Friday, March 28, 2014

What kills more people than AIDS, diabetes and road injuries?

This is very speculative.  Very WHO.  How do you sort out all causes of deaths worldwide?  Many studies of "illness" caused by pollution just asssume that pollution is the cause

Air pollution killed seven million people in 2012, more people than AIDS, diabetes and road injuries combined.

One in eight deaths worldwide can be attributed to breathing tainted air, making it the world’s largest environmental health risk, the Geneva-based World Health Organisation said in a report on Tuesday, today doubling its previous estimates for pollution fatalities.

The biggest culprit is poor ventilation of indoor heaters and cookers, the agency said.

The WHO revised the number because the deadly effect of air contaminants, which extends beyond respiratory problems to heart attacks, strokes and cancer, are now better understood. Low- and middle-income nations in Asia accounted for more than 70 per cent of deaths related to air contamination in 2012, the report shows.

‘‘Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution,’’ Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s department for public health, environmental and social determinants of health, said in a statement. ‘‘The evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.’’

Indoor smoke killed about 4.3 million people and outdoor air pollution killed about 3.7 million in 2012, the WHO said.

There’s some overlap between deaths from indoor and outdoor factors, the agency said. The WHO previously estimated two million deaths in 2004 from indoor pollution and 1.3 million in 2008 from outdoor air contamination.

‘‘Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves,’’ Flavia Bustreo, the WHO’s assistant director-general for family, women and children’s health, said in the statement.

The new estimates show a stronger link between air pollution and cardiovascular disease such as stroke and heart ailments, in addition to the known connection with respiratory disease, according to the report.

Outdoor air pollution can cause lung cancer and increase the risk of bladder cancer, a World Health Organisation agency said in October, ranking it as a carcinogen for the first time.

Premature deaths and health problems from air pollution cost China as much as $US300 billion ($329.34 billion) a year, an official has found, report says, calling for a new urbanisation model for the world's second-largest economy.

"As China prepares for the next wave of urbanisation, addressing environmental and resource constraints will become increasingly more urgent because much of China's pollution is concentrated in its cities," said the joint report by the World Bank and the Development Research Centre of the State Council, China's cabinet.

High mortality levels and other health problems from China's notorious air pollution are estimated to cost the country from $US100 billion to more than $US300 billion a year, said the report, which was 14 months in the making.

Writing in the Lancet in December, former Chinese health minister Chen Zhu cited studies showing air pollution caused up to 500,000 premature deaths a year in China.

Tuesday's report said the long-term consequences could include birth defects and impaired cognitive functions because young children and infants are severely affected by poor air quality.

China's rapid urbanisation over the last three decades -  a key part of its economic boom - has avoided some common ills such as large-scale slums and unemployment, the report said.

"But strains have begun to emerge in the form of rising inequality, environmental degradation, and the quickening depletion of natural resources," it said.

Much of the new urban land was taken from farmers at prices often no more than 20 per cent of market values, and the amount of available farmland is now close to the minimum level necessary to ensure food security, said the report.

If current trends continue, an additional 34,000 square kilometres - an area about the size of the Netherlands - will be needed to accommodate the growth of cities in the next decade, it added.

China needs to reform the way it expands its cities and curb inefficient urban sprawl, which has sometimes produced ghost towns and wasteful property development, the report said.

On current trends China will spend $US5.3 trillion on urbanisation over the next 15 years - but with more efficient, denser cities the country could save about $US1.4 trillion, or 15 per cent of its gross domestic product last year, World Bank managing director Sri Mulyani Indrawati told a conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

The report proposed six areas for reform including more efficient land management that better benefits farmers, and adjustments to the "hukou" residence registration system to give migrant workers equal access to basic public services.

It also called on Beijing to step up its law enforcement on pollution.

China's Premier Li Keqiang vowed to "declare war" on pollution at the country's annual legislative gathering this month, and announced new measures to add to a raft of others issued over the past year.


Alzheimer's Disease risk may begin in the womb

If you are a  mouse

A pregnant mother's eating habits may influence her unborn child's chances of developing Alzheimer's, new research has suggested.

Scientists found that offspring of mice fed a high-fat diet were more likely as adults to experience impaired blood flow in the brain, a feature linked to the disease.

When the offspring were also fed a high-fat diet their brains became less able to rid themselves of harmful amyloid protein, which accumulates in sticky tangles in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

More work is needed but the study could have important implications for humans, the researchers believe.

Lead scientist Dr Cheryl Hawkes, from the University of Southampton, said: "Our preliminary findings suggest that mothers' diets during pregnancy may have long-term effects on their children's brains and vascular health.

"We still need to do more work to understand how our findings translate to humans, but we have known for some time that protecting mothers' health during pregnancy can help lower the risk of health problems for their children.

"Our next step will be to investigate how our findings could relate to Alzheimer's disease in people. We hope these results could provide a new lead for research to understand how to prevent the disease."

The research was presented at the Alzheimer's Research UK conference taking place in Oxford this week.

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at the charity, which funded the study, said: "It's important to remember that this research is in mice, but these results add to existing evidence suggesting that the risk of Alzheimer's disease in later life is affected by our health earlier in life.

"This study goes one step further by suggesting that what happens in the womb may also be important. We're pleased to have funded this research, which has shed new light on the complex picture of Alzheimer's risk.

"Alzheimer's is a complicated disease and it's likely that our risk is affected by a number of different genetic and environmental factors.

"Research to understand these factors can help equip us to take steps to prevent the disease, but in the meantime, evidence suggests we can lower our risk by eating a healthy, balanced diet, doing regular exercise, not smoking and keeping our blood pressure and weight in check."


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