to pollinate flowers.

The role played by moths in plant pollination has until now been largely overlooked as previous studies have focussed on daytime pollinators, such as bees.

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"We all know moths are attracted to light - some people might grumble about finding them flitting around in the bathroom or banging against the window.

"Where there are street lights, our research indicates that the moths are being attracted upwards, away from the fields and hedgerows. This is likely to cause disruption of night-time pollination by moths, which could be serious for the flowers which rely upon moths for pollination, and of course there could be negative effects on the moths themselves as well."

Dr Darren Evans, Reader in Ecology and Conservation at Newcastle University and one of the authors on the paper, adds:

"Our research shows that light pollution significantly alters moth activity and this in turn is disrupting their role as pollinators.

"There is a great deal of concern at the moment about our falling pollinator populations and the knock-on effect on plant pollination. Our research suggests that it's a process that is being damaged on two fronts - night and day - and together the impact could be significant."

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Shift work unwinds body clocks, leading to more severe strokes

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/tau-swu060116.php

Public Release: 1-Jun-2016
Shift work unwinds body clocks, leading to more severe strokes
Research finds living against our body clocks is detrimental to our health
Texas A&M University

Statistics show that some 15 million Americans don't work the typical nine-to-five. These employees (or shift workers), who punch in for graveyard or rotating shifts, are more prone to numerous health hazards, from heart attacks to obesity, and now, new research, published in Endocrinology, shows shift work may also have serious implications for the brain.

"The body is synchronized to night and day by circadian rhythms--24-hour cycles controlled by internal biological clocks that tell our bodies when to sleep, when to eat and when to perform numerous physiological processes," said David Earnest, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "A person on a shift work schedule, especially on rotating shifts, challenges, or confuses, their internal body clocks by having irregular sleep-wake patterns or meal times."

According to Earnest, it's not the longer hours--or the weird hours--necessarily that is the problem. Instead, it is the change in the timing of waking, sleeping and eating every few days that "unwinds" our body clocks and makes it difficult for them to maintain their natural, 24-hour cycle. When body clocks are disrupted, as they are when people go to bed and get up at radically different times every few days, there can be a major impact on health. Earnest and his colleagues have found that shift work can lead to more severe ischemic strokes, the leading cause of disability in the United States, which occur when blood flow is cut off to part of the brain.

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Earnest and his team, including colleague Farida Sohrabji, Ph.D., also a professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics and director of the Women's Health in Neuroscience Program, found that subjects on shift work schedules had more severe stroke outcomes, in terms of both brain damage and loss of sensation and limb movement than controls on regular 24-hour cycles of day and night.

Of interest, their study--supported by the American Heart Association--found that males and females show major differences in the degree to which the stroke was exacerbated by circadian rhythm disruption; in males, the gravity of stroke outcomes in response to shift work schedules was much worse than in females.

"These sex differences might be related to reproductive hormones. Young women are less likely to suffer strokes, as compared with men of a similar age, and when they do, the stroke outcomes are likely to be less severe. In females, estrogen is thought to be responsible for this greater degree of neuroprotection," Sohrabji said. "Essentially, estrogen helps shield the brain in response to stroke." However, older women approaching menopause show increasing incidence of ischemic stroke and poor prognosis for recovery, compared with men at the same age.

Some of Earnest's previous work has shown that a high-fat diet can also alter the timing of internal body clocks, as well as dramatically increase inflammatory responses that can be a problem in cardio- and cerebrovascular disease (conditions caused by problems that affect the blood supply to the brain--which includes stroke).

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Antarctic coastline images reveal 4 decades of ice loss to ocean

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/uoe-aci060116.php

Public Release: 1-Jun-2016
Antarctic coastline images reveal 4 decades of ice loss to ocean
University of Edinburgh

Part of Antarctica has been losing ice to the ocean for far longer than had been expected, satellite pictures reveal.

A study of images along 2000km of West Antarctica's coastline has shown the loss of about 1000km2 of ice - an area equivalent to the city of Berlin - over the past 40 years.

Researchers were surprised to find that the region has been losing ice for such a length of time. Their findings will help improve estimates of global sea level rise caused by ice melt.

A research team from the University of Edinburgh analysed hundreds of satellite photographs of the ice margin captured by NASA, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

They found that ice has been retreating consistently along almost the entire coastline of Antarctica's Bellingshausen Sea since satellite records began.

The team also monitored ice thickness and thinning rates using data taken from satellites and the air. This showed that some of the largest changes, where ice has rapidly thinned and retreated several miles since 1975, correspond to where the ice front is deepest.

Scientists suggest the loss of ice is probably caused by warmer ocean waters reaching Antarctica's coast, rather than rising air temperatures.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

New evidence shows Affordable Care Act is working in Texas

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/ru-nes053116.php

Public Release: 31-May-2016
New evidence shows Affordable Care Act is working in Texas
Report shows state's uninsured rate drops by nearly one-third and is lowest since 1999
Rice University

The percentage of Texans without health insurance has dropped by 30 percent since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, cutting the state's uninsured rate below 1999 levels. That's one of the conclusions of a new report released today by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF).

The report found the uninsured rate among Texas adults dropped from 26 percent in September 2013 to 18 percent in March 2016. Researchers also discovered a steady decline in the uninsured rate for every age, ethnic and income-level group across the state.

"These latest numbers confirm the continuing downward trend in the number of uninsured Texans that began as the ACA was implemented," said Elena Marks, EHF's president and CEO and a nonresident health policy fellow at the Baker Institute. "For more than a decade prior to the ACA, the uninsured rate remained above 20 percent and was rising. It's now clear that it's moving in the opposite direction, and the ACA deserves the credit."

The report found that Texans between the ages of 50 and 64 experienced the largest decrease in their percentage of uninsured. The group's uninsured rate plummeted from 21 percent to 10 percent since the ACA went into effect -- a drop of more than 51 percent.

"For the older group, the ACA made health insurance much more affordable, because the law limits insurers from charging older adults no more than triple the cost for the same health insurance plans as younger adults," said Vivian Ho, the chair in health economics at the Baker Institute and director of the institute's Center for Health and Biosciences, a professor of economics at Rice and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "However, limiting premium variation by age made Marketplace policies less attractive to younger adults, which is why their uninsured rate fell less."

Researchers also found the percentage of uninsured Texans who earned annual incomes between $16,000 and $47,000 dropped by more than 42 percent. The group's uninsured rate declined from 23 percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2016.

"Texans with low to moderate incomes were able to use federal subsidies to help pay for health insurance premiums for ACA Marketplace plans," Ho said. "Those subsidies made coverage affordable for many who could not have purchased plans without that help."

In fact, Ho and Marks note that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 84 percent of the 1.3 million Texans now enrolled in ACA Marketplace health insurance plans received subsidies to help pay for premiums.

Researchers said that while it's evident the ACA has helped drop the uninsured rate in Texas, it's also clear that a significant number of Texans with the lowest incomes remain uninsured. The report found that 46 percent of Texans earning less than $16,000 a year don't have health insurance.

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Honeybees pick up 'astonishing' number of pesticides via non-crop plants

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/pu-hpu052616.php

Public Release: 31-May-2016
Honeybees pick up 'astonishing' number of pesticides via non-crop plants
Purdue University

A Purdue University study shows that honeybees collect the vast majority of their pollen from plants other than crops, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans, and that pollen is consistently contaminated with a host of agricultural and urban pesticides throughout the growing season.

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The pollen samples represented up to 30 plant families and contained residues from pesticides spanning nine chemical classes, including neonicotinoids - common corn and soybean seed treatments that are toxic to bees. The highest concentrations of pesticides in bee pollen, however, were pyrethroids, which are typically used to control mosquitoes and other nuisance pests.

"Although crop pollen was only a minor part of what they collected, bees in our study were exposed to a far wider range of chemicals than we expected," said Krupke. "The sheer numbers of pesticides we found in pollen samples were astonishing. Agricultural chemicals are only part of the problem. Homeowners and urban landscapes are big contributors, even when hives are directly adjacent to crop fields."

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"If you care about bees as a homeowner, only use insecticides when you really need to because bees will come into contact with them," she said.

