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Thu, 17 Aug 2017
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Attention

UK: Air Pollution 'Shortens Lives of 200,000 People'

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© topnews.com.sg
Air pollution in Britain takes almost two years off the lives of some 200,000 people, an official report into the problem has found.

The study, by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), is the first to try to estimate the health burden of air pollution from human sources like traffic, power generation and manufacturing industry.

It concluded that such pollution resulted in the loss of 340,000 years of life in 2008, when the data were collected.

However, rather than being spread across the population as a whole, the committee gauged that this health burden was mostly borne by just 200,000 people, or 0.3 per cent of the population.

Magnify

Los Alamos Scientist: TSA Scanners Shred Human DNA

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© veteranstoday.com
TSA Cops Pat Down Passengers Who Avoid Deadly Scanning
This is Insane. Don't ever get scanned by TSA.

While the application of scientific knowledge creates technology, sometimes the technology is later redefined by science. Such is the case with terahertz (THz) radiation, the energy waves that drive the technology of the TSA: back scatter airport scanners.

Emerging THz technological applications

THz waves are found between microwaves and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. This type of radiation was chosen for security devices because it can penetrate matter such as clothing, wood, paper and other porous material that's non-conducting.
This type of radiation seems less threatening because it doesn't penetrate deeply into the body and is believed to be harmless to both people and animals.

THz waves may have applications beyond security devices. Research has been done to determine the feasibility of using the radiation to detect tumors underneath the skin and for analyzing the chemical properties of various materials and compounds. The potential marketplace for THz driven technological applications may generate many billions of dollars in revenue.
Because of the potential profits, intense research on THz waves and applications has mushroomed over the last decade.

Stop

Study Finds Probable Carcinogen in Tap Water of 31 U.S. Cities

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© Unknown
Poisoned water
A new analysis showing the presence of a probable carcinogen in the tap water of 31 cities across the country has raised questions about possible risks posed to consumers in those communities and how they can reduce their exposure.

The chemical, hexavalent chromium, got public attention in the 2000 film Erin Brockovich and has been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Although basic water filters such as those made by Brita and PUR do not remove hexavalent chromium, several reverse-osmosis systems designed for home use can take the chemical out of water. Such systems are available for purchase online and at hardware stores.

Bottled water is not necessarily an alternative because it is often drawn from municipal water systems and can still contain hexavalent chromium or other contaminants.

Attention

Food Myths: Bamboozled By The Soy Hype

© Acupuncture Today

What I've seen in my years of adding nutrition to my practice, is that a lot of people "know" certain things about food. "Know" in the sense that we don't question the thought anymore. Like we "knew" that low-fat diets were healthy, right? (see my article titled "Big, Fat Lies" in December).
Or that we "know" eggs can raise your cholesterol. So let's look at a big myth that when you actually learn all the facts, makes you wonder how we got so bamboozled.

Let's start with the myth that soy is a health food. Years ago, China and Japan planted soy beans, NOT as food for people, but for the sole reason of returning nitrogen to the soil since growing rice was especially nitrogen-depleting. They knew better than to eat soy, as it was particularly difficult to digest, causing gas and bloating. However, at some point someone figured out that if you buried it for six months and fermented it, it didn't cause those symptoms. And so miso, tempeh, soy sauce, and natto were created.

Soy made its way to the United States in the 1900s, where Dr. John Harvey Kellogg - the breakfast cereal king - championed the health benefits of the legume and railed against the evils of meat. Henry Ford spent $1.2 million in an effort to make soy plastics and a soy car, and Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were busy promoting soybeans in traditional foods (flours, polenta, etc.) Soy products in the West are treated very differently than they are in the East -- soy is a product of the industrial revolution and is an opportunity for science to develop cheap meat substitutes, to put soy in familiar food products, and to produce soy-based pharmaceuticals. Soy wasn't even seriously considered for food until World War II shortages created a demand for cheap protein. It has been touted as healthy for decades, and the vegetarian population has embraced this, without really knowing the implications of ingesting soy.

Bulb

The high cost of Big Pharma's strategy for anti-inflammatory therapy: Researchers discover human immune system has emergency backup plan

© Unknown
New research by scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences reveals that the immune system has an effective backup plan to protect the body from infection when the "master regulator" of the body's innate immune system fails. The study appears in the December 19 online issue of the journal Nature Immunology.

The innate immune system defends the body against infections caused by bacteria and viruses, but also causes inflammation which, when uncontrolled, can contribute to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and cancer. A molecule known as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) has been regarded as the "master regulator" of the body's innate immune response, receiving signals of injury or infection and activating genes for microbial killing and inflammation.

Led by Michael Karin, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, the UC San Diego team studied the immune function of laboratory mice in which genetic tools were used to block the pathway for NF-κB activation. While prevailing logic suggested these mice should be highly susceptible to bacterial infection, the researchers made the unexpected and counterintuitive discovery that NF-κB-deficient mice were able to clear bacteria that cause a skin infection even more quickly than normal mice.

