Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Stronger regulations needed on common obesity-promoting chemicals

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928964

 

 News Release 24-Sep-2021
conference abstract, systematic review, people
Reports and Proceedings
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology

 

Everyday exposure to obesity-promoting chemicals (obesogens) represents a significant risk to public health, and needs stronger regulation to minimise exposure and protect people’s health, according to evidence presented today at the 59th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting. Dr Leonardo Trasande is an internationally renowned leader in environmental health, who will draw together the amassing evidence for the serious impact of these chemicals on childhood and adult obesity, as well as the global economy. He will make recommendations for simple policies that safely reduce people’s exposure, whilst having economic benefit.

The long-held mindset that diet and physical activity are the sole determinants of body weight has now been overturned, and it is understood that genetics and environmental factors also have an important role. However, the damaging influence of hormone-disrupting chemicals on the increasing incidence of obesity has been greatly underappreciated. A rapidly growing body of evidence indicates that these chemicals can scramble our normal metabolism and undermine our natural processes for using calories, predisposing us to weight gain. 

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In his presentation, he will present compelling evidence from these and other studies on the seriousness of exposure to obesogens, including the dangers of three very common chemicals that we often encounter in our everyday lives.

    Bisphenols, found in aluminium can lining and thermal receipts, make fat cells larger and predispose us to store fat.


    Phthalates, found in personal care products and food packaging, can reprogramme how our bodies metabolise protein, pushing it to store fat, regardless of our physical activity level or diet.


    PFOS, found on non-stick cookware and water-resistant clothing, have been shown to misprogramme the body to store fat, even when external conditions indicate you should burn fat calories, such as in cold temperatures. In adults that lost weight following a healthy diet with physical activity, higher PFOS levels were associated with more regain of weight later.

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It is estimated that endocrine-disrupting chemicals cost Europe €163 billion a year, around 1.2% of its gross domestic product, obesogens are a large part of that.

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Monday, September 27, 2021

A Boy Went to a COVID-Swamped ER. He Waited for Hours. Then His Appendix Burst.

I suggest reading the whole article.

 

https://www.propublica.org/article/a-boy-went-to-a-covid-swamped-er-he-waited-for-hours-then-his-appendix-burst

 

by Jenny Deam
Sept. 15, 5 a.m. EDT

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Hours passed and 12-year-old Seth’s condition worsened, his body quivering from the pain shooting across his lower belly. Osborn said his wife asked why it was taking so long to be seen. A nurse rolled her eyes and muttered, “COVID.”

Seth was finally diagnosed with appendicitis more than six hours after arriving at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health North Hospital in late July. Around midnight, he was taken by ambulance to a sister hospital about a half-hour away that was better equipped to perform pediatric emergency surgery, his father said.

But by the time the doctor operated in the early morning hours, Seth’s appendix had burst — a potentially fatal complication.

As the nation’s hospitals fill and emergency rooms overflow with critically ill COVID-19 patients, it is the non-COVID-19 patients, like Seth, who have become collateral damage. They, too, need emergency care, but the sheer number of COVID-19 cases is crowding them out. Treatment has often been delayed as ERs scramble to find a bed that may be hundreds of miles away.

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The federal government’s latest data shows Alabama is at 100% of its intensive care unit capacity, with Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas at more than 90% ICU capacity. Florida is just under 90%.

It’s the COVID-19 cases that are dominating. In Georgia, 62% of the ICU beds are now filled with just COVID-19 patients. In Texas, the percentage is nearly half.

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Today’s kids will live through three times as many climate disasters as their grandparents, study says

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/09/26/change-disasters-kids-science-study/

 

By Sarah Kaplan
Sept. 26, 2021 at 7:01 p.m. EDT

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If the planet continues to warm on its current trajectory, the average 6-year-old will live through roughly three times as many climate disasters as their grandparents, the study finds. They will see twice as many wildfires, 1.7 times as many tropical cyclones, 3.4 times more river floods, 2.5 times more crop failures and 2.3 times as many droughts as someone born in 1960.

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Unless world leaders agree on more ambitious policies when they meet for the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, this fall, the study says, today’s children will be exposed to an average of five times more disasters than if they lived 150 years ago.

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The changes are especially dramatic in developing nations; infants in sub-Saharan Africa are projected to live through 50 to 54 times as many heat waves as someone born in the preindustrial era.

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“Young people are being hit by climate crisis but are not in position to make decisions,” he said. “While the people who can make the change happen will not face the consequences.”

Aggressive efforts to curb fossil fuel use and other planet-warming activities can still dramatically improve the outlook for today’s children, he added. If people manage to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, newborns’ risk of extreme heat exposure will fall almost by half. They could see 11 percent fewer crop failures, 27 percent fewer droughts and almost a third as many river floods than if emissions continue unabated.

But the world is nowhere near meeting that 1.5 degree target. 

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These findings, published this week in the journal Science, are the result of a massive effort to quantify what lead author Wim Thiery calls the “intergenerational inequality” of climate change.

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The Science paper was partly inspired by Thiery’s three sons, who are 7, 5 and 2. But its implications are not restricted to children. Anyone under 40, he said, is destined to live a life of unprecedented disaster exposure, experiencing rates of extreme events that would have just a 1 in 10,000 chance of happening in a preindustrial world.

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The numbers provided in the study are almost certainly an underestimate, said co-author Joeri Rogelj, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. Data limitations, and the complexity of the analysis, meant the scientists didn’t assess the increased risk of some hazards, such as coastal flooding from sea level rise. The study also doesn’t take into account the increased severity of many events; it only looks at frequency.

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Fires are lasting longer into the night, and researchers may have found out why

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/09/25/fires-burning-longer-night-west/

 

By Kasha Patel
September 25, 2021 at 8:12 a.m. EDT 


Firefighters in the western U.S. have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years: fires are intensifying earlier in the morning and burning longer into the night.

“Firefighters are still fighting the fire at 10:00 or 11:00 at night when historically they thought they could stop at 8:00,” said Brian Potter, a research meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service at the Pacific Northwest Research Station. “What that means is the fire managers don’t get a break.”

Satellite data and ground reports indicate wildfire activity has increased at night in recent decades, meaning firefighters have less time to rest and regroup overnight. This year, the Caldor fire southwest of Lake Tahoe, which has consumed more than 220,000 acres as of Sept. 24, more than doubled overnight early on. The Windy fire also experienced significant overnight growth as it burned in the Sequoia National Forest.

Potter and his colleagues investigated why firefighters are seeing more nighttime fire activity now than at the beginning of their careers. In a recent study, they found air over most of the western U.S. has become drier and warmer at night over the past 40 years, influencing the rate at which vegetation and other fuels for fire will dry out and burn.

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Europe experiences warmest year on record in 2020

 

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2021/europe-experiences-warmest-year-on-record-in-2020


Author: Grahame Madge
16:00 (UTC+1) on Wed 25 Aug 2021
 

The latest edition in an annual series of global climate reports shows that Europe experienced its warmest year in 2020 by a considerable amount.

The report showed that 2020 in Europe was 1.9 °C [3.4F] above the long-term average of 1981-2010. 

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2020 was the seventh year in succession where the Arctic recorded an annual average temperature more than 1.0 °C  [1.8F] above the average for 1981-2010. 

[And of course the average for 1981-2010 was above pre-industrial temperature.]

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How the US vaccine effort derailed and why we shouldn’t be surprised

 

 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/27/us-vaccine-effort-derailed

 

Jessica Glenza
@JessicaGlenza
Mon 27 Sep 2021 02.00 EDT

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The story is one example of how the United States purchased enough vaccines to inoculate its entire population, and even potentially embark on a round of booster shots, but health professionals found lacking another essential element essential to a successful vaccination campaign: trust.

That lack of confidence garnered the United States an unenviable distinction – in mid-September it became the least vaccinated member of the world’s seven most populous and wealthy democracies, or “G7,” which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Now, a surge of the Delta Covid-19 variant has killed on average more than 2,000 Americans per day and forced the US death toll past the symbolic milestone of 675,000 deaths, the estimated number of Americans who perished in the 1918 influenza pandemic, even as hospitalization and death from Covid-19 are largely preventable.

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“When I look at this I do see a very familiar pattern,” said Dr Steven Woolf, a prominent population health researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University. “When Operation Warp Speed came out I thought I was just seeing a modern example of this old problem where the scientific community developed the vaccine at ‘warp speed,’ but the implementation system for getting it out into the community was inadequate.”

Woolf calls this “breakthrough without follow-through”. In that light, the plodding vaccination campaign could be seen as one more aspect of the American “health disadvantage”.