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High blood pressure linked to short-, long-term exposure to some air pollutants

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/aha-hbp052516.php

Public Release: 31-May-2016
High blood pressure linked to short-, long-term exposure to some air pollutants
American Heart Association rapid access journal report
American Heart Association

Both short- and long-term exposure to some air pollutants commonly associated with coal burning, vehicle exhaust, airborne dust and dirt are associated with the development of high blood pressure, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

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In the first study to simultaneously estimate the effects of short-term and long-term exposure to air pollutants on hypertension by meta-analysis, researchers focused on these air pollutants:

sulfur dioxide (SO2), which mainly comes from the burning of fossil fuel;
nitrogen oxide (NOx), which comes from fossil fuels burned at power plants and vehicle exhaust;
Particulate matter (PM) are particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, smoke and liquid droplets. (PM 2.5 is smaller than a speck of dust, and the most common and hazardous type of air pollution. PM10 includes both PM2.5 and PM2.5-10).

The meta-analysis found high blood pressure was significantly associated with:

short-term exposure to SO2, PM2.5 and PM10; and
long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is produced from combustion, and PM10.

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Looking to beat the heat and save money?

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/cu-ltb053116.php

Public Release: 31-May-2016
Looking to beat the heat and save money?
Concordia researcher shows cool roofs cut energy consumption year-round
Concordia University

As the summer heats up, so do cities. That's true not just for hot places like Los Angeles and Phoenix, but also for cooler capitals like Ottawa and Reykjavik.

Regardless of latitude, urban temperatures are typically several degrees higher than those of nearby suburban and rural areas. The resulting "heat islands" mean increased discomfort, higher air-conditioning bills and denser smog.

A major culprit? Hot roofs baked by the sun. The solution? Cooling down those roofs by using reflective surfaces -- and doing so even if those cities are covered in snow for several months of the year.

A new study published by researchers from Concordia University in Montreal in Energy and Buildings confirms that, contrary to the belief that cool roofs won't work in colder climates, they actually provide net energy -- and monetary -- savings.

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"In cooler climates, installing cool roofs may even prevent buying an air conditioner altogether. Even in non-air-conditioned buildings, cool roofs improve comfort during hot summer days. And in extreme cases, these roofs may even save lives by reducing the risk of heat stroke."

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Tobacco smoke makes germs more resilient

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uol-tsm053116.php

Public Release: 31-May-2016
Tobacco smoke makes germs more resilient
UofL dental researcher explores microbiological mechanisms as World Health Organization urges for a day of abstinence from tobacco use
University of Louisville

The mouth is one of the "dirtiest" parts of the body, home to millions of germs. But puffing cigarettes can increase the likelihood that certain bacteria like Porphyromonas gingivalis will not only set up camp but will build a fortified city in the mouth and fight against the immune system.

University of Louisville School of Dentistry researcher David A. Scott, Ph.D., explores how cigarettes lead to colonization of bacteria in the body. Scott and his research team have identified how tobacco smoke, composed of thousands of chemical components, is an environmental stressor and promotes bacteria colonization and immune invasion.

Scott says since this initial finding several years ago, a recent literature review published in Tobacco Induced Diseases revealed that cigarette smoke and its components also promote biofilm formation by several other pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Klebsiella pneumonia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Biofilms are composed of numerous microbial communities often made up of complex, interacting and co-existing multispecies structures. Bacteria can form biofilms on most surfaces including teeth, heart valves and the respiratory tract.

"Once a pathogen establishes itself within a biofilm, it can be difficult to eradicate as biofilms provide a physical barrier against the host immune response, can be impermeable to antibiotics and act as a reservoir for persistent infection," Scott said. "Furthermore, biofilms allow for the transfer of genetic material among the bacterial community and this can lead to antibiotic resistance and the propagation of other virulence factors that promote infection."

One of the most prevalent biofilms is dental plaque, which can lead to gingivitis - a gum disease found in almost half the world's population - and to more severe oral diseases, such as chronic periodontitis. Bacterial biofilms also can form on heart valves resulting in heart-related infections, and they also can cause a host of other problems.

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Hydropower dams worldwide cause continued species extinction

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uos-hdw053016.php

Public Release: 30-May-2016
Hydropower dams worldwide cause continued species extinction
University of Stirling

New research led by the University of Stirling has found a global pattern of sustained species extinctions on islands within hydroelectric reservoirs.

Scientists have discovered that reservoir islands created by large dams across the world do not maintain the same levels of animal and plant life found prior to flooding.

Despite being hailed as conservation sanctuaries that protect species from hunting and deforestation, islands undergo sustained loss of species year on year after dam construction, a pattern otherwise known as 'extinction debt'.

These findings represent a significant environmental impact that is currently missing from assessment procedures for proposed new dams.

Isabel Jones, PhD researcher at the University and Lead Author, said: "We found a devastating reduction in species over time in the majority of reservoir islands we studied. On average, islands have 35 per cent fewer species than nearby mainland sites, however one South American bird community suffered as much as 87 per cent loss of species on reservoir islands.

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Narcotic painkillers prolong pain in rats, says CU-Boulder study

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uoca-npp052416.php

Public Release: 30-May-2016
Narcotic painkillers prolong pain in rats, says CU-Boulder study
Findings may have far-reaching implications for humans
University of Colorado at Boulder

The dark side of painkillers - their dramatic increase in use and ability to trigger abuse, addiction and thousands of fatal overdoses annually in the United States is in the news virtually every day.

Brace for another shot across the bow: Opioids like morphine have now been shown to paradoxically cause an increase in chronic pain in lab rats, findings that could have far-reaching implications for humans, says a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

Led by CU-Boulder Assistant Research Professor Peter Grace and Distinguished Professor Linda Watkins, the study showed that just a few days of morphine treatment caused chronic pain that went on for several months by exacerbating the release of pain signals from specific immune cells in the spinal cord. The results suggest that the recent escalation of opioid prescriptions in humans may be a contributor to chronic pain, said Grace.

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Baby talk words with repeated sounds help infants learn language

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uoe-btw052716.php

Public Release: 27-May-2016
Baby talk words with repeated sounds help infants learn language
Babies find it easier to learn words with repetitive syllables rather than mixed sounds, a study suggests.
University of Edinburgh

Babies find it easier to learn words with repetitive syllables rather than mixed sounds, a study suggests.

Assessments of language learning in 18-month-olds suggest that children are better at grasping the names of objects with repeated syllables, over words with non-identical syllables.

Researchers say the study may help explain why some words or phrases, such as 'train' and 'good night', have given rise to versions with repeated syllables, such as choo-choo and night-night.

The researchers say such words are easier for infants to learn, and may provide them with a starter point for vocabulary learning.

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Why robin eggs are blue

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uocp-wre052716.php

Public Release: 27-May-2016
Why robin eggs are blue
Mystery of blue-green bird eggs solved: Researchers show that egg color protects the embryo from harmful sunlight
University of Chicago Press Journals

People have always wondered why many birds lay bright blue eggs. David Lahti of the City University of New York and Dan Ardia of Franklin & Marshall College tested the hypothesis that pigmentation might help an egg strike a balance between two opposing and potentially damaging effects of the sun: light transmission into light-colored eggs, and heating up of dark-colored eggs. As predicted, more intensely blue eggshells shielded the interior from light, including dangerous UV radiation--but more intense color also caused eggs to absorb more light and heat up, which can be even more dangerous in brighter environments. These two patterns--termed by the authors "pigment as parasol" and the "dark car effect"--combined with a knowledge of the nesting behavior and habitats of birds, can lead to predictions as to why the eggs of some birds vary across species from blue to white. Darker eggs are predicted in moderate light to shield the embryo, but in brighter nests the dangers of egg heating predict lighter colored eggs. Whereas camouflage from predators is still probably the single most important factor governing the evolution of dull and mottled egg colors, for the brighter colors the biophysical evidence points to the sun.

Electronic media keeping kids from communicating with parents

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uom-ste052616.php

Public Release: 27-May-2016
Small talk: Electronic media keeping kids from communicating with parents
University of Michigan

-It happens in many households. Kids are tapping on their cell phones or are preoccupied by their favorite TV show as their parents ask them a question or want them to do a chore.

It's not just teens caught up in electronic media, but also preschoolers. In fact, there is little mother-child dialogue or conversation while children ages 3 to 5 are using media, such as TV, video games and mobile devices, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Unlike previous research that has relied on self-reports by parents tracking their children's media usage, the U-M study used enhanced audio equipment to track the home environment of preschoolers as they interacted with parents in 2010 and 2011.

