Study: 95% of World Population Exposed to Harmful Air Pollution

It’d thus be a good idea to redesign the energy systems of the world to use clean energy instead of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Last year a major study found that pollution caused 9 million deaths and lead $4.6 trillion in damages annually.

More than 95 percent of people worldwide are exposed to dangerous air pollution, which kills millions each year and threatens billions more, according to a new analysis.

State of Global Air 2018: A Special Report on Global Exposure to Air Pollution and Its Disease Burden (pdf), published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), details how exposure to air pollution—both indoor and outdoor—poses a mounting threat to public health.

Researchers found that air pollution is the top environmental cause of death globally, and ranks fourth overall among risk factors —behind high blood pressure, smoking, and dietary choices.

Household air pollution and ambient particular matter—a component of outdoor pollution—were listed individually among the top ten risk factors, and were tied to a combined 6.7 million deaths in 2016, the last year studied. Ozone, a harmful gas that contributes to outdoor pollution, was listed separately and tied to 234,000 deaths from chronic lung disease.

The study, said HEI president Dan Greenbaum, “leads a growing worldwide consensus—among the WHO, World Bank, International Energy Agency and others—that air pollution poses a major global public health challenge.”

“Nowhere is that risk more evident than in the developing world,” Greenbaum noted, “where a third of the world’s population faces a double burden of indoor and outdoor air pollution.”

The report found that “the elderly in low- and middle-income countries experience the greatest loss of healthy life-years due to the non-communicable diseases” linked to air pollution, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD.

The new analysis comes as the Trump administration moves to scale back air pollution protections to cater to U.S. manufacturers, part of the administration and Environmental Protection Agency’s broader deregulatory agenda.

Recent studies have shown that similar to the rest of the world, non-White Americans and those living in poverty are more likely to be exposed to polluted air.

Moderate Drinking Linked to More Potential Health Problems in New Study

There’s a link to heart problems and more in the study. On a personal note, in my view there’s something pretty wrong with society when you can go to a store and find alcohol around in all corners of it — and the alcohol must sell like that, that’s why it’s done. It also reminds me of the alcohol industry recently funding the NIH (which often does amazing work) in their attempts to dissuade concerns about moderate alcohol usage.

Regularly drinking more than the recommended UK guidelines for alcohol could take years off your life, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. Part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, the study shows that drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death.

The authors say their findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health, and support the UK’s recently lowered guidelines.

The study compared the health and drinking habits of over 600,000 people in 19 countries worldwide and controlled for age, smoking, history of diabetes, level of education and occupation.

The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks per week (100g of pure alcohol, 12.5 units or just over five pints of 4% ABV beer or five 175ml glasses of 13% ABV wine). However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy. For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy. Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.

The research, published today in the Lancet, supports the UK’s recently lowered guidelines, which since 2016 recommend both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week. This equates to around six pints of beer or six glasses of wine a week.

However, the worldwide study carries implications for countries across the world, where alcohol guidelines vary substantially.

The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure and there were no clear thresholds where drinking less did not have a benefit.

New Study Suggests That Smartphone Overuse is Similar to Other Types of Substance Abuse

It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise when technology corporations design smartphones to be as addictive as possible.

Smartphones are an integral part of most people’s lives, allowing us to stay connected and in-the-know at all times. The downside of that convenience is that many of us are also addicted to the constant pings, chimes, vibrations and other alerts from our devices, unable to ignore new emails, texts and images. In a new study published in NeuroRegulation, San Francisco State University Professor of Health Education Erik Peper and Associate Professor of Health Education Richard Harvey argue that overuse of smart phones is just like any other type of substance abuse.

“The behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief — gradually,” Peper explained.

On top of that, addiction to social media technology may actually have a negative effect on social connection. In a survey of 135 San Francisco State students, Peper and Harvey found that students who used their phones the most reported higher levels of feeling isolated, lonely, depressed and anxious. They believe the loneliness is partly a consequence of replacing face-to-face interaction with a form of communication where body language and other signals cannot be interpreted. They also found that those same students almost constantly multitasked while studying, watching other media, eating or attending class. This constant activity allows little time for bodies and minds to relax and regenerate, says Peper, and also results in “semi-tasking,” where people do two or more tasks at the same time — but half as well as they would have if focused on one task at a time.

