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Preoccupations : health   235

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Why Europe works -
Bad news. Work ahead. Teachers, as ever, have much to contribute — discussing, recommending: eg ‘Why Europe Works’ —
FT  Europe  EU  2014  networks  network_culture  politics  health  work  borders 
may 2014 by Preoccupations
Fitbit Is Now Officially Profiting From Users’ Health Data | Betabeat
"Of course, to hear Fitbit tell it, participating companies could see reduced group insurance pricing, as BP America employees have already done. But once premiums and plans are directly tied to employees’ day to day health, it’s pretty easy to imagine a world where company culture, or even hiring decisions, are driven by individual fitness."
Fitbit  personal_informatics  quantified_self  tracking  fitness  health  insurance  2014  privacy 
april 2014 by Preoccupations
We know little about the effect of diet on health. That’s why so much is written about it
"As far as I can guess, the only sound advice about healthy eating for most people is: don’t eat too much; don’t eat all the same thing. You can’t make much money out of that advice. No doubt that is why you don’t hear it very often."
health  diet  nutrition  science  bad_science  2013  John_Ioannidis 
april 2014 by Preoccupations
Older versus newer media and the well-being... [J Adolesc Health. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI
"Despite concerns that excessive use of new media is harmful to adolescent development, the findings reinforce previous conclusions that television detracts from academic performance and book reading supports it. Heavy use of the Internet and video gaming may be more a symptom of mental health problems than a cause. Moderate use of the Internet, especially for acquiring information, is most supportive of healthy development."
media  youth  teens  well-being  health  technology  internet  2013  research 
february 2014 by Preoccupations
Dogs Make Me (and You) Wild: Ten Effects of Dogs on Dog People
"In comparing homes, we investigated a number of factors that might be important in terms of explaining differences in the bacteria among homes (And here by “we” I mean Jon Leff). Some, such as the presence of carpet in a house or the frequency of antimicrobial use, showed interesting patterns, but none explained much variation. Then we began to look at pets. About a third of the houses in our study had dogs; very few of the houses exclusively had cats so we focused on dogs (Cat lovers, we promise to return to the cats when we consider all the houses). We tested whether the presence or absence of a dog explained some of the variation among the houses we sampled. Now here I should say that the expectation was that they would explain little. The houses we considered differed in many features—number of occupants, presence of children, recent use of pesticides, presence of carpet—such that it seemed unlikely any one variable would explain much of the variation. Then we looked at dogs. The presence or absence of a dog in a house explained nearly half of the variation in the bacterial composition on pillows and TV screens in the houses we studied, NEARLY HALF! … Once, our dogs were our mutualists. We benefited them and they us; today our relationship is more complex. But I hypothesize that our dogs still affect our fitness. They do so when they bring bacteria to us. They bring it in their mouths, on their skin and in their fur, but also from the dirt around our homes (this much is not speculative, it now seems well-supported). I hypothesize that some people, particularly a subset of individuals living in very urban environments, environments in which their fingers rarely sink deeply into the mud, are so deeply removed from the diversity of wild species that their immune systems fail to develop normally (this also seems rather well supported). Finally (this is the bit in which I lean out into the darkness and wave my hands), I hypothesize that in these latter settings, settings like those found in many suburbs and most cities, dogs reconnect us to a diversity of species, species they drag into our houses, species that in the absence of more robust connections to microbial diversity may be sufficient to bring sense to our immune system. The connection dogs offer is not perfect (we might achieve a similar effect, other studies suggest, by living on a farm, or even planting native species in our backyards), but it can sometimes be enough in a world in which we have so few direct connections to life’s richness. In other words, while our dogs sometimes bring us frozen turkeys, they may,other days, bring us health. This is where the dogs are pointing as they run down the path barking, back to the biodiversity from whence we, and even the dead turkey, all came. It is an effect balanced by the other effects of dogs and yet one we experience (or fail to experience) all the same." via Anne (Twitter)
health  companion_species  dogs  bacteria  biodiversity  2013  research 
may 2013 by Preoccupations
Stop working (so hard) — I.M.H.O. — Medium
"What did The Hustle™ accomplish? I gained weight. I wasn’t spending enough time with my (now) wife. I felt like shit. I began to resent my work, and the work I was producing clearly wasn’t my best. I started cutting corners. I went from a mindset of shipping with quality and integrity to “when is this going to be over?” Nowadays, I’m working 4-day weeks, and doing no more than an hour or two of intense work at a time. I take a lot of walks. I’ve lost weight. I’m happier. My wife is happier. I’m more present. And most importantly: I’m doing the best work of my life." via Tom
work  health  happiness  relationships  well-being  2013 
april 2013 by Preoccupations
NHS reforms: From today the Coalition has put the NHS up for grabs - Telegraph
"what were once the NHS’s strengths – resources, expertise and the united focus on the patient – are being replaced by a fragmented and atomised service, bound not by a duty of care but by a contract and driven, not by what is best for the patient, but by the cost of the encounter. It will be a slow, insidious creep but it’s coming."
