Vulnerability of sharks as collateral damage in commercial fishing shown by study

A new study that examined the survival rates of 12 different shark species when captured as unintentional bycatch in commercial longline fishing operations found large differences in survival rates across the 12 species, with bigeye thresher, dusky, and scalloped hammerhead being the most vulnerable. The study, led by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and UM Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, provides new information to consider for future conservation measures for sharks in the Northwest Atlantic. The unintentional capture of a fish species when targeting another species, known as bycatch, is one of the largest threats facing many marine fish populations.Researchers from UM and the National Marine Fisheries Service analyzed over 10 years of shark bycatch data from the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico tuna and swordfish longline fisheries to examine how survival rates of sharks were affected by fishing duration, hook depth, sea temperature, animal size and the target fish. Some species, such as the tiger shark, exhibited over 95% survival, whereas other species survival was significantly lower, in the 20-40% range, such as night shark and scalloped hammerheads.”Our study found that the differences in how longline fishing is actually conducted, such as the depth, duration, and time-of-day that the longlines are fished can be a major driver of shark survival, depending on the species,” said UM Rosenstiel School Ph.D student and lead author Austin Gallagher. “At-vessel mortality is a crucial piece of the puzzle in terms of assessing the vulnerability of these open-ocean populations, some of which are highly threatened.”The researchers also generated overall vulnerability rankings of species taking into account not only their survival, but also reproductive potential. They found that species most at risk were those with both very slow reproductive potential and unusual body features, such as hammerheads and thresher sharks. The paper’s authors suggest that bycatch likely played an important role in the decline of scalloped hammerhead species in the Northwest Atlantic, which has been considered for increased international and national protections, such as the U.S. Endangered Species List.The researchers suggest that high at-vessel mortality, slow maturity, and specialized body structures combine for the perfect mixture to become extinction-prone.”Our results suggest that some shark species are being fished beyond their ability to replace themselves,” said UM Research Assistant Professor Neil Hammerschlag. “Certain sharks, such as big eye threshers and scalloped hammerheads, are prone to rapidly dying on the line once caught and techniques that reduce their interactions with fishing gear in the first place may be the best strategy for conserving these species.”The study, titled “Vulnerability of oceanic sharks as pelagic longline bycatch” was published online in the open-access journal Global Ecology and Conservation.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Primary texting bans associated with lower traffic fatalities, study finds

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health examined the impact texting-while-driving laws have had on roadway crash-related fatalities, and the findings are published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health.Of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 years, 31 percent reported they had read or sent text or email messages while driving at least once in the 30 days prior, according to 2011 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same year, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, and an additional 387,000 people were injured.While completing her doctoral work in the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, Alva O. Ferdinand, Dr.P.H., J.D., conducted a longitudinal panel study to examine within-state changes in roadway fatalities after the enactment of state texting-while-driving bans using roadway fatality data captured in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System between 2000 and 2010.”Very little is known about whether laws banning texting while driving have actually improved roadway safety,” Ferdinand said. “Further, given the considerable variation in the types of laws that states have passed and whom they ban from what, it was necessary to determine which types of laws are most beneficial in improving roadway safety.”Some states have banned all drivers from texting while driving, while others have banned only young drivers from this activity, Ferdinand says. Additionally, some states’ texting bans entail secondary enforcement, meaning an officer must have another reason to stop a vehicle, like speeding or running a red light, before citing a driver for texting while driving. Other states’ texting bans entail primary enforcement, meaning an officer does not have to have another reason for stopping a vehicle.”Our results indicated that primary texting bans were significantly associated with a 3 percent reduction in traffic fatalities among all age groups, which equates to an average of 19 deaths prevented per year in states with such bans,” Ferdinand said. “Primarily enforced texting laws that banned only young drivers from texting were the most effective at reducing deaths among the 15- to 21-year-old cohort, with an associated 11 percent reduction in traffic fatalities among this age group in states with such bans.”States with secondarily enforced restrictions did not see any significant reductions in traffic fatalities.”We were a little surprised to see that primarily enforced texting bans were not associated with significant reductions in fatalities among those ages 21 to 64, who are not considered to be young drivers,” Ferdinand said. “However, states with bans prohibiting the use of cellphones without hands-free technology altogether on all drivers saw significant reductions in fatalities among this particular age group. Thus, although texting-while-driving bans were most effective for reducing traffic-related fatalities among young individuals, handheld bans appear to be most effective for adults.”Ferdinand says these results could aid policymakers interested in improving roadway safety in that they indicate the types of laws that are most effective in reducing deaths among various age groups, as well as those in states with secondarily enforced texting bans advocating for stricter, primarily enforced texting bans.Ferdinand’s mentor, Nir Menachemi, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, says it is a key responsibility of health policy researchers to generate high-quality evidence on the health impact of societal policies and laws.”Clearly, distracted driving is a growing problem affecting everyone on the roadways,” Menachemi said. “It is my hope that policymakers act upon our findings so that motor-vehicle deaths can be prevented.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. …