Peper and Harvey note that digital addiction is not our fault but a result of the tech industry’s desire to increase corporate profits. “More eyeballs, more clicks, more money,” said Peper. Push notifications, vibrations and other alerts on our phones and computers make us feel compelled to look at them by triggering the same neural pathways in our brains that once alerted us to imminent danger, such as an attack by a tiger or other large predator. “But now we are hijacked by those same mechanisms that once protected us and allowed us to survive — for the most trivial pieces of information,” he said.

But just as we can train ourselves to eat less sugar, for example, we can take charge and train ourselves to be less addicted to our phones and computers. The first step is recognizing that tech companies are manipulating our innate biological responses to danger. Peper suggests turning off push notifications, only responding to email and social media at specific times and scheduling periods with no interruptions to focus on important tasks.

Peptide-Based Dental Product May Rebuild Cavities

It’s amazing that the drill method is still prevalent in 2018. New approaches that use substances such as peptides and lasers are the innovations of the future.

Researchers at the University of Washington have designed a convenient and natural product that uses proteins to rebuild tooth enamel and treat dental cavities.

The research finding was first published in ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.

“Remineralization guided by peptides is a healthy alternative to current dental health care,” said lead author Mehmet Sarikaya, professor of materials science and engineering and adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Oral Health Sciences.

The new biogenic dental products can — in theory — rebuild teeth and cure cavities without today’s costly and uncomfortable treatments.

“Peptide-enabled formulations will be simple and would be implemented in over-the-counter or clinical products,” Sarikaya said.

Cavities are more than just a nuisance. According to the World Health Organization, dental cavities affect nearly every age group and they are accompanied by serious health concerns. Additionally, direct and indirect costs of treating dental cavities and related diseases have been a huge economic burden for individuals and health care systems.

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Taking inspiration from the body’s own natural tooth-forming proteins, the UW team has come up with a way to repair the tooth enamel. The researchers accomplished this by capturing the essence of amelogenin — a protein crucial to forming the hard crown enamel — to design amelogenin-derived peptides that biomineralize and are the key active ingredient in the new technology. The bioinspired repair process restores the mineral structure found in native tooth enamel.

“These peptides are proven to bind onto tooth surfaces and recruit calcium and phosphate ions,” said Deniz Yucesoy, a co-author and a doctoral student at the UW.

The peptide-enabled technology allows the deposition of 10 to 50 micrometers of new enamel on the teeth after each use. Once fully developed, the technology can be used in both private and public health settings, in biomimetic toothpaste, gels, solutions and composites as a safe alternative to existing dental procedures and treatments. The technology enables people to rebuild and strengthen tooth enamel on a daily basis as part of a preventive dental care routine. It is expected to be safe for use by adults and children.

Research Into Optimal Sleep Positions

Apparently sleeping on one’s back is supposedly most beneficial to health, according to this research.

Sometimes we wake up groggy even though we’ve gone to bed on time and had a solid eight hours of sleep.

Experts say it could be down to your sleeping position – sleeping on your back is supposedly the best position, but ultimately, comfort is key.

There’s no longer any doubt that sleep is incredibly important. But it’s not just about getting enough sleep, it’s also about trying to stick to a sleep schedule that is in tune with your body clock, or circadian rhythm.

If people are out of sync, they can wake up feeling groggy, and find it difficult to focus the next day. But even when you think you’ve done everything right – you went to bed on time and got a good eight hours of sleep – you may still wake up tired and irritable.

According to sleep experts, this could be because of the way you’re sleeping.

Shelby Harris, a sleep medicine expert and a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine told Popular Science that if your sleeping position isn’t working for you, there are things you can do to change it.

Most people sleep on their sides, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but this position can cause shoulder and hip pain. Also, sleeping on your right side may even aggravate heartburn, some research found.

The theory is that a muscle in your esophagus that keeps acid in your stomach and out of your throat is loosened by the position, so some acid creeps up and causes a burning sensation. If you sleep on your left side, this muscle keeps the gap shut.

