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Archive for the ‘ENVIRONMENT’ Category

CIGARETTES,CHINA AND HEAVY METALS

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

High amounts of heavy metals found in China tobacco


By Tan Ee LynPosted 2010/10/07 at 7:55 am EDT

HONG KONG, Oct. 7, 2010 (Reuters) — Some Chinese cigarettes contain amounts of lead, arsenic and cadmium that are three times higher than levels found in Canadian cigarettes, a study has found.


While consuming such heavy metals is widely known to be harmful to health, there is little research done so far about their impact when inhaled into the body.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Tobacco Control on Thursday, said more investigation was needed.

“While the per-stick levels of metals are what we measured, the real issue is repeated exposure. Smokers don’t smoke just one cigarette, but 20 or so a day every day for years because cigarettes are addictive,” wrote lead author Richard O’Connor of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.

“These metals get into smokers along with a cocktail of other toxicants. The effect of cumulative exposure to multiple toxicants, including metals, is the public health question that needs to be sorted out.”

The researchers used Canadian cigarettes for comparison in their study because Canadian manufacturers and importers are required to test for metals content in tobacco, and Health Canada, the country’s public health agency, recently released data concerning this.

China has more than 320 million smokers and a million Chinese in the country die each year from tobacco-related illnesses. Smoking has been causally linked to hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cancer, heart and respiratory diseases, among others.

China has the world’s largest smoking population and is also the biggest producer of tobacco, manufacturing 2.16 trillion cigarettes in 2007, according to the Tobacco Atlas.

O’Connor and colleagues analyzed 78 varieties of popular Chinese cigarette brands and found significantly elevated levels of heavy metals, with some containing three times the levels of lead, cadmium and arsenic compared with Canadian cigarettes.

“The higher yields of cadmium and lead in cigarettes manufactured in China are worrisome given current smoking prevalence in China and China National Tobacco Company’s export ambitions,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

A member of the team, Geoffrey Fong from the University of Waterloo in Canada, said the heavy metals content was due to contaminated soil.

“Tobacco like other crops absorbs minerals and other things from the soil, so if the soil has cadium, lead or arsenic, they will be absorbed into the tobacco,” Fong said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

YOUR RECEIPT IS POISONOUS MADAME

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Receipts covered in hormone-like chemical

Here’s a reality check for those of you who think you can avoid the toxic chemical bisphenol A: It turns out this toxic chemical has even been found in cash register receipts. That’s right: It’s not just cans and plastic bottles, friends – this poison is literally everywhere.

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group found this dangerous estrogen-like substance in 40 percent of receipts from places like Safeway, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, CVS, and KFC.

Even the hippy-friendly greenie paradise Whole Foods had BPA in its receipts. You just can’t trust anyone these days!

But if you think handling receipts with BPA is no big deal, think again. Swiss scientists say that two hours after exposure, 30 percent of the BPA from a receipt remained on the skin – and could no longer be washed away.

Nothing like a hormone boost with each purchase – and they don’t even charge extra for it.

Speaking of BPA, Duane wrote in to ask how to send a message to the government urging them to ban this toxic garbage. Here’s what you do, Duane: Write a letter and print it out. Don’t waste money on an envelope or a stamp – just run that letter right through your shredder.

That’s what the feds will do with it, because they don’t care about you or me. The dangers of BPA are well known and well documented – it’s been linked to everything from obesity and cardiovascular problems to reproductive harm and early puberty – and they’re deliberately ignoring all that evidence every single day they fail to act.

If you want to do something more productive with your time, get rid of everything that might contain BPA: Cans, bottles, jars with lids – if it doesn’t say “BPA free,” assume it’s BPA full.

There’s not much you can do about those receipts. I’d say leave them right there at the cash register, but in some places they’ll tackle you at the door if you don’t show a receipt on the way out. You might also need those receipts for warranties, returns and the taxman.

Does this mean gloves are mandatory

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


MAN EATEN ALIVE WHILE SLEEPING

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Disabled man eaten to death

by maggots

  • July 28, 2010 11:19PM

A DISABLED Austrian man was eaten to death by maggots in his bed while his partner slept beside him.


The 61-year-old retiree died in an ambulance on his way to hospital in Vienna on Tuesday with the maggots having partly devoured his back.

