Friday, October 02, 2009

Most babies born this century will live to 100

By Maria Cheng
AP Medical Writer

Most babies born in rich countries this century will eventually make it to their 100th birthday, Danish experts say since in the 20th century, people in developed countries are living about three decades longer than in the past. Surprisingly, the trend shows little sign of slowing down.

In an article published Friday in the medical journal Lancet, the researchers write that the process of aging may be "modifiable."

James Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute in Germany and colleagues in Denmark examined studies published globally in 2004-2005 on numerous issues related to aging. They found life expectancy is increasing steadily in most countries, even beyond the limits of what scientists first thought possible. In Japan, for instance, which has the world's longest life expectancy, more than half of the country's 80-year-old women are expected to live to 90.

"Improvements in health care are leading to ever slowing rates of aging, challenging the idea that there is a fixed ceiling to human longevity," said David Gems, an aging expert at University College London. Gems was not connected to the research, and is studying drugs that can lengthen the life span of mice, which may one day have applications for people.

"Laboratory studies of mice, including our own, demonstrate that if you slow aging even just a little, it has a strong protective effect," he said. "A pill that slowed aging could provide protection against the whole gamut of aging-related diseases."

While illnesses affecting the elderly like heart disease, cancer and diabetes are rising, advances in medical treatment are also making it possible for them to remain active for longer. The obesity epidemic, however, may complicate matters. Extra weight makes people more susceptible to diseases and may increase their risk of dying.

In the U.S., data from 1982 to 2000 showed a major drop in illness and disability among the elderly, though that has now begun to reverse, probably linked to the rise in obesity.
The graying population will slowly radically transform society, and retirement ages may soon be pushed back, said Richard Suzman, an aging expert at the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

"We are within five to 10 years of a watershed event where there will be more people on earth over 65 than there under five," he said. "Those extra years need to be financed somehow and we need to start thinking about it now."
See also: Half of babies born in rich world will live to 100

Approaching Epidemic: Brain Damage from Mobile Phone Radiation

Dr. Mercola

A collaborative team of international EMF activists has released a report detailing eleven design flaws of the 13-country, Telecom-funded Interphone study.

The exposé discusses research on cell phones and brain tumors, concluding that:

  • There is a risk of brain tumors from cell phone use

  • Telecom funded studies underestimate the risk of brain tumors

  • Children have larger risks than adults for brain tumors

The Interphone study, begun in 1999, was intended to determine the risks of brain tumors, but its full publication has been held up for years. Components of this study published to date reveal what the authors call a ‘systemic-skew’, greatly underestimating brain tumor risk.

The design flaws include categorizing subjects who used portable phones (which emit the same microwave radiation as cell phones,) as ‘unexposed’; exclusion of many types of brain tumors; exclusion of people who had died, or were too ill to be interviewed as a consequence of their brain tumor; and exclusion of children and young adults, who are more vulnerable.

Ronald B. Herberman, MD, Director Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has stated,

“Based on substantial evidence, especially from industry-independent studies that long term exposure to radiofrequency radiation may lead to increased risk for brain tumors, I issued a precautionary advisory last year to faculty and staff of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Since then, my particular concern about exposure of children to radiofrequency has been supported by a report from Dr. Lennart Hardell. Some of my scientific colleagues have expressed skepticism about the reported biological effects, especially DNA0A damage by radiofequency radiation, because of the absence of a demonstrated underlying molecular mechanism.

However, based on the precautionary principle, I believe it is more prudent to take seriously the reports by multiple investigators that radiofrequency can damage DNA and increase the risk for brain tumors, and for industry-independent agencies to provide needed funding for detailed research to ascertain the molecular basis for such effects.”

Lloyd Morgan, lead author and member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society says,

“Exposure to cell phone radiation is the largest human health experiment ever undertaken, without informed consent, and has some 4 billion participants enrolled.

Science has shown increased risk of brain tumors from use of cell phones, as well as increased risk of eye cancer, salivary gland tumors, testicular cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia. The public must be informed.”