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Positive outcomes for hepatitis C transplant patients

New research announced at the International Liver CongressTM 2014 today provides new hope for the notoriously difficult-to-treat population of liver transplant patients with recurring hepatitis C (HCV).As part of a compassionate use program, 104 post-liver transplant patients with recurring HCV who had exhausted all treatment options and had poor clinical prognoses, received sofosbuvir (SOF) and ribavirin (RBV) with pegylated interferon (PEG) included at the physicians’ discretion for up to 48 weeks. Among patients whose clinical outcomes have been reported, 62% achieved SVR12. Additionally, 62% of patients had improvements in clinical conditions associated with hepatic decompensation (e.g., ascites and encephalopathy) and/or improvement in liver function tests. SOF+RBVPEG was well-tolerated and led to high rates of virologic suppression.EASL’s European Policy Councillor Professor Patrizia Burra of the Multivisceral Transplant Unit, Padova University Hospital, Padua, Italy said: “There are currently no effective treatment options for this patient group. However, this new trial involving the nucleotide polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir (SOF) has demonstrated promising results, providing further evidence of its clinical potential.””For patients with advanced hepatitis C liver disease, liver transplants offer a second chance,” continued Professor Burra, “and for those who continue to suffer post-surgery, it’s important for us to keep following up all avenues possible to improve their quality of life.”Other research revealed at the International Liver CongressTM 2014 showed that most patients with mild hepatitis C recurrence diagnosed one year after liver transplant have excellent long-term outcomes.In the second study, 172 patients who were diagnosed with mild hepatitis C recurrence one year after undergoing liver transplant surgery between 1999 and 2012 were followed for six and a half years with all relevant transplant-related, donor and recipient variables recorded. The cumulative probability of HCV-related graft loss five and 10 years after liver transplant were 3% and 10%, respectively.However one third of these patients are still at risk of going on to develop cirrhosis, further demonstrating the need for antiviral therapy pre or post-transplant.Hepatitis C infection is a common cause of liver transplantation, with virus-related diseases comprising 40% of primary indications for liver transplantation in Europe among patients with cirrhosis.More than 5,500 liver transplantations are currently performed in Europe per year.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by European Association for the Study of the Liver. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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The mammography dilemma: 50 years of analysis

A comprehensive review of 50 year’s worth of international studies assessing the benefits and harms of mammography screening suggests that the benefits of the screening are often overestimated, while harms are underestimated. And, since the relative benefits and harms of screening are related to a complex array of clinical factors and personal preferences, physicians and patients need more guidance on how best to individualize their approach to breast cancer screening.The results of the review by researchers at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy and Brigham and Women’s Hospital are published today in JAMA.The American Cancer Society estimates that about 40,000 U.S. women will die of breast cancer this year. In 2009, based on evidence that the benefit-risk ratio for mammography screening is higher among women over 50 and with less frequent screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reversed its previous recommendation of mammography every one to two years beginning at age 40, and recommended routine screening every two years starting at age 50, the researchers noted. The recommendations remain controversial among the general public and the medical community. Recent evidence suggests that use of mammography in the U.S. has not changed following the updated recommendations.”What I tell my patients is that the mammogram is not a perfect test,” said Nancy Keating, co-author of the report, associate professor of Health Care Policy at HMS and associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s. “Some cancers will be missed, some people will die of breast cancer regardless of whether they have a mammogram, and a small number of people that might have died of breast cancer without screening will have their lives saved.”The authors report that the best estimate of the reduction in mortality from breast cancer due to annual screening for women overall is about 19 percent. For women in their 40s, the reduction in risk was about 15 percent, and for women in their 60s, about 32 percent. …