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Children of mothers with graduate degrees had less electronic media exposure than kids of mothers with high school degrees and/or some college courses, the study showed.

The kids whose moms had advanced degrees often watched educational programs. In addition, these highly educated mothers were more likely than other mothers to discuss media with their children, said Nicholas Waters, the study's lead author and survey specialist at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

"Importantly, children of mothers with less than a graduate degree were exposed to media without any dialogue related to the media content for the vast majority of the time," said co-author Sarah Domoff, a research fellow with the U-M Center for Human Growth and Development.

This is important, she said, because parents' "active mediation" of television and other types of media may mitigate risks associated with media exposure.

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Women may be able to reduce breast cancer risk predicted by their genes

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/jhub-wmb052416.php

Public Release: 26-May-2016
Women may be able to reduce breast cancer risk predicted by their genes
New model shows how healthy lifestyle choices can mitigate genetic, family history
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Women with a high risk of developing breast cancer based on family history and genetic risk can still reduce the chance they will develop the disease in their lifetimes by following a healthy lifestyle, new research led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests.

White women who are at high risk but who had a low body mass index (a marker for obesity), who did not drink or smoke and who did not use hormone replacement therapy, had roughly the same risk as an average white women in United States, the researchers found. The average chance that a 30-year-old, white woman will develop breast cancer before she is 80 is about 11 percent.

The researchers found that roughly 30 percent of breast cancer cases could be prevented by modifying known risk factors - say, by drinking less alcohol, losing weight and not taking hormone replacement therapy. More importantly, the study found that a larger fraction of total preventable cases would occur among women at higher levels because of genetic risk factors, family history and a few other factors that cannot be modified.

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"People think that their genetic risk for developing cancer is set in stone," says the study's senior author Nilanjan Chatterjee, PhD, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School. "While you can't change your genes, this study tells us even people who are at high genetic risk can change their health outlook by making better lifestyle choices such as eating right, exercising and quitting smoking."

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The findings are currently applicable only to white women because further studies are needed to understand the association of the genetic variants with risk of breast cancer for other ethnic groups.

The common gene variations studied by the researchers are quite different from the well known rare mutations in genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2, where having a single variant can mean a very high risk of developing breast cancer.

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Chatterjee says he hopes that once women understand that their genes do not completely predict their cancer destiny, they will work even harder to make lifestyle changes that can potentially reduce the risk they will develop the deadly disease.

"Everyone should be doing the right things to stay healthy but motivating people is often hard," he says. "These findings may be able to help people better understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle at a more individualized level."

Trump says he’s a great negotiator, but the evidence says otherwise

http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2016/07/26/trumps-deal/

Don Moore, professor, Haas School of Business | July 26, 2016

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Whenever Trump has shown ignorance or confusion on domestic or foreign policy issues, he has fallen back on the argument that, as a brilliant dealmaker, he has what it takes to “make America great again.” He says he would do this by renegotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), relations with China, the Iran nuclear deal and partnerships with key allies such as NATO, Japan, and South Korea. If Clinton is to prevail against Trump’s perceived business qualifications, she’ll have to dismantle the painstakingly cultivated image of Trump as a great negotiator.

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The two of us have studied negotiation for a combined 40 years, have taught tens of thousands of students and executives, and advised on countless corporate and government negotiations. Because we would welcome a great negotiator as president, we were keenly interested in examining the evidence of Trump’s alleged negotiation prowess. We evaluated his wealth, his deals, and his approach to negotiation. The evidence is damning.

Let’s start with his wealth. Trump boasts, “I have made myself very rich.” Credible objective sources estimate his net worth at between $2.9 and $4.1 billion. While wealth is a poor measure of deal-making skill (Bernie Madoff was richer than Trump), there is special reason to doubt that Trump’s wealth can be traced to negotiation ability. It’s been reported that if Trump had simply invested the fortune he received from his father in an S&P 500 index fund in 1982 and made no deals, he would have $8 billion now. In other words, Trump’s deal-making has actually cost him billions of dollars. The airline he bought in 1988 for roughly $365 million closed down in 1992. The football team he bought in 1984 ended with the demise of United States Football League just two years later. His hotels and casinos have struggled to make money, declaring bankruptcy four times.

Even on the campaign trail, we have seen obvious negotiation failures. By one estimate, the Trump campaign paid three times what the Sanders campaign did to run commercials during the same time slots on the same stations. Meanwhile, he has undermined numerous other deals. Both NBC and Univision declined to air Trump’s Miss USA pageant last year after he disparaged Mexican immigrants. Companies in the Arab world have severed ties with Trump after his comments about Muslims. At home, the list of U.S. companies that are severing ties with the Republican National Convention is getting longer.

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If he somehow manages to prevail in November, Trump will not be the first charlatan or confidence man to have profited from the long con. The art of illusion he knows well. The art of the deal he does not.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fasting-like diet reduces multiple sclerosis symptoms

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uosc-fdr052616.php

Public Release: 26-May-2016
Fasting-like diet reduces multiple sclerosis symptoms
Fasting-like diet switches on a process in which the body kills bad cells and begins to generate new healthy ones
University of Southern California

Evidence is mounting that a diet mimicking the effects of fasting has health benefits beyond weight loss, with a new USC-led study indicating that it may reduce symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Scientists discovered that the diet triggers a death-and-life process for cells that appears critical for the body's repair.

"During the fasting-mimicking diet, cortisone is produced and that initiates a killing of autoimmune cells," said Valter Longo, the study's lead author and professor who directs the USC Longevity Institute at the Davis School of Gerontology. "This process also leads to the production of new healthy cells."

The new study, published in the journal Cell Reports, included mice and human patients who have multiple sclerosis.

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These latest findings follow studies by the same USC lab that showed cycles of a similar but shorter fasting-mimicking diet, when paired with drug treatments for cancer, protect normal cells while weakening cancerous ones. In a separate study published last year, the lab found that the diet can cut visceral belly fat and reduce markers of aging and diseases in mice and humans.

"We started thinking: If it kills a lot of immune cells and turns on the stem cells, is it possible that maybe it will kill the bad ones and then generate new good ones?" Longo said. "That's why we started this study."

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Finally, the researchers found that the fasting-mimicking diet promotes regeneration of the myelin - the sheath of proteins and fats that insulate nerve fibers in the spine and brain that was damaged by the autoimmunity.

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Study dispels myth about millionaire migration in the US

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/asa-sdm052316.php

Public Release: 26-May-2016
Study dispels myth about millionaire migration in the US
American Sociological Association

The view that the rich are highly mobile has gained much political traction in recent years and has become a central argument in debates about whether there should be "millionaire taxes" on top-income earners. But a new study dispels the common myth about the propensity of millionaires in the United States to move from high to low tax states.

"The most striking finding in our study is how little elites seem willing to move to exploit tax advantages across state lines," said Cristobal Young, an assistant professor of sociology at Stanford University and the lead author of the study. "Millionaire tax flight is occurring, but only at the margins of significance."

In any given year, Young and his fellow researchers found that roughly 500,000 individuals file tax returns reporting incomes of $1 million or more (constant 2005 dollars). From this population, only about 12,000 millionaires change their state each year. The annual millionaire migration rate is 2.4 percent, which is lower than the migration rate of the general population (2.9 percent). The highest rates of migration are seen among low-income tax filers: migration is 4.5 percent among people who earn around $10,000 a year.

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"We tend to think of migration as a form of freedom and one of the privileges enjoyed by the rich. In practice, migration comes with high social and economic costs -- uprooting one's family, breaking away from one's social networks, and restarting in a new place."

The study finds that family responsibilities are a key factor that limit migration among top-income earners. "Very affluent people are much more likely to be married and to have school-age children, which makes moving more difficult," Young said.

Young also noted that most millionaires today are "the working rich" and do not live off inherited wealth, but instead rely on earnings from employment. "They work as lawyers, doctors, managers, and financial executives," he said. "They are at the peak of their careers and typically earn million-dollar incomes only for several years. People avoid potentially disruptive moves when they are performing at the very top of their game."

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While millionaire migration is extremely limited, there is a grain of truth in the worries about millionaire tax flight, the study finds. "When millionaires do migrate, they are more likely to move to a state with a lower tax rate, and that state is almost always Florida," Young said.

