Health

Cancer death rates continue to fall
October 15, 2007 11:06 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Death rates from cancer continue to fall in the United States, dropping more than 2 percent per year from 2002 through 2004, cancer experts reported on Monday.

They found important declines in deaths from lung, prostate and colorectal cancers in men, as well as in breast and colon cancer among women. Lung cancer deaths were still on the rise among women but this increase slowed, according to the report.

"The significant decline in cancer death rates demonstrates important progress in the fight against cancer that has been achieved through effective tobacco control, screening, early detection, and appropriate treatment," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said in a statement.

Researchers Genetically Alter Plants Hoping They'll Vacuum Up Toxins
October 15, 2007 10:41 PM - Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists hope they've figured out a way to trick plants into doing the dirty work of environmental cleanup, U.S. and British researchers said on Monday.

"Our work is in the beginning stages, but it holds great promise," said Sharon Doty, an assistant professor of forest resources at the University of Washington, whose study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In work they describe as preliminary, researchers at the University of Washington say they've genetically altered poplar trees to pull toxins out of contaminated ground water, perhaps offering a cost-effective way of cleaning up environmental pollutants.

U.S. agencies stick to pregnancy fish-eating limits
October 15, 2007 10:29 PM - Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Monday it was holding firm to its recommendations that pregnant and breast-feeding women limit how much fish and other seafood they eat and avoid certain types with high levels of mercury.

The two agencies that have set government policy on the subject -- the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency -- have declined to alter their recommendations that these women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish weekly.

Their stance comes a week after a health advocacy coalition that received funding from the fish industry and 14 experts on October 4 urged these women to eat more fish.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies that are members of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition have actively distanced themselves from the coalition's new advice.

Air Pollution Linked To Bronchitis In Preschoolers
October 15, 2007 10:04 AM -

Davis, California - In one of the first studies to examine air pollution in relation to infant and early childhood health, a UC Davis researcher has discovered a strong link between exposure to components of air pollution and acute bronchitis diagnoses in preschool-aged children. Those components - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs - contribute to air pollution from a variety of sources, including coal burning, vehicle exhaust, wood-burning stoves, tobacco smoke and grilling food.

Led by UC Davis environmental epidemiologist Irva Hertz-Picciotto, the Czech Early Childhood Health Study involved 1,133 children from birth to 4.5 years of age born in two districts of the Czech Republic between 1994 and 1998. One of those districts, Teplice (pronounced Tuh-PLEET-zuh), is known for its high levels of air pollution. The other, Prachatice (pronounced prah-kuh-TEET-zuh), has much lower levels of air pollution.

In India, Chronic Diseases Grow With Consumption
October 15, 2007 07:59 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

Over the next decade, India’s burgeoning consumer class is likely headed for an onslaught of chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. A new report from the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that the proportion of deaths nationwide from long-term maladies will skyrocket from 53 percent in 2005 to nearly 67 percent by 2020.

Animal food allergens unmasked
October 15, 2007 07:43 AM - Norwich BioScience Institutes

The relatedness of an animal food protein to a human protein determines whether it can cause allergy, according to new research by scientists from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich and the Medical University of Vienna.

In theory all proteins have the potential to become allergens, but the study found that in practice the ability of animal food proteins to act as allergens depends on their evolutionary distance from a human equivalent.

Depressed at work? Get a new career
October 14, 2007 10:34 PM -

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Child care workers, home health care aides and other people who provide personal services have the highest rates of depression among U.S. workers, according to a new survey to be published on Monday.

It found that 10.8 percent of personal care and service workers and 10.3 percent of food preparation and serving workers -- both usually low-paying jobs -- experienced one or more major depressive episodes in the past year.

The least depressing careers appear to lie in architecture, engineering, the sciences and in the installation, maintenance and repair fields, the survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found.

Torrential rains, floods kill 20 in Central America
October 14, 2007 10:07 PM -

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Emergency officials across Central America worked to clean up towns inundated by recent deadly floods and landslides, and braced for more bad weather on Sunday.

At least 20 people were killed and thousands evacuated across Central America after days of torrential rain sparked landslides and flooding.

The same weather system that killed 23 people in a Haitian village on Friday triggered a landslide that buried 14 people under mud and debris in Costa Rica.

Red Cross workers had been digging through the debris since Thursday, when about 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of land on a steep slope gave way and fell on the small town of Atenas, about 20 miles west of the Costa Rican capital.

Tea struggles for place in 21st century Asia
October 14, 2007 09:45 PM - Ralph Jennings, reuters

TAIPEI (Reuters) - From Beijing to Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Taipei, faced-paced modern life means that tea has little appeal for Asian youth who don't have the patience to wait the 10 minutes it takes to brew tea in the traditional way.

"I don't have any time or relevant tea culture," said Becca Liu, a 25-year-old college graduate in Taipei.

"I'm more curious to know how to make coffee," she added. Determined to restore tea to its exalted status in Asia, tea lovers are trying to repackage tea as a funky new-age brew to a young generation more inclined to slurp down a can of artificially-flavored tea than to sip the real thing.

Schwarzenegger signs handgun "microstamp" bill
October 14, 2007 09:39 PM -

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill whose backers say will better help police use shells from hand guns as evidence in criminal investigations, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.

The legislation marks a victory for gun-control activists and the second time Schwarzenegger signed one of their priority bills. In 2004 he approved a ban on private citizens owning .50 caliber rifles.

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