Health & WellnessS

Evil Rays

Mind-Control Alert! UK Smokers to face graphic picture warnings

Gruesome images highlighting the harmful effects of smoking will be printed on all cigarette packets sold in the UK from next year, the government said today.

The graphic images, which include pictures of diseased lungs, must be printed on all tobacco products made in the UK by the end of 2009, under the new regulations.

After public consultation 15 images have been chosen to accompany text warnings about smoking related diseases, including lung cancer and heart disease.

Magic Wand

Ability to 'tell the difference' declines as infants age

A new article published in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that infants fine-tune their visual and auditory systems to stimuli during the first year of life, essentially "weeding out" unnecessary discriminatory abilities.

Lisa Scott, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and her colleagues examined several studies suggesting that infants begin to hone their perceptual discrimination to environmentally relevant distinctions by 9-12 months of age. At the same time, the discrimination of environmentally irrelevant, or less frequently encountered, distinctions declines.

In one study, for example, 6-month-old infants were able to differentiate two human a faces as easily as two monkey faces whereas 9-month-olds could only differentiate between two human faces. Importantly, if infants are familiarized with monkey faces from 6 to 9 months, they maintain the ability to tell the difference between two monkey faces.


Study finds some kids are being misdiagnosed with asthma

Columbus Children's Hospital study sheds light on vocal cord dysfunction and treatment

Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is the sudden, abnormal narrowing of the vocal cords during inhalation causing obstruction of the airflow, and is characterized by a noise that can mimic the sound of wheezing. A VCD attack can easily be mistaken for an asthma attack though it does not respond to asthma medications.

Treatment of VCD relies on correct identification of the disorder using breathing and relaxation techniques to help the vocal cords relax. During an acute VCD attack, spirometry (a device that measures airflows) can show patterns that are highly suggestive of VCD.

Doctors at Columbus Children's Hospital performed a clinical research study using spirometry in Children's Emergency Department to try to identify adolescents who had findings suggestive of VCD compared to an acute asthma attack. The year-long study (February 2005-February 2006) included patients 12-21-years-old who suffered from acute episodes of respiratory distress. The manuscript was published in the July issue of Pediatric Pulmonology.


Star Trek medical device uses ultrasound to seal punctured lungs

A stretcher races through the entrance of a busy hospital. The car-accident victim lies on top and grimaces in pain. While surface injuries looks gruesome, the real medical danger is invisible - internal organ damage caused by being crushed against the steering wheel.

This isn't a scene from Seattle Grace Hospital, the set of the popular television drama Grey's Anatomy, but from its real-life model, Harborview Medical Center. Engineers at the University of Washington are working with Harborview doctors to create new emergency treatments right out of Star Trek: a tricorder type device using high-intensity focused ultrasound rays. This summer, researchers published the first experiment using ultrasound to seal punctured lungs.

"No one has ever looked at treating lungs with ultrasound," said Shahram Vaezy, a UW associate professor of bioengineering. Physicists were skeptical it would work because a lung is essentially a collection of air sacs, and air blocks transmission of ultrasound. But the new experiments show that punctures on the lung's surface, where injuries usually occur, heal with ultrasound therapy.

"The results are really impressive," Vaezy said. He cautions that this is still in the early stages and the technique is not yet being tested on humans.


Food poisoning puts 48 children in hospital in south Russia

A total of 48 children have been hospitalized with acute intestinal infection in a district of South Russia's Stavropol Territory, following food poisoning in kindergartens, a local hospital said.

A total of 96 children have fallen ill in the Georgiyevsk District, of which 46 refused to be admitted to hospital, said Olga Yeremenko, a hospital doctor. None of the infection cases are critical, she said.

A preliminary probe carried out by Russia's consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, revealed that the infection may have been spread by kefir, a fermented milk drink, supplied to the kindergartens, under the Slavyanovsky brand. A criminal investigation has been launched.


Why some people are prone to mosquito bites

Scientists have worked out why mosquitoes make a beeline for certain people but appear to leave others almost untouched.

Specific cells in one of the three organs that make up the mosquito's nose are tuned to identify the different chemicals that make up human body odour.

To the mosquito some people's sweat simply smells better than others because of the proportions of the carbon dioxide, octenol and other compounds that make up body odour.


That buttery aroma from popcorn might be toxic

Pop Weaver, one of the largest producers of microwave popcorn, is removing a controversial chemical flavoring agent from its products.

The chemical -- diacetyl -- adds buttery taste. Government worker safety investigators have linked exposure to the synthetic butter to the sometimes fatal destruction of the lungs of hundreds of workers in food production and flavoring factories.

And while Pop Weaver has dropped diacetyl from its product, it remains in widespread use in thousands of other consumer products, including the microwave popcorn brands Orville Redenbacher and Act II.

Red Flag

Flashback Popcorn flavoring killing Californian workers

SOUTH GATE, Calif. -- She was once in constant motion; her co-workers compared her to a roadrunner because of the way she darted around the workplace. But now Irma Ortiz sits at the edge of her couch, too winded to sweep her patio or walk her son to school without resting. She is slowly suffocating.


Grower recalls 34 tons of spinach

More than 68,000 pounds of bagged fresh spinach are being recalled by a Monterey County grower after routine testing found salmonella in a sample taken from a Watsonville packing plant.

There have been no reports of illness from the spinach, but state and federal health officials said they are working with Metz Fresh of King City to determine the source and scope of contamination.


Only ten minutes on a mobile could trigger cancer, scientists believe

Mobile phones can take as little as ten minutes to trigger changes in the brain associated with cancer, scientists claimed yesterday.