The phrase describes a paradox: the US houses among the most advanced medical and research centers in the world, but performs poorly in basic health metrics such as maternal mortality and infant mortality; accidental injury, death and disability; and chronic and infectious disease.

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An important piece of research in this area is a 2013 report by a panel chaired by Woolf, directed by Aron, and funded by the National Institutes of Health. Called US Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, the report describes how Americans spend more than double per person on healthcare compared with 17 peer nations, but rank near the bottom in health outcomes.

The phenomenon is described as “pervasive”, affecting all age groups up to 75, with life expectancy declining especially for women. In just a few examples, Americans have the highest infant mortality, children are less likely to live to age five, and the US has the worst rates of Aids among peer nations.

The US also has the highest or among the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity, chronic lung disease and disability. Together, these risk factors culminate in Americans having the worst or second worst probability of living to age 50.

Americans know intuitively that their healthcare is expensive, frustrating and often unfair. Remarkably, even amid the pandemic, roughly 30 million Americans went without health insurance, exposing them to potentially ruinous medical debt. [Many can't afford health insurance.]

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Even people relatively well insulated from societal ills live shorter, sicker lives than their counterparts in Europe.

“That is, Americans with healthy behaviors or those who are white, insured, college-educated, or in upper-income groups appear to be in worse health than similar groups in comparison countries,” the 2013 report found.

Research since this report was published has elaborated on these findings, notably recent research showing that American life expectancy has declined while peer nations saw continued gains.

“To some extent, we feel that reflects the tendency of Americans to reflect the role of government, and insist on their freedoms,” said Woolf. However, it is an attitude that can be taken to extremes, “and there’s no better example than Covid-19”.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the biggest decrease in life expectancy since World War II

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929486

 

 News Release 26-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Oxford

 

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered life expectancy losses not seen since World War II in Western Europe and exceeded those observed around the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc in central and Eastern European countries, according to research published [27 September], led by scientists at Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science.

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 Across most of the 29 countries, males saw larger life expectancy declines than females. The largest declines in life expectancy were observed among males in the US, who saw a decline of 2.2 years relative to 2019 levels, followed by Lithuanian males (1.7 years).

According to co-lead author, Dr Ridhi Kashyap, ‘The large declines in life expectancy observed in the US can partly be explained by the notable increase in mortality at working ages observed in 2020. In the US, increases in mortality in the under 60 age group contributed most significantly to life expectancy declines, whereas across most of Europe increases in mortality above age 60 contributed more significantly.’

In addition to these age patterns, the team’s analysis reveals that most life expectancy reductions across different countries were attributable to official COVID-19 deaths.

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Life expectancy, also known as period life expectancy, refers to the average age to which a newborn live if current death rates continued for their whole life. It does not predict an actual lifespan. It provides a snapshot of current mortality conditions and allows for a comparison of the size of the mortality impacts of the pandemic between different countries and populations.


Healthy changes in diet, activity improved treatment-resistant high blood pressure

 

For me, gaining 5 pounds can mean an increase of 30 points in my systolic blood pressure.

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929045

 

 News Release 27-Sep-2021
Circulation Journal Report
Peer-Reviewed Publication
American Heart Association

 

People with treatment-resistant hypertension successfully reduced their blood pressure by adopting the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, losing weight and improving their aerobic fitness by participating in a structured diet and exercise program at a certified cardiac rehabilitation facility, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure (130/80 mm Hg or higher) despite the use of three or more medications of different classes including a diuretic to reduce blood pressure is a condition known as resistant hypertension. Although estimates vary, resistant hypertension likely affects about 5% of the general global population and may affect 20% to 30% of adults with high blood pressure. Resistant hypertension is also associated with end-organ damage and a 50% greater risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke, heart attack and death.

Diet and exercise are well-established treatments for high blood pressure. In June 2021, the American Heart Association advised that physical activity is the optimal first treatment choice for adults with mild to moderately elevated blood pressure and blood cholesterol who otherwise have low heart disease risk.

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 Researchers found:

    The participants in the supervised program had about a 12-point drop in systolic blood pressure, compared to 7 points in the self-guided group. Systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) indicates how much pressure blood is exerting against artery walls when the heart beats and is recognized as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for adults ages 50 and older.


    Blood pressure measures captured through 24 hours of ambulatory monitoring during a typical day revealed that the group in the supervised lifestyle program had a 7-point reduction in systolic blood pressure, while the self-guided group had no change in blood pressure.


    Participants in the supervised program also had greater improvements in other key indicators of heart health, suggesting that they had a lower risk of a heart event in the future.

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Parental income has long-term consequences for children’s health

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929581


 News Release 27-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences


A family’s socioeconomic status affects children’s health long into adulthood. Individuals growing up in low-income families have much higher risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases later in life. That’s especially true for permanent low-income families, a University of Illinois study shows.

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Permanent income is associated with parents’ general socioeconomic conditions in the long term, while transitory income refers to temporary income peaks or valleys. For example, a peak might occur when a parent receives a bonus at work or gets an inheritance. Peaks and valleys might also be related to macroeconomic conditions. Many families experienced a temporary setback due to the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Xu and her co-author Tansel Yilmazer, Ohio State University, analyzed data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), which followed thousands of families and children over a 47-year period. PSID began collecting parental income information in 1968, and from 1999 included health information about the now-adult children.

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The researchers find the correlation between income and health is strongest for those with lower socioeconomic status, and the likelihood of adult obesity and obesity-related outcomes decreases as parents’ permanent income goes up. Transitory income peaks during adolescence can promote better health, while no other transitory peaks or valleys had a significant effect.

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New form of expanded dialysis improves quality of life, study finds

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929690

 

 News Release 27-Sep-2021
Patients experiencing more energy, better sleep, and improved well-being
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Lawson Health Research Institute


 In a published study, a hospital research team from Lawson Health Research Institute has found that expanded dialysis, a new method that removes a broader range of toxins from the body, can improve quality of life in chronic kidney disease patients who struggle with the side effects of traditional dialysis.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Infants have more microplastics in their feces than adults, study finds

 

 https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928808

 

  News Release 22-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
American Chemical Society

 

Microplastics — tiny plastic pieces less than 5 mm in size — are everywhere, from indoor dust to food to bottled water. So it’s not surprising that scientists have detected these particles in the feces of people and pets. Now, in a small pilot study, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology Letters discovered that infants have higher amounts of one type of microplastic in their stool than adults. Health effects, if any, are uncertain.

Little is known about the magnitude of human exposure to microplastics or their health effects. Although microplastics were once thought to pass harmlessly through the gastrointestinal tract and exit the body, recent studies suggest that the tiniest pieces can cross cell membranes and enter the circulation. In cells and laboratory animals, microplastic exposure can cause cell death, inflammation and metabolic disorders.

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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Future fertility of obese boys may be protected by early weight loss

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928960

 

 News Release 23-Sep-2021
Reports and Proceedings
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology

 

Reproductive function in boys with obesity may be improved through weight loss, which could protect their fertility in adulthood, according to research presented today at the 59th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting. The study suggests that even after short-term weight loss, alterations in reproductive function could be partially reversed in young boys with obesity. This indicates that early management of obesity in childhood could help prevent future fertility problems in men.

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Friday, September 24, 2021

Meeting sleep recommendations could lead to smarter snacking

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928988

 

 News Release 20-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Ohio State University

 

Missing out on the recommended seven or more hours of sleep per night could lead to more opportunities to make poorer snacking choices than those made by people who meet shut-eye guidelines, a new study suggests.

The analysis of data on almost 20,000 American adults showed a link between not meeting sleep recommendations and eating more snack-related carbohydrates, added sugar, fats and caffeine.

It turns out that the favored non-meal food categories – salty snacks and sweets and non-alcoholic drinks – are the same among adults regardless of sleep habits, but those getting less sleep tend to eat more snack calories in a day overall.

 

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Is your child a fussy eater? Top tips to help your child get back on track

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929049

 

 News Release 20-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of South Australia

 

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Now, new research from USC, the University of South Australia, and the University of Queensland is providing a better understanding of what influences fussy eaters, and what is more likely to increase or decrease picky eating in children under 10.

Reviewing 80 health industry studies, the research found that a range of factors contributed to a child’s likelihood of being a fussy eater.

The study found that pressuring a child to eat, offering rewards for eating, very strict parenting all negatively influenced fussy eaters. Conversely, a more relaxed parenting style, eating together as a family, and involving a child in the preparation if food all reduced the likelihood of fussy eating.