There are nine states without a state income tax, but only Florida disproportionally attracts millionaires from higher tax states, Young said. The other states, such as Texas, Nevada, and New Hampshire, do not.

"My guess is that if Florida established a 'millionaire tax,' elites would still find Florida appealing because of its climate and geography -- and patterns of elite migration wouldn't really change," Young said.

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The study also looked at the millionaire population along the borders between states with different tax rates. "In these narrow geographic regions, you would expect millionaires to cluster on the low tax side of the border, but we see very weak evidence of this," Young said.

As for policy implications, Young said "millionaire taxes" result in minimal tax flight among millionaires and help states raise revenue to improve education, infrastructure, and public services, while reducing inequality.

"Our research indicates that 'millionaire taxes' raise a lot of revenue and have very little downside," Young said.

Children's social and academic functioning is impeded when their families move more often

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/sfri-csa052016.php

Public Release: 25-May-2016
Children's social and academic functioning is impeded when their families move more often
Society for Research in Child Development

America is a mobile society, with most children and their families moving once or more during childhood. Moving can bring new opportunities if families relocate to safer, more comfortable homes, or to communities with better schools. However, previous research has found that more frequent residential moves can lead to stress and disrupt children's routines, with negative repercussions for healthy development. Now a new study has found that each additional residential move that children experience is associated with a corresponding decline in reading and math scores, as well as less positive social skills and higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems. The study compared children who move frequently with those who don't move or who move less frequently.

•••••

They found that moving is differentially harmful for children's well-being--that is, the effects depend on when the moves occur. "Moves during both early and middle childhood were associated with decreases in children's social skills and increases in emotional and behavior problems, and these effects lasted for years," explains Rebekah Levine Coley, professor of applied developmental and educational psychology at Boston College, who led the study.

"In contrast, moves during middle childhood and early adolescence--after children had started school--had shorter-term effects on children's reading and math skills, and those effects diminished over time," Coley adds. The study also found that while residential and school mobility was associated with small decreases in children's functioning, these detriments could accumulate over multiple moves.

•••••

Prenatal fruit consumption boosts babies' cognitive development

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uoaf-pfc052516.php

Public Release: 25-May-2016
Prenatal fruit consumption boosts babies' cognitive development
UAlberta study discovers previously unknown benefits of fruit consumption in expectant mothers
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Most people have heard the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." It's an old truth that encompasses more than just apples--eating fruit in general is well known to reduce risk for a wide variety of health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. But now a new study is showing the benefits of fruit can begin as early as in the womb.

The study, published in the journal EbioMedicine, found that mothers who consumed more fruit during pregnancy gave birth to children who performed better on developmental testing at one year of age.

•••••

"We found that one of the biggest predictors of cognitive development was how much fruit moms consumed during pregnancy. The more fruit moms had, the higher their child's cognitive development."

The study examined data from 688 Edmonton children, and controlled for factors that would normally affect a child's learning and development such as family income, paternal and maternal education, and the gestational age of the child.

Using a traditional IQ scale as a model, the average IQ is 100 and the standard deviation is 15; two thirds of the population will fall between 85 and 115. Mandhane's study showed that if pregnant mothers ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice a day, on average their infants placed six or seven points higher on the scale at one year of age.

"It's quite a substantial difference--that's half of a standard deviation," Mandhane explains. "We know that the longer a child is in the womb, the further they develop--and having one more serving of fruit per day in a mother's diet provides her baby with the same benefit as being born a whole week later."

•••••

While the findings are encouraging, Mandhane cautions against going overboard on fruit consumption as potential complications such as gestational diabetes and high birthweight--conditions associated with increased intake of natural sugars--have not been fully researched. Instead, he suggests that expectant mothers meet the daily intake recommended in Canada's Food Guide and consult with their doctors.

•••••

Poor communities a 'hotbed' of entrepreneurial creativity, but need help to grow long-term

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uotr-pca052516.php

Public Release: 25-May-2016
Poor communities a 'hotbed' of entrepreneurial creativity, but need help to grow long-term
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

Necessity can be the mother of invention, but without financial and business development support, many impoverished entrepreneurs can't get past the start-up phase of establishing a unique new business.

Using a national survey on entrepreneurship, researcher Laura Doering showed in a recent study that low-income entrepreneurs in Panama were just as likely as wealthier people to start early-stage businesses selling new products. But they had lower rates of sustaining those businesses into long-term profitability.

When Prof. Doering interviewed low-income entrepreneurs in the Central American country, she found that their frequent urgency to quickly turn a profit so they could support themselves, as well as the longer time required for their often equally poor customers to adopt the new product, contributed to the low long-term success rate.

"Poorer entrepreneurs often don't get the chance to profit from the creativity that they're bringing to market," says Prof. Doering, who is an assistant professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

"It helps us understand why entrepreneurship generally doesn't serve as an avenue for economic mobility for the poor."

•••••

The paper suggests that these entrepreneurs can be helped over the start-up hurdle through the creation of business incubation centres in which entrepreneurs can develop and refine their novel business ideas. Cash grants for the most promising ideas, rather than loans, could also ease the pressure to quickly turn a profit while also allowing the ability to give consumers discounts while they get acquainted with a new service or product.

The paper's focus on the dynamics behind self-employment among the poor highlights an area that has received scant attention by sociologists studying why poor people have difficulty breaking out of poverty.

"Most of the existing literature assumes that poor entrepreneurs aren't engaged in this kind of novel entrepreneurial process," said Prof. Doering. "I was surprised to see the extent to which they were."

The future of sonar in semiheated oceans

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/asoa-tfo051316.php

Public Release: 25-May-2016
The future of sonar in semiheated oceans
Naval researchers are studying the effect of climate change on underwater sound propagation and sonar
Acoustical Society of America

Scientists are studying how climate change will affect the speed of sound under water to help prepare the U.S. Navy for operating in progressively warmer oceans.

Light doesn't travel very far underwater so the navy uses sound to transmit messages. The speed of underwater sound depends on a combination of temperature, salinity and pressure. It's a complicated equation, but temperature is the biggest factor, says Glen Gawarkiewicz, an oceanographer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Understanding sound speed is crucial for transmitting messages, detecting enemy submarines and avoiding marine animals. As climate change elevates temperatures, understanding underwater sound speed will become increasingly important.

"[We] haven't had to deal with this issue of climate change until the last 15 years, but the temperature changes are significant enough that it really is having an impact on how sound travels in the ocean," Gawarkiewicz said.

•••••

Global economic downturn linked with at least 260,000 excess cancer deaths

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/htcs-ged052416.php

Public Release: 25-May-2016
Global economic downturn linked with at least 260,000 excess cancer deaths
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The economic crisis of 2008-10, and the rise in unemployment that accompanied it, was associated with more than 260,000 excess cancer-related deaths--including many considered treatable--within the Organization for Economic Development (OECD), according to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Imperial College London, and Oxford University. The researchers found that excess cancer burden was mitigated in countries that had universal health coverage (UHC) and in those that increased public spending on health care during the study period.

•••••

"Higher unemployment due to economic crisis and austerity measures is associated with higher number of cancer deaths. Universal health coverage protects against these deaths. That there are needless deaths is a major societal concern," said Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study. He added that increased joblessness during the economic crisis may have limited people's access to health care, leading to late-stage diagnoses and poor or delayed treatment.

"Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide so understanding how economic changes affect cancer survival is crucial," says lead author Mahiben Maruthappu from Imperial College London, UK. "We also found that public healthcare spending was tightly associated with cancer mortality--suggesting healthcare cuts could cost lives."

Although previous studies have shown connections between economic changes and rates of suicides, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality, only a few had examined the relationship between economic downturns and cancer outcomes, especially in countries with underdeveloped social security and health care systems.

•••••

The researchers found that increases in unemployment were associated with increased mortality from all the cancer types included in the study. The association was strongest for treatable cancers, suggesting that lack of access to care may have been a factor in these excess deaths. Also, comparing estimates of expected cancer deaths with actual deaths from 2008-10, they found that the recent global economic crisis was linked with more than 260,000 excess cancer deaths among the 35 member states of the OECD alone.