The Mobile Aimed at Four-year-olds

By Laura Clark
Daily Mail Online
United Kingdom

A mobile phone designed for children as young as four is to be sold in Britain. The brightly coloured Firefly handset has just five buttons - including two which call Mum and Dad directly. Details of the phone, which looks like a toy, came as it emerged that more than half of under-tens now own a mobile.

There were warnings yesterday that the trend for such gadgets was 'eroding childhood' and concerns have been raised over the effect of phone radiation on children's health. More than 7,000 of the £85 Firefly handsets have already been sold in Ireland. The Dublin-based firm behind the invention is now planning a UK launch towards the end of the year.

But Margaret Morrissey, of the lobby group Parents Outloud, said: 'We are continually eroding childhood and making children miniature adults. 'The excuse will be that it is for the sake of safety, but in fact it's for the sake of the mobile phone company's bank balance.'

The warning came as figures from MobileYouth, a research consultancy which tracks technology use by youngsters, found that 52 per cent of UK children aged five to nine have a mobile. Among ten to 14-year-olds, usage is running at almost 85 per cent.

Aine Lynch, chief executive of Ireland's National Parents Council, said: 'Targeting a phone at a four-year-old causes us concern. It gives rise to questions as to where parental responsibility is going. 'Why would kids need to be contacted by mobile phone? Why are they not in the care of their parents, teachers or supervisors?'

Official Government advice to parents remains that they should avoid giving mobiles to under-16s as a precaution.

See: On sale soon: The mobile aimed at four-year-olds

Thursday, October 01, 2009

EPA moves to regulate smokestack greenhouse gases

By Dina Cappiello
Associated Press Writer

Proposed regulations would require power plants, factories and refineries to reduce greenhouse gases by installing the best available technology and improving energy efficiency whenever a facility is significantly changed or built.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposal announced Wednesday applies to any industrial plant that emits at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year. These large sources are responsible for 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions - mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels - that are released in the U.S., the EPA said.

"By using the power and authority of the Clean Air Act, we can begin reducing emissions from the nation's largest greenhouse gas-emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said. "We know the corner coffee shop is no place to look for meaningful carbon reductions."

Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced it would start developing the first-ever greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks. Those regulations, which would take effect in 2010, compel the EPA to control greenhouse gases from large smokestacks as well, the agency said.

Industry groups immediately questioned the agency's argument. They charged that the EPA was skirting the law, since the Clean Air Act typically covers any facility releasing more than 250 tons a year of a recognized pollutant. That threshold would require more facilities to fall under the new regulations.

Jackson, speaking at a news conference at a climate change summit being hosted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the rule was legally defensible. "The EPA would not propose a rule that we didn't believe ... made good legal sense," she said. The EPA's announcement came hours after Senate Democrats unveiled legislation that would set limits on the amount of greenhouse gases from large industrial sources.

The Senate bill, unlike the House-passed version, preserves the EPA's authority to regulate under the Clean Air Act. Environmentalists said Wednesday the two efforts go hand-in-hand. "You can't have one without the other if we're going to be successful in moving America to clean energy," said Emily Figdor, director of the global warming program at Environment America, an advocacy group.

See full article EPA Greenhouse Gases

Heart group: Cut WAY back, on extra sugar

Associated Press Writer

A spoonful of sugar? Americans are swallowing 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, and it's time to cut way back, the American Heart Association says. Most of that added sugar comes from soft drinks and candy — a whopping 355 calories and the equivalent of guzzling two cans of soda and eating a chocolate bar.

By comparison, most women should be getting no more than 6 teaspoons a day, or 100 calories, of added sugar — the sweeteners and syrups that are added to foods during processing, preparation or at the table. For most men, the recommended limit is 9 teaspoons, or 150 calories, the heart group says. The guidelines do not apply to naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruit, vegetables or dairy products.

Rachel K. Johnson, lead author of the statement published online Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, said "Take a good hard look at your diet. Figure out where the sources of added sugars are and think about how to cut back on that."