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A sexual assault may jeopardize a woman's brain health

 

 https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928217

 

 News Release 22-Sep-2021
New study suggests trauma history (especially sexual assault) is associated with greater risk of dementia, stroke, and other brain disorders
Reports and Proceedings
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

 

Traumatic experiences, including sexual violence, have been linked to poor mental and cardiovascular health in women as they age. A new study suggests they may also be linked to indicators of cerebrovascular risk that may be precursors to dementia, stroke, and other brain disorders. Study results will be presented during The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, September 22-25, 2021.

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Strength training can burn fat too, myth-busting study finds

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929164

 

 News Release 22-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of New South Wales

 

It’s basic exercise knowledge that to gain muscles, you strength train, and to lose fat, you do cardio – right?

Not necessarily, a new UNSW study published this week in Sports Medicine suggests.

In fact, the study – a systematic review and meta-analysis that reviewed and analysed existing evidence – shows we can lose around 1.4 per cent of our entire body fat through strength training alone, which is similar to how much we might lose through cardio or aerobics. 

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COVID-19 infection increases risk for preeclampsia reported by WSU and PRB investigators

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929225

 

 News Release 22-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research

 

A newly published study found that women who contract COVID-19 during pregnancy are at significantly higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia, the leading cause of maternal and infant death worldwide.

 

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Pregnant women who receive COVID-19 vaccination pass protection from the virus to their newborns

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929205

 

 News Release 22-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
NYU Langone Health / NYU Grossman School of Medicine

 

Women who receive the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy pass high levels of antibodies to their babies, a new study finds.

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Corticosteroid injections of hip linked to 'rapidly destructive hip disease'

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929338

 

  News Release 23-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Wolters Kluwer Health


 Corticosteroid injections are a common treatment option for pain and inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip. But a new study adds to concerns that hip steroid injections may lead to increased rates of a serious complication called rapidly destructive hip disease (RDHD), according to a paper in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio in partnership with Wolters Kluwer.

The increased rates of RDHD are especially apparent in patients receiving repeated and/or high-dose corticosteroid hip injections, according to the report by Kanu Okike, MD, MPH, of Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, Honolulu, and colleagues. Their study includes the largest series of patients with post-injection RDHD reported to date.

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Alternative to using race in kidney function test found

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/929354

 

 News Release 23-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Kaiser Permanente

 

Researchers have identified an approach to remove race from equations used to estimate a person’s kidney function. These equations have been criticized for potentially perpetuating racial health disparities. The findings, reported September 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine, are expected to inform National Kidney Foundation–American Society of Nephrology Task Force guidelines on evaluating kidney function.

“Our research showed that if you use a blood cystatin C test, instead of a blood creatinine test, you don’t need to include race to get a similarly accurate estimate of kidney function,” said the study’s co-senior author, Alan S. Go, MD, a senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Northern California.

Testing for blood creatinine levels is currently the most commonly used way to measure kidney function. Since the1990s, mathematical equations that include a person’s age, sex, and race along with their creatinine level have been used to determine estimated glomerular filtration rate, known as GFR. Race — classified as Black or non-Black — was added because studies showed that, on average, creatinine levels are higher in people who are self-reported Black versus self-reported non-Black, even when kidney function is the same. Over the past year, the equation’s use of Black race has been used by reporters and activists as a prominent example of possible medical racism.

Cystatin C is a less-widely used test for kidney function. The new study showed that when cystatin C test results were substituted for creatinine test results, race could be taken out of the equation.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Cleveland Clinic Children’s study shows healthy diets reduce cardiovascular risk factors in overweight children

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928851

 

 News Release 21-Sep-2021
If children are obese, their obesity and disease risk factors are likely to be more severe in adulthood
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Cleveland Clinic

 

A Cleveland Clinic-led research team found that statistically overweight children who followed a healthy eating pattern significantly improved weight and reduced a variety of  cardiovascular disease risks. The study, which published today in the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, paired parents and children together throughout the trial.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States. Children who are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Adult obesity is associated with increased risk of several serious health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The evidence is in: COVID vaccines do protect patients with cancer

 

 https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928997

 

 News Release 20-Sep-2021
First concrete results presented at the ESMO Congress 2021 confirm need to promote vaccination in patients with cancer
Reports and Proceedings
European Society for Medical Oncology

 

    Robust data proves vaccination against COVID-19 is effective in patients with cancer

    Third, booster dose may improve immune response in patients with cancer with no sufficient protection after second dose

    Large body of research concordantly demonstrates safety of vaccines in this population
 

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Therapy with babies boosts social development, reducing clinical autism diagnosis by two-thirds

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928767

 

 News Release 20-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Telethon Kids Institute

 

A parent-led therapy that supports the social development of babies displaying early signs of autism has significantly reduced the likelihood of an autism diagnosis being made in early childhood, according to world-first research led by CliniKids at the Telethon Kids Institute.In a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, an international research team led by Professor Andrew Whitehouse (Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at Telethon Kids and The University of Western Australia and Director of CliniKids) found that a clinician diagnosis of autism at age three was only a third as likely in children who received the pre-emptive therapy (iBASIS-VIPP)compared to those who received treatment as usual. 

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 ”Professor Whitehouse said many therapies for autism tried to replace developmental differences with more ‘typical’ behaviours. Incontrast, iBASIS-VIPP soughtto work with each child’s unique differences and create a social environment around the child that wouldhelp them learn in a way that was best for them.“The therapy uses video-feedback to help parents understand and appreciate the unique abilities of their baby, and to use these strengths as a foundation for future development,” Professor Whitehouse said.“By doing so, this therapy was able to support their later social engagement and other autistic-related behaviours such as sensory behaviours and repetitiveness, to the point that they were less likely meet the ‘deficit-focused’ diagnostic criteria for autism.“We also found increased parental sensitivity to their baby’s unique communicationand an increase in parent-reported language development.

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Researchers call for a focus on fitness over weight loss for obesity-related health conditions

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928601

 

 News Release 20-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Cell Press

 

The prevalence of obesity around the world has tripled over the past 40 years, and, along with that rise, dieting and attempts to lose weight also have soared. But according to a review article publishing September 20 in the journal iScience, when it comes to getting healthy and reducing mortality risk, increasing physical activity and improving fitness appear to be superior to weight loss. The authors say that employing a weight-neutral approach to the treatment of obesity-related health conditions also reduces the health risks associated with yo-yo dieting.

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Dangers of smoking during pregnancy

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928958

 

 News Release 20-Sep-2021
McGill University

 

Mothers who smoke are more likely to deliver smaller babies even after a full-term pregnancy, increasing the risks of birth defects and neurological disorders later in life, say researchers from McGill University. The team of researchers, which includes Assistant Professor Michael Dahan and Ido Feferkorn of the McGill University Health Care Center, examined the effects of smoking on more than nine million deliveries in the Unites States over 11 years, one of the largest studies to date.

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We found that mothers who smoke had a 40% increased risk of premature birth and 50% increased risk of rupturing the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus before labor begins. More substantially, there was a 130% increased risk of having a baby that was too small for its developmental stage. Our findings confirmed the effects detected in other smaller studies. Surprisingly, we also discovered that smoking mildly decreased certain pregnancy risks including developing preeclampsia, which can lead to infections in the uterus and bleeding and require delivery by cesarean section. We believe that the smaller infant size induced by smoking may contribute to less bleeding and less need for cesarean sections.

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Babies with low birth weight often have increased rates of diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, and even certain cancers later in life. In childhood, infants that are born too small are at increased risk of intestinal and urinary disorders, lung problems, and adverse neurological outcomes. Mothers who smoke can reduce these risks by quitting.

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If this the reason Republican politicians are encouraging actions that lead to more disease?

 Another possibility  is that the cause is the other direction, that conservative, authoritarian attitudes lead to less effective measures against disease.  We have seen that in action in the U.S.  Of course, both could be true.

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928946

 News Release 21-Sep-2021
Rates of infectious disease linked to authoritarian attitudes and governance – study
Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Cambridge


According to psychologists, in addition to our physiological immune system we also have a behavioural one: an unconscious code of conduct that helps us stay disease-free, including a fear and avoidance of unfamiliar – and so possibly infected – people.

When infection risk is high, this “parasite stress” behavior increases, potentially manifesting as attitudes and even voting patterns that champion conformity and  reject “foreign outgroups” – a core trait of authoritarian politics.

Now, a new study, the largest yet to investigate links between pathogen prevalence and ideology, reveals a strong connection between infection rates and strains of authoritarianism in public attitudes, political leadership and even lawmaking.