Adverse health effects persisted for several years after initial increases in unemployment, the study found. In addition, excess cancer deaths were a more significant problem in middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

In countries with UHC--defined in the study as countries that have legislation mandating UHC, more than 90% health care coverage, and more than 90% skilled birth attendance--the link between unemployment and excess cancer deaths disappeared, suggesting that greater access to health care played a key role in mitigating the problem. Twenty-six OECD countries were listed in the study as having UHC, while nine--Barbados, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Poland, Russia, the U.S., and Uruguay--did not have it.

Researchers also found that increases in public sector health spending helped blunt the negative health impact of unemployment increases.

•••••

Weather Disasters Can Fuel War in Volatile Countries

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/weather-disasters-can-fuel-war-20557

July 25, 2016

Following the warmest two years on record and spikes in violence that fueled a global refugee crisis, climate scientists on Monday reported that armed fighting is prone to follow droughts, heatwaves and other weather-related calamities in turbulent countries.

Nearly a quarter of deadly armed conflicts in the countries with the most diverse ethnic makeups from 1980 to 2010 were found to have occurred at around the same time as an extreme weather event.

•••••

Donges and three other European researchers detected the pattern after analyzing extreme weather events that inflicted heavy economic damages, and outbreaks of fighting that left at least 25 dead in a year. The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“What’s much more important is that this number is highly statistically significant and robust,” Donges said. “You cannot explain it by chance.”

The findings have ominous implications for prospects of peace on a warming planet. They’re the kinds of warnings that the Pentagon has been issuing for years, with climate change being linked to conditions that can fuel war and brutality.

•••••

Greenhouse gas pollution and rising temperatures are causing droughts, floods and other natural disasters to become more severe. Climate change can also influence the likelihood that such extreme weather events will happen at all.

The new research honed in on “ethnically fractionalized countries,” such as Liberia and Afghanistan, where violent clashes can be fueled by religion and culture — or by shortages of land, water, food and other resources needed for survival and prosperity. Such countries tend to be among the poorest.

“The countries in this group, they’re countries that are very conflict prone,” Donges said.

•••••

“Many of the factors that increase the risk of civil war and other armed conflicts are sensitive to climate change,” the group wrote. As an example, they mentioned “economic shocks” caused by extreme weather events, “which may become more intense due to climate change.”

It was these links — between economic shocks caused by extreme weather and armed conflicts — that were probed by Monday’s study.

•••••

Monday’s findings were “consistent” with the idea that “weather events and climate change don’t cause violent conflicts,” said Robert McLeman, a geographer at Wilfrid Laurier University who studies environmental change. He wasn’t involved with Monday’s study. “But, in places where conditions are ripe for violence to occur, climate events increase the chances of it actually happening.”

•••••

More Mosquito Days Increasing Zika Risk in U.S.

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/more-mosquito-days-increasing-zika-risk-in-us-20553

Published: July 27th, 2016

Hot and humid summer weather across the U.S. brings with it the rise of the mosquito season, and this year the threat of the Zika virus makes that more than a minor nuisance. Mosquito species found in the Lower 48 states are known to transmit this disease, thriving in tropical and subtropical climates. As the climate warms and humidity increases across the nation, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, like Zika, is becoming more prevalent for Americans.

•••••

Nationwide, 76 percent of major cities have seen their mosquito season grow over that time.

Analysis based on ideal climate conditions for Asian Tiger Mosquitoes: between 50-95°F and relative humidity greater than 42%.

Climate Central’s States at Risk project has analyzed how the length of the mosquito season has been changing across hundreds of metropolitan areas across the Lower 48 states. We found that in most of the country, rising temperatures and humidity since the 1980s have driven an increase in the number of days each year with ideal conditions for mosquitoes. Warming temperatures lead to more evaporation, which puts more water vapor in the atmosphere and increases humidity. The overall increase in mosquito days in the U.S. is likely increasing the risk of several mosquito-borne diseases, including the Zika virus.

Cities like Baltimore and Durham, N.C., have seen their annual average mosquito season grow by nearly 40 days since the 1980s.

Dozens of cities across the Midwest, Northeast, and along the Atlantic Coast have all seen their mosquito seasons grow by at least 20 days over the past 35 years.

More than 20 major U.S. cities have ideal climate conditions for mosquitoes at least 200 days each year.

In a few hot Southern cities, rising extreme heat since the 1980s has actually caused the mosquito season to begin to decrease (though there are still hundreds of days each year with ideal conditions for mosquitoes in these locations).

•••••

North Korea says Trump isn't screwy at all, a wise choice for president

North Korea has repeatedly broken past agreements to discontinue its nuclear bomb developments.



Jun 2, 2016
SEOUL | By Jack Kim

North Korea has backed presumptive U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump, with a propaganda website praising him as "a prescient presidential candidate" who can liberate Americans living under daily fear of nuclear attack by the North.

A column carried on Tuesday by DPRK Today, one of the reclusive and dynastic state's mouthpieces, described Trump as a "wise politician" and the right choice for U.S. voters in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

It described his most likely Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as "thick-headed Hillary" over her proposal to apply the Iran model of wide sanctions to resolve the nuclear weapons issue on the Korean peninsula.

Trump instead has told Reuters he was prepared to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to try to stop Pyongyang's nuclear program, and that China should also help solve the problem.

North Korea, known officially as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is under U.N. sanctions over its past nuclear tests. South Korea and the United States say its calls for dialogue are meaningless until it takes steps to end its nuclear ambitions.

•••••

The North has for years called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South as the first step toward peace on the Korean peninsula and demanded Washington sign a peace treaty to replace the truce that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Its frequently strident rhetoric also often threatens nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States.

A Third Woman Alleges She Was Sexually Assaulted By Donald Trump

If Trump were a Democrat, these accusations would be all over the news. If women weren't afraid of Trump going after them, suing them and forcing them to pay huge legal fees to defend themselves, how many more cases would there be?

http://www.nationalmemo.com/a-third-woman-alleges-she-was-sexually-assaulted-by-donald-trump/

http://www.nationalmemo.com/a-third-woman-alleges-she-was-sexually-assaulted-by-donald-trump/

By Kali Holloway / AlterNet
July 22, 2016

On Wednesday, in the midst of the Republican National Convention, new allegations emerged of sexual assault committed by Donald Trump. This is the third woman who has accused the GOP presidential nominee of sexual assault.

The latest allegations of unwanted sexual contact by Trump come from Jill Harth, a makeup artist and business associate of the billionaire in the early 1990s. According to Harth, Trump sexually harassed her on numerous occasions, including cornering her in his daughter Ivanka’s bedroom and attempting to have sex with her. In 1997, Harth filed a lawsuit detailing Trump’s alleged repeated efforts to force her to have sex with him, as well as a number of other outrageous and inappropriate behaviors.

•••••

“If it’s not consensual and somebody pushes you up against a wall and is all over you? If I hadn’t pushed him away, I’m sure he would’ve just went for it. He was aggressive. And he has a sense of entitlement. And he thinks everybody’s in love with him -- every woman. I’ve heard him say things like this.”

•••••

Although there’s been scant coverage of the allegations, Harth is the third woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault. In June, a lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court accusing Trump of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1994, the same era as Harth’s attack. That attack allegedly took place during a party held at the home of Trump’s admitted billionaire friend, Jeffrey Epstein, who in 2008 served 13 months in jail for soliciting underage girls for sex.

•••••

In the next section, she adds that “Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened Plaintiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sexual and physical abuse of her by Defendant Trump, Plaintiff and her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”

Another anonymous woman, identified as “Tiffany Doe,” corroborates those charges, and says she witnessed the rape. As AlterNet previously noted, “Tiffany Doe testified that between 1991 and 2001, Epstein put her on his payroll, tasking her with bringing underage girls to parties.”

The earliest charge of rape against Trump come from his first wife, Ivana Trump. The allegations were made during a deposition taken during the contentious divorce between the two. The book, written by reporter Harry Hurt III and revisited in a Daily Beast article last year, includes a graphic description of a “violent assault” on Ivana by Trump. Before the book was released, Ivana recanted her accusations in a statement provided by Trump’s own lawyers:

•••••

Trump's treasonous asking for political help from Russia


July 27, 2016

Trump's call for Russia to publish Clinton's missing e-mails if the have hacked them is not only a call for Russia to commit espionage against a political opponent. Since the claim is that there might have been official e-mails deleted, Trump is calling for Russia to commit espionage against the U.S. government.