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Despite transfer roadblocks, community college transfers as likely to earn BA as 4-year

Students who begin their postsecondary education at a community college and successfully transfer to a four-year college have BA graduation rates equal to similar students who begin at four-year colleges, according to new research published today. That rate would actually increase — to 54 percent from 46 percent — if not for the loss of academic credits when students transfer, said study authors.”The Community College Route to the Bachelor’s Degree,” by Paul Attewell and David Monaghan, both of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, will be published online today in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).Attewell and Monaghan found that students who begin their postsecondary education at a community college are indeed less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than otherwise similar undergraduates who begin at a four-year school. However, contrary to an earlier generation of research, there are no significant differences in BA completion rates between those students who started at a community college and successfully transferred and their peers who began at four-year schools.Attewell and Monaghan identified restrictive credit transfer policies — and not a lack of academic preparation, an emphasis on vocational training, or a lack of financial aid — as the reason for the gap in BA attainment between otherwise similar undergraduates who enter community colleges and their four-year counterparts.”Loss of credits is a tax on transfer students,” Monaghan said. “Policymakers should be pushing both community colleges and four-year institutions to address it.””Community colleges should be encouraged to invest more in transfer counseling services for their students, and more four-year institutions need to develop processes for facilitating, not hindering, credit transfer for academically qualified students,” said Monaghan.Attewell and Monaghan found that:Only 58 percent of transfers are able to bring all or almost all (90 percent or more) of their credits with them. About 14 percent of transfers lose more than 90 percent of their credits. The remaining 28 percent lose between 10 percent and 89 percent of their credits. Even after controlling for college GPA and credits earned, students who can transfer most of their credits are more likely to complete a BA than those who cannot.Students who have all or almost all their credits transferred are 2.5 times more likely to earn a BA than students with less than half their credits transferred. Students who get between half and 89 percent of their credits accepted have a 74 percent higher chance of earning a BA. The implication is that students who are able to transfer all or most of their community college credits are more likely to graduate than peers who started their postsecondary education at a four-year school.Some states, such as New Jersey, mandate that all for-credit courses earned in state community colleges must count toward BA graduation after transfer to a state four-year college. Modeling a “what if” scenario for this policy in all states, Attewell and Monaghan project that BA attainment among community college transfer students would rise to 54 percent from 46 percent.”This percentage is potentially underestimated,” said Attewell. …

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U.S. cocaine use cut by half, while marijuana consumption jumps

The use of cocaine dropped sharply across the United States from 2006 to 2010, while the amount of marijuana consumed increased significantly during the same period, according to a new report.Studying illegal drug use nationally from 2000 to 2010, researchers found the amount of marijuana consumed by Americans increased by more than 30 percent from 2006 to 2010, while cocaine consumption fell by about half. Meanwhile, heroin use was fairly stable throughout the decade.Methamphetamine consumption dramatically increased during the first half of the decade and then declined, but researchers did not have enough information to make a credible estimate of the drug’s use from 2008 to 2010.The findings come from a report compiled for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy by researchers affiliated with the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.”Having credible estimates of the number of heavy drug users and how much they spend is critical for evaluating policies, making decisions about treatment funding and understanding the drug revenues going to criminal organizations,” said Beau Kilmer, the study’s lead author and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. “This work synthesizes information from many sources to present the best estimates to date for illicit drug consumption and spending in the United States.”Because the project only generated estimates through 2010, researchers say the report does not address the recent reported spike in heroin use or the consequences of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. The report also does not try to explain the causes behind changes in drug use or evaluate the effectiveness of drug control strategies.The study, published on the website of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, provides estimates of the amount of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine used each year from 2000 to 2010. The study includes estimates of retail spending on illicit drugs and the number of chronic users, who account for a majority of drug consumption.Researchers say that drug users in the United States spent on the order of $100 billion annually on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine throughout the decade. While the amount remained stable from 2000 to 2010, the spending shifted. While much more was spent on cocaine than on marijuana in 2000, the opposite was true by 2010.”Our analysis shows that Americans likely spent more than one trillion dollars on cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine between 2000 and 2010,” Kilmer said.The surge in marijuana use appears to be related to an increase in the number of people who reported using the drug on a daily or near-daily basis.The estimates for marijuana are rooted in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which surveys nearly 70,000 individuals each year. Estimates for cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine are largely based on information from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program, or ADAM. The final estimates also incorporated information from other data sourcesHowever, since the federal government recently halted funding for ADAM, researchers say it will be considerably harder to track the abuse of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine in the future.”The ADAM program provided unique insights about those who abused hard drugs and how much they spent on these substances,” said Jonathan Caulkins, a study co-author and the Stever Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “It’s a tragedy that 2013 was the last year for ADAM. …

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Can the solution to climate change help eliminate poverty?

