Health

Pollutants Implicated in Births of More Girls Than Boys
October 29, 2007 10:38 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

A recent study found that residents of Canadian communities who were exposed to emissions from polluting industries such as oil refineries, metal smelters, and pulp mills gave birth to more females than males, a reversal of the normal sex ratio. This is likely due to high levels of common air pollutants called dioxins and is not a surprising finding, according to James Argo, a medical geographer with the IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health, who conducted the study. “There is a very strong association [in the scientific literature] between chronic exposure to dioxins and an inverted sex ratio,” he said.

New study shows smoking increases risk of psoriasis
October 29, 2007 10:03 AM - Elsevier Health Sciences

Another disease can be added to the list of smoking-related disorders -- psoriasis. Researchers have found that smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis, heavier smoking increases the risk further, and the risk decreases only slowly after quitting. Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, all in Boston, USA, and Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada, have published the results in the November 2007 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

China birth defects soar due to pollution: report
October 29, 2007 07:44 AM - Reuters

Birth defects in Chinese infants have soared nearly 40 percent since 2001, a government report said, and officials linked the rise to China's worsening environmental degradation.

The rate of defects had risen from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001, to 145.5 in 2006, affecting nearly one in 10 families, China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said in a report on its Web site (www.chinapop.gov.cn).

Study Claims Smoking not linked to more advanced breast cancer
October 28, 2007 11:54 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a study that is sure to be questioned and criticized, one research group claims that women who develop breast cancer are no more likely to have aggressive or advanced tumors if they are cigarette smokers than if they do not smoke. The study's author, Dr MatthewAbramowitz said the study did not evaluate whether smokers were more likely than nonsmokers to have complications in treatment for breast cancer or die from the disease. However, the National Cancer Institute said cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths and is responsible for most cancers of the larynx, mouth, esophagus and bladder. The group emphasizes that tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.

Discovery may help treat drug addicts
October 28, 2007 11:43 PM - Reuters

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean scientists have made a discovery in the brains of rats that they say may help treat drug addiction and ease the side effects of some medications.

Researchers at the Pontifical Catholic University in Santiago say they identified a region of the brain, the insular cortex, that plays an important role in drug craving.

Tests on amphetamine-addicted laboratory rats showed that when the insular cortex was deactivated by injecting a drug that halted brain cell activity, the rats showed no signs of addiction.

Edwards unveils plan to control drug advertising
October 28, 2007 11:27 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Sunday unveiled a plan to put controls on drug advertising, which he said were misleading patients and driving up health care costs.

The former North Carolina senator, who has attacked lobbyists and championed the concerns of the poor in his campaign, proposes delays on consumer advertising of new drugs and tougher Food and Drug Administration oversight over drug marketing.

"The excessive costs of prescription drugs are straining family budgets and contributing to runaway health care costs," Edwards said at the start of a seven-day campaign tour of the early-voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

Malaria vaccine plant takes a gamble
October 26, 2007 05:42 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (Reuters) - In a nondescript office park tucked between a hospital and a strip mall thrive hundreds of thousands of the most infectious malaria-carrying mosquitoes ever born.

They will be dissected for the motherlode that they carry -- baby malaria parasites, fodder for a new malaria vaccine.

The insects' suburban Maryland home is owned by Sanaria Inc., which cut the ribbon on Friday on its new facility. Founder and chief executive officer Dr. Stephen Hoffman is taking a gamble that he can do what has been impossible -- make a vaccine against malaria.

"Non-Flying Dutchmen" Push Climate Awareness
October 26, 2007 12:21 PM -

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch environment group launched a campaign on Friday called "Proud to be a non-Flying Dutchman" to get the travel-happy Dutch to reduce their air miles for the sake of the climate.

"We want to discourage Christmas shopping in London, disco nights in Ibiza, Milan weekends and stag nights in Barcelona," Dutch Friends of the Earth said on Friday.

Children kept indoors as Beijing fog turns to smog
October 26, 2007 12:17 PM -

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's weather office warned children and the elderly to stay indoors on Friday as heavy fog blanketed the host city of the 2008 Olympics, exacerbating its chronic air pollution, Chinese state media reported.

Fog caused severe delays at Beijing airport and reduced visibility in the centre of the city to less than 200 meters.

"The fog will not only affect the traffic but also harm humans' respiratory system. I suggest old people and children avoid going outdoors or wear a mask," Sun Jisong, the city's chief weatherman, told the official Xinhua news agency.

With fires waning, California assesses the damage
October 26, 2007 12:13 PM - Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four burned bodies found in the path of California's fierce wildfires raised the death toll to at least 12 people, even as firefighters won the upper hand and officials turned on Friday toward assessing the damage.

Though more than 20 fires raged across Southern California into a sixth day, some 8,000 firefighters had brought most of them under control and no more homes were in imminent danger.

Some lost everything to the flames but most of the 500,000 people forced to flee in California's largest evacuation were expected to be back in their homes by the weekend.

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