Health & Wellness


USDA Suspends Pesticide Reporting to Benefit Monsanto

On May 21, the US Department of Agriculture, or USDA, announced that it would stop its annual publication on the kinds and amounts of pesticides applied to crops in the U.S.

This annual Agricultural Chemical Usage report, begun in 1990, will no longer serve thousands of farmers, agricultural inspectors, environmental agencies, state and local representatives, chemical researchers and even chemical manufacturing companies, as a free resource to track U.S. pesticide usage. The alternatives for getting the information, priced as high as $500, are both out of the financial reach of many farmers and consumers, and provide less reliable information.

Study: No gender differences in math performance

We've all heard it. Many of us in fact believe it. Girls just aren't as good at math as boys.

But is it true? After sifting through mountains of data - including SAT results and math scores from 7 million students who were tested in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act - a team of scientists says the answer is no. Whether they looked at average performance, the scores of the most gifted children or students' ability to solve complex math problems, girls measured up to boys.

"There just aren't gender differences anymore in math performance," says University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde, the study's leader. "So parents and teachers need to revise their thoughts about this."

The UW-Madison and University of California, Berkeley, researchers report their findings in the July 25 issue of Science.

Romania to Allow Girls Under Age 15 to Have Abortions Up to 24 Weeks

Romania's health ministry says it has proposed a law allowing under-15s to have an abortion at up to 24 weeks.

Current legislation does not allow for abortions beyond 14 weeks, except to save a woman's life and in the case of extraordinary circumstances. The circumstances are not specified in the law.

Older people may need less sleep, study finds

Along with all the other changes that come with age, healthy older people also lose some capacity for sleep, according to a new report published online on July 24th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. When asked to stay in bed for 16 hours in the dark each day for several days, younger people get an average of 9 hours of shuteye compared to 7.5 for older people, the researchers report.

"The most parsimonious explanation for our results is that older people need less sleep," said Elizabeth Klerman of Brigham and Women's Hospital & Harvard Medical School. "It's also possible that they sleep less even when given the opportunity for more sleep because of age-related changes in the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep," she added, noting that the new results apply only to healthy individuals taking no medication and having no medical conditions or sleep disorders.

Is autism on the rise in Ireland?

The number of children diagnosed is soaring but as families reach out for help, the HSE (Health Service Executive) admits it's struggling to cope, reports Fiachra O'Cionnaith

Autism services across the country are struggling to meet the needs of children desperate for help because they are being swamped by a "huge increase" in demand.

Is Autism an "American Disease?" Somali Immigrants Reportedly Have High Rates

NOTE: Please also see my post today at AGE OF AUTISM -- "Top Researcher: Spread Shots Out 'As Much As Possible' With Mitochondrial Disorders"

A very interesting article was published today by Elizabeth Gorman on that should be researched further: It might shine new light on genetic, and possibly environmental factors in autism.

The article reports that an unusually large proportion of Somali-speaking children in Minnesota have autism, something that has also been noted in Sweden, where Somali immigrants call autism "the Swedish Disease," because they did not see it back in East Africa.

UK: A look into fluoridation

If you knew that someone was putting poison into your water supply, what would you do? Call the authorities? Well don't bother cos it's the government wot's doing it!

If you live in the West Midlands or the North East, the chances are that you already have a fluoridated water supply - and comments earlier this year from Health Secretary Alan Johnson made it clear that he is keen to see this toxic industrial waste added to everyone else's water as soon as possible. Why? He believes that it is a 'key means of tackling tooth decay' - despite the fact that no scientific evidence bears this out, and much other evidence has emerged linking fluoride ingestion to bone deficiencies, cancer, joint pain, skin rash, damage to thyroid glands and even IQ deficits.

More than 1,000 died in painkiller overdoses over 2 years in the US

At least 1,013 people died of overdoses in several U.S. cities from 2005 to 2007 after illegally injecting the highly potent painkiller fentanyl, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The fentanyl, at least some of which came from Mexico, was sold illegally by drug dealers on U.S. streets, sometimes mixed with cocaine and heroin, according to a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Limiting fructose may boost weight loss, UT Southwestern researcher reports

One of the reasons people on low-carbohydrate diets may lose weight is that they reduce their intake of fructose, a type of sugar that can be made into body fat quickly, according to a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition and lead author of a study appearing in a current issue of the Journal of Nutrition, said her team's findings suggest that the right type of carbohydrates a person eats may be just as important in weight control as the number of calories a person eats.

Current health guidelines suggest that limiting processed carbohydrates, many of which contain high-fructose corn syrup, may help prevent weight gain, and the new data on fructose clearly support this recommendation.

"Our study shows for the first time the surprising speed with which humans make body fat from fructose," Dr. Parks said. Fructose, glucose and sucrose, which is a mixture of fructose and glucose, are all forms of sugar but are metabolized differently.

Common gene makes Africans more vulnerable to HIV

Child in Village
©Marco Longari/AFP

Around 11% of HIV infections in Africa may be due to a genetic variant common in people of African descent that makes them more vulnerable to the virus. The genetic change, which is less prevalent in other ethnic groups, increases the likelihood of infection with the most common strain of the virus (HIV-1) by 40%.