Stories tagged health

Oct
15
2010

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Blog Action Day 2010

Water is a global issue, deserving a global conversation. Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15. The idea is for everyone to talk about the same topic on the same day to increase world awareness about that topic. This year the topic is WATER.

Water ideas to blog about

You can go here blogaction page at change.org for blogging ideas about water.

Please say something about World Water

I am going to spend 5 or 6 hours today blogging about water. I will put links to my posts in the comments below. If you have time, please use our comments area to talk about World Water.

Oct
03
2010

Human embryonic stem cell differentiation: A: Cell colonies that are not yet differentiated. B: Nerve cell
Human embryonic stem cell differentiation: A: Cell colonies that are not yet differentiated. B: Nerve cellCourtesy Nissim Benvenisty

Another step toward living forever

Stem cells have the potential to become almost any type of body part. I believe they will soon be used to rejuvenate, repair, or rebuild body parts. Look at our past Science Buzz posts about stem cells. Bad knees or hips? Inject some stem cells to rebuild the cartilage. Stem cells also can repair cut spinal cords, damaged eyes, diseased brains, or help a diabetic's pancreas make insulin.

A new, better way to make stem cells

Up until now, the stem cells created by reprogramming adult skin cells still had bits and pieces remaining that were not safe enough for human applications.
"Now stem cell researcher Derrick Rossi of Harvard Medical School in Boston and his colleagues have developed a way to reprogram cells using synthetic RNA molecules." (Science Magazine) The technique is also twice as fast and 100% more efficient. The team calls its cells RiPS cells, for RNA induced Pluripotent Cells.

Learn more about RNA induced Pluripotent Cells

The new technique, is published online in the journal, Cell Stem Cell.

Oct
03
2010

Open fire cooking
Open fire cookingCourtesy Tallia Miller

Smoke in my eyes (and lungs)

Cooking food on an open fire may sound romantic but in reality breathing smoke and scrounging for fire wood make it not so pleasant. It is estimated that the smoke from cooking fires leads to nearly 2 million premature deaths each year.
A Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has formed to

"save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions."

100 million new stoves by 2020

A better burning stove should not be rocket science but several factors should help the Alliance meet their goal of 100 million households converting to clean cookstoves and fuels by 2020.

  • Recent advances in clean cookstove design, testing, and monitoring
  • Compelling new research on the health and environmental benefits of clean cookstov
  • Recent commercial success and development of a number of business models in the field
  • The advent of national cookstove programs in India, Mexico, Peru and elsewhere
  • The increasing need for effective near- and long-term action to address climate change at the local and regional level; and
  • The potential for carbon finance to fund stove initiatives at greater scale

Learn more

BBC video
Clean Cookstoves/media

Sep
22
2010

Salmonella invades human cells: Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells.
Salmonella invades human cells: Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells.Courtesy Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH
More than half a billion eggs were recalled after Salmonella sickened over 1600 people (according to the Center for Disease Control, or CDC in September.) That’s a lot of eggs, and a lot of sick people.

What is this nasty bacteria that makes us wonder whether we should let our kids eat raw chocolate chip cookie dough, even as we sneak several spoonfuls when they’re not looking?

Salmonella enterocolitis is one of the most common types of food poisoning and is caused by the bacteria Salmonella Enteriditis. You can get a Salmonella infection by swallowing food or water that is contaminated with the salmonella bacteria. Often, the culprit is surface contamination from raw chicken and raw or undercooked eggs. In most people, it causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping, but young children and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of dehydration and more serious infections.

Why don’t they just wash the eggs better? Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of animals and birds and can infect the ovaries of healthy-looking chickens. This allows bacteria to infect the eggs even before the shell is formed and voila- you have a pathogen that can’t be washed off of the egg because it’s inside. Salmonella bacteria are often found in the “white” of an egg, although they can migrate to the yolk as the raw egg sits in your refrigerator. Organic and free range chickens have less disease than factory-”farm” raised chickens, partly because of healthier diets and less crowding. Cooking eggs until the yolk is solid kills Salmonella bacteria.

How can you make your cookie dough and eat it too? Buy pasteurized eggs (you can find them at most grocery stores) that have been heat-treated to kill bacteria, but are still essentially raw for all cooking and baking purposes.

Also, remember to wash cutting boards you’ve cut meat on with soap and water before cutting anything else on them, or just have separate cutting boards for meat. Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling raw eggs! Pet food and reptiles can also harbor salmonella bacteria, so have your kids wash their hand after handling either!

