Chemical exposure could lead to obesity

Exposure to chemicals found in everyday products could affect the amount of fat stored in the body, according to a study by University of Georgia researchers. Phthalates are chemicals found in everything from plastic products to soap to nail polish—they give plastic its bendy stretch. But growing research shows that these chemicals could be harming people’s health. Because levels of phthalates were found in human fluids in previous studies, the researchers wanted to see if a specific phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate, or BBP, had an effect on the accumulation of fat in cells. Their findings were published in Toxicology in Vitro.

The results of BBP’s effects were compared with bisphenol A, or BPA, an environmental endocrine disruptor that is known for its role in adipogenesis, or how fat cells develop. BBP caused a response in the cells that is similar to BPA: Both chemicals prompt the accumulation of lipid droplets. However, the droplets from BBP-treated cells were larger, something that suggests BBP exposure may lead to obesity.

— source | 2016

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Men’s loneliness linked to an increased risk of cancer

A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland shows that loneliness among middle-aged men is associated with an increased risk of cancer. According to the researchers, taking account of loneliness and social relationships should thus be an important part of comprehensive health care and disease prevention. The findings were published in Psychiatry Research. Loneliness increased the risk of cancer by about ten per cent. This association with the risk of cancer was observed regardless of age, socio-economic status, lifestyle, sleep quality, depression symptoms, body mass index, heart disease and their risk factors. In addition, cancer mortality was higher in cancer patients who were unmarried, widowed or divorced at baseline.

— source University of Eastern Finland | Apr 27, 2021

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The Danger of the Return of Racial Medicine

In the past few days, liberal Democrats Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, academics Ibram X. Kendi and Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor, and New York Times columnist Charles Blow separately have issued calls for special focus on black Americans’ particular vulnerability to Covid-19, apparently based on a generic presumption that blacks are likely to have it (whatever it is) worse.

Meanwhile, the non-profit news outlet ProPublica published a report seeking to ratify the claim of special black suffering even in the absence of solid evidence. Yet why do they presume that? And what do they and others, especially those who don’t intend to argue that blacks or other nonwhites are inferior, mean when they refer to “race” as a factor contributing to vulnerability to Covid-19, or to anything else for that matter? Sometimes it’s just an empty piety, as in the presidential debate-stage pledges made by Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Tom Steyer to fight “systemic racism,” without any of them ever once suggesting what that notion might mean concretely. Sometimes the reference is a condensation of clichés that evoke a history of racial injustice, or a condensation of shibboleths like “when America has a cold, black people have the flu” and canary-in-the-coalmine analogies. Sometimes, often I suspect, speculation or assertion that race is a causal factor in producing some, usually undesirable, outcome is a proxy for reference to a variety of material conditions, like poverty, economic inequality, and stressors related to them that can undermine health—such as overcrowding, inadequate shelter, malnutrition, unemployment, to name only a few—that have, or seem to have, disproportionate impact on blacks or other racially defined populations. Even the possibility that living in a race-conscious

— source | Adolph Reed Jr. | Apr 04, 2020

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Google is making another attempt at personal health records

Google is making another attempt at personal health records

Google is recruiting people to give feedback for a new consumer-facing medical records tool, Stat News reported on Friday. The company wants to know how people want to interact with information pulled from their medical records.

This is Google’s second attempt at creating a way for people to access their medical records. In 2008, it launched Google Health, which aimed to give people a way to see their health information online. It didn’t take off, and Google shut it down in 2012.

A decade later, we’re in a very different digital health landscape. Apple launched a health records section in its Health app in 2018, which lets people pull their records from hospitals and clinics directly onto their iPhone. Health apps have proliferated, wearables are adopting wellness features, and people are more and more accustomed to handling their health information through smartphones and other devices.

Google is also working on the doctor-facing side of health records; its Care Studio program gives clinicians a way to search through patient records more easily. Other health efforts include a research app that lets Android users participate in medical studies and a Nest Hub feature that tracks sleep.

— source | Apr 12, 2021

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American Women Are Still Dying in Childbirth at Alarming Rates

In dramatic contrast to the rest of the developed world, the rate of women dying because of complications with pregnancy or childbirth rose in the United States by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014. During the same time period, according to a study that will be published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 157 other countries reported a decrease in their maternal mortality rates.

The nationwide rates are troubling, but Texas, whose maternal mortality rate doubled over two years, is the state with the sharpest increase. From 2006 to 2010, the maternal mortality rate stayed relatively steady in the state, at about 18 deaths per 100,000 live births. But in 2011, the rate there jumped to 33, and then to 35.8 in 2014.