It is clear that climate change and poverty are two separate problems that affect all corners of the world, but can the solution to one help eliminate the other? Richard Munang and Jessica Andrews, authors of “Harnessing Ecosystem-Based Adaptation: To Address the Social Dimensions of Climate Change,” published in Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, think that we can.Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) is becoming more widely recognized as a possible solution to addressing climate change. “EbA is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation to help people and communities adapt to the negative effects of climate change at local, regional, and global levels.” It works by providing sustainable social benefits for a local community within climate change adaptation practices. This idea understands the relationship and interconnectivity between many different facets of life; ecological, social/cultural, economic, and institutional.EbA is built to successfully implement sustained social and environmental achievements. Developing a community’s resilience in the face of climate change impacts improves the wellness of the entire ecosystem. “EbA can accelerate income gains, improve health, and secure food production, all while ensuring the sustainable development of local resources.” Munang and Andrews provide examples where this program has been successful. In Togo, Africa, EbA aided in the revitalization of water reservoirs, as well as cereal and vegetable production in the savannah region, directly benefiting women and youth groups. The extraordinary and integral component of this program is the collaboration between nongovernmental and civil society organizations (NGOs and CSOs, respectively) and the local community. This resulted in improved access to water, an array of social benefits, and a trained community competent to take an active role in future resilience efforts.However, there are some problems. The success of EbA depends largely on the involvement of the local community in the planning and implementation process, while also taking into consideration the overall political context and land use conflicts. …

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Infants using known verbs to learn new nouns: Before infants begin to talk in sentences, they are paying careful attention to conversations

There is a lot that 19-month-old children can’t do: They can’t tie their shoes or get their mittens on the correct hands. But they can use words they do know to learn new ones.New research from Northwestern University demonstrates that even before infants begin to talk in sentences, they are paying careful attention to the way a new word is used in conversations, and they learn new words from this information in sentences.For example, if you take an infant to the zoo and say, “Look at the gorilla” while pointing at the cage, the infant may not know what exactly is being referred to. However, if you say, “Look! The gorilla is eating,” the infant can use the word that they do know — “eating” — to conclude that “gorilla” must refer to the animal and not, for example, the swing she is sitting on.The zoo scenario mirrors the method the researchers used for their experiment. First, infants at ages 15 and 19 months were shown several pairs of pictures on a large screen. Each pair included one new kind of animal and a non-living object. Next, the objects disappeared from view and infants overheard a conversation that included a new word, “blick.” Finally, the two objects re-appeared, and infants heard, for example, “Look at the blick.””After overhearing this new word in conversation, infants who hear a helpful sentence such as ‘the blick is eating’ should look more towards the animal than the other, non-living object,” said Brock Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Northwestern and lead author of the study. “We show that by 19 months, they do just that. In contrast, if infants heard the new word in an unhelpful sentence such as ‘the blick is over here’ during the conversation, they don’t focus specifically on the animal because, after all, in this kind of sentence, ‘blick’ could mean anything.”The researchers said many people believe that word learning occurs only in clear teaching conditions — for example, when someone picks up an object, brings it to the baby, points to it and says its name. In fact, infants usually hear a new word for the first time under much more natural and complex circumstances such as the zoo example described.”What’s remarkable is that infants learned so much from hearing the conversation alone,” said Sandra Waxman, senior author of the study, the Louis W. …

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Pre-term birth leads to increased risk of asthma, wheezing disorders