Journalistic treat men and women candidates differently


July 27, 2016

Heard a journalist interviewed on NPR today who denied women candidates were treated differently than men, that they do comment on men's clothing. She said they commented whenever clothing was of note. I have NEVER heard a male candidates clothes commented on. I have almost never heard a male candidates appearance commented on, aside from Trump's hair. If a woman candidate wore the same outfit everyday, with maybe a different scarf, there is no doubt they would find it of note, but there would be no notice when a man does the same.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Study shows how air pollution fosters heart disease

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uowh-ssh052316.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Study shows how air pollution fosters heart disease
10-year project revealed air pollutants accelerate plaque build-up in arteries to the heart
University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but the biological process has not been understood. A major, decade-long study of thousands of Americans found that people living in areas with more outdoor pollution -- even at lower levels common in the United States -- accumulate deposits in the arteries that supply the heart faster than do people living in less polluted areas.

•••••

Now, direct evidence from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air), a 10-year epidemiological study of more than 6,000 people from six U.S. states, shows that air pollution -- even at levels below regulatory standards -- accelerates the progression of atherosclerosis. The condition, also called hardening of the arteries, can cause heart attacks. Researchers repeatedly measured calcium deposits in the heart's arteries by using CT scans. They also assessed each person's exposure to pollution based on home address.

•••••

Results were strongest for fine particulate matter and the traffic-related pollutant gases called oxides of nitrogen. The study found that for every 5 µg/m3 higher concentration of PM2.5, or 35 parts per billion higher concentration of oxides of nitrogen -- about the difference between more and less polluted areas of a U.S. metropolitan area -- individuals had a 4 Agatston units/year faster rate of progression of coronary artery calcium scores. This is about a 20 percent acceleration in the rate of these calcium deposits.

"The effects were seen even in the United States where efforts to reduce exposure have been notably successful compared with many other parts of the world," Kaufman said. Exposures were low when compared to U.S. ambient air quality standards, which permit an annual average PM2.5 concentration of 12 µg/m3. The participants in this MESA-Air study experienced concentrations between 9.2 and 22.6 µg/m3.

•••••

Babies fed directly from breast may be at less risk for ear infections

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/nch-bfd052416.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Babies fed directly from breast may be at less risk for ear infections
Breast milk may also thwart diarrhea in first 12 months of life
Nationwide Children's Hospital

Feeding at the breast may be healthier than feeding pumped milk from a bottle for reducing the risk of ear infection, and feeding breast milk compared with formula may reduce the risk of diarrhea, according to a recent study by researchers at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"We certainly don't want women to stop pumping because there are not adequate data or guidelines about whether pumped breast milk is an equivalent substitute for feeding at the breast, so more research needs to be done," said Sarah Keim, PhD, senior author of the study and principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's.

After accounting for demographic and other related factors, researchers found that one month of feeding at the breast was associated with a 4 percent reduction in the odds of ear infection, and they found a 17 percent reduction in the odds for infants fed at the breast for six months of infancy Among infants who were fed only breast milk, either at the breast and/or pumped breast milk from a bottle, for the first six months, the odds of experiencing an ear infection increased by approximately 14 percent for infants fed pumped milk for 1 month and by 115 percent for infants fed with pumped milk for 6 months.

"While it is not completely clear why ear infections may be related to bottle feeding, it could be because bottles can create a negative pressure during feeding. This negative pressure is then transferred from the bottle to the middle ear of the infant during feedings, which may precipitate ear infections," explained Dr. Keim.

Infants fed with breast milk by either mode for six months had an approximately 30 percent reduced risk of diarrhea. Diarrhea risk was reduced by 25 percent for infants fed any breast milk for six months, and by 26 percent for infants fed at the breast for 6 months, while infants fed formula for 6 months had a 34% increased risk of experiencing diarrhea.

According to the researchers, this finding suggests that the substance fed, rather than the mode of feeding, may underlie differences in risk of diarrhea.

•••••

US prison camps demonstrate the fragile nature of rights, says author

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uoia-upc052416.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
US prison camps demonstrate the fragile nature of rights, says author
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The U.S. has been a leading voice for human rights. It's also run prison camps, now and in the past, that denied people those rights.

A. Naomi Paik wanted to explore that contradiction - finding out why these camps were organized, how they were justified, how prisoners have been treated and their response to that treatment.

The result is her book "Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II," published in April.

Paik, a University of Illinois professor of Asian American studies, looks at the detention of three different groups at different times: Japanese-Americans during World War II (their detention redressed in the late 1980s); HIV-infected Haitian refugees at Guantánamo, Cuba, during the 1990s; and suspected enemy combatants from the War on Terror, also at Guantánamo, since 2001.

"The point for me in looking at the United States is that we believe ourselves to be the world's champion of civil rights and human rights, but nevertheless the U.S. still creates these populations of rightless people and makes sure they stay rightless," Paik said.

The U.S. has not been the only democratic nation to do this, or to justify it out of fears of enemies, disease or terror, with racism a central factor, Paik said. Shades of rightlessness can be seen today in the plight of many Syrian refugees, she said.

"I think we have this kind of misconception that we're all born with this thing called human rights, and that rightlessness is produced when we are deprived of those rights - but I don't think that's, in fact, the case," Paik said. It's less a matter of rights being taken away and more a matter of losing the political community that will guarantee them, she said.

"At that very moment that you need this thing called human rights, you find out you don't have them," Paik said. You find "you don't have the right to have rights," as one Guantánamo detainee described it in a postcard to his family. You're either isolated from the community that can ensure your rights, or that community lacks the will or power to ensure them.

•••••

Paik argues that the example of these camps demonstrates that our concept of universal human rights is flawed. "I think the way that we've conceived of it now is not in fact universal, that it's actually very particular, and it's left out whole swaths of people who we presumed should have been included, but in fact historically have not been," she said.

To change that will require political imagination, but that potential for change first requires understanding the present, Paik said. "I wanted to understand where we are right now really thoroughly so that we can get to the place where we can imagine something else."

Paik said she sees prison camps as "intense laboratories of rightlessness," but thinks we also need to see rights on a spectrum, with all of us aware that we can become rightless, even when it seems unimaginable.

"I'm trying to look at how the concept of rightlessness might help us see how our fates are connected with the fate of the Guantánamo detainee or the Haitian refugee. We need to see ourselves as sharing a kind of condition."

Vitamin A may help improve pancreatic cancer chemotherapy

I would not be including this in my blog if it were only about results in mice, since such research sometimes does not turn out to behave the same way in humans. But results also showed up in cell cultures, making it a stronger result.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/qmuo-vam052416.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Vitamin A may help improve pancreatic cancer chemotherapy
The addition of high doses of a form of vitamin A could help make chemotherapy more successful in treating pancreatic cancer, according to an early study by Queen Mary University of London.
Queen Mary University of London

Around 8,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. It is known as the UK's deadliest cancer, with a survival rate of just 3 per cent. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy alone are relatively unsuccessful in treating the disease, and while surgery to remove the tumour offers the best chance of survival, most patients are diagnosed when the cancer has already spread to other organs. A different approach is therefore needed to target the cancer more effectively.

Cancer cells are surrounded by other cells called 'stromal cells', which can make up 80 per cent of pancreatic cancer tissue. These relatively normal tissue cells communicate with the cancer cells and play a major role in cancer progression, and could offer a new target for treatment.

The study, in cell cultures and mice, tested a new approach of targeting stromal cells and cancer cells simultaneously. By using 'gemcitabine' chemotherapy to target cancer cells, and a form of vitamin A to target the surrounding stromal cells, the combined approach led to a reduction in cancer cell proliferation and invasion.

•••••

The new approach is now being tested in a clinical trial, STARPAC, led from Barts Cancer Institute's Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine. The trial hopes to establish a safe combination of two chemotherapy medications with a stromal targeting agent and is currently recruiting participants.

•••••

Exercise, future anticancer therapy?

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uomh-efa052016.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Exercise, future anticancer therapy?
First international clinical trial evaluating the effect of intense physical exercise to improve survival of men with advanced prostate cancer
University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)

At age 70, Alfred Roberts plays hockey twice a week. Nothing special, right? Except that for three years he has had advanced prostate cancer, which has spread to his bones. "I've always been active. Hockey keeps me in shape and keeps my mind off things. I've got friends that have played until age 80, and my goal is to beat them!" said the veteran stick handler.

Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of exercise to improve the quality of life of people with cancer. But Dr. Fred Saad, urologist-oncologist and researcher at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), goes further. He believes that physical exercise has a direct effect on cancer, as effective as drugs, for treating patients with prostate cancer, even in advanced stages of the disease.

"Typical patients with metastases often become sedentary. It is thought that this affects cancer progression," he said. Together with Robert Newton, professor at the Edith Cowan University Exercise Medicine Research Institute in Australia, Dr. Saad is leading the first international study which aims to demonstrate that exercise literally extends the life of patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

•••••

Poverty marks a gene, predicting depression

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/du-pma051916.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Poverty marks a gene, predicting depression
New study of high-risk teens reveals a biological pathway for depression
Duke University

A long line of research links poverty and depression. Now, a study by Duke University scientists shows how biology might underlie the depression experienced by high-risk adolescents whose families are socio-economically disadvantaged.

The study, published May 24, 2016 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, combined genetics, brain imaging and behavioral data gathered as adolescents were followed for more than three years as part of a larger study.

•••••

Adolescents growing up in households with lower socioeconomic status were shown to accumulate greater quantities of a chemical tag on a depression-linked gene over the course of two years. These "epigenetic" tags work by altering the activity of genes. The more chemical tags an individual had near a gene called SLC6A4, the more responsive was their amygdala -- a brain area that coordinates the body's reactions to threat -- to photographs of fearful faces as they underwent functional MRI brain scans. Participants with a more active amygdala were more likely to later report symptoms of depression.

"This is some of the first research to demonstrating that low socioeconomic status can lead to changes in the way genes are expressed, and it maps this out through brain development to the future experience of depression symptoms," said the study's first author Johnna Swartz, a Duke postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Ahmad Hariri, a Duke professor of psychology and neuroscience.

Adolescence is rarely an easy time for anyone. But growing up in a family with low socioeconomic status or SES -- a metric that incorporates parents' income and education levels -- can add chronic stressors such as family discord and chaos, and environmental risks such as poor nutrition and smoking.

•••••

Study finds childhood fitness reduces long-term cardiovascular risks of childhood obesity

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uog-sfc052416.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Study finds childhood fitness reduces long-term cardiovascular risks of childhood obesity
University of Georgia

A new study from a group of international researchers has identified a potentially effective tool to reduce the long-term health risks of childhood obesity--aerobic exercise.

In a study published in the early online edition of the International Journal of Obesity, researchers at the University of Georgia, the Menzies Institute for Medical Research in Hobart, Australia, and the George Institute for Global Health at Oxford University found that higher aerobic fitness in childhood, independent of abdominal fat, reduced the risk of developing metabolic syndrome in early adulthood by 36 percent compared to those with lower childhood fitness levels.

Metabolic syndrome is a clustering of key cardiovascular disease risk factors and is associated with an increased risk of subsequent coronary artery disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

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More than a myth: Drink spiking happens

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/apa-mta052316.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
More than a myth: Drink spiking happens
Sexual assault a main motive, but not only one, study finds, noting limitations of the research
American Psychological Association

Google the term "spiked drink," and you'll get more than 11 million hits, directing you to pages that describe being slipped a mickey, tips on how to avoid becoming a victim and even kits to test drinks for illicit drugs. So is drink spiking a growing problem or are these tales of people who just drank too much? Or is this phenomenon merely an urban legend?

A research team led by Suzanne C. Swan, PhD, of the University of South Carolina, sought to answer some of those questions. Their study, published by the American Psychological Association's journal Psychology of Violence, sought to determine the prevalence of drink spiking by looking at survey data from 6,064 students at three universities.

What the researchers found was 462 students (7.8 percent) reported 539 incidents in which they said they had been drugged, and 83 (1.4 percent) said either they had drugged someone, or they knew someone who had drugged another person.

"These data indicate that drugging is more than simply an urban legend," Swan said.

The study found significant gender differences. Women were more likely to be the victims of spiking and reported more negative consequences than men, the study found, although men comprised 21 percent of the victims. Women were also more likely to report sexual assault as a motive while men more often said the purpose was "to have fun." Other, less common reported motives included to calm someone down or make someone go to sleep.

"Even if a person is drugging someone else simply 'for fun' with no intent of taking advantage of the drugged person, the drugger is still putting a drug in someone else's body without their consent - and this is coercive and controlling behavior," Swan said.

Given the nature of the subject, there were clear limitations to the study. "We have no way of knowing if the drugging victims were actually drugged or not, and many of the victims were not certain either," the researchers wrote. "It is possible that some respondents drank too much, or drank a more potent kind of alcohol than they were accustomed to." Additionally, many common drugs, including over-the-counter medications, can interact with alcohol. And victims often don't remember what happened when they were drugged, the authors noted.

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Given their findings, the researchers said interventions should be developed to target those doing the drugging, not just victims. "Because many of those who drug others believe that the behavior is fun and minimize the risks, interventions could provide information about the dangers of overdosing," Swan said. "They could also target the issue of consent. Just as people have a fundamental right to consent to sexual activity, they also have the right to know and consent to the substances they ingest."

Low hormone levels linked to obesity in teens

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/tes-lhl051916.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Low hormone levels linked to obesity in teens
Study is first to examine how the hormone spexin may contribute to weight gain in children
The Endocrine Society

Obese teenagers already show signs of hormonal differences from normal-weight peers that may make them prone to weight gain, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study found obese teenagers have lower levels of a hormone potentially tied to weight management than normal-weight teens. Studies of adults have found that the hormone, called spexin, is likely involved in regulating the body's fat mass and energy balance.

"Our study is the first to look at levels of spexin in the pediatric population," said one of the study's authors, Seema Kumar, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. "Previous research has found reduced levels of this hormone in adults with obesity. Overall, our findings suggest spexin may play a role in weight gain beginning at an early age."

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Researchers divided the teenagers into four groups based on their spexin levels. Among the participants with the lowest levels of spexin, the odds of having obesity were 5.25 times higher than in the group with the highest levels of the hormone. Unlike what has been noted in adults, there was no association between spexin levels and fasting glucose.

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NPR earning its corporate donations during Democratic convention reporting


July 26, 2016

I'm glad the NPR commenters finally stopped critiquing Hillary and let us listen to the Democratic convention. I guess they have to please their corporate donors, making put downs of Hillary and other Democrats. I don't remember them doing that during the Republican convention. Eg., conservative columnists David Brooks said President Obama didn't accomplish much during his second term, w/o any mention of the fact of the massive Republican blocking of his policies and nominations.

The Failure of Term Limits in Florida

http://upf.com/book.asp?id=DEPAL001

Synopsis of book by Kathryn A. DePalo
Foreword by David Colburn and Susan MacManus

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In 1992, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state's Constitution creating eight-year term limits for legislators--making Florida the second-largest state to implement such a law. Eight years later, sixty-eight term-limited senators and representatives were forced to retire, and the state saw the highest number of freshman legislators since the first legislative session in 1845.

Proponents view term limits as part of a battle against the rising political class and argue that limits will foster a more honest and creative body with ideal "citizen" legislators. However, in this comprehensive twenty-year study, the first of its kind to examine the effects of term limits in Florida, Kathryn DePalo shows nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, these limits created a more powerful governor, legislative staffers, and lobbyists. Because incumbency is now certain, leadership races--especially for Speaker--are sometimes completed before members have even cast a single vote. Furthermore, legislators rarely leave public office; they simply return to local offices where they continue to exert influence.

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http://florida.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.5744/florida/9780813060484.001.0001/upso-9780813060484

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(abstract of the book by Kathryn A. DePalo)

Forced turnover has facilitated more competition but only when a seat initially opens. Term limits have not dramatically increased the number of women and minorities elected to office as proponents envisioned. Politicians elected under term limits are shown to have significant elective experience coming into the Legislature and continue to vie for elected positions when they exit, certainly not the “citizen” legislators proponents preferred. Legislative process knowledge is not the important criteria for leadership selection under term limits; the ability to fundraise and campaign for fellow party members is now the key criterion. The Senate has become the repository of institutional memory and gained an advantage over the less experienced House. The legislative branch is severely weakened under term limits with the governor, staff, and lobbyists filling the void. While term limits remain a popular idea in Florida, the effect on the legislative institution has not been a positive one.

