Monday, April 14, 2014

Emissions from diesel can damage children's brains and increase the risk of autism and schizophrenia, scientists warn

This is an old chestnut.  This appears to be a bureaucratic claim rather than a systematic meta-analysis.  I have looked at plenty of these studies before and they are all correlational

An environmental report has blasted diesel cars  - despite earlier government efforts to encourage drivers to switch from petrol to diesel.

Separate research has also revealed that diesel fumes could cause children to develop autism and schizophrenia.

Nitrogen dioxide, a chemical present in diesel emissions, causes eye, nose and throat irritation and is said to cause breathing problems in young children.

But scientists have warned that as well as damaging the lungs, the fumes could cause autism and schizophrenia to develop within children living near busy roads.

Long-term exposure to the fumes changes the way that a child's brain develops, it has been revealed.

The danger of the fumes has been compared to the effect of lead in petrol.

In 1999, lead in petrol was banned after scientists revealed that lead additives caused brain damage in children.

The concerns over the fumes have been raised in a report by the World Health Organisation.

Dr Ian Mudway, a researcher in respiratory toxicology at King's College, and a co-author of the report told The Sunday Times that there is 'strong evidence' that diesel pollutants have an effect on cognitive function in children.

Dr Mudway said the organisation planned to carry out more research on the theme in London because the original study was conducted in California where diesel vehicle use is significantly lower.

The study, from California, reported last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 525 children, 279 of the children had autism.

Results found that the pollution levels experienced by mothers' during pregnancy and by the babies the first year of their life were strongly linked to the risk of developing autism.

A further two American studies found that older men and women exposed to high levels of pollution experienced higher memory loss compared to others of the same age.

Much of the research on the topic has come from the United States - despite the fact that diesel is mainly used in buses and heavy goods vehicles there rather than normal cars.

On Wednesday in London, there was a surge in 999 calls after a cloud of smog caused breathing problems across the city.

Now a warning from the Air Quality Expert Group in report by commissioned by the UK Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has raised concerns that nitrogen dioxide emissions, created by diesel cars, have continued to rise over the past decade.

In the study, scientists have urged ministers to make a u-turn back to petrol vehicles.

The air quality group, which provides independent scientific advice to the government, told ministers that it would be easier to promote petrol rather than attempt to clean up diesel.

One of the authors of the report, David Carslaw, blasted the European Union for the 'complete failure' of the way emissions are regulated.

Mr Carslaw told The Sunday Times that European guidelines on testing cars were 'too lenient'. Tests did not reflect how vehicles perform on real roads, where they produce four to five times the number of emissions, he said.

Mr Carslaw said: 'Switching to petrol is the best idea for light vehicles', which includes cars, taxis and small vans.

This is the third time that scientists have recommended a move from diesel to petrol. The two previous warnings were both archived by DEFRA.

A government spokesman said that there was no 'single magic bullet' to tackle air pollution and one form of transport could not be linked to pollution levels.


How a portion of beans a day could keep heart disease at bay: Pulses, lentils and peas help reduce 'bad' cholesterol

The journal article is: Effect of dietary pulse intake on established therapeutic lipid targets for cardiovascular risk reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  The data appear sound but the effects observed were weak. No findings on morbidity or mortality were given.  It's about cholesterol only

They are one of our favourite convenience foods. And now it seems that a daily serving of baked beans could make you live longer as well.

Beans can significantly reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart diseases, according to a study by medical experts.

They are among foods including another British staple, peas, which have been found to cut LDL, commonly known as bad cholesterol, by up to 5 per cent.

All it takes it a daily portion of pulses, said the report for the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

However, there could be one drawback – wind and bloating were among the side effects of those eating the daily portion, although this subsided after a while, said lead researcher Dr John Sievenpiper from St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto.

Pulses are a low fat source of nutrition and fibre. They include most varieties of beans as well as peas, lentils – which go into many curry dishes – and chickpeas, which are the key ingredient of hummus.

The pulses break down slowly in the body’s system and reduce LDL, more so in men than in women but this may be because men’s LDL levels are higher to start with.

Urging people to eat more pulses, Dr Sievenpiper said: ‘We have a lot of room in our diets for increasing our intake to derive the cardiovascular benefits. As an added bonus, they’re inexpensive.’

‘The five per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol observed with the dietary pulse diets can be considered in addition to the five per cent – five per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol expected from the heart-healthy diets alone,’ he added.


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