Paramedics notified police after discovering the shocking state of hygiene in the man’s home, and his 34-year-old partner was questioned over his condition.

“The man had not wanted to be washed for a long time,” a police spokesman said.

According to police, the couple had been together for around a decade, and the victim’s partner had slept in the same bed right up until his death.

The dead man had been paralysed for several years following a stroke.

Some types of maggots found on corpses can be of great use to forensic scientists. By their stage of development, these maggots can be used to give an indication of the time elapsed since death, as well as the place the organism died. Some maggots are leaf miners. Maggots are bred commercially, as a popular bait in angling, and a food for carnivourous pets such as reptiles or birds. Some maggots which eat dead, but not living, flesh have been used medically, being introduced into wounds to clean them. Other maggots, such as the screwworm, eat live flesh. In the early days of medicine, maggot infestations of wounds (myiasis) were inevitable. The wounds that were infested tended to be less life-threatening than wounds without the infestation, so until the development of antibiotics it was common practice to leave the maggots. After antibiotics, the presence of maggots became viewed as unhygienic
Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

MERCURY AND ITS DANGER TO MANKIND IN THE OCEANS OF THE WORLD

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Why Mercury Is

More Dangerous in Oceans

Science (June 28, 2010) — Even though freshwater concentrations of mercury are far greater than those found in seawater, it’s the saltwater fish like tuna, mackerel and shark that end up posing a more serious health threat to humans who eat them.


The answer, according to Duke University researchers, is in the seawater itself.

The potentially harmful version of mercury — known as methylmercury — latches onto dissolved organic matter in freshwater, while it tends to latch onto chloride — the salt — in seawater, according to new a study by Heileen Hsu-Kim, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.

“The most common ways nature turns methylmercury into a less toxic form is through sunlight,” Hsu-Kim said. “When it is attached to dissolved organic matter, like decayed plants or animal matter, sunlight more readily breaks down the methylmercury. However, in seawater, the methlymercury remains tightly bonded to the chloride, where sunlight does not degrade it as easily. In this form, methylmercury can then be ingested by marine animals.”

Methylmercury is a potent neurotoxin that can lead to kidney dysfunctions, neurological disorders and even death. In particular, fetuses exposed to methylmercury can suffer from these same disorders as well as impaired learning abilities. Because fish and shellfish have a natural tendency to store methylmercury in their organs, they are the leading source of mercury ingestion for humans.

“The exposure rate of mercury in the U.S. is quite high,” Hsu-Kim said. “A recent epidemiological survey found that up 8 percent of women had mercury levels higher than national guidelines. Since humans are on the top of the food chain, any mercury in our food accumulates in our body.”

The results of Hsu-Kim’s experiments, which have been published early online in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggest that scientists and policymakers should focus their efforts on the effects of mercury in the oceans, rather than freshwater.

Her research is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science.

In the past, most of the scientific studies of effects of mercury in the environment have focused on freshwater, because the technology had not advanced to the point where scientists could accurately measure the smaller concentrations of mercury found in seawater. Though the concentrations may be smaller in seawater, mercury accumulates more readily in the tissues of organisms that consume it.

“Because sunlight does not break it down in seawater, the lifetime of methlymercury is much longer in the marine environment,” Hsu-Kim said. “However, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency do not distinguish between freshwater and seawater.”

Mercury enters the environment through many routes, but the primary sources are coal combustion, the refinement of gold and other non-ferrous metals, and volcanic eruptions. The air-borne mercury from these sources eventually lands on lakes or oceans and can remain in the water or sediments.

The key to the sun’s ability to break down methylmercury is a class of chemicals known as reactive oxygen species. These forms of oxygen are the biochemical equivalent of the bull in the china shop because of the way they break chemical bonds. One way these reactive oxygens are formed is by sunlight acting on oxygen molecules in the water.

“These reactive forms of oxygen are much more efficient in breaking the bonds within the methylmercury molecule,” Hsu-Kim said. “And if the methylmercury is bonded to organic matter instead of chloride, then the break down reaction is much faster.”