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http://www.gainesville.com/news/20160212/dave-denslow-term-limits-have-failed-florida

Dave Denslow: Term limits have failed Florida
Feb 12, 2016

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how have we fared under term limits? Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University answers that question in her new book "The Failure of Term Limits in Florida." Term limits have given us fewer tested leaders in the House for heading committees and serving as speaker. The Senate fares better, since many members trained in the House. Term limits have also polarized the House, with candidates motivated more by ideology than by public service careers.

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http://askew.fsu.edu/current/masters/actionreport/fa2006/Joe%20Waczewski%20-%20Analysis%20of%20the%20Impact%20of%20Term%20Limits.pdf

The Florida State University
“An Analysis of the Impact of Term Limits on the Florida Legislature”

An Action Report Submitted to the Faculty of the College of Social Science in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Public Administration
The Florida State University
“An Analysis of the Impact of Term Limits on
the Florida Legislature”
An Action Report Submitted to the Faculty of the College
of Social Science in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of
Public Administration
By Joe Waczewski
Tallahassee, December, 2006

•••••

While in Florida legislative term limits seem to be a popular and practical concept, they have not been an ideal solution to the problems they were intended to fix: political careerism, ineffectiveness and increased corruption in the legislative process; issues which require profound changes in both campaign finance and electoral systems, not simply “feel good” quick fixes like term limits. Term limits hinder the legislative and political processes in Florida in numerous ways: They do not necessarily curb the political aspirations of politicians; increase the possibility of corruption in the legislative process by interest groups attempting to influence a growing number of new and inexperienced legislators, and accelerate tension in the relationship between the legislative branches, as recent legislative sessions have shown.

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[Details of the results of term limits begin on page 23 of the pdf]

These trends suggest term limits hinder the legislative process in some ways:

1) Term limits do not necessarily curb the political aspirations of politicians ...
2) Term Limits do not necessarily weaken the interest groups-legislators linkage. ...
3) Term limits force legislators to focus more on the power structure of the legislature and less on the needs of their particular district ...

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http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/Truth-Term-Limits.html

by Alan Greenblatt | January 2006

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Steven Rowe is a big proponent of early childhood interventions. He believes they can help reduce rates of mental illness, learning disability and, ultimately, criminal behavior. While serving as speaker of the Maine House six years ago, Rowe translated his ideals into a specific program, sponsoring legislation that expanded child care subsidies, provided tax breaks to businesses offering child care help to their workers and created a statewide home visitation network. ... his package passed by an overwhelming margin. It may have been Rowe's most important accomplishment as a legislator. It was also one of his last. After eight years in the House, including two as speaker, he was forced out of office by the state's term limits law. Rowe is now Maine's attorney general--a good job, but one that doesn't give him much leverage over the program he created. His cosponsors on the child care law aren't in the legislature anymore, either. They have been term-limited out as well.

In the absence of Rowe and his child care allies, funding for the package has already been slashed by a third, with more cuts likely to come. Plenty of programs have lost funding in recent years as Maine, like so many states, has suffered from fiscal shortfalls. But Maine, along with other term limit states, is experiencing an added phenomenon: the orphaned program, vulnerable to reduction or elimination because of the forced retirement of its champions. "We're probably seeing more neglect because legislators aren't there to babysit their own legislation," says Renee Bukovchik Van Vechten, a political scientist at the University of Redlands, in California. "We're seeing laws that need updating, and that's the least sexy part of the job."

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It shouldn't come as a surprise that short-term legislators aren't prone to engage in long-term thinking. It's happening in all 15 of the states where term limits have gone into effect. In Arkansas several years ago, members of the legislature negotiated a solid waste fee to underwrite future environmental cleanups. After they all left office, a new group, not appreciating what the money had been set aside for-- or probably not even knowing--dipped into it, disbursing the funds into a newly favored program of their own.

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almost everyone involved in the legislative process sees governors as big winners under term limits. In addition to their constitutional authority to sign and veto bills, governors in term- limited states control many top-level state jobs that legislators facing short stints will soon want. Whether it is a question of job ambitions, a shortage of information or sheer inexperience, the reality seems to be that legislators do a far less effective job of competing with governors for power once term limits take effect.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Sugar substitutes may cut calories, but no health benefits for individuals with obesity: York U

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/yu-ssm052416.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Sugar substitutes may cut calories, but no health benefits for individuals with obesity: York U
The study suggests that the bacteria in the gut may be able to break down artificial sweeteners, resulting in negative health effects
York University

Artificial sweeteners help individuals with obesity to cut calories and lose weight but may have negative health effects, according to researchers at York University's Faculty of Health.

"Our study shows that individuals with obesity who consume artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, may have worse glucose management than those who don't take sugar substitutes," says Professor Jennifer Kuk, obesity researcher in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science.

Normally, weight loss is associated with several improvements in health. Artificial sweeteners are often used to help individuals cut calories and manage their weight as they are not digested by the body. However, the recent study suggests that the bacteria in the gut may be able to break down artificial sweeteners, resulting in negative health effects.

"We didn't find this adverse effect in those consuming saccharin or natural sugars," says Kuk. "We will need to do future studies to determine whether any potentially negative health effects of artificial sweeteners outweigh the benefits for obesity reduction."

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Internet addiction and school burnout feed into each other

Internet addiction and school burnout feed into each other

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Internet addiction and school burnout feed into each other
Academy of Finland

xcessive internet use contributes to the development of school burnout. School burnout, in turn, may lead to excessive internet use or digital addiction. Mind the Gap, a longitudinal research project funded by the Academy of Finland, has established a link between digital addiction and school burnout in both comprehensive school and upper secondary school students. The results of the Finnish study were published in May 2016 in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

The findings show that via school burnout, adolescents' excessive internet use can ultimately lead to depression. Exposure to digital addiction is most likely to happen if the adolescent loses interest in school and feels cynicism towards school.

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Higher salt intake may increase risk of CVD among patients with chronic kidney disease

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/tjnj-hsi052016.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Higher salt intake may increase risk of CVD among patients with chronic kidney disease
The JAMA Network Journals

In a study appearing in the May 24/31 issue of JAMA, Jiang He, M.D., Ph.D., of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, and colleagues evaluated more than 3,500 participants with chronic kidney disease (CKD), examining the association between urinary sodium excretion and clinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. The study is being released to coincide with its presentation at the 53rd European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA-EDTA) Congress.

Chronic kidney disease affects approximately 11 percent of the U.S. population and is associated with increased risk of CVD and all-cause mortality. Greater than 1 in 3 U.S. adults has CVD, and it is the leading cause of death in the United States. A positive association between sodium intake and blood pressure is well established. However, the association between sodium intake and clinical CVD remains less clear, and this relationship has not been investigated in patients with CKD.

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The researchers found a significantly increased risk of CVD in individuals with the highest urinary sodium excretion independent of several important CVD risk factors, including use of antihypertensive medications and history of CVD. The cumulative incidence of CVD events in the highest quartile of calibrated sodium excretion compared with the lowest was 23.2 percent vs 13.3 percent for heart failure, 10.9 percent vs 7.8 percent for heart attack, and 6.4 percent vs 2.7 percent for stroke at median follow-up.

Findings were consistent across subgroups and independent of further adjustment for total caloric intake and systolic blood pressure.

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Living near a landfill could damage your health

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/oup-lna052316.php

Public Release: 24-May-2016
Living near a landfill could damage your health
Oxford University Press

According to research published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, health is at risk for those who live within five kilometres of a landfill site.

Researchers in Italy evaluated the potential health effects of living near nine different landfills in the Lazio region, and therefore being exposed to air pollutants emitted by the waste treatment plants. 242,409 people were enrolled in the cohort from 1996 to 2008.

The results showed a strong association between Hydrogen Sulphide (used as a surrogate for all pollutants co-emitted from the landfills) and deaths caused by lung cancer, as well as deaths and hospitalizations for respiratory diseases. The results were especially prominent in children. The annual average exposure levels of Hydrogen Sulphide was 6.3 ng/m3, compared to people living close to larger landfills in Rome whose levels averaged 45.ng/m3. At the end of the follow-up period there were 18,609 deaths.

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