Friday, October 13, 2006

Smoking Ban Associated With Rapid Improvement In Health Of Bar Workers

Bar workers in Scotland showed significant improvements in respiratory symptoms and lung function within 2 months following a ban on smoking in confined public places, according to a study in the October 11 issue of JAMA.

This is no surprise to me. When I started working in a restaurant several years ago that allowed smoking, I started getting chest pains. When the state passed a ban against smoking in most public places, my chest pains ceased.

depression : nature vs nurture

Among children from supportive, nurturing families, those with the short form of the serotonin transporter gene (known as 5-HTTLPR) had a significantly reduced risk for depression, found the UCLA team, under the direction of Shelley E. Taylor, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and an expert in the field of stress and health. The research team also found that among children from emotionally cold, unsupportive homes marked by conflict and anger, those with the short form of the 5-HTTLPR gene were at greater risk for depression, as some previous research has also shown.

This may explain at least some of the reason for the high rates of depression in the U.S. compared with some other countries, since a large percentage of American families are far from supportive and nurturing.

Of course, nurturing behaviour is not the same as permissiveness.

the law of unintended consequences

A new book,“Follies of Science: 20th Century Visions of Our Fantastic Future”, by two brothers : Eric and Jonathan Dregni, chronicles predictions of the future, most of which turned out quite wrong.

In the words of this article:
"Probably the scariest parts of the book involve glowing testimonials for materials that have turned out to be public health disasters. A big mid-century magazine advertisement extols the use of lead (“the answer to the old alchemist’s dream”) throughout homes, noting that “interior walls are beautified with white-lead paint” and that “lead is in the glaze of the chinaware and that of the bathtub and sink.” "


"A federally funded study, published in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, found for the first time that low-level, everyday exposures to perchlorate in drinking water can reduce thyroid function in women, particularly those with low levels of iodine. "

An article about this appeared last Sunday in the AJC (Atlanta Journal-Constition). The Parade magazine in the same of the AJC contained an article about reasons why many women are tired all the time! All of the possible causes were legitimate. Certainly, inadequate sleep is pervasive in our society. One of the causes listed was low thyroid problems. However, there was no mention in the article of the possibility of adverse effects of environmental pollutants such as perchlorate.

The surprising thing about this study is that it wasn't censored by the Bush administration, as so many other scientific findings that might adversely affect big financial interests have been censored, with wording the Bushies didn't like changed or eliminated.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

more good news/bad news for global warming

Dust storms swirling out of Africa's Sahara Desert may help reduce hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean, a new study suggests. The findings aren't conclusive, but researchers led by Amato T. Evan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that years with more African dust had fewer tropical storms and years with less dust had more storms.

Another good news/bad news item. Global warming leads to hurricanes and to drought in Africa. Drought in Africa leads to more dust storms, which may lessen the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. And of course, drought in Africa leads to large numbers of people dying of starvation.

Recruits said to be better in boot camp now that they're not being yelled at

In today’s Army, shouting is out and a calmer approach to molding young minds is in, says the head of Pentagon personnel.

Maybe this will result in fewer incidents of horrific behaviour during war.