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with investigators at the Maastricht University Medical Centre and Maastricht University School of Public Health in the Netherlands and The University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, have published findings strongly suggesting that preterm birth (prior to 37 weeks gestation) increases the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood and that the risk of developing these conditions increases as the degree of prematurity increases.The findings are based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of 30 studies that investigated the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders among 1.5 million children. These studies were conducted between 1995 and the present, a time span chosen to allow for recent changes in the management of prematurity.Across the studies, 13.7 percent of preterm babies developed asthma/wheezing disorders compared with 8.3 percent of babies born at term, representing a 70 percent increased risk. Children born very early (before 32 weeks gestation) had approximately three times the risk of developing asthma/wheezing disorders compared with babies born at term.”Worldwide, more than 11 percent of babies are born preterm,” said Aziz Sheikh, MD, corresponding author and Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “As asthma is a chronic condition, our findings underscore the need to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders in order to develop preventive and therapeutic interventions.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Retention leads to discipline problems in other kids

When students repeat a grade, it can spell trouble for their classmates, according to a new Duke University-led study of nearly 80,000 middle-schoolers.In schools with high numbers of grade repeaters , suspensions were more likely to occur across the school community. Discipline problems were also more common among other students, including substance abuse, fighting and classroom disruption.Public debate typically focuses on how retention affects an individual student’s academic performance, said lead author Clara Muschkin. So she and her colleagues decided to take a wider view and consider how holding students back may affect the school as a whole.”The decision to retain students has consequences for the whole school community,” said Muschkin, an associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. “That wider effect is an issue worth considering as we debate this policy.”The study by Muschkin, Elizabeth Glennie and Audrey Beck looked at 79,314 seventh-graders in 334 North Carolina middle schools.For information on retention and discipline problems, the authors turned to administrative data from the state’s public school system. The authors found that different schools have greatly varying numbers of older and retained students, with significant consequences.The authors took pains to account for a range of factors that might offer alternative explanations for their findings, including schools’ socioeconomic composition and parents’ educational status. Even after controlling for such factors, the presence of older and retained students was still strongly linked with more discipline problems in the entire group.For instance, if 20 percent of children in seventh grade were older than their peers, the chance that other students would commit an infraction or be suspended increased by 200 percent.”There’s a strong relationship here that we think is likely to be causal,” Muschkin said.The study focused on two groups in particular: students who repeated a grade, and students who were a year older than their classmates, on average. When there were more older and retained students present, discipline problems increased for all subgroups in the study, including black and white students and boys and girls. Two groups saw a particularly large jump in discipline problems: white students and girls of all races.”This finding took us by surprise,” Muschkin said. “These two groups appear to be a bit more affected than others by the influence of older peers.”In early adolescence, a time of major physical and psychological change, students are particularly vulnerable to peer influence, Muschkin noted. However, more research is needed to understand why some subgroups appear to respond more strongly than others to the influence of their classmates, she said.Holding students back became a popular educational option as criticism of “social promotion” mounted. …

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UK failing to harness its bioenergy potential

The UK could generate almost half its energy needs from biomass sources, including household waste, agricultural residues and home-grown biofuels by 2050, new research suggests.Scientists from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at The University of Manchester found that the UK could produce up to 44% of its energy by these means without the need to import.The study, published in Energy Policy Journal , highlights the country’s potential abundance of biomass resources that are currently underutilised and totally overlooked by the bioenergy sector. Instead, say the authors, much of the UK bioenergy sector is heading towards increased reliance on biomass resources that will have to be imported from abroad.Study author Andrew Welfle said: “The UK has legally binding renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets, and energy from biomass is anticipated to make major contributions to these. The widely discussed barriers for energy from biomass include the competition for land that may otherwise be used to grow food and the narrative that biomass will have to be imported to the UK if we want to use increased levels of bioenergy. But our research has found that the UK could produce large levels of energy from biomass without importing resources or negatively impacting the UK’s ability to feed itself.”The research involved analysing the UK’s biomass supply chains and investigating how different pathways that the UK could take may influence the potential bioenergy that the country could generate from its own resources up to 2050.The pathways the team analysed included a future with economic focus, investigating how the future UK bioenergy sector may look if economic growth was the prime focus; a conservation focus pathway, where the conservation of resources is the key future aim; an energy focus pathway, where the UK pushes towards achieving the maximum practical levels of bioenergy generated from its resources; and a food focus pathway, where the potential future of the country’s bioenergy sector is analysed in reflection of the UK working to increase its food security.”Biomass residue resources from ongoing UK activities, such as agriculture, forestry and industrial processes, were found to represent a continuous and robust resource option for the UK bioenergy sector, potentially contributing up to 6.5% of primary energy demand by 2050,” said Mr Welfle. “The potential bioenergy generated from agricultural residues, particularly from straws and slurry resources, being the highlight opportunities for the bioenergy sector due to their high abundance and current underutilisation.”UK waste resources were also found to represent a potential major opportunity for the bioenergy sector. The research highlights that both household and food/plant waste streams represent particular potential for the sector. Although the design and influence of future strategies and policies on UK waste generation and management are fundamental in determining the extent of opportunities that wastes represents to the UK bioenergy sector.He added: “Biomass is a flexible energy option, in that it can be used to produce heat, electricity or even be converted to transport fuels, although different types of biomass resource tend to be utilised in specific ways in order to produce the most energy or biomass-based products with increased value. Our research confirms that the best option for the UK to make the most of its biomass resources would be for selected resources to be used by bio-refineries to produce high value bio-products, with all remaining suitable resources being dedicated for heat generation.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Manchester University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Almost 13 million smoking deaths could be prevented in China by 2050