NHS  UK  medicine  health  Telegraph  2013  politics 
april 2013 by Preoccupations
The future of the NHS—irreversible privatisation? | BMJ
"What is plain is that this has been a long-term plan with things set up in a predictable way such that the outcome is likely to be privatisation of the NHS."
NHS  privatisation  health  medicine  2013  BMJ  Conservatives 
march 2013 by Preoccupations
Chief Medical Officer states medical facts; Government continues to ignore them – Telegraph Blogs
"What's interesting here is that "medical adviser states medical fact" is sufficiently noteworthy to be a national story. Homeopathy is, of course, rubbish, even if idiot vets think it works on horses or idiot princes think it works on princes. Treating drug users as criminals is, of course, a bizarre idea, creating a vast black market filled with unsafe products."
science  drugs  homeopathy  government  Telegraph  2013  health  medicine  evidence-based 
january 2013 by Preoccupations
The Secret to Losing Weight, According to My New High-Tech Fitness Monitor, Is (Wait for It...) Walking - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"Assuming my food intake remains roughly the same (which is a big assumption), walking is almost certainly the deciding factor in losing, gaining, or maintaining weight."
running  walking  health  2013  appetite  weight  Alexis_Madrigal 
january 2013 by Preoccupations
The Appetite Workout -
"Running, it would seem, better hones the body’s satiety mechanisms than walking. And longevity counts. You need to stick with the program for several months"
running  walking  health  NYT  2013  appetite  hunger 
january 2013 by Preoccupations
Fitness by design - Design - Domus
"Though Fitbit and FuelBand are mass-market products here and now, they really ask questions of the near future. For this is a rewarding but frustrating time. For those who have the patience — or, in my case, the pressing need — it's possible to cobble together some sort of functional personal informatics platform. In the future, these devices and services should interoperate with each other better, but it's clear that today we are at the beginning: the hardware devices are only in their first or second iterations as pieces of mass-produced technology, and most of the cloud services are less than a few years old. However, the majority of lower-level foundations are in place: battery hardware, display technology, low-energy wireless communication and sensor platforms are now commonplace, and it is easier than ever to deploy web services that can scale to meet demand when users begin to find each other. … What isn't clear is the design process of ecosystems to support passive, wearable devices that are intensely personal and mix-and- match. We don't worry about fashion being interoperable, about wardrobe-archive issues, or being able to use a piece of clothing from five years ago with another bought last week. Increasingly, we will. So the kind of battles being played out around interoperability, data sovereignty and social visibility in personal informatics represent a kind of avant-garde as core issues of the "Internet of things"."
Dan_Hon  2012  personal_informatics  health  well-being  design  interoperability  internet_of_things  Domus 
january 2013 by Preoccupations
Human Microbiome Project Explores Our 100 Trillion Good Bacteria -
"In a new five-year federal endeavor, the Human Microbiome Project, which has been compared to the Human Genome Project, 200 scientists at 80 institutions sequenced the genetic material of bacteria taken from nearly 250 healthy people. They discovered more strains than they had ever imagined — as many as a thousand bacterial strains on each person. And each person’s collection of microbes, the microbiome, was different from the next person’s. To the scientists’ surprise, they also found genetic signatures of disease-causing bacteria lurking in everyone’s microbiome. But instead of making people ill, or even infectious, these disease-causing microbes simply live peacefully among their neighbors. … Humans, said Dr. David Relman, a Stanford microbiologist, are like coral, “an assemblage of life-forms living together.”"