Tong Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate in Hsu-Kim’s laboratory, was first author on the paper.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

LESBIANS RAISE BRIGHTER CHILDREN STUDY SHOWS

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Study: Children of lesbians may do better


SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — Children of lesbian-mother families demonstrate healthy psychological adjustment; in fact, they score higher than their peers, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Dr. Nanette Gartrell of the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues say from 1986 to 1992, 154 prospective lesbian mothers volunteered for the study designed to follow planned lesbian families from the child’s conception until they were adults.

Information was obtained via interviews and questionnaires by 78 children when they were age 10 and 17 as well as Child Behavior Checklists that were completed by their mothers.

The study, published online ahead of print in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics, found the 17-year-olds were rated significantly higher in social, academic and total competence compared with their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents.

In addition, the study found the sons and daughters of lesbian mothers scored significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, and aggressive and externalizing problem behavior compared with children of traditional families using Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth.

Within the study sample, no differences were found among the teens whose mothers were still together and those whose mothers had separated, the study says.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha

THIN AIR – THICK AIR – GENETIC SECRETS REVEALED – LIVE LONGER

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Genetic Secrets That Allow Tibetans

to Thrive in Thin Air Discovered

ScienceDaily (June 9, 2010) — A new study pinpoints the genetic changes that enable Tibetans to thrive at altitudes where others get sick.


In the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team has identified a gene that allows Tibetans to live and work more than two miles above sea level without getting altitude sickness.

A previous study published May 13 in Science reported that Tibetans are genetically adapted to high altitude. Now, less than a month later, a second study by scientists from China, England, Ireland, and the United States pinpoints a particular site within the human genome — a genetic variant linked to low hemoglobin in the blood — that helps explain how Tibetans cope with low-oxygen conditions.

The study sheds light on how Tibetans, who have lived at extreme elevation for more than 10,000 years, have evolved to differ from their low-altitude ancestors.

Lower air pressure at altitude means fewer oxygen molecules for every lungful of air. “Altitude affects your thinking, your breathing, and your ability to sleep. But high-altitude natives don’t have these problems,” said co-author Cynthia Beall of Case Western Reserve University. “They’re able to live a healthy life, and they do it completely comfortably,” she said.

People who live or travel at high altitude respond to the lack of oxygen by making more hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of human blood. “That’s why athletes like to train at altitude. They increase their oxygen-carrying capacity,” said Beall.

But too much hemoglobin can be a bad thing. Excessive hemoglobin is the hallmark of chronic mountain sickness, an overreaction to altitude characterized by thick and viscous blood. Tibetans maintain relatively low hemoglobin at high altitude, a trait that makes them less susceptible to the disease than other populations.

“Tibetans can live as high as 13,000 feet without the elevated hemoglobin concentrations we see in other people,” said Beall.

To pinpoint the genetic variants underlying Tibetans’ relatively low hemoglobin levels, the researchers collected blood samples from nearly 200 Tibetan villagers living in three regions high in the Himalayas. When they compared the Tibetans’ DNA with their lowland counterparts in China, their results pointed to the same culprit — a gene on chromosome 2, called EPAS1, involved in red blood cell production and hemoglobin concentration in the blood.

Originally working separately, the authors of the study first put their findings together at a March 2009 meeting at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, NC. “Some of us had been working on the whole of Tibetan DNA. Others were looking at small groups of genes. When we shared our findings we suddenly realized that both sets of studies pointed to the same gene — EPAS1,” said Robbins, who co-organized the meeting with Beall.

While all humans have the EPAS1 gene, Tibetans carry a special version of the gene. Over evolutionary time individuals who inherited this variant were better able to survive and passed it on to their children, until eventually it became more common in the population as a whole.

“This is the first human gene locus for which there is hard evidence for genetic selection in Tibetans,” said co-author Peter Robbins of Oxford University.

Researchers are still trying to understand how Tibetans get enough oxygen to their tissues despite low levels of oxygen in the air and bloodstream. Until then, the genetic clues uncovered so far are unlikely to be the end of the story. “There are probably many more signals to be characterized and described,” said co-author Gianpiero Cavalleri of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

For those who live closer to sea level, the findings may one day help predict who is at greatest risk for altitude sickness. “Once we find these versions, tests can be developed to tell if an individual is sensitive to low-oxygen,” said co-author Changqing Zeng of the Beijing Institute of Genomics.