China is home to about one third of the world’s smokers and reducing smoking in China could have an enormous public health impact, even on a global scale.Even though China raised the tax on tobacco products in 2009, this did not translate to higher retail prices for consumers and the only ban that has been enforced is on public transport. WHO went on to publish a report in 2011 which stated that there were multiple opportunities to improve tobacco control.Using a version of the SimSmoke Tobacco Control Policy model (a model of tobacco smoking prevalence and smoking-related deaths), populated with data from China, researchers from Spain, France and the US estimated the potential health impact of this programme in China from 2015 — 2050.Under current policies, a total of over 50 million deaths due to smoking were estimated from 2012 to 2050.Projecting the status quo scenario forward, the researchers estimate that active smoking in males would fall from 51.3% in 2015 to 46.5% by 2050 — and in females from 2.1% in 2015 to 1.3% in 2050In 2015, the estimated number of deaths from smoking was about one million (932,000 for males and 79,000 for females). In males, annual deaths were expected to peak at 1.5 million in 2040, but then drop to 1.4 million by 2050. In females, annual deaths from smoking were estimated to be 49,000 in 2040 and 42,000 by 2050.Relative to the status quo scenario, increasing cigarette taxes to 75% of the package price was estimated to reduce smoking prevalence by almost 10% for both males and females by 2015. By 2050, smoking prevalence showed a reduction of 13% for males and 12% for females. The researchers estimate that between 2015 and 2050, this tax would save approximately 3.5 million lives.Smoke-free air laws and a well enforced marketing ban also showed “potent and immediate” effects. Comprehensive smoke-free air laws were estimated to show a 9% reduction in smoking rates by 2015, increasing to about a 10% reduction in 2050, potentially averting around 3.4 million deaths. A comprehensive marketing ban would reduce smoking prevalence by about 4% and avert just over two million deaths by 2050.A high intensity tobacco control campaign would lead to a 2.5% relative decline in smoking rates by 2015 and prevent 1.1 million deaths due to smoking by 2050, while stronger health warnings were projected to yield a relative 2.3% reduction in smoking rates by 2050.The researchers estimate that complete implementation of the WHO framework “would lead to as much as a 34% relative reduction in male smoking prevalence by 2020, and a 41% reduction by 2050.” They say, despite the lag time expected between reductions in current smoking and declines in smoking attributable deaths, nearly half a million annual tobacco related deaths could be averted yearly by 2050.These estimates suggest that substantial health gains could be made, say the authors — a 40% relative reduction in smoking prevalence and almost 13 million smoking attributable deaths averted and more than 154 million life years gained by 2050 — by extending effective public health and clinical interventions to reduce active smoking. They add that these policies would be cost effective and say that “without the implementation of the complete set of stronger policies, the death and disability legacy of current smoking will endure for decades in China.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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First large-scale study of stock market volatility, mental disorders