Man  body  bacteria  research  NYT  2012  medicine  health  microbiome 
december 2012 by Preoccupations
Magazine - The Measured Man - The Atlantic
"“Have you ever figured how information-rich your stool is?,” Larry asks me with a wide smile, his gray-green eyes intent behind rimless glasses. “There are about 100 billion bacteria per gram. Each bacterium has DNA whose length is typically one to 10 megabases—call it 1 million bytes of information. This means human stool has a data capacity of 100,000 terabytes of information stored per gram. That’s many orders of magnitude more information density than, say, in a chip in your smartphone or your personal computer. So your stool is far more interesting than a computer.”"
personal_informatics  health  quantified_self  well-being  2012 
june 2012 by Preoccupations
Use of mobile phones and risk of brain tumours: update of Danish cohort study
"In conclusion, in this update of a nationwide study of mobile phone subscribers in Denmark we found no indication of an increased risk of tumours of the central nervous system. The extended follow-up allowed us to investigate effects in people who had used mobile phones for 10 years or more, and this long term use was not associated with higher risks of cancer. Furthermore, we found no increased risk in temporal glioma, which would be the most plausible tumour location if mobile phone use was a risk. As a small to moderate increase in risk for subgroups of heavy users or after even longer induction periods than 10-15 years cannot be ruled out, however, further studies with large study populations, where the potential for misclassification of exposure and selection bias is minimised, are warranted."
health  cancer  risk  mobiles  phones  research  2011  PDF 
october 2011 by Preoccupations
Use of mobile phones and risk of brain tumours: update of Danish cohort study -- Frei et al. 343 --
"In this update of a large nationwide cohort study of mobile phone use, there were no increased risks of tumours of the central nervous system, providing little evidence for a causal association."
health  cancer  risk  mobiles  phones  research  2011  BMJ 
october 2011 by Preoccupations
Four short links: 28 July 2011 - O'Reilly Radar
"23andMe Disproves Its Own Business Model -- a hostile article talking about how there's little predictive power in genetics for diabetes and Parkinson's so what's the point of buying a 23andMe subscription? The wider issue is that, as we've known for a while, mapping out your genome only helps with a few clearcut conditions. For most medical things that we care about, environment is critical too--but that doesn't mean that personalized genomics won't help us better target therapies."
23andMe  genetics  Nat_Torkington  health  2011 
july 2011 by Preoccupations
"The objective of this initiative is to make visible that there are many fellow geeks among us who are intimately familiar with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. It helps to know you’re not alone. And it’s not because we’re geeks, but because we’re human. The Australian BeyondBlue site is of course an excellent resource, but, because geeks have a specific work environment, there are also particular challenges in dealing with these issues, and that’s where we feel our group can help with additional insights, tips, and posts from others with experience."
depression  geeks  health 
july 2011 by Preoccupations
Rinderpest, a Centuries-Old Animal Disease, Is Eradicated -
"the United Nations is officially declaring that for only the second time in history, a disease has been wiped off the face of the earth. The disease is rinderpest. Everyone has heard of smallpox. Very few have heard of the runner-up. That’s because rinderpest is an epizootic, an animal disease. The name means “cattle plague” in German, and it is a relative of the measles virus that infects cloven-hoofed beasts, including cattle, buffaloes, large antelopes and deer, pigs and warthogs, even giraffes and wildebeests. The most virulent strains killed 95 percent of the herds they attacked. But rinderpest is hardly irrelevant to humans. It has been blamed for speeding the fall of the Roman Empire, aiding the conquests of Genghis Khan and hindering those of Charlemagne, opening the way for the French and Russian Revolutions, and subjugating East Africa to colonization. … The victory is also proof that the conquest of smallpox was not just an unrepeatable fluke"
NYT  2011  UN  disease  progress  health 
july 2011 by Preoccupations
The World Health Organization, cell phones, and cancer—what's actually going on - Boing Boing
"Basically, this is where we start talking about semantics, and the difference between official, bureaucratic categories and how people actually talk about risk in everyday life. When you hear someone say, "Using your cell phone probably won't give you cancer. The evidence supporting that idea is very weak," they are, more or less, saying the same thing that the World Health Organization is saying. Only the WHO has also added the (very reasonable) assertion that more research is needed if we want to say anything definitive about cell phones and cancer."
