Environment

Pollution causes rise in cancer cases

Air pollution contributes to a 10 per cent rise in people being diagnosed with cancer, a study has found.

US researchers believe it causes an extra 44 cases per 100,000 people – equivalent to more than 28,600 cancer diagnoses in Britain.

The study, published in the journal Cancer, is the first to examine the link between environment and cancer, although previous research has found diesel fumes could cause women to give birth prematurely.

Its authors say developing the disease is 50 per cent due to genetics, but environment also damages our DNA, changes the way genes work and can even alter important hormones.

They examined the populations of almost 2,700 counties across America, where cancer affected an average of 451 people in every 100,000 between 2006 and 2010.

The extra 44 cases found in the worst polluted counties compared to the cleanest represents a rise of around 10 per cent, while socio-economic circumstances and roads also increased risk.

Lung cancer had already been linked to diesel exhausts and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, produced by cars and also thought to cause asthma and heart disease. But an extra ten cases of prostate cancer per 100,000 men were also attributed to air pollution, with almost four extra cases of breast cancer per 100,000 women. The reasons behind this increase are still being examined, but the study states: ‘Environmental exposures can alter or interfere with a variety of biological processes, including hormone production and function, inflammation, DNA damage and gene suppression or over-expression.’

Previous research has suggested particles of pollution can mimic oestrogen, which is known to fuel breast cancer.

They can also make women’s breasts denser, which raises their danger of the cancer.

To investigate the effects of overall environmental quality, the researchers looked at air, water and land quality, as well as the built environment and social factors. When adjusting for age, the annual incidence was 451 cancer cases per 100,000 people.

But counties with poor environmental quality had on average 39 more cases per 100,000 people than those of high quality.

Water quality had little or no effect on cancer rates when taken in isolation, with land quality, including the use of pesticides, having a small effect.

Air quality alone was found to cause an extra 44.19 cases per 100,000 over the four years.

Global Warming

Climate Conditions Affect Health

A consortium of 11 leading medical societies, representing more than half of the doctors in the United States, launched a campaign to show how climate change is affecting people’s health.

Its new report, Medical Alert! Climate Change Is Harming Our Health, says climate change is leading to more cardio-respiratory illness, the spread of infectious disease as well as physical and mental health problems from more frequent episodes of extreme weather.

The report was delivered to Congress before being more widely distributed. “Doctors in every part of our country see that climate change is making Americans sicker,” said Dr. Mona Sarfaty, director of the new consortium and a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA.

Warming Seas

The world’s oceans are heating up about 13 percent faster than previously believed, with the rate of warming since 1992 found to be twice as great as the warming rate measured since 1960.

Researchers from leading U.S. and Chinese agencies made the discovery by correcting past data errors and by using more advanced climate computer models.

“The oceans are affecting weather and climate through more intense rains. This process is a major reason why 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded at the Earth’s surface,” the team wrote in a press release. “Additionally, 2015 was a year with record hurricanes, heat waves, droughts and wildfires around the world.”

Disease

Smog Responsible for Underweight Newborns

The worse the air pollution, the more underweight the children were in the study group. A new U.K.-based study of more than 3 million human births in nine countries has shown that exposure to air pollution is linked to low birth weights. Scientists looked at the average level of air pollution expecting mothers were exposed to, specifically exhaust and power plant emissions.

They found that pregnant women living in areas with high pollution were more likely to have babies with low birth weight.

Being undersized at childbirth has been linked with infant mortality as well as a host of diseases and chronic health problems throughout a child’s life.

Previous studies had suggested a link between air pollution and low birth weight but contained too little data to confirm it.

While much has been done about air quality in Western nations over the past several decades, urban centers such as Beijing and other industrialized areas of Asia have shown a sharp increase in air pollution.

Beijing last month experienced air pollution that officials termed was “off the charts.”

Disease

An outbreak of a variant of swine flu has infected 141 people in Indiana and Ohio. No person-person transmission has been found.

More than 8 million chickens have been destroyed on farms in northern Mexico due to a bird flu outbreak.

 

Disease

The authorities in Uttar Pradesh in India are battling an outbreak of encephalitis.

Second person dies in Legionnaires disease outbreak in Edinburgh, Scotland. There are 42 confirmed cases and 47 suspected cases in the outbreak which is believed to have peaked. Five people who contracted the disease have instructed attorneys to seek answers to the outbreak.

 

Disease

Dengue fever outbreak in India claims at least 30 lives. Dengue fever is a seasonal hazard in India, but the outbreak is larger than usual and the authorities are taking measures to combat the spread of the disease.

Cameroon orders the widespread vaccination of pigs after an outbreak of Erysipelas, a disease causing skin lesions and ulcers which is often fatal.

Disease

The incidence of liver disease in Britain has risen by 25% over the last decade, causing a record number of related deaths. The rise has been attributed in large part to the British fondness for binge drinking.

Measels outbreak in Pakistan has killed 12 children, with 70 more confirmed cases hospitalized.