Falling stock prices lead to increased hospitalizations for mental disorders, according to new research published today in the journal Health Policy and Planning.Researchers assessed the relationship between stock price movements and mental disorders using data on daily hospitalizations for mental disorders in Taiwan over 4,000 days between 1998 and 2009. They found that a 1000-point fall in the Taiwan Stock Exchange Capitalisation Weighted Stock Index (TAIEX) coincided with a 4.71% daily increase in hospitalizations for mental disorders.A downward daily change in stock price index coincided with significantly increased hospitalizations for mental disorders — when the stock price index decreased by 1% in a single day there was a 0.36% increase in hospitalizations for mental disorders on that same day. The researchers also found that falls in stock price index on consecutive days were associated with a 0.32% daily increase in mental disorders hospitalizations — when the stock price index falls consecutively for 5 days there was a 1.6% increase in the number of mental disorder hospitalizations on the fifth day.These effects were found to be significant for both genders, with daily and consecutive changes in stock price index having a greater impact on men’s mental health. Low stock price index and daily change in stock price index had a significant effect on hospitalizations for the 35-54 age groups while consecutive change affected the 45-54 age groups.The research, led by Dr Chung-Liang Lin at Dong Hwa University and Dr Chin-Shyan Chen and Dr Tsai-Ching Liu at Taipei University, is the first of its kind to investigate a potential relationship between stock market volatility and nationwide prevalence of mental disorders. The results suggest that the mental health of middle-aged males may be critically influenced by the stock market — when the stock price index is low, hospitalizations for mental illness are relatively high.Previous research has suggested that mental disorders are more likely to affect disadvantaged members of society, with financial hardship having a negative impact on psychological health. The global financial crisis led to a decline in wealth for many and subsequent research has looked at the links between national economic conditions and the general health of the public. Data have also shown that economic recession has an exacerbating effect on the use of mental health services and decline in reported happiness. Most research on economic recession looks at involuntary job loss; few studies have looked at the effects of a fluctuating stock market on population health outcomes.The researchers used stock market movements as a proxy for changes in economic conditions and assessed the relationship with mental disorders using data from the National Health Insurance Research Dataset published by the National Health Research Institute of Taiwan.Dr Lin, Assistant Professor of Economics, said: “The stock market became the most watched indicator for much of the economic recession. Drops in the value of stocks can, and often do, announce a reduction in wealth and the multiplication of business failures with consequential pay cuts or layoffs. Indeed, it is reasonable enough for people to have dire fears about the future, and those fears are heavily reinforced by media coverage. …

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It’s Not Just About Supply And Demand For Labor – The ACA Makes Life Better, Increases Choices

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Nine steps to save waterways and fisheries identified by researchers

The key to clean water and sustainable fisheries is to follow nine guiding principles of water management, says a team of Canadian biologists.Fish habitats need ecosystems that are rich in food with places to hide from predators and lay eggs, according to the framework published today in the journal Environmental Reviews.Humans have put key freshwater ecosystems at risk because of land development and the loss of the vegetation along rivers and streams, says John Richardson, a professor in the Dept. of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia, one of 15 freshwater biologists who created the framework to help protect fish and ecosystems into the future.”Fish are strongly impacted when nutrients, sediments or pollutants are added to their habitat. We cannot protect fish without maintaining a healthy freshwater ecosystem,” says Richardson, who led the policy section on protecting fish habitats. Other policy sections addressed areas such as climate change and biodiversity.Connecting waterways are also critical for healthy ecosystems, says Richardson. “If fish can’t get to breeding or rearing areas because of dams, culverts, water intakes or other changes to their habitats, then the population will not survive,” he says.With more pressure on Canada’s freshwater ecosystems, Richardson and his colleagues wanted to create a framework of evidence-based principles that managers, policy makers and others could easily use in their work. “It’s a made in Canada solution, but the principles could be applied anywhere in the world,” he says.BACKGROUNDERHealthy freshwater ecosystems are shrinking and reports suggest that the animals that depend on them are becoming endangered or extinct at higher rates than marine or terrestrial species, says Richardson. Humans also depend on these ecosystems for basic resources like clean drinking water and food as well as economic activity from the natural resource sector, tourism and more.The components of a successful management plan include:Protect and restore habitats for fisheries Protect biodiversity as it enhances resilience and productivity Identify threats to ecosystem productivity Identify all contributions made by aquatic ecosystems Implement ecosystem based-management of natural resources while acknowledging the impact of humans Adopt a precautionary approach to management as we face uncertainty Embrace adaptive management — environments continue to change so research needs to be ongoing for scientific evidence-based decision making Define metrics that will indicate whether management plans are successful or failing Engage and consult with stakeholders Ensure that decision-makers have the capacity, legislation and authority to implement policies and management plans. These recommendations are based on nine principles of ecology:Acknowledge the physical and chemical limits of an ecosystem Population dynamics are at work and there needs to be a minimum number of fish for the population to survive Habitat quantity and quality are needed for fish productivity Connecting habitats is essential for movement of fish and their resources The success of freshwater species is influenced by the watershed Biodiversity enhances ecosystem resilience and productivity Global climate change affects local populations of fish Human impacts to the habitat affect future generations of fish Evolution is important to species survival Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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New study finds spike in sugary drink consumption among California adolescents