mobiles  cancer  risk  health  WHO  IARC  2011  BoingBoing 
may 2011 by Preoccupations
World Health Organisation verdict on mobile phones and cancer « Cancer Research UK – Science Update
"It is understandable that people are concerned about mobile phones, especially because they are so widely used. But so far, the published studies do not show that mobile phones could increase the risk of cancer.  This conclusion is backed up by the lack of a solid biological mechanism, and the fact that brain cancer rates are not going up significantly. However, all of the studies so far have weaknesses, which make it impossible to entirely rule out a risk. Mobile phones are still a new technology and there is little evidence about effects of long-term use."
cancer  risk  mobiles  2011  WHO  IARC  health 
may 2011 by Preoccupations
IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans
"The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate. The Working Group did not quantitate the risk; however, one study of past cell phone use (up to the year 2004), showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas in the highest category of heavy users (reported average: 30 minutes per day over a 10‐year period)."
2011  PDF  cancer  risk  mobiles  health  IARC 
may 2011 by Preoccupations
Mobile phone radiation is a possible cancer risk, warns WHO | Science | The Guardian
"The declaration was based on evidence in published studies that intensive use of mobile phones might lead to an increased risk of glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer. … Jonathan Samet, a scientist at the University of Southern California, who chaired the group, said: "The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cellphones and cancer." In designating radio-frequency fields as "possibly carcinogenic", the WHO has put them on a par with around 240 other agents for which evidence of harm is uncertain, including low-level magnetic fields, talcum powder and working in a dry cleaners. The report found no clear mechanism for the waves to cause brain tumours. Radiation from mobile phones is too weak to cause cancer by breaking DNA, leading scientists to suspect other, more indirect routes. "We found some threads of evidence telling us how cancers might occur but there are acknowledged gaps and uncertainties," Samet said. … Exposure from a mobile phone base station is typically much lower than from a handset held to the ear, but concerns over the possible health effects of electromagnetic waves have extended to base stations and wireless computer networks, particularly in relation to schools. According to the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, half of all primary schools and 82% of secondary schools make use of wireless computer networks. Wi-fi equipment is restricted to a maximum output of 100 milliwatts in Europe at the most popular frequency of 2.4 gigahertz. At that level, exposure to radiowaves should not exceed guideline levels drawn up by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation and adopted in the UK. A Health Protection Agency study led by Mann in 2009 found that exposure to radiowaves from wi-fi equipment was well within these guideline levels."
health  cancer  risk  mobiles  Guardian  2011  WHO  WiFi 
may 2011 by Preoccupations
Daring Fireball Linked List: WHO: Cell Phone Use Can Increase Possible Cancer Risk
"I think it’s quite possible that this issue could be the single greatest long-term threat to Apple. I’d hate to see today’s handset makers turn into yesterday’s tobacco companies."
mobiles  health  risk  cancer  2011  WHO  John_Gruber  Apple 
may 2011 by Preoccupations
Ideas: Salt, Fish Oil, and the Implications of Optimization
"There is a longstanding argument for reducing the amount of salt modern Americans consume, based on evidence that a high salt diet tends to produce high blood pressure. A recent European statistical study, however, reported just the opposite of what that argument suggests—evidence that lower salt intake was correlated with an increased risk of death from heart disease. Similarly, there is evidence that an increased consumption of omega 3 oils reduces the risk of heart attacks. But it has recently been reported that it also increases the risk of the more serious form of prostate cancer. … we ought not to be surprised by results such as the two I just discussed. The fact that some change produces a gain in one measurable dimension that matters to us is very poor evidence that it produces an overall gain. Before altering behavior or diet, one ought to look for evidence of net effects on life expectancy or other reasonably final goals, not merely for desirable effects on one input thereto."