“Many patients, young and old, are affected by low oxygen levels in their blood — perhaps from lung disease, or heart problems. Some cope much better than others,” said co-author Hugh Montgomery, of University College London. “Studies like this are the start in helping us to understand why, and to develop new treatments.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 11th June 2010

DEPRESSION & VITAMIN D LINK IS REAL

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Depression & Vitamin D: The Emerging Link


Vitamin D has been linked to many health conditions before. A recent study links insufficient levels of the vitamin with the disabling condition depression

In a recent study performed by researchers from the National Institute of Aging in the United States, insufficient levels of vitamin D may be the reason why many individuals over the age of 65 are experiencing symptoms of depression.

Senior individuals often have low levels of the important vitamin because they tend to stay indoors more often, as opposed to younger, more sprightly individuals with more active lifestyles. The study was published in a medical journal on endocrinology this year.

According to Luigi Ferrucci, the lead researcher, the emerging link between vitamin D deficiency and the occurrence of depression must be further investigated.  The study involved a follow-up testing of nearly one thousand male and female respondents within a six-year period.

The researchers used a specialized scale that measured the symptoms of depression called CES-D.  The researchers discovered that those with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood tended to have poorer score in the CES-D test.  Those with higher vitamin D percentages in their blood scored better in the same test.

Alarming, global trend

Depression is fast becoming one of the leading causes of disability around the world, not just in the United States.  It is estimated that today, there are 120 million people afflicted with the condition.  Ferrucci’s study is not the first to point at the possible link between the vitamin and depression.

In an earlier study carried out two years ago, Dutch researchers reported that insufficient levels of the vitamin in the body resulted in a higher percentage of the parathyroid hormone.

This hormone, which is used by the body to regulate calcium loss, has been directly linked to a higher incidence of depression in some one thousand two hundred respondents in yet another independent study.  This is the reason why a causal pathway must be mapped out to determine just how this vitamin affects the human brain.

In a fourth related study, researchers McCann and Arnes noted that vitamin D is important for the proper functioning and health of the human brain.  The widespread presence of vitamin D receptors throughout the human brain is evidence of the vital role of the nutrient in brain health.

According to yet another scientific review, vitamin D has been associated with affecting proteins in the human brain that are responsible for governing the learning process and remembering.  If an imbalance occurs in these areas, you can just imagine a chain reaction occurring throughout the brain.

Benefits of vitamin D

There are several ways that you can get vitamin D: natural exposure to sunlight, food (like dairy products, e.g. yogurt, milk, etc.) and through vitamin supplementation.  The body only needs about 10 – 15 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight to produce vitamin D on its own.

If this is not possible, people with low levels of vitamin D should explore vitamin supplementation; this applies most especially to senior individuals who may not be eating well or are unable to engage in a more active lifestyle.  Instead of using sunscreen when going out to get your healthy dose of sunshine, you can protect your skin naturally by taking natural antioxidants like fresh wheatgrass juice and citrus fruits.

The usual recommended dose for adults is between 400 to 800 IU (international units) of vitamin D everyday. Pregnant women should be given a higher dose (800 IU) to ensure optimum bone health and proper development of the fetus.

And there are more reasons to love vitamin D! Here are some of the most important benefits:

1. It is needed for proper absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorous.  It is needed for the proper maintenance and repair of the bones and skin.

2. It strengthens and helps maintain the immune function of the body. Conditions like flu and the common cold can be warded off more efficiently if the immune system is strengthened by vitamin D.

3. It is an important nutrient that prevents the occurrence of MS (multiple sclerosis).  According to researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University, MS is less frequent in tropical countries because there is more available sunshine in these places than in temperate regions.

4. Vitamin D has also been linked to the maintenance of normal body weight (according to research from the Medical College of Georgia).

5. Vitamin D is important for brain health in the later years (60 – 79 years of age).

6. In a recent study from the Harvard Medical School, vitamin D can also reduce asthma attacks in asthmatic individuals.

7. We are exposed continually to low levels of radiation.  The good news is vitamin D can also help protect us from such exposures.

According to US cancer researchers, people with adequate levels of vitamin D have a lower risk for many types of cancer than people with low or inadequate levels of the vitamin.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th June 2010