Health

Genes and toxic chemicals
October 5, 2007 08:13 AM - The National Academies

Research is increasingly revealing how toxic chemicals disrupt gene activity and other cell processes in ways that lead to health problems

Diet For Small Planet May be Most Efficient if it Includes Dairy and a Little Meat, Cornell Researchers Report
October 5, 2007 08:04 AM - Cornell Chronicle, Susan Lang

A low-fat vegetarian diet is very efficient in terms of how much land is needed to support it. But adding some dairy products and a limited amount of meat may actually increase this efficiency, Cornell researchers suggest.  This deduction stems from the findings of their new study, which concludes that if everyone in New York state followed a low-fat vegetarian diet, the state could directly support almost 50 percent more people, or about 32 percent of its population, agriculturally. With today's high-meat, high-dairy diet, the state is able to support directly only 22 percent of its population, say the researchers.

Bird Flu Virus Mutating into Human-Unfriendly Form
October 4, 2007 08:37 PM - Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said on Thursday.

The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study.

"The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus," Kawaoka said.

CDC suspects 29 E.coli cases linked to Topps beef
October 4, 2007 08:27 PM -

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 29 cases of E.coli illness are suspected to be linked to the 21.7 million lbs of recalled ground beef products from Topps Meat Company LLC.

No deaths have been linked to the meat. The 29 cases were in eight states: Connecticut (two cases), Florida (one), Indiana (one), Maine (one), New Jersey (six), New York (nine) Ohio (one) and Pennsylvania (eight), according to a posting on the CDC's Web site.

Bird Flu Virus "More Invasive Than Thought'
October 4, 2007 08:07 PM - Jia Hepeng, SciDevNet

BEIJING - The post mortems of two people who died after H5N1 infection have revealed that the virus infects more human organs than previously thought. The study was published in The Lancet.  Lead author Gu Jiang, a professor at the School of Basic Medical Sciences of the Beijing-based Peking University, and colleagues studied post-mortem tissues of one man and one pregnant woman, and also tested the foetus of the woman.

Study: Vitamin C Essential For Plant Growth
October 4, 2007 07:38 PM -

University of Exeter - Scientists from the University of Exeter and Shimane University in Japan have proved for the first time that vitamin C is essential for plant growth. This discovery could have implications for agriculture and for the production of vitamin C dietary supplements.

The study, which is published in The Plant Journal, describes the newly-identified enzyme, GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase, which produces vitamin C, or ascorbate, in plants. Vitamin C is already known to be an antioxidant, which helps plants deal with stresses from drought to ozone and UV radiation, but until now it was not known that plants could not grow without it.

 

U.S. Recalls over 1/2 Million Toys for Lead Levels
October 4, 2007 03:35 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half a million toys ranging from key chains to Winnie the Pooh bookmarks and Baby Einstein color blocks are being recalled because of excessive lead levels, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Thursday.

Among the recalled toys, all made in China, were key chains with words like "truth" or "believe" engraved on them that have "high levels" of lead, the commission said in a statement.

Dollar General Merchandising Inc sold 192,000 of the key chains for $1, the CPSC said.

Lead is toxic in large amounts. A 4-year-old Minneapolis boy died of lead poisoning in 2006 when he swallowed a small charm. In smaller amounts, lead can cause developmental delays and behavioral problems.

Could Drinking Puffer Fish "Pop" KO Karoshi or Can Jellyfish Juice Take the Sting Out of Alzheimer's
October 4, 2007 08:29 AM - Nurition Horizon PR

Japan - Beverage companies are working on a safe fugu (puffer fish) extract to be used in Japanese energy drinks, the fish is highly toxic, but despite this or perhaps because of this deadly side effect, it is considered a delicacy among the Japanese. Puffer fish (Sphoeroides testudineus) poisoning results from the ingestion of fish containing the deadly nerve toxin called tetrodotoxin and it is the most common and lethal form of marine poisoning in Japan.

Researchers Discover Link Between Schizophrenia, Autism and Maternal Flu
October 3, 2007 08:05 PM -

PASADENA, Calif.- A team of California Institute of Technology researchers has found an unexpected link connecting schizophrenia and autism to the importance of covering your mouth whenever you sneeze.

It has been known for some time that schizophrenia is more common among people born in the winter and spring months, as well as in people born following influenza epidemics. Recent studies suggest that if a woman suffers even one respiratory infection during her second trimester, her offspring's risk of schizophrenia rises by three to seven times.

Since schizophrenia and autism have a strong (though elusive) genetic component, there is no absolute certainty that infection will cause the disorders in a given case, but it is believed that as many as 21 percent of known cases of schizophrenia may have been triggered in this way. The conclusion is that susceptibility to these disorders is increased by something that occurs to mother or fetus during a bout with the flu.

 

To Treat Patients Doctors' Alter Own Pain Responses: Study
October 3, 2007 07:31 PM -

CHICAGO - Physicians apparently learn to “shut off” the portion of their brain that helps them appreciate the pain their patients experience while treating them and instead activate a portion of the brain connected with controlling emotions, according to new research using brain scans at the University of Chicago.

Because doctors sometimes have to inflict pain on their patients as part of the healing process, they also must develop the ability to not be distracted by the suffering, said Jean Decety, Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at the University and co-author of “Expertise Modulates the Perception of Pain in Others,” published in the Oct. 9 issue of Current Biology and currently available on-line.

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