diet  health  complex_systems  2011  David_Friedman 
may 2011 by Preoccupations
Stature and Robusticity in the Neolithic Demographic Transition
"The population explosion that followed the Neolithic revolution was initially explained by improved health experiences for agriculturalists. However, empirical studies of societies shifting subsistence from foraging to primary food production have found evidence for deteriorating health from an increase in infectious and dental disease and a rise in nutritional deficiencies. In Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture (Cohen and Armelagos 1984), this trend towards declining health was observed for 19 of 21 societies undergoing the agricultural transformation. The counterintuitive increase in nutritional diseases resulted from seasonal hunger, reliance on single crops deficient in essential nutrients, crop blights, social inequalities, and trade. In this study, we examined the evidence of stature reduction in studies since 1984 to evaluate if the trend towards decreased health after agricultural transitions remains. The trend towards a decrease in adult height and a general reduction of overall health during times of subsistence change remains valid, with the majority of studies finding stature to decline as the reliance on agriculture increased.The impact of agriculture, accompanied by increasing population density and a rise in infectious disease, was observed to decrease stature in populations from across the entire globe and regardless of the temporal period during which agriculture was adopted, including Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and North America."
Neolithic  Man  agriculture  progress  health  2011  archaeology  bioarchaeology 
april 2011 by Preoccupations
Alcohol 'more harmful than heroin'
Sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt publishes investigation in Lancet reopening debate on classification
Alcohol is the most dangerous drug in the UK by a considerable margin, beating heroin and crack cocaine into second and third place, according to an authoritative study published today which will reopen calls for the drugs classification system to be scrapped and a concerted campaign launched against drink.
Led by the sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt with colleagues from the breakaway Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, the study says that if drugs were classified on the basis of the harm they do, alcohol would be class A, alongside heroin and crack cocaine.
Today's paper, published by the respected Lancet medical journal, will be seen as a challenge to the government to take on the fraught issue of the relative harms of legal and illegal drugs, which proved politically damaging to Labour.
Nutt was sacked last year by the home secretary at the time, Alan Johnson, for challenging ministers' refusal to take the advice of the official Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which he chaired. The committee wanted cannabis to remain a class C drug and for ecstasy to be downgraded from class A, arguing that these were less harmful than other drugs. Nutt claimed scientific evidence was overruled for political reasons.
The new paper updates a study carried out by Nutt and others in 2007, which was also published by the Lancet and triggered debate for suggesting that legally available alcohol and tobacco were more dangerous than cannabis and LSD.
Alcohol, in that paper, ranked fifth most dangerous overall. The 2007 paper also called for an overhaul of the drug classification system, but critics disputed the criteria used to rank the drugs and the absence of differential weighting.
Today's study offers a more complex analysis that seeks to address the 2007 criticisms. It examines nine categories of harm that drugs can do to the individual "from death to damage to mental functioning and loss of relationships" and seven types of harm to others. The maximum possible harm score was 100 and the minimum zero.
Overall, alcohol scored 72 – against 55 for heroin and 54 for crack. The most dangerous drugs to their individual users were ranked as heroin, crack and then crystal meth. The most harmful to others were alcohol, heroin and crack in that order.
Nutt told the Guardian the drug classification system needed radical change. "The Misuse of Drugs Act is past its sell-by date and needs to be redone," he said. "We need to rethink how we deal with drugs in the light of these new findings."
For overall harm, the other drugs examined ranked as follows: crystal meth (33), cocaine (27), tobacco (26), amphetamine/speed (23), cannabis (20), GHB (18), benzodiazepines (15), ketamine (15), methadone (13), butane (10), qat (9), ecstasy (9), anabolic steroids (9), LSD (7), buprenorphine (6) and magic mushrooms (5).