While data used for the study predates Covid-19, University of Cambridge psychologists say that greater public desire for “conformity and obedience” as a result of the pandemic could ultimately see liberal politics suffer at the ballot box. The findings are published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

Researchers used infectious disease data from the United States in the 1990s and 2000s and responses to a psychological survey taken by over 206,000 people in the US during 2017 and 2018. They found that the more infectious US cities and states went on to have more authoritarian-leaning citizens.

The US findings were replicated at an international level using survey data from over 51,000 people across 47 different countries, comparing responses with national-level disease rates.        

The most authoritarian US states had rates of infectious diseases – from HIV to measles – around four times higher than the least authoritarian states, while for the most authoritarian nations it was three times higher than the least.

This was after scientists accounted for a range of other socioeconomic factors that influence ideology, including religious beliefs and inequalities in wealth and education. They also found that higher regional infection rates in the US corresponded to more votes for Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential Election.     

Moreover, in both nations and US states, higher rates of infectious disease correlated with more “vertical” laws – those that disproportionately affect certain groups, such as abortion control or extreme penalties for certain crimes. This was not the case with “horizontal” laws that affect everyone equally.

“We find a consistent relationship between prevalence of infectious diseases and a psychological preference for conformity and hierarchical power structures – pillars of authoritarian politics,” said study lead author Dr Leor Zmigrod, an expert in the psychology of ideology from the University of Cambridge.

-----

 

Wow. My blog stats show 18,388 views yesterday. I don't know if blogger made some kind of mistake, or if one of my posts contained some kind of accidental reference that showed up in drug or pornographic searches
🙂
 
I don't see high numbers for the top individual posts, so I don't have a clue, although that does suggest a mistake in the number.
 
A while back, I was happy that a post on the plight of elephants continued to attract a fairly high number of views for years after being posted. I was happy to see that so many people are concerned about the welfare of elephants. I finally got suspicious and did a search,and found that "elephant" and some phrases containing the word are used as slang for certain street drugs!

Arctic seals experiencing dramatic weight loss as temperatures rise, study warns

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/rapid-warming-in-the-arctic-is-causing-seals-to-wither-away

 

 By Li Cohen
January 29, 2021 / 10:22 PM


The Arctic has seen rapid transformation in recent years as a result of climate change, with rising temperatures and significant fluctuations in sea ice thickness. Those changes could be causing three species of Arctic seals to lose body mass at alarming rates, according to a new study.

Researchers from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries studied ribbon, spotted and harbor seals in the Bering Sea and Aleutian islands from 2007 to 2018. They tracked changes in how heavy the seals were in relation to their length, a metric known as "body condition."

The researchers found that the seals' body condition declined in almost all age and sex classes in every studied species. Only two groups, spotted seal subadults and adults, did not experience a decline in body condition.

"Our findings point strongly to climate-related impacts. We saw declines in seal condition that coincided with recent pronounced warming," lead researcher Peter Boveng said in a statement. "Warming conditions in the Arctic seem to be affecting the condition of individual seals in a way that could impact their populations." 

-----

Nurse who died from COVID wouldn't get vaccine, brother says

 

https://abc11.com/covid-misinformation-vaccine-nurse-natalie-rise/11034602/

 

CNNWire
By Dan Simon and Theresa Waldrop, CNN
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 8:05AM

 

Natalie Rise was a registered nurse in Idaho

-----

Rise refused to be vaccinated, even as the virus surged in her city, Coeur d'Alene. And even as her mother lay in a coma in a hospital bed, fighting for life against Covid, Natalie advised her family against being vaccinated.

    Email

Health & Fitness
'I think it was from misinformation:' Nurse who died from COVID wouldn't get vaccine, brother says
CNNWire
By Dan Simon and Theresa Waldrop, CNN
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 8:05AM
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NCDHHS' Dr. Betsey Tilson busts myths about COVID-19.
Natalie Rise was a registered nurse in Idaho who loved her job as a home health care worker before she decided to stay at home with her special-needs twins, according to her brother, Daryl Rise.

But her science-based training to become an RN was apparently no match for the disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines being shared across social media, according to her brother.
Recent Stories from ABC 11
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Rise refused to be vaccinated, even as the virus surged in her city, Coeur d'Alene. And even as her mother lay in a coma in a hospital bed, fighting for life against Covid, Natalie advised her family against being vaccinated.

Durham firefighter dies after month-long battle with COVID-19

"She was telling me not to get vaccinated," Daryl Rise told CNN. "I think it was from misinformation, I think it was falling into negative social media and bloggers, YouTubers."

His sister didn't think there had been studies on the vaccines, Daryl Rise said.

There have been numerous scientific studies of the vaccines, testing on thousands of people and millions have received them after authorities granted approval based on those studies.

According to the CDC, 54.7% of the US population is fully vaccinated. However, in Idaho, it's only 40.8%.

Natalie Rise, 46, died August 22, one of the many unvaccinated patients who have triggered a capacity crisis in Idaho hospitals that's flowing into Spokane, Washington, which is about 33 miles away.

 

Idaho last week said that healthcare providers are allowed to ration care, meaning that providers decide who is sickest and needing immediate care, and who must wait for care.

"This is serious; your ability to receive care in a hospital will likely be affected," the Idaho Department of Health explained the measure on its website. "It may look very different than how you have received care in the past. Surgeries are being postponed, emergency departments are full, and there may not be any beds for patients to be admitted to the hospital."


But there's not much alternative, Idaho providers say. Hospitals are converting classrooms and conference rooms into hospital care rooms, and there are patients in the hallways.

"We're in the worst state that we ever have been in the pandemic, this surge has been back-breaking for our health care facilities," said Katherine Hoyer, a spokeswoman for Panhandle Health District that covers five northern counties in Idaho. "Our case investigators, they cannot keep up."

She explained that the hospitals are full of people who are unvaccinated. "It's been like a tsunami wave that continues to hit us each day," Hoyer said.

-----

  the overwhelming majority of those crowding medical facilities in both Washington and Idaho are not vaccinated, health officials said.

"The vast majority of patients that are in the hospital for Covid right now are unvaccinated, especially those patients that are in our ICU on ventilators," Getz said.

-----




Confused

 

I'm not a lawyer, so I don't understand why the Texas abortion law does not involve public officials to enforce it.  If someone sues me, and I just ignore them, how can the lawsuit have any effect w/o public officials to enforce it?

UNH research finds witnessing abuse of sibling can lead to mental health issues

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928730

 

 News Release 16-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of New Hampshire

 

 A national study from the University of New Hampshire shows children who witness the abuse of a brother or sister by a parent can be just as traumatized as those witnessing violence by a parent against another parent. Such exposure is associated with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and anger.

“When we hear about exposure to family violence, we usually think about someone being the victim of direct physical abuse or witnessing spousal assault,” said Corinna Tucker, professor of human development and family studies. “But many children witness abuse of a sibling without being a direct victim and it turns out we should be thinking more about these dynamics when we tally the effects of family violence exposure.”

 

-----

 

 tags: child abuse,

Monday, September 20, 2021

COVID-19 virus is evolving to get better at becoming airborne, new study shows

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928734

 

 News Release 16-Sep-2021
UMD School of Public Health study suggests need for better ventilation and tight-fitting masks, in addition to widespread vaccination to help stop spread of the virus
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Maryland

 

Results of a new study led by the University of Maryland School of Public Health show that people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 exhale infectious virus in their breath – and those infected with the Alpha variant (the dominant strain circulating at the time this study was conducted) put 43 to 100 times more virus into the air than people infected with the original strains of the virus. The researchers also found that loose-fitting cloth and surgical masks reduced the amount of virus that gets into the air around infected people by about half. The study was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

-----

 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Patients with multiple sclerosis show robust T-cell responses to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928743

 

 News Release 16-Sep-2021
Research from Penn Medicine shows mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective at inducing T-cell responses in multiple sclerosis patients who receive B cell-depleting infusions even if their antibody responses are diminished
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

 

 New research shows that Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients undergoing anti-CD20 (aCD20) treatment – which depletes the B cells that contribute to the MS attacks – are able to mount robust T-cell responses to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, despite having a muted antibody response to the vaccines.

Because B cells are responsible for antibody production, patients’ ability to produce antibodies that prevent the virus from entering and infecting a person’s cells is significantly muted when the B cells are depleted with aCD20 treatment. But the same patients are nonetheless able to mount very good responses of the second protective arm of their immune system, which uses T cells to eliminate cells once infected (thereby preventing viral spread to other cells), according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in a new paper published in Nature Medicine.

