Health

NIH Begins Study of Oil Spill's Impact on Residents
March 2, 2011 10:23 AM - Sara Reardon, Science AAAS

[Feb. 28, 2011] The U.S. government launched what's being billed as the largest study ever conducted of how an oil spill affects human health. The Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study will survey Gulf of Mexico residents who helped with the cleanup of last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill and follow them for at least 5 years.

Controlling Beijing's Air Pollution Would Cut Lung Disease by Half
February 25, 2011 07:04 AM - Editor, Matter Network

If enacted permanently, Chinese initiatives to control air pollution during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing would reduce by almost half the lifetime risk of lung cancer, a new study says.

Humans Stink More Than Other Animals
February 24, 2011 08:31 AM - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Pungent body odor from sweaty adult human skin is unique in the animal kingdom. Humans turn out to be particularly smelly because odors are released from nearly every part of the body while other species living on us are simultaneously emitting odors too.

Dirty air triggers more heart attacks than cocaine
February 24, 2011 06:57 AM - Kate Kelland, Reuters Health and Science Correspondent, LONDON

Air pollution triggers more heart attacks than using cocaine and poses as high a risk of sparking a heart attack as alcohol, coffee and physical exertion, scientists said on Thursday. Sex, anger, marijuana use and chest or respiratory infections and can also trigger heart attacks to different extents, the researchers said, but air pollution, particularly in heavy traffic, is the major culprit. The findings, published in The Lancet journal, suggest population-wide factors like polluted air should be taken more seriously when looking at heart risks, and should be put into context beside higher but relatively rarer risks like drug use. Tim Nawrot of Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said he hoped his findings would also encourage doctors to think more often about population level risks.

ENN Community Launches
February 23, 2011 03:50 PM - Editor, ENN

Great news today! We've launched a brand new community for ENN! This feature brings a whole new dimension to our site by creating a vibrant space for our readers and environmental enthusiasts to interact with each other and weigh in with YOUR opinions about topics related to our news articles. That's right, it's your turn at the mic! Time to jump in and start sharing. We are really excited to have you all begin posting your thoughts and tips -- you can start by rating your favorite environment topics, and then begin to share tips and reviews as well. You can also check out the latest reviews from fellow readers to share your comments and compliments. There are lots of ways to get the most out of our new community -- take a few polls and see some of the badges that you can unlock, too. Have fun checking out the newest part of ENN and thanks for helping us kick off a thriving reader community!

Sheep Brains
February 23, 2011 06:38 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Despite having a comparable brain size to other highly evolved animals, sheep have been historically perceived as unintelligent and were therefore not considered to be good animal models for studying diseases that affect learning and memory. However, new research recently published in the journal PLoS ONE shows that sheep are indeed smarter than previously believed. The researchers are hopeful the animals will prove useful for research into diseases that impair the cognitive abilities of patients, such as Huntington's disease (HD) and Alzheimer's disease. Sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are also the most numerous species of sheep.

Captive Gorillas Succumbing to Human Disease
February 22, 2011 11:20 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Life for humans is much easier than for animals in the wild. On a day-to-day basis, we generally do not have to worry about being eaten or starving to death. Depending on the individual's job, some can get by just fine by sitting around all day. However, this lifestyle brings forth its own set of health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, illnesses rarely found in the wild. These "human" diseases have spread to gorillas that are raised in captivity.

Bald Men and Prostate Cancer
February 22, 2011 08:03 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Men who start to lose hair at the age of 20 are more likely to develop prostate cancer in later life and might benefit from screening for the disease, according to a new study published online in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology. The study set out to see if early-onset androgenic alopecia (which are directly connected to androgens such as testosterone) was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer later in life. Androgens play a role in the development of both androgenic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness, and prostate cancer. Testosterone, which is a very potent androgen or male hormone, is responsible for increased muscle mass, deepened voice and strong bones characteristic of the male gender. In addition, testosterone can contribute to aggression, libido, and growth of genitalia during puberty. Male hormones also have an effect on the liver and cholesterol; however, when it is converted into another androgen, it acts on the skin and hair follicles, and in some cases, producing male pattern baldness.

Climate change creates longer ragweed season
February 22, 2011 07:07 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, WASHINGTON

A changing climate means allergy-causing ragweed pollen has a longer season that extends further north than it did just 16 years ago, U.S. scientists reported on Monday. In research that gibes with projections by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, plant and allergy experts found that ragweed pollen season lasted as much as 27 days longer in 2009 than it did in 1995. The further north in the Western Hemisphere, the more dramatic the change in the length of pollen season. Ragweed pollen can cause asthma flare-ups and hay fever, and costs about $21 billion a year in the United States, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

EU to ban six toxic chemicals in household plastics
February 20, 2011 07:21 AM - EurActive

The European Union will ban six toxic chemicals within three to five years, three of which are commonly used in plastic household items, the European Commission said on this week. After years of heated debate, EU lawmakers agreed in 2006 on a far-reaching proposal to review the way chemicals are approved in Europe. The EU regulation on "Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals" (REACH), aims to make chemicals safer for human health and the environment by placing the burden on businesses to prove their products are safe before they can be placed on the market. In January last year, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identified 29 substances that present the greatest cause for concern regarding public health and the environment. These need to go through special scrutiny before they are authorised. A roadmap agreed by the EU executive and ECHA is expected to increase the number of chemicals on the list to 135 by 2012. Among the compounds are three plastic softening phthalates, a musk fragrance, a flame retardant and a hardener for epoxy resin, the Commission said. Although the most toxic phthalates have been banned in children's toys since 1999, a survey last October showed some are commonly found in products on supermarket shelves, including items regularly used by children, such as pencil cases and erasers. The decision is being taken under the REACH regulation on chemicals, adopted in 2006 in what has been billed as the most epic lobbying battle in the EU's history.

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