— source | 2016

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A sleep disorder associated with shift work may affect gene function

Long-term sleep deprivation is detrimental to health, increasing the risk of psychiatric and somatic disorders, such as depression and cardiovascular diseases. And yet, little is known about the molecular biological mechanisms set in motion by sleep deprivation which underlie related adverse health effects.

In a recently published study, the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Finnair airline investigated dynamic changes to DNA methylation in shift workers. DNA methylation denotes epigenetic regulation that modifies gene function and regulates gene activity without changing the sequence of bases in the DNA.

Short-term genetic changes caused by DNA methylation are not well known. While methylation is connected with our surroundings, more research is needed on how

— source University of Helsinki | Feb 22, 2021

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Black People Face Higher COVID Infections & Deaths

As the U.S. vaccine rollout continues to expand, health justice advocates worry about a racial gap in vaccinations. Black communities have been hard hit by the pandemic, but rates of vaccination in communities of color lag behind largely white communities across the country. Dr. Oni Blackstock, a primary care and HIV physician, argues that age cutoffs should be lowered or removed for Black people in order to speed up inoculations, noting that Black Americans are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white Americans and also dying at rates similar to those of white Americans who are 10 years older. “These fixed-age cutoffs that most states implemented did not take into account structural racism’s toll on Black life expectancy in addition to the impact of the pandemic on the life expectancy of Black people in this country,” says Dr. Blackstock.

The U.S. vaccination campaign is getting a new boost today as the first Johnson & Johnson vaccines are administered. According to the White House, nearly 4 million doses of the single-shot vaccine will be initially given out. Johnson & Johnson is the third COVID vaccine to receive FDA emergency approval.

Nearly 20% of adults in the United States have received at least one vaccine shot so far. But there is a wide racial gap in who’s being vaccinated. While Black and Latinx communities have been hardest hit by the pandemic, rates of vaccination in communities of color are lower than largely white communities across the country. Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows just 5% of vaccines have gone to Black Americans, only 11% to Latinx recipients.

This comes as life expectancy in the United States fell by a full year during the first six months of 2020, largely due to the pandemic. It’s the largest drop since World War II. Life expectancy for Black Americans dropped by almost three years, and 1.9 years for Latinx people.

Some doctors are now calling on the CDC and states to give greater priority to communities of color in the vaccine rollout. Doctors Oni and Uché Blackstock are pushing to lower age cutoffs for African Americans. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, they write, “Black Americans are [not only] twice as likely to die of covid-19 as White Americans but also dying at rates similar to those of White Americans who are 10 years older.” They go on: “Moreover, racial [inequities] are most striking at younger ages; for example, Black people ages 45 to 54 are seven times more likely to die of covid-19 than similarly aged White Americans.”

— source | Mar 02, 2021


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A Black doctor died of Covid-19 weeks after accusing hospital staff of racist treatment

A Black physician died of Covid-19 weeks after she described a White doctor dismissing her pain and concerns about her treatment as she lay in an Indiana hospital. Dr. Susan Moore passed away on Sunday due to complications from Covid-19. The internist died about two weeks after she shared a video in which she accused a doctor at Indiana University Health North Hospital (IU North) of ignoring her complaints of pain and requests for medication because she was Black, even though she was both a patient and a doctor herself.

And despite her pain, the doctor told Moore he might send her home, she said, and he didn’t feel comfortable giving her more narcotics. “He made me feel like I was a drug addict,” she said in the video. “And he knew I was a physician.”

“You have to show proof that you have something wrong with you in order for you to get the medicine,” she said in the video. “This is how Black people get killed,” Moore said in the video, “when you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves.”

Dr. Moore died last Sunday, just over two weeks after she posted the video.

— source | Dec 25, 2020

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Brazilian State Suspends Larvicide Use After Reports Point to Microcephaly Link

The Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has suspended the use of a larvicide after reports pointed to a potential link between the chemical and the devastating birth defect microcephaly. Brazil has seen a spike in microcephaly cases thought to be linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus. But two health advocacy groups say the spike may actually be linked to a larvicide made by a Japanese subsidiary of Monsanto that has been used to stop the development of mosquito larvae in drinking water.


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Half the world to be short-sighted by 2050

Half the world’s population (nearly 5 billion) will be short-sighted (myopic) by 2050, with up to one-fifth of them (1 billion) at a significantly increased risk of blindness if current trends continue, says a study published in the journal Ophthalmology. The rapid increase in the prevalence of myopia globally is attributed to, environmental factors (nurture), principally lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors and increased near work activities, among other factors.

— Source Brien Holden Vision Institute | 2016

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