Bacteria are everywhere. Some keep you healthy and some make you sick, but making good decisions in the kitchen can keep you and your family from being affected by food-born illness!

(This blog post was originally posted on the Kitchen Pantry Scientist blog.)

Here is an update on my post about California's whooping cough epidemic.

A ninth baby has died in California from whooping cough, health officials said Thursday.
All nine infants were under three months of age.
As of Tuesday, the state has recorded more illnesses due to whooping cough (4,017) than in any year since 1955. CNN

What is safest for newborns? Getting vaccinated or not getting vaccinated?

Sep
18
2010

Dyson hand dryer
Dyson hand dryerCourtesy Mr T in DC

How you dry your hands matters

Dyson, who makes a new type of "airblade" hand dryer, funded research which showed regular hot-air hand dryers could make your hands "germier".

When volunteers kept their hands still, the dryers reduced skin bacteria numbers by around 37 per cent compared to just after washing. But the count rose by 18 per cent when volunteers rubbed their hands under one of the machines. Paper towels proved the most efficient, halving the bacterial count even though volunteers rubbed their hands. That's because the towels actually scrape off the bacteria. Journal of Applied Microbiology

This mesage brought to you by ...

Reading this research paper made me think it was a commercial message written by the Dyson advertising department.

I Fall to Pieces

by mdr on Sep. 16th, 2010

Body parts. Yewwwwww!: Sure this photo is disgusting but it's only a bowl of chicken feet soup, and illustrates the article rather well.
Body parts. Yewwwwww!: Sure this photo is disgusting but it's only a bowl of chicken feet soup, and illustrates the article rather well.Courtesy dfinnecy
I don't think this is what Patsy Cline was singing about, but if you follow the link below you'll be able to arm yourself (pun intended) with what to do when unforeseen accidents separate you from your fingers, toes, teeth, etc., or even if your eyeball pops out.

CNN Health: What to do when body parts fall off

Sep
05
2010

Cotton for filters
Cotton for filtersCourtesy Martin Labar

Safe drinking water saves lives

Clean, safe drinking is desperately needed throughout the world. Usually filters "filter out" bacteria by having openings too small to get through. Trouble is, though, that the tiny holes get plugged up, stopping the flow of water. Stanford researchers have now developed a filter about 80,000 times faster than filters that trap bacteria.

Cheap and easy

The filter was made by dipping plain cotton cloth (from Walmart) in a mixture of silver nanowires and carbon nanotubes (for a few minutes). By charging the filter with 20 volts of electricity, over 98 percent of Escherichia coli bacteria were killed as they passed through. Even in remote or primitive areas, the electricity could be supplied by a small solar panel, or a couple 12-volt car batteries, or be generated from a stationary bicycle or by a hand-cranked device.

Cui said the next steps in the research are to try the filter on different types of bacteria and to run tests using several successive filters.
"With one filter, we can kill 98 percent of the bacteria," Cui said. "For drinking water, you don't want any live bacteria in the water, so we will have to use multiple filter stages."

Learn more
High-speed filter uses electrified nanostructures to purify water at low cost Stanford University News

Aug
19
2010

Pakistan flood
Pakistan floodCourtesy Nadir B

Millions of Pakistan flood victims desperate for aid

United Nation claims more than four million Pakistanis have been made homeless by nearly 3 weeks of flooding.

The number of Pakistani flood victims in need of urgent humanitarian relief has risen from six million to eight million, the U.N. said."

Water every where but none safe to drink

Outbreaks of cholera are common in large floods. Getting safe drinking water to many millions of people is urgent.

"We could have up to 140,000 cases of cholera," Sabatinelli (WHO) said. "We are preparing ourselves for that."

This disaster is "epic"

The after effects of this Pakistan flooding are worse than the 2004 Tsunami or the earthquakes in China and Haiti. Rebuilding roads, bridges, and buildings, and providing food, water and shelter to the many millions of flood victims is going to take billions of dollars.

Learn more about the Pakistan flood disaster

Going to the Minnesota State Fair is mostly about putting bad things into your body. Occasionally on the midway, things can come out of your body. But University of Minnesota researchers will be at the 2010 State Fair with hopes of taking DNA out of about 500 kids. And those who donate will get lots of cool stuff. But some wonder if this is the proper way to conduct medical research. What do you think?