Health

Nasal congestion can mean severe asthma

© Unknown
Nasal congestion can be a sign of severe asthma, which means that healthcare professionals should be extra vigilant when it comes to nasal complaints. Furthermore, more severe asthma appears to be more common than previously thought, reveals a study from the Sahlgrenska Academy's Krefting Research Centre.

Published in the online scientific journal Respiratory Research, the population study included 30,000 randomly selected participants from the west of Sweden and asked questions about different aspects of health.

"This is the first time that the prevalence of severe asthma has been estimated in a population study, documenting that approximately 2% of the population in the West Sweden is showing signs of severe asthma," says Jan Lötvall, one of the authors of the study and professor at the Sahlgrenska Academy's Krefting Research Centre. "This argues that more severe forms of asthma are far more common than previously believed, and that healthcare professionals should pay extra attention to patients with such symptoms.

Bulb

Got the blues with running nose as an accompaniment? Link between depression and inflammatory response found in mice

© Unknown
Vanderbilt study could lead to new treatments for mood disorders.

Vanderbilt University researchers may have found a clue to the blues that can come with the flu - depression may be triggered by the same mechanisms that enable the immune system to respond to infection.

In a study in the December issue of Neuropsychopharmacology, Chong-Bin Zhu, M.D., Ph.D., Randy Blakely, Ph.D., William Hewlett, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues activated the immune system in mice to produce "despair-like" behavior that has similarities to depression in humans.

"Many people exhibit signs of lethargy and depressed mood during flu-like illnesses," said Blakely, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Molecular Neuroscience. "Generally these have been treated as just a consequence of being physically ill, but we think there is likely to be something more brain-centric at work here."

Red Flag

Deadly Medicine

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© Jupiter Images, Vincent O’Byrne/Alamy; Jason Salmon/Alamy
TAKE TWO ASPIRIN
More and more clinical trials for new drugs are being outsourced overseas and conducted by companies for hire. Is oversight even possible?
Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year. Will that number go up, now that most clinical trials are conducted overseas - on sick Russians, homeless Poles, and slum-dwelling Chinese - in places where regulation is virtually nonexistent, the F.D.A. doesn't reach, and "mistakes" can end up in pauper's graves? The authors investigate the globalization of the pharmaceutical industry, and the U.S. Government's failure to rein in a lethal profit machine.

You wouldn't think the cities had much in common. Iaşi, with a population of 320,000, lies in the Moldavian region of Romania. Mégrine is a town of 24,000 in northern Tunisia, on the Mediterranean Sea. Tartu, Estonia, with a population of 100,000, is the oldest city in the Baltic States; it is sometimes called "the Athens on the Emajõgi." Shenyang, in northeastern China, is a major industrial center and transportation hub with a population of 7.2 million.

These places are not on anyone's Top 10 list of travel destinations. But the advance scouts of the pharmaceutical industry have visited all of them, and scores of similar cities and towns, large and small, in far-flung corners of the planet. They have gone there to find people willing to undergo clinical trials for new drugs, and thereby help persuade the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to declare the drugs safe and effective for Americans. It's the next big step in globalization, and there's good reason to wish that it weren't.

Bad Guys

Why Taking Statins Might be Pointless - And Even Bad for You

A few years ago many people would never have heard of statins. Now more than five million Britons take the cholesterol-lowering drugs every day to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

But do they actually work for many of us? A new study has raised serious questions about whether they do - meanwhile, other new evidence has linked ­statins with severe depression and suicide.

Statins have been hailed as 'wonder pills' by doctors and drug companies. They are prescribed to anyone in Britain who is believed to have more than a 20 per cent chance of having a heart attack or stroke over the next ten years. It is hoped that, by lowering their cholesterol, the patients' death risk will drop significantly.

© Daily Mail, UK
Extreme: Some patients are being prescribed statins even if their cholesterol levels come under the traditional category of 'normal'.
The trend for believing that any cholesterol at all is automatically bad has intensified to the point where growing numbers of patients are being prescribed statins even if their cholesterol levels come into the traditional categories of 'normal' or even 'low'.

A new study by a prestigious U.S. university calls all this into question. The research suggests a great many people may not get any benefit from taking statins - that's because it's our calcium levels, not cholesterol, that really matter, claim the researchers.

Comment: So, it's calcium now. Soon they'll want to convince people to take drugs to lower their calcium!


Arrow Down

Exposure to seasonal flu weakened armour against H1N1

Faulty antibodies from previous infections boosted severity of swine flu in the middle-aged.

One of the puzzles of last year's H1N1 'swine flu' pandemic - which caused thousands of deaths worldwide - was that seemingly healthy middle-aged adults were hit hardest. A study has now shown that previous infection with other, seasonal, influenza strains primed patients' immune systems to harm their bodies rather than to mobilize against the new threat.

The study, published online today in Nature Medicine, began with a hunch that antibodies from past encounters with pathogens might have determined the severity of H1N1 cases.