-----


Killings of Environmental Advocates Around the World Hit a Record High in 2020

 

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/14092021/environmental-advocates-murdered-hit-record-high-2020/

 

By Georgina Gustin
September 14, 2021


A record number of environmental activists were killed in 2020, according to the latest accounting by a U.K.-based advocacy group that puts the blame squarely on extractive industries, including agribusiness and logging.

The number of documented killings—227—occurred across the world, but in especially high numbers throughout Latin America and the Amazon. According to the report, published late Sunday by Global Witness, the real number is likely to be higher.

“On average, our data shows that four defenders have been killed every week since the signing of the Paris climate agreement,” the group said, “but this shocking figure is almost certainly an underestimate, with growing restrictions on journalism and other civic freedoms meaning cases are likely being unreported.”

Most of those killed were small-scale farmers or Indigenous people, and most were defending forests from extractive industries, including logging, agribusiness and mining. Logging was the industry linked to the most killings, 23, in Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru and the Philippines.

In 2019, also a record-breaking year, 212 environmental defenders were killed, the Global Witness report said.

-----


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Therapeutic potential of Mozart for medication-resistant epilepsy

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927812

 

 News Release 16-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Scientific Reports

 

Listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K448) for at least 30 seconds may be associated with less frequent spikes of epilepsy-associated electrical activity in the brain in people with medication-resistant epilepsy. The findings, which also suggest that positive emotional responses to K448 may contribute to its therapeutic effects, are published in Scientific Reports.

Previous research has shown that listening to K448 is associated with less frequent spikes of epilepsy-associated electrical activity in the brain in people with epilepsy.

-----

 

Infants exposed to domestic violence have poorer cognitive development

 

 https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928887

 

 News Release 17-Sep-2021
University of Missouri-Columbia

 

  While assessing a pregnant woman with premature labor in 1983, Linda Bullock noticed bruises on the woman. When she asked what happened, the woman told Bullock a refrigerator had fallen on her while cleaning the kitchen. 

“Something didn’t seem right, but I didn’t know what to say at the time. I just went on to the next question of the assessment,” said Bullock, now a professor emerita at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing. “We stopped her labor and sent her home, but I will bet my last dollar I sent her back to an abusive relationship, and it sparked my interest in helping other nurses assist battered women. What we didn’t know at the time was the impact violence had on the baby.”

Bullock helped implement the Domestic Violence Enhanced Perinatal Home Visits (DOVE) program in rural Missouri, which empowered safety planning and reduced domestic violence for hundreds of abused pregnant women. After learning from home health visits that many of the abused women had up to nine different romantic partners during and following pregnancy, Bullock conducted a study to examine the impact of multiple father figures on the cognitive development of the newborn infants.  

After administering neurodevelopmental tests during home visits three, six and 12 months after birth, she was surprised to find the infants of women who had only one male partner who abused them had worse cognitive outcomes compared to infants of women with multiple male partners, only some of whom were abusive.

“The findings highlight the variety of ways the multiple father figures may have been helping the mom support her baby, whether it was providing food, housing, childcare or financial benefits,” Bullock said. “For the women with only one partner who abused them, the infant’s father, the father may not have provided any physical or financial support or played an active role in the child’s life. It can be difficult for busy, single moms struggling to make ends meet to provide the toys and stimulation their infants need to reach crucial developmental milestones.”

Bullock added that infants coming from homes with domestic violence often go on to have worse academic outcomes in school due to neurodevelopmental lags and a higher risk for a variety of health issues, including gastrointestinal distress, trouble eating and sleeping, as well as stress and illness.  

-----

tags: child abuse,


The Rate of Global Warming During Next 25 Years Could Be Double What it Was in the Previous 50, a Renowned Climate Scientist Warns

 

I suggest reading the whole article.

 

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/15092021/global-warming-james-hansen-aerosols/

 

 By Bob Berwyn
September 15, 2021

 

James Hansen, a climate scientist who shook Washington when he told Congress 33 years ago that human emissions of greenhouse gases were cooking the planet, is now warning that he expects the rate of global warming to double in the next 20 years.

While still warning that it is carbon dioxide and methane that are driving global warming, Hansen said that, in this case, warming is being accelerated by the decline of other industrial pollutants that they’ve cleaned from it.

Plunging sulfate aerosol emissions from industrial sources, particularly shipping, could lead global temperatures to surge well beyond the levels prescribed by the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as 2040 “unless appropriate countermeasures are taken,” Hansen wrote, together with Makiko Sato, in a monthly temperature analysis published in August by the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions center at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Declining sulfate aerosols makes some clouds less reflective, enabling more solar radiation to reach and warm land and ocean surfaces. 

-----

“Something is going on in addition to greenhouse warming,” Hansen wrote, noting that July’s average global temperature soared to its second-highest reading on record even though the Pacific Ocean is in a cooling La Niña phase that temporarily dampens signs of warming. Between now and 2040, he wrote that he expects the climate’s rate of warming to double in an “acceleration that can be traced to aerosols.”

That acceleration could lead to total warming of 2 degrees Celsius by 2040, the upper limit of the temperature range that countries in the Paris accord agreed was needed to prevent disastrous impacts from climate change. What’s more, Hansen and other researchers said the processes leading to the acceleration are not adequately measured, and some of the tools needed to gauge them aren’t even in place. 

-----

There’s a fix for at least some of this short-term increase in the rate of warming, he said.

“The only measures that can counteract this increased rate of warming over the next decades are methane reductions,” Rogelj said. “I just want to highlight that methane reductions have always been part of the portfolio of greenhouse gas emissions reductions that are necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This new evidence only further emphasizes this need.” 


Want to save the Earth? Then don’t buy that shiny new iPhone

 

We need to come up with a better way of doing business.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/18/want-to-save-the-earth-then-dont-buy-that-shiny-new-iphone

 

John Naughton

Sat 18 Sep 2021 11.00 EDT 


On Tuesday, Apple released its latest phone – the iPhone 13. Naturally, it was presented with the customary breathless excitement. 

-----


That’s three phones in 11.5 years, so my “upgrade cycle” is roughly one iPhone every four years. From the viewpoint of the smartphone industry, which until now has worked on a cycle of two-yearly upgrades, I’m a dead loss. Which is strange, given that these phones don’t wear out, a fact that may be getting through to users. At any rate, they seem to be holding on to their phones for longer. And yet the manufacturers are still, like Apple, annually releasing new models that are generally just an incremental improvement on what went before rather than a great leap forward. Why?

There’s a name for this corporate disorder – “planned obsolescence”: deliberately ensuring that the current version of a given product will become out of date or useless within a known time period. As a marketing philosophy it goes back to the mid-1920s, when the US car industry reached saturation point and Alfred Sloan, the boss of General Motors, came up with a wheeze to keep punters buying new cars. He introduced annual cosmetic design changes – facelifts, if you like – to convince car owners to buy replacements each year. The cars themselves changed relatively little in their essence, but they looked different. Thus came about the baroque absurdities of American cars in the middle decades of the 20th century – all that chrome, outrageous colours, fins, whitewall tyres etc that you now only see in museums or in Cuba.

-----

Planned obsolescence may be good for phone companies but it’s bad for users’ wallets and even worse for the planet, because it encourages people to treat their phones as disposable. No one really knows how much e-waste (electronic refuse) is generated every year, but one recent estimate put it at 53.6m metric tonnes in 2019. And as far as CO2 emissions are concerned, a 2018 Canadian university study estimated that building a new smartphone – and specifically, mining the rare materials inside them – accounts for 85% to 95% of the device’s total CO2 emissions for two years. That means, said one report, that “buying one new phone takes as much energy as recharging and operating a smartphone for an entire decade”.

So holding on to your existing phone would be good for your wallet and for the environment. It’s easier said than done, though, because the industry is not set up to facilitate retention and phones are not designed with ease of repair in mind. Just to give one example, try replacing the battery on a Samsung Galaxy S7. And then go and lie down in a darkened room while your partner asks what you thought you were doing with the hairdryer.

-----

This kind of design is, the industry maintains, the only way to do it.

But it isn’t. As I write, I have a Fairphone 3+ on the desk beside me. It’s a very capable, nicely designed, dual-sim Android phone. In just seconds, I snap off the back of the case with a fingernail and remove the battery. Other modules of the phone, including the camera, can be removed and replaced without elaborate tools or expertise. And once it’s done you snap the case shut and press the power button. And you can buy it online for £399. Over in the US, the Framework laptop has just come on to the market. It’s a thin, lightweight, high-performance 13.5in notebook that can be upgraded, customised and repaired in ways that no other notebook can. It’s even available as a kit of modules that users can change and assemble themselves, installing only the modules they want as plug-in units. Think of it as Lego for geeks.