Oct. 18, 2013 — While consumption of soda and other sugary drinks among young children in California is starting to decline, a new study released today shows an alarming 8 percent spike among adolescents, the biggest consumers of these beverages.Based on interviews with more than 40,000 California households conducted by the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the study, “Still Bubbling Over: California Adolescents Drinking More Soda and Other Sugar-Sweetened Beverages,” provides a comprehensive look at youth (2- to 17-year-olds) consumption of sugary drinks, charting consumption patterns from 2005-07 to 2011-12.The study, which also provides county-by-county youth consumption rates, was produced collaboratively by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.The most encouraging finding was the dramatic drop in the proportion of young children drinking sugary beverages daily over the seven-year period. Only 19 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds drink a sugary beverage daily, a 30 percent decline from the 2005-07 reporting period. Among 6- to 11-year-olds, 32 percent were daily consumers in 2011-12, representing a 26 percent drop since 2005-07.Of greatest concern, however, is the significant rise among the biggest consumers of sugary drinks — adolescents (12- to 17-year-olds). Today, a full 65 percent of California adolescents drink sugary beverages daily, an 8 percent climb since 2005-07. And while the study’s authors point out that roughly the same proportion of these youth are drinking soda, 23 percent more are consuming energy and sports drinks every day.”California has made real progress in reducing the consumption of sugary beverages among young children,” said Dr. Susan Babey, the report’s lead author. “But teens are in trouble. Soda or sports drinks should be an occasional treat, not a daily habit. If this trend isn’t reversed, there may be costly consequences for teens, their families and the health care system in the form of increased obesity and diabetes.”Although the study does not directly examine the causes for the sugary spike among teens, Dr. …

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Mesothelioma Blood Test-Mesomark Test

The reason for high death rates among mesothelioma patients is the aggressive nature of the disease and the inability to diagnose it until it is well advanced. Because mesothelioma symptoms do not show up until about 40-50 years after exposure to asbestos, most cases at the time of diagnosis have already reached Stage III or IV. As a result, mesothelioma treatment options are often more palliative than curative.However, the ability to diagnose the disease at an earlier time would certainly result in a better prognosis for mesothelioma patients. That ability is now present in the form of a mesothelioma blood test known as Mesomark. Developed by Fujirebio Diagnostics Inc. of Malvern, Pennsylvania, a leader in the field of oncology testing, the test measures the amount of a …

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how much higher are smoker life

Most insurance carriers believe that a smoker is someone who has used some form of nicotine product or marijuana within the last 12 months however some carriers will even look at longer time frames up to 5 years or longer. Included in the definition of nicotine products are cigars, cigarettes, pipes, nicotine gum, patches, chewing tobacco. If you smoke less then one cigar a month some carriers will consider you a non-smoker. Should you choose to quit smoking during your policy term then there are a number of options that can save you money. It is possible that you could change to the non smoker category and therefore receive lower premiums however if your health has changed since the start of the life insurance policy this option may …

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Dr. David Nutt on Alcohol

Rebutting industry myths.A couple of years ago, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, known as EuroCare, put together a brochure addressing the common messages the liquor industry attempts to drive home through its heavy spending on advertising. The messages are not just designed to sell product, but also to influence alcohol policy at the political level. According to EuroCare, the “industry”—the alcohol and tobacco companies—“has traditionally worked closely together, sharing information and concerns about regulation. They have used similar arguments to defend their products in order to prevent or delay restrictions being placed on them.”I wrote a blog post on EuroCare’s list of alcohol untruths called “7 Myths the Alcohol Industry Wants You to Believe.” Here they are:Message 1: Consuming alcohol is normal, common, healthy, …

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