Harris said you should try sleeping on your left side if you get heartburn. Also, you should buy pillows that are thick enough to support your head, and tuck a pillow under your knees to support your lower back.

The absolute worst sleeping position, Harris said, is lying on your stomach. Only 7 percent of people do this, but it puts pressure on your entire body. You’re likely to wake up with numbness and tingling, and it can increase the chance of muscle and joint pain.

To make it easier on your body, Harris said you can use a flatter pillow to reduce neck strain.

The best position is sleeping on your back, which only 8 percent of people do. It’s the best position for reducing aches and pain, and it doesn’t cause heartburn because your head is elevated above your chest.

Of course, lying on your back increases the risk of snoring. If you’re prone to sleep apnea, it might not be the position for you, although there are exercises you can try to reduce snoring.

If you’d like to change your style, Harris said you can put pillows on both sides of your body, and one under your knees. This should stop you moving around too much.

If this doesn’t work, you can sew a tennis ball into the lining of your shirt, so the discomfort makes you flip back over if you try and turn.

“Although it is commonly recommended that sleeping on your back is the best position to sleep in, comfort is key,” Harris said. “If you’re in pain or uncomfortable from your sleep position, it can definitely impact your sleep quality.”

So if you find you’re often waking up groggy, and you’re not sure why, try changing your sleeping position.

Report: Shocking Facts About World Health

As the world becomes richer, many remain hungry. The chart below displays the results of a Gallup survey asking respondents whether there were instances in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food. Even in high-income countries, around 10 percent, or 100 million people, deal with food insecurity. One of the internationally agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals aims to completely get rid of hunger by 2030. According to Homi Kharas and John McArthur, we are off track to meet this goal and, in order to see better progress, countries must have a higher sense of accountability to stick to their health and nutrition policies.

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The opioid epidemic has major health implications such as increased hospitalizations, substance addiction, and an increase in babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. The number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome has quadrupled over the past 15 years. In her report, “Unburying the lead: Public health tools are the key to beating the opioid epidemic,” Dayna Bowen Matthew looks into how American policymakers can make systematic changes to fight the opioid epidemic. She encourages policymakers to look at social factors such as housing, employment, criminal justice interventions, and community engagement when looking to solve the crisis.

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In the United States, life-threatening diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s receive a lot of attention, but tuberculosis, a bacterial disease that affects the lungs, kills the same amount of people globally and does not receive the same level of response. Potential treatments being developed for Alzheimer’s and dementia outnumber treatments for tuberculosis by more than three to one. Tuberculosis usually afflicts people of young ages, while dementia symptoms typically appear later in a person’s life. Dementia is the third leading cause of death in high-income countries, while tuberculosis is the fifth cause of death in low-income countries.

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As seen in the pie chart below, the United States contributes to almost one-third of Development Assistance for Health (DAH) spending. However, this only amounts to 0.22 percent of the entire federal budget, and if President Trump’s budget request is fulfilled, it will decrease considerably. He has called for a 24 percent reduction in spending on foreign assistance for global health. Jake Schneider and Darrell West examine how cuts in U.S. global health assistance would be devastating for global health. They predict that if a 24 percent decrease comes to fruition, the global development assistance for health would drop from $39.2 to $28.8 billion, and the U.S. contribution would drop from $13.6 billion to $10 billion. These cuts would have grave consequences for the developing world and international stability as a whole.

The modern world shouldn’t have problems this drastic.

Long-Term Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors Linked to Increased Risk of Stomach Cancer

Probably good to know for people who suffer from the associated problems the drugs are used for.

A class of drugs commonly used to treat acid reflux and heartburn has been linked to a greater-than-doubled risk of developing stomach cancer, a recent study has shown.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used to suppress acid production in the stomach and are among the most widely sold drugs in the world, but a new study reveals that long-term use of the medicine can increase stomach cancer risks by almost 250 percent.

The risks are associated with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, carried by more than half of the world’s population – most often harmlessly, but in a small percentage of people, the bug has been tied to the development of stomach cancer.

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“Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are an important treatment of Helicobacter pyloriinfection and have good safety records for short-term use,” says researcher Ian Wong from University College London.

“However, unnecessary long-term use should be avoided.”