-----

 

White Flour

 

For the people protesting on behalf of the  Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

https://open.spotify.com/track/6PStYyy9JXmRYLlqg5WC4Y?si=76a29b01a9b04755

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Colorado radio host who urged boycott of vaccines dies of Covid-19

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/14/bob-enyart-radio-host-dies-covid-19-boycott-vaccine-colorado

 

Martin Pengelly
@MartinPengelly
Tue 14 Sep 2021 10.20 EDT


Bob Enyart, a rightwing talk radio host in Colorado who urged people to boycott vaccines for Covid-19, has died of Covid-19.

Enyart’s death was reported two weeks after the Denver Bible church said he and his wife had been taken to hospital.


.....


 the Denver Post reported that Enyart was a practiced and brutal provocateur who once used a show on cable television to mock by name people who died of Aids.

According to a 1999 profile by Westword, Enyart “gleefully read obituaries of Aids sufferers while cranking Another One Bites the Dust by Queen”.

Enyart also called for women who had abortions to face the death penalty.


.....

Enyart is not the first rightwing radio host to oppose vaccines and other Covid-19 public health measures including mask mandates before dying from Covid-19.

Four other such hosts have died.

More than 660,000 people have died of the virus in the US. Amid a surge of cases arising from the infectious Delta virus variant, the overwhelming majority of hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people.


Linking US prescription drug prices to those paid in other nations could cut costs in half

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928111

 

 News Release 10-Sep-2021
RAND Corporation

 

Linking the cost of prescription drugs in the United States to the prices paid in other high-income nations could have reduced American spending for the drugs by at least half in 2020, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

 

Modeling a proposal that would cap U.S. prices at 120% of what is paid in six other nations, researchers found that such a move would have cut U.S. spending on insulins and 50 top brand-name drugs by 52% during 2020 – a savings of $83.5 billion. These savings are on top of already-lower U.S. “net” prices after rebates negotiated between drug companies and insurers. 

.....



 

Vaccines effective against Delta variant

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928139

 

 News Release 10-Sep-2021
Reports and Proceedings
Regenstrief Institute

 

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing hospitalizations and emergency department visits caused by the Delta variant, according to data from a national study. That data also indicate that Moderna’s vaccine is significantly more effective against Delta than Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

“These real-world data show that vaccines remain highly effective at reducing COVID-19 related hospitalizations and emergency department visits, even in the presence of the new COVID-19 variant,” said study author Shaun Grannis, M.D., M.S., Regenstrief Institute vice president for data and analytics and professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. “We strongly recommend vaccinations for all who are eligible to reduce serious illness and ease the burden on our healthcare system.” 


.....


Elevated stress hormones linked to higher risk of high blood pressure and heart events

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927864

 

 News Release 13-Sep-2021
Hypertension Journal Report
Peer-Reviewed Publication
American Heart Association

 

Adults with normal blood pressure and high levels of stress hormones were more likely to develop high blood pressure and experience cardiovascular events compared to those who had lower stress hormone levels, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

Studies have shown that cumulative exposure to daily stressors and exposure to traumatic stress can increase cardiovascular disease risk. A growing body of research refers to the mind-heart-body connection, which suggests a person’s mind can positively or negatively affect cardiovascular health, cardiovascular risk factors and risk for cardiovascular disease events, as well as cardiovascular prognosis over time.

.....

 

Vaping is linked to heightened eating disorder risk among U.S. college students

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928242

 

 News Release 13-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Toronto

 

 A new study published in the journal Eating Behaviors found that vaping or e-cigarette use is associated with a heighted risk of developing an eating disorder among US college students. This finding is particularly important given the common use of vape pens and e-cigarettes and an increase in the prevalence of eating disorders amidst the COVID-19 pandemic among young people. 

.....

 

Dying at home, lack of healthcare contribute to COVID’s hidden death toll

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928220

 

 News Release 13-Sep-2021
Inaccurate COVID death counts were more likely in counties with a greater share of uninsured residents, less access to primary care, and more at-home deaths, obscuring the true impact of the pandemic on socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities.
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Boston University School of Medicine

 

Inaccurate COVID death counts were more likely in counties with a greater share of uninsured residents, less access to primary care, and more at-home deaths, obscuring the true impact of the pandemic on socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities.

The official US death count for COVID-19 has now surpassed 650,000, but the true death toll is likely much higher. Recent research indicates that approximately 20 percent of excess deaths—i.e. the number of all-cause deaths beyond what would have been expected in a normal year—were not reflected in COVID-19 death totals in 2020. These excess deaths include mortality that was directly caused by COVID-19 or indirectly caused by social or economic consequences of the pandemic.

Now, a new study from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has identified healthcare factors associated with excess deaths that have not been assigned to COVID-19 at the county level across the US.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the study found that a greater proportion of excess deaths not reflected in COVID-19 death counts occurred in counties with reduced access to health insurance and primary care services, as well as in counties with more deaths that occurred at home. 

.....


Air pollution exposure during pregnancy has long-term impact on children’s health, development

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928294

 

 News Release 13-Sep-2021
Adverse effects from prenatal air pollution exposure include low birth weight, asthma, cognitive and behavioral issues, obesity and diabetes
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Texas A&M University

 

Particulate matter (PM) is a major component of air pollution that is increasingly associated with long-term consequences for the health and development of children. In a study recently published in Nature’s Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Natalie Johnson, PhD, associate professor at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, and her co-authors synthesized the findings of previous studies, reviews and meta-analyses on the adverse health effects of the two smallest types of particulate matter (PM): fine (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm) and ultrafine (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 1 μm). Both types of PM can be inhaled deep into the lung. Ultrafine particles have recently been shown to cross into circulation and even cross the placental barrier, directly reaching the developing fetus.

A range of adverse health outcomes associated with fine PM exposure were reported in the studies and reviews of human data, including low birth weight, asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions, cognitive and behavioral issues, obesity and diabetes. 

 

.....

Covid-19 pandemic dramatically increased maternal mortality in Mexico

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928302

 

 News Release 13-Sep-2021
Study shows COVID-19, hemorrhage and hypertension were leading causes of maternal deaths in a one-year period
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Texas A&M University

 

Being pregnant in Mexico during the pandemic had deadly consequences for many, with a new study from Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) showing an increase of 60 percent maternal mortality between Feb. 2020 and Feb. 2021. 


.....

Turning 65 means a lot for Americans’ wallets, health spending study finds


I didn't have medical insurance most of the time for 20 years before I was eligible for Medicare.

 

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928306

 

  News Release 13-Sep-2021
Out-of-pocket costs drop sharply after Medicare eligibility at age 65, especially for those with the highest bills
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

 

Lowering the age when older adults can enroll in Medicare might save them a lot of money, even if the age drops only a year or two from the current age of 65, a new study suggests.

Such a change, currently being discussed in Washington, D.C., could especially affect the small percentage of people in their early 60s who spend a major chunk of their disposable income on health costs, according to the new University of Michigan research published in JAMA Health Forum.

 

.....

 

Eye conditions linked to heightened risk of dementia


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927983



News Release 13-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
BMJ

 

Age-related macular degeneration, cataract and diabetes-related eye disease are linked to an increased risk of dementia, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Vision impairment can be one of the first signs of dementia, and reduced stimulation of visual sensory pathways is believed to accelerate its progression.


•••••


Infant formula websites overtly discourage breastfeeding


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927802

 

News Release 14-Sep-2021
Direct-to-consumer messages on company websites promote benefits of formula feeding, position it as superior to breastmilk
Peer-Reviewed Publication
New York University

 

An analysis of websites for baby formula manufacturers finds that their messages and images discourage breastfeeding while touting the benefits of formula, despite public health efforts to support breastfeeding and informed choice.


•••••


When Republicans control state legislatures, infant mortality is higher


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928395

 

News Release 14-Sep-2021
The party that controls state legislatures is powerfully associated with fluctuations in infant mortality rates and racial disparities in infant health, scientists report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Elsevier

 

Net of history, infant and postneonatal mortality rates are substantively higher under Republican-controlled state legislatures than under non-Republican–controlled ones, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier. Findings suggest that effects may be greater for Black infants than for White infants.

“These findings support the politics hypothesis that the social determinants of health are, at least in part, constructed by the power vested in governments,” said lead investigator Javier M. Rodriguez, PhD, Department of Politics & Government, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA.