The authors write: "Our findings lend support to previous work in the UK and the Netherlands, confirming that the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm. They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports that aggressively targeting alcohol harm is a valid and necessary public health strategy."
Nutt told the Lancet a new classification system "would depend on what set of harms 'to self or others' you are trying to reduce". He added: "But if you take overall harm, then alcohol, heroin and crack are clearly more harmful than all others, so perhaps drugs with a score of 40 or more could be class A; 39 to 20 class B; 19-10 class C and 10 or under class D." This would result in tobacco being labelled a class B drug alongside cocaine. Cannabis would also just make class B, rather than class C. Ecstasy and LSD would end up in the lowest drug category, D.
He was not suggesting classification was unnecessary: "We do need a classification system – we do need to regulate the ones that are very harmful to individuals like heroin and crack cocaine." But he thought the UK could learn from the Portuguese and Dutch: "They have innovative policies which could reduce criminalisation." Representatives of both countries will be at a summit in London today, called drug science and drug policy: building a consensus, where the study will be presented.
UK reformers will be hoping the coalition government will take a more evidence-based approach to classification and tackling drugs than Labour did. The Liberal Democrats supported Nutt over his sacking, while Conservative leader David Cameron, who got into trouble at Eton, aged 15, for smoking cannabis, acknowledged the Misuse of Drugs Act was not working during his time as an MP on the Home Affairs select committee.
Nutt called for far more effort to be put into reducing harm caused by alcohol, pointing out that its economic costs, as well as the costs to society of addiction and broken families, are very high. Taxation on alcohol is "completely inappropriate", he said – with strong cider, for instance, taxed at a fifth of the rate of wine – and action should particularly target the low cost and promotion of alcohol such as Bacardi breezers to young people.
Don Shenker, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said : "What this study and new classification shows is that successive governments have mistakenly focused attention on illicit drugs, whereas the pervading harms from alcohol should have given a far higher priority. Drug misusers are still ten times more likely to receive support for their addiction than alcohol misusers, costing the taxpayer billions in repeat hospital admissions and alcohol related crime. Alcohol misuse has been exacerbated in recent years as government failed to accept the link between cheap prices, higher consumption and resultant harms to individuals and society."
"[The] government should now urgently ensure alcohol is made less affordable and invest in prevention and treatment services to deal with the rise in alcohol dependency that has occurred."
The Home Office said last night: "We have not read the report. This government has just completed an alcohol consultation and will publish a drugs strategy in the coming months."
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "In England, most people drink once a week or less. If you're a women and stick to two to three units a day or a man and drink up to three or four units, you are unlikely to damage your health. The government is determined to prevent alcohol abuse without disadvantaging those who drink sensibly."Two experts from the Amsterdam National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research point out in a Lancet commentary the study does not look at multiple drug use, which can make some drugs much more dangerous – such as cocaine or cannabis together with alcohol – but they acknowledge the topic was outside its scope.
They add that because the pattern of recreational drug use changes, the study should be repeated every five or 10 years.
AlcoholDavid NuttDrugs policyDrugsHealthDrugsSarah © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Alcohol  David_Nutt  Drugs_policy  UK_news  Society  Drugs  Health  Politics  Science  Guardian  News 
november 2010 by Preoccupations
Mobile phone study finds no solid link to brain tumours | Science | The Guardian
"Publication of a landmark study into mobile phones and brain cancer was delayed for years because scientists failed to agree on its findings and whether to issue a warning about excessive use of the devices, the Guardian has learned. … Patricia McKinney, an epidemiologist at Leeds University who led the northern UK part of the study, said: "This research has not shown evidence of an increased risk of developing a glioma or meningioma brain tumour as a result of using a mobile." In the report, the Interphone study group writes: "There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma, and much less of meningioma, at the highest exposure levels ... However, biases and errors limit the strength of the conclusion we can draw … and prevent a causal interpretation.""
mobiles  phones  health  research  Guardian  2010  WHO  Interphone 
may 2010 by Preoccupations
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