How plastics are making us infertile

Climate change is rightly cited as an environmental crisis that could lead to human extinction. Yet there is another pollution issue, indirectly related, that could make it literally impossible for human beings to reproduce.

I am talking, of course, about plastic pollution.

Dr. Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, has a new book out called “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.” In it she describes how various chemicals commonly found in plastic products are leading to a decline in fertility. The most striking example of this is in dropping sperm counts; if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, you are considered to have a low sperm count. Human beings are rapidly reaching that point, as Swan demonstrates in her book.

Salon spoke with her about this issue over the phone; as always, this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the thesis of your book?

The thesis of my book is that reproductive health in men and women has been declining dramatically at least over the past 40 years, and that a major part of that decline is linked to everyday exposure to chemicals in the environment that can affect our hormone system. There’s a lot in there and we can spread that all out, but that’s the overall

— source | Matthew Rozsa | Apr 4, 2021

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First get your heart in shape then get pregnant

More than one in two young women between the ages of 20 and 44 who gave birth in the United States in 2019 had poor heart health before becoming pregnant, the study found. Poor heart health puts expectant mothers and their babies at risk, with heart disease causing more than one in four pregnancy-related deaths. As women, we tend to think about the baby’s health once we become pregnant, but what so many women don’t realize is the very first thing they can do to protect their babies (and themselves) is to get their heart in shape before they even conceive. The study will be published Feb. 14 in Circulation, the American Heart Association’s (AHA). Women with favorable heart health before pregnancy are less likely to experience complications of pregnancy and are more likely to deliver a healthy baby. Even more importantly, optimizing heart health before and during pregnancy can prevent the development of heart disease years later.

— source Northwestern University | Feb 14, 2022

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Colombian High Court Decriminalizes Abortion

Women in Colombia are now free to seek abortion care without fear of criminal prosecution following a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court on Monday—the result of years of campaigning by reproductive rights groups. The ruling decriminalized abortion in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, removing strict barriers that have kept women from obtaining the procedure legally and have forced many people to risk incarceration by getting abortions at illegal clinics. The court ruled in a case brought by Causa Justa, a coalition of reproductive rights groups, which argued that the criminalization of most abortions in Colombia has led healthcare providers to deny the procedure to women even if they were legally permitted to have an abortion and has prevented patients from seeking them out of fear of being prosecuted.

— source | Feb 22, 2022

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Covid can shrink brain and damage its tissue

The first major study to compare brain scans of people before and after they catch Covid has revealed shrinkage and tissue damage in regions linked to smell and mental capacities months after subjects tested positive.

It comes as the largest study to date of the genetics of Covid-19 identified 16 new genetic variants associated with severe illness, and named a number of existing drugs that could be repurposed to prevent patients from getting severely ill, some of which are already in clinical trials.

Together, these studies shed new light on the biological mechanisms that underpin the disease.

In the brain study, researchers at the University of Oxford studied 785 people aged between 51 and 81 who had received brain scans before and during the pandemic as part of the

— source | Linda Geddes, Ian Sample | Mar 7, 2022

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Enhance and Decolonize—America’s Global Health Diplomacy

COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world, accounting for more than 2.7 million deaths so far; prolonged economic shutdowns; and the dismantlement of global health systems. In no small part, this is due to failures of governance and intentional health policy choices. Despite the swift and unprecedented development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, more than 66 percent of the countries around the world—predominantly in the Global South—have yet to receive a single vaccine dose. In comparison, 10 countries have received 75 percent of the global vaccine supply. These appalling statistics represent the outcomes of contemporary neocolonial approaches—policies, programs and global governance structures that continue to sustain the same power dynamics and outcomes as during colonization—towards the non-Western world.

The Western world’s inability to move past its colonial mentality continues to perpetuate structural violence and social inequities across the globe. COVID-19-related global health inequities, including in vaccine distribution, highlight our global health governance and programs’ failures that uphold a Western commitment to the colonial status quo

— source | Ans Irfan, Christopher Jackson, Ankita Arora | Apr 5, 2021

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Even light-to-moderate drinking is associated with harm to the brain

Researchers analyzed data from more than 36,000 adults that found a link between drinking and reduced brain volume that begins at an average consumption level of less than one alcohol unit a day — the equivalent of about half a beer — and rises with each additional drink. Heavier drinking was associated with an even greater toll. People who drink heavily have alterations in brain structure and size that are associated with cognitive impairments. But according to a new study, alcohol consumption even at levels most would consider modest — a few beers or glasses of wine a week — may also carry risks to the brain. light-to-moderate alcohol consumption was associated with reductions in overall brain volume. The team reported their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

— source University of Pennsylvania | Mar 4, 2022

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How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care

In 2000, the healthy life expectancy of Americans ranked 38th in the world.

In 2019, we were at 68th – behind China, Cuba and Jamaica.

Citizens of Japan live eight years longer in good health than Americans.

Canadians live five years longer.

And yet, we spend $1.5 trillion more per year on our healthcare system than do other wealthy countries.

Why is this happening?

In a nutshell, it’s the power of large multinational pharmaceutical corporations.

— source | Mar 7, 2022

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COVID’s Cardiac Connection

Other viruses are known to infect the heart and spur inflammation. Coxsackieviruses, for example, are a major cause of myocarditis and other heart-muscle defects. When viral pathogens such as these strike, people usually develop chest pains, shortness of breath or some other overt signs of illness. SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is different. Not only do few people diagnosed with coronavirus-induced myocarditis complain of cardiac issues, but they can also have few or no symptoms of infection whatsoever.

Raul Mitrani is a cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida. Last year, Mitrani and his colleagues gave a name to the constellation of heart-related problems observed among people recovering from COVID-19: post-COVID-19 cardiac syndrome1. “There are a lot of unknowns still,” Mitrani says. “But what we’re ultimately worried about is heart decompensation and dangerous arrhythmias.” The former involves a sudden worsening of heart failure; the latter is an uneven heartbeat. Both can trigger sudden cardiac death.

— source | Elie Dolgin | Nov 3, 2021

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TV watching linked with potentially fatal blood clots

The warning comes as a study reports that watching TV for four hours a day or more is associated with a 35% higher risk of blood clots compared with fewer than 2.5 hours. The research is published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the ESC. If you are going to binge on TV you need to take breaks. You can stand and stretch every 30 minutes or use a stationary bike. And avoid combining television with unhealthy snacking. The study examined the association between TV viewing and venous thromboembolism (VTE). VTE includes pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) and deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein, usually the legs, which can travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism).

— source European Society of Cardiology | Jan 19, 2022

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