•••••


Changes to workplace cafeteria menus nudge workers to consume fewer calories



https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928259

 

 News Release 14-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Cambridge

 

A study carried out at 19 workplace cafeterias has shown that reducing portion sizes and replacing higher calorie food and drinks with lower calorie options led to workers buying food and drink with fewer calories.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge, who led the study, say that even simple interventions such as these could contribute towards tackling levels of obesity.

Unhealthy eating, including eating more calories than are needed, plays a major role in the increasing rates of obesity. This in turn increases the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many cancers, contributing to increasing rates of premature death worldwide.

The environments in which we live and work influence the types of food and drink that we consume. Local areas of deprivation in particular magnify this effect – people living in less affluent areas or with lower socioeconomic status tend to have reduced access to healthy foods and higher rates of obesity. 

.....


Physical distance may not be enough to prevent viral aerosol exposure indoors

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928450


 News Release 14-Sep-2021
Architectural engineering team investigated the effects of physical distancing, building ventilation as control strategies
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Penn State

 

Eighteen months ago, stickers began to dot the floors of most shops, spaced about six feet apart, indicating the physical distance required to avoid the COVID-19 virus an infected person may shed when breathing or speaking. But is the distance enough to help avoid infectious aerosols?

Not indoors, say researchers in the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering. The team found that indoor distances of two meters — about six and a half feet — may not be enough to sufficiently prevent transmission of airborne aerosols. Their results were made available online ahead of the October print edition of Sustainable Cities and Society.


•••••

“Our study results reveal that virus-laden particles from an infected person’s talking — without a mask — can quickly travel to another person’s breathing zone within one minute, even with a distance of two meters,” said Donghyun Rim, corresponding author and associate professor of architectural engineering. “This trend is pronounced in rooms without sufficient ventilation. The results suggest that physical distance alone is not enough to prevent human exposure to exhaled aerosols and should be implemented with other control strategies such as masking and adequate ventilation.”

The researchers found that aerosols traveled farther and more quickly in rooms with displacement ventilation, where fresh air continuously flows from the floor and pushes old air to an exhaust vent near the ceiling. This is the type of ventilation system installed in most residential homes, and it can result in a human breathing zone concentration of viral aerosols seven times higher than mixed-mode ventilation systems. Many commercial buildings use mixed-mode systems, which incorporate outside air to dilute the indoor air and result in better air integration — and tempered aerosol concentrations, according to the researchers.

“This is one of the surprising results: Airborne infection probability could be much higher for residential environments than office environments,” Rim said. “However, in residential environments, operating mechanical fans and stand-alone air cleaners can help reduce infection probability.”

•••••


Probotic-containing yogurt protects against microbiome changes that lead to antibiotic-induced diarrhea


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928454


 News Release 14-Sep-2021
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Eating yogurt containing a particular strain of a well-studied probiotic appears to protect against harmful changes in the gut microbiome that are associated with antibiotic administration. That is the finding from a new randomized clinical trial, led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Maryland (UMSOM), the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP), and Georgetown University Medical Center, which was recently published in the journal Nutrients.

The study found that yogurt containing the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12  worked better than a placebo at maintaining the community of bacteria in the colon. The findings were so positive that the NIH funded an additional follow-up study.

•••••


Thursday, September 09, 2021

COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalizations, emergency visits


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927960

 

News Release 9-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Regenstrief Institute


A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine involving data from nearly 200 hospitals around the United States shows that 2-dose COVID-19 vaccinations are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and intensive care admissions due to the virus. The real-world evidence gathered from electronic health records (EHRs) demonstrates that the vaccines provide high levels of protection for populations disproportionately affected by the virus, including older adults and minorities.
Regenstrief Institute


•••••

Data analysis showed 2-dose mRNA vaccination (Moderna and Pfizer) was:

    89 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations
    91 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 emergency department or urgent care visits

    90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 intensive care unit admission

The effectiveness was significantly lower in individuals who received only the first dose of the two shot-vaccination.

•••••

This study was also one of the first to look at the effectiveness of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It was found to be 73 percent effective against emergency department and urgent care visits, and 68 percent against hospitalizations. However, the authors note the smaller sample size may affect the precision of these estimates and state that more data is needed.

•••••


Summer 2021 Was Hottest on Record in the Contiguous U.S., NOAA Says


https://weather.com/news/climate/news/2021-09-09-summer-hottest-on-record-united-states-noaa?cm_ven=hp-slot-3

By Chris Dolce

Sept. 9, 2021

 

Summer 2021 was the hottest in 126 years of records for the contiguous United States, according to a report released by NOAA on Thursday.

The average temperature for all of the Lower 48 states from June through August was 74.0 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2.6 degrees above average. That barely edged out the Dust Bowl summer of 1936 for the top spot by less than 0.01 of a degree, NOAA said.

For reference, meteorologists define summer based on what is typically the hottest time of year – June through August.

California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah all had a record-hot summer. An additional 21 states had a top-10 hottest summer, stretching from the Front Range of the Rockies and Northern Plains to the Great Lakes and Northeast.

Only parts of the Deep South had a summer with temperatures close to average.

.....

Four of the five hottest contiguous U.S. summers have now happened in the past 11 years.

2021 and 1936 are neck-and-neck for first and second place. Rounding out the top five are 2012, 2011 and 2020.

.....

Eight of the nation's top 10 warmest summers have occurred in this century, according to NOAA. Only two summers in the 21st century were cooler than average – 2004 and 2009.

Since 1970, much of the U.S. has seen a warmer trend in summer, according to an analysis from Climate Central. This is particularly the case from Texas to the West and also in much of the East from Florida to Michigan to New England.

.....

 

Keep on moving: Sports relieve tumor-associated anemia



https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927922

 

News Release 9-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University of Basel

 

Many cancer patients suffer from anemia leaving them fatigued, weak, and an impaired ability to perform physical activity. Drugs only rarely alleviate this type of anemia. Researchers at the University of Basel have now been able to show what causes the anemia, and that physical exercise can improve this condition.

•••••


Socializing may improve older adults’ cognitive function in daily life


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927984



News Release 9-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Penn State

 

Socializing with others is important for mental health and wellbeing, and it may help improve cognition, as well -- especially for older adults, according to new research.

In a study led by Ruixue Zhaoyang, assistant research professor of the Center for Healthy Aging at Penn State, the researchers found that when adults between the ages of 70 and 90 reported more frequent, pleasant social interactions, they also had better cognitive performance on that day and the following two.


•••••


GP guidance: Diet and weight loss to achieve type 2 diabetes remission


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927239

 

News Release 2-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
University College London

 

Achieving ‘remission’ for people with type 2 diabetes through dietary approaches and weight loss should be the primary treatment goal of GPs and healthcare practitioners, concludes a large-scale review of clinical evidence led by researchers at UCL and Aston University.

Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is a serious condition caused when the body resists the insulin produced in the pancreas, and not enough insulin is made. This leads to high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood and is associated with multiple health problems including increased risk of heart disease, blindness, and amputation. In the UK T2DM affects around 3.9 million people and 179 million globally. Care and treatment of T2DM costs the NHS around £10 billion a year.


•••••


An estimated 15.5 million adults under 65 went without medication due to high drugs costs,


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928000


 News Release 9-Sep-2021
Younger adults twice as likely to skip medications or not fill prescriptions compared to seniors
Reports and Proceedings
West Health Institute

 

An estimated 15.5 million adults under 65 and 2.3 million seniors were unable to pay for at least one doctor-prescribed medication in their household, according to a new study from West Health and Gallup analyzing the impact of high drug prices on consumers. While affordability of prescription drugs is an issue for all age groups, in a survey conducted in June, younger adults report not filling needed prescriptions at double the rate of the nation’s seniors in the prior three months (8% vs. 4%). When asked about skipping pills to cut costs, the divide between age groups held similarly (13% vs. 6%).

•••••



Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Prior exposure to common cold coronaviruses enhances immune response to SARS-CoV-2


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927282

 

News Release 2-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

 

Researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) have shown that certain immune cells, which are found in people previously exposed to common cold coronaviruses, enhance the body’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2, both during natural infection and following vaccination. The researchers, whose work has been published in Science*, also report that this ‘cross-reactive immunity’ decreases with age. This phenomenon may help to explain why older people are more susceptible to severe disease and why their vaccine-induced immunity is often weaker than that of young people.


•••••


Monday, September 06, 2021

Hotter weather is linked to increases in COPD exacerbations


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/926999

 

News Release 2-Sep-2021
Reports and Proceedings
European Lung Foundation

 

Warmer weather is linked to a worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms, according to research to be presented on Sunday at the ‘virtual’ European Respiratory Society International Congress [1].

