Archive for November, 2008


Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Large areas of forests could succumb to climate change; scientists urge local adaptation responses to avoid disaster for environment, forest-dependent people in new report.

“The people living in forests are highly dependent on forest goods and services and are often very vulnerable socioeconomically,” said Locatelli. “They usually have a much more intimate understanding of their forests than anyone else, but the unprecedented rates of climate change will almost certainly jeopardise their ability to adapt to new conditions. They will need help.”

The report reviewed the scientific literature on the effects of climate change on forests and came to several alarming conclusions:

- By the end of the 21st century, tropical regions in Africa, South Asia, and Central America are likely or very likely to be warming at a faster rate than the global annual mean warming.

- Rainfall in East Africa and during the summer monsoon of South and Southeast Asia is likely to increase.

- Annual precipitation in most of Central America is likely to decrease; this region is the most prominent tropical hotspot of climate change. It is unclear how rainfall in the African Sahel and the Amazon will change.

- Peak wind intensities of tropical cyclones are likely to increase, in particular in tropical Southeast Asia and South Asia, bringing extreme rainfall.

- Droughts and floods are expected to increase globally, making water management more difficult.

“In many forests, relatively minor changes in climate can have devastating consequences, increasing their vulnerability to drought, insect attack and fire,” said CIFOR forest ecologist Markku Kanninen, a co-author of the report. “Burning or dying forests emit large quantities of greenhouse gases, so there is a chance that an initially small change in climate could lead to much bigger changes.”

Read more on this story and others in our Green Living News Page.


Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

People who eat higher amounts of whole-grain foods have a lower risk of heart failure than those who eat more high-fat dairy products and eggs, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota, the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center. A 13-year study of 14,153 African-American and white adults 45-64 years old from four U.S. communities investigated relationships between heart failure incidents (defined as death or hospitalization) and eating seven food categories (whole grains, fruits/vegetables, fish, nuts, high-fat dairy, egg and red meat).

During that time, 1,140 heart failure hospitalizations occurred. After adjusting for variables such as calorie intake, demographics, lifestyle factors, pre-existing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension, the researchers determined participants who ate more whole grains had lower a risk for heart failure than those who consumed more eggs and high-fat dairy products.

The researchers concluded: “It would be prudent to recommend that those at high risk of heart failure increase their intake of whole grains and reduce intake of high-fat dairy foods and eggs, along with following other healthful dietary practices.”

Source: The November 2008 Journal of the American Dietetic Association
Media Release

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Monday, November 24th, 2008

Bacteria that can cause serious heart disease in humans are being spread by rat fleas, sparking concern that the infections could become a bigger problem in humans. Research published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology suggests that brown rats, the biggest and most common rats in Europe, may now be carrying the bacteria. Since the early 1990s, more than 20 species of Bartonella bacteria have been discovered. They are considered to be emerging zoonotic pathogens, because they can cause serious illness in humans worldwide from heart disease to infection of the spleen and nervous system.

“A new species called Bartonella rochalimae was recently discovered in a patient with an enlarged spleen who had travelled to South America,” said Professor Chao-Chin Chang from the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan. “This event raised concern that it could be a newly emerged zoonotic pathogen. Therefore, we decided to investigate further to understand if rodents living close to human environment could carry this bacteria.”

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Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Treating a common heart rhythm disorder by burning heart tissue with a catheter works dramatically better than drug treatments, a major international study has found.

One year after undergoing a treatment called catheter ablation, 75 percent of patients with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation were free of symptoms. By comparison, only 21 percent of those treated with drugs were symptom-free. Results were so convincing the trial was halted early.

The ablation group also scored significantly higher on a quality-of-life scale

The study included 159 patients at 19 centers, including 15 centers in the United States. Results were presented at the American Heart Association 2008 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans by lead researcher Dr. David Wilber, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Il.

Read more on this article in the main News Page.