She said about 8 ounces of fruit-flavored yogurt has about 6 teaspoons of added sugar; 8 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk has about 4 teaspoons; a cup of frosted whole grain cereal has about 3 teaspoons. The biggest culprits for the glut of sugar are soft drinks by far, followed by candy, cakes, cookies and pies. With about 8 teaspoons of added sugar, a regular 12-ounce soft drink will put most women over the recommended daily limit.

Sandon said that parents can help lower that sugar intake by getting soda out of the house, looking at how much sugar is in their kids' cereal and substituting snacks like cookies with popcorn. "We know for sure that if you are consuming excessive amounts of added sugar, you will add calories, which leads to weight gain, or you will displace other essential nutrients," she said.

On average, most women need about 1,800 calories a day and most men need about 2,200, Johnson said. If someone drinks their daily calorie needs in soft drinks, they will be maintaining their weight, but won't be getting any nutrients, she said.

See: Heart group: Cut back - way back- on extra sugar, Carbohydrates and Sugars and American Heart Association recommends reduced intake of added sugars

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dozens dead as quake, tsunami hit Samoas

A powerful Pacific Ocean earthquake spawned towering tsunami waves
Associated Press

A powerful Pacific Ocean earthquake spawned towering tsunami waves that swept ashore on Samoa and American Samoa early Tuesday, flattening villages, killing dozens of people and leaving several workers missing at devastated National Park Service facilities.

Cars and people were swept out to sea by the fast-churning water as survivors fled to high ground, where they remained huddled hours later. Signs of devastation were everywhere, with a giant boat getting washed ashore and coming to rest on the edge of a highway and floodwaters swallowing up cars and homes.

The quake, with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, struck around dawn about 20 miles below the ocean floor, 120 miles (190 kilometers) from American Samoa, a U.S. territory that is home to 65,000 people.

See: New tsunami alert sparks panic in Samoa

Ghana's Budding Jewish Community Celebrates High Holidays

The Sefwi tribe in western Ghana will fast on Yom Kippur
By Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Monday was Yom Kippur - the holiest day of the year for Jews. The holiday will be marked in Jewish communities around the world, including Western Ghana.

A small group of people from the Sefwi tribe in western Ghana converted to Judaism in the 1970's. While many Sefwi people observed some Jewish laws for centuries - including refraining from work on Saturdays - this group declared themselves ancestors of ancient Israelites and starting calling themselves Jews.

Every year during the high holidays Jews visit a river and throw in bits of bread and cookies, to symbolize getting rid of their sins. Thirteen-year-old Joshua Armah belongs to the Jewish community in Sefwi Wiawso about seven hours from the Ghanaian capital Accra.

"I was thinking that even, the fishes would not get the biscuit to eat," he said. "I was thinking that maybe the biscuit would just mix with the water. But when the fishes are in the water they just see that the biscuit is coming and immediately it gets into the water and they too will come and take it off."

The holidays mark the beginning of a new year for Jews. Like many other members of the religion, the Ghanaian Jews will fast on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. It is a 25-hour fast from food and water that starts Sunday night. Armah says he's figured out how to get through the hard day.

"The best thing for you to do is to go and sleep, and you'll not feel very hungry," he said.

But the Ghanaian Jewish community did not always celebrate these festivals. Until the early 1990's they only observed the weekly Sabbath and the spring holiday of Passover. They first learned about the other Jewish holidays from foreigners who came to visit their community.

"Christians, they celebrate Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, Pentecostal Day, and many occasions," said Joshua Armah's older brother, Patrick, who is also an active member of the community.

"But at first when they saw us celebrating only Passover and they were saying, 'Oh, this is not a good type of religion for you to belong.' So when we got to know about Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, maybe lighting the candles and the Feast of Esther, which is Purim, and the fasting day, we were really happy," he said.

Despite its small size, the community is strong in its convictions. And they have received a lot of attention from outside Ghana. Members work with a group in the United States called Kulanu, which seeks to support Jewish communities around the world. The leaders of the community expect to incorporate new holidays into their routine as time goes on. They are looking forward to celebrating even more Jewish holidays this New Year.