 

Analysis of data from 1,177 current and former smokers with COPD in the USA showed that approximately two days after an increase in ambient temperatures, there was an increase in COPD exacerbations.

 

Dr Supaksh Gupta, a pulmonary and critical care fellow at the University of Washington, USA, told the Congress: “We found that each one-degree Celsius increase in ambient temperature was associated with a 2% increase in the likelihood of COPD exacerbations in the following two days among this group of patients.


•••••

“Other studies have shown a connection between extreme heat exposure and increased risk of health problems and death in people with COPD. There are concerns that these problems will accelerate with the ongoing and worsening climate crisis.

•••••


Sunday, September 05, 2021

One in seven children with Covid still suffering three months later – study


https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/sep/01/one-in-seven-children-with-covid-still-suffering-three-months-later-study

 

Natalie Grover Science correspondent
@NatalieGrover
Wed 1 Sep 2021 13.03 EDT

Up to one in seven children who test positive for coronavirus could still have symptoms linked to the disease three months later, according to a study that suggests the prevalence of long Covid in young people is lower than initially feared.

The analysis, led by University College London and Public Health England researchers, drew on survey responses from nearly 7,000 11- to 17-year-olds who underwent PCR tests between January and March. Of these, 3,065 tested positive and 3,739 tested negative.

Many children in either group reported at least one symptom associated with coronavirus when surveyed at an average of 15 weeks after their test. Roughly 30% of those in the positive group reported having at least three or more symptoms after that time, and about 16% in the negative group.

The difference between the two groups suggests the symptoms of about one in seven children in the positive group could have been linked to Covid. The most common symptoms included unusual tiredness and headaches.


•••••


North Atlantic right whales critically endangered by climate crisis, new study finds


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/03/north-atlantic-right-whales-critically-endangered-climate-crisis-study

 

Hallie Golden
Fri 3 Sep 2021 02.00 EDT

Climate change-induced warming in the Gulf of Maine has resulted in the population of the North Atlantic right whale to plummet, leaving the species critically endangered and conservationists desperate for safeguards, according to a study published this week in the journal Oceanography.


•••••

in 2009 39 calves were born, a record for the right whale. But birth rates dropped significantly starting in 2010 and in the beginning of 2018, no right whale calves were born.

•••••

In the past decade, the population has decreased by about 26%, leaving only 356 North Atlantic right whales on Earth.

•••••


Less air pollution and more access to green or blue spaces: A recipe to improve the life quality of people with COPD


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927236

 

News Release 2-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)


Air pollution and greater distance with green of blue spaces negatively impact the health-related quality of life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by ”la Caixa” Foundation. The findings highlight the need for implementing urban policies that improve the life quality of a great number of people living with respiratory diseases across the world.

•••••


Decades after toxic exposure, 9/11 first responders may still lower their risk of lung injury


https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/926936

 

News Release 2-Sep-2021
Peer-Reviewed Publication
NYU Langone Health / NYU Grossman School of Medicine



Losing weight and treating excess levels of fat in the blood may help prevent lung disease in firefighters exposed to dangerous levels of fine particles from fire, smoke, and toxic chemicals on Sept. 11, 2001, a new study shows. Experts have long feared that this exposure would later lead to lung disease in first responders. High body mass index (BMI), an indicator of obesity, and exposure to the highest levels of toxins from the attack on the World Trade Center were the two greatest risk factors for lowered lung function, according to the study authors.

After two decades of research analyzing thousands of first responders, a new investigation led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine identified a cluster of five factors that predicted lung disease in these patients. Along with excess body fat, the combination of insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and increased levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood are components of so-called metabolic syndrome, a group of medical issues known to raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Adjusting at least one of these factors, the study investigators found, can greatly lower the risk of firefighters’ developing lung disease within five years, even 20 years after toxic exposures at Ground Zero. For example, for a male firefighter of average height, a 7-pound weight loss could decrease his risk for lung injury by 20 percent.


•••••


Many measures of Earth’s health are at worst levels on record, NOAA finds



https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/08/26/many-measures-earths-health-are-worst-levels-record-noaa-finds/?utm_source=InsideClimate+News&utm_campaign=7e9c48590e-&utm_medium=email


By Sarah Kaplan
August 26, 2021 at 11:33 a.m. EDT

 

A fatal virus and a massive economic downturn did not stop planet-warming gases in the atmosphere last year from rising to their highest levels in human history, researchers say. Barely a year after the coronavirus grounded planes, shuttered factories and brought road traffic to a standstill, the associated drop in carbon emissions is all but undetectable to scientists studying our air.

•••••

While humanity grappled with the deadliest pandemic in a century, many metrics of the planet’s health showed catastrophic decline in 2020. Average global temperatures rivaled the hottest. Mysterious sources of methane sent atmospheric concentrations of the gas spiking to unprecedented highs. Sea levels were the highest on record; fires ravaged the American West; and locusts swarmed across East Africa.

These findings may sound familiar, coming on the heels of a similarly dire assessment from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And they echo NOAA’s report from last year, which also detailed record-high greenhouse gas levels and unprecedented warmth.

•••••

“It’s a record that keeps playing over and over again,” said Jessica Blunden, a NOAA climate scientist who has co-led “State of the Climate” reports for 11 years. “Things are getting more and more intense every year because emissions are happening every year.”

Sometimes Blunden feels like a doctor whose patient won’t listen to health advice, watching a mild illness morph into a chronic disease. By this point, the patient practically has multiple organ failure, “and still they keep eating those Cheeto puffs,” she said.

Without consistent, concerted efforts to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities, scientists warn, Earth’s condition will continue to deteriorate.

•••••

As Glen Peters, a scientist at the Center for International Climate Research, put it on Twitter: “The atmosphere is like a (leaky) bathtub, unless you turn the tap off, the bath will keep filling up with CO2.”

•••••

The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2020 was 412.5 parts per million (ppm), about 2.5 ppm above the 2019 average. That is higher than at any point in the 62 years scientists have been taking measurements. Not even air bubbles trapped in ice cores going back 800,000 years contain so much of the gas, suggesting current levels have no precedent in our species’ history.

Carbon dioxide typically lingers in the atmosphere for a few hundred to 1,000 years. Humans will have to stop emitting for much longer than a few months to make a meaningful dent in concentrations of the pollutant.

Even as carbon dioxide emissions briefly slowed, 2020 saw the largest annual increase in emissions of methane. The gas only stays in the atmosphere for about a decade but can deliver more than 80 times as much warming as carbon dioxide in that time frame.

[And methane breaks down into carbon dioxide.]

•••••

But Lan has uncovered some clues. The kind of methane that comes from fossil fuel sources disproportionately includes carbon atoms with an extra neutron in their nuclei — a variety, or “isotope,” known as carbon-13. Microbial sources of methane tend to be rich in carbon-12, which lacks the extra neutron and is slightly lighter.

Lately, the proportion of methane carrying the lighter carbon isotope has been rising, suggesting that the recent surge in the greenhouse gas has microbial origins. It might be coming from bacteria in the guts of livestock, or decomposing sludge in landfills.

But the more worrying possibility is that natural methane sources — such as salt marshes, peatlands and mangrove forests — are emitting more as the planet warms. Higher temperatures can boost microbe metabolisms and thaw out permafrost, while rising sea levels may turn some coastal areas into methane-emitting bogs.

“That could be an indication of a climate feedback,” Lan said. “So that would give us an extra challenge in [predicting] the future climate.”

Events from 2020 show that the planet has already changed dramatically in response to human emissions. Depending on the data sets consulted (the NOAA scientists looked at five), last year was either the hottest year in history, tied for first, or among the top three.

The high temperatures were especially noteworthy because they occurred during a La Niña year, when natural variations in the movement of wind and water tend to cool the planet down. No previous year with a La Niña climate pattern has been so hot.

Global average sea levels in 2020 rose for the ninth year in a row, NOAA said — a consequence of melting glaciers and ice sheets and expanding warmer waters. Sea levels are now about 3.6 inches above the average in 1993, when scientists began taking satellite measurements.


•••••

But 2021 already rivals last year’s extremes. This July was the hottest month documented, according to NOAA. The Pacific Northwest was scorched by a heat wave that scientists say was “virtually impossible” without human influence. Floods have deluged China, Germany, the United States and Bangladesh. Drought in Madagascar has pushed the nation to the brink of what the United Nations calls the world’s first climate change famine.

“These things are getting more and more intense every year,” Blunden said. “If we don’t slow down greenhouse gas emissions it’s just going to continue. … And one way or the other, it’s going to affect all of us.”