Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cancer: Not an African problem?

"Deaths from cancer worldwide outnumber the combined deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Yet one of the most predominant misperceptions about the disease is that cancer is not really an African problem. Africans, it sometimes appears, get malaria and tuberculosis, but not cancer. It is not to say that research into tropical diseases is not necessary and important, but when was the last time you saw a charity campaigning for donations, or calling for applications to support cancer research and treatment in Africa? In fact, non-communicable diseases, and cancer in particular, contribute to more deaths in the developing world than the diseases of poverty more commonly associated with Africa." 

Read more: Science in Africa

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chicago's pregnant boys

A very interesting campaign has began in the US city of Chicago.  It's aimed at addressing the rising rate of teenage pregnancy in the state.  But guess the images on the campaign billboards, posters and tv commercials?  Shocking but virtually 'real' - it's the images of young boys with swollen, protruded tummies.
Here is how New York Daily News reported it:
“Pregnant” boys with bloated bellies and sullen faces are popping up in alarming ads across Chicago buses and trains, part of a city campaign to reduce teenage pregnancy.

The images, with the tagline, “Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are,” aim to shock, said Brian Richardson, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Health.
“The point was to get people’s attention and get conversation started about teen pregnancy and teen births, and how they really affect a community,” Richardson told the Daily News.
Ads were concentrated around schools and in areas of Chicago with the highest rates of teen pregnancy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vegetarians live longer? What's in meat that shortens life

It's something that many of us already unconsciously agree with - vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters.  Headlines reminded us that again couple of days ago when a study was released by a team of researchers at the Loma Linda University in California.
But what's in the meat that shortens the lives of beef eaters?  I was just pondering on that after reading some of the reports when I ran into another report by Oxford-based William MacAskill, that puts some caveat. The title was the first attraction - 'Vegetarians live longer, but it’s not because they don’t eat meat'.  Great! That means I can eat beef regularly and still live long. How reassuring.
Infact MacAskill accuses the media of oversimplification and misrepresentation.  "I saw that headline this week and I read: “Media misunderstand science (again)." One of the most basic concepts in science is that correlation does not imply causation—even though it is sometimes highly suggestive of it," he writes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Study reveals how leprosy disappeared from Europe

How did leprosy disappear from Europe?  Have you asked that question before?  It's much like a question I asked a friend when I first visited the United States.  I remember jokingly asking the friend during an outdoor evening meeting  - What did you do to your mosquitoes?  I discovered I'm not the only one who's asked that question. There are still mosquitoes in parts of the US.  Yes, there are. That I later found out.  Although we are making good progress in depopulating them in Africa, they still exist in my village.  Sometimes they are helpful in reminding us when to wake up should we oversleep.
Leprosy used to be very widespread in Europe.  Today the disease is rarely heard about there.  It's now more of a phenomenon for the developing world.  How did this happen? reports of a new study in Europe that gives us a clue:
Patient at Masanga Leprosy Hospital in Sierra Leone
"Ancient DNA isolated from the mass grave of a 15th century leper colony has given scientists a clue as to why the one-time scourge of humanity has all but vanished from western Europe.
 The scientists believe that a certain gene that makes people highly resistant to leprosy spread through the population of Europe, gradually conveying a kind of mass immunity
According to NPR’s Shots Health News blog, a paper published Thursday in Science magazine explained that human beings themselves changed to overcome the once-prevalent skin disease.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Google gives £500k to project using camera traps to help save Rhinos

A project created by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) that uses Raspberry Pi computers to curb the illegal poaching of rhinos in Kenya has been rewarded with a £500,000 prize from Google.
In Africa one rhino is killed every 11 hours, with poachers answering soaring demands for the animal's horn, which is prized for alleged medicinal properties
The Global IT Challenge aims to award innovative uses of technology that "tackle some of the world's biggest challenges" with three top prizes selected by a panel of judges including Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Richard Branson, and a fourth prize designated the "people's choice".
The public vote awarded the efforts of the ZSL with £500,000 to deploy camera traps in Tsavo National Park, Kenya.
The cameras, which are powered by Raspberry Pi computers, use automated sensors to transmit images of intruders in the park and triangulate the sounds of gunshots. These features will allow park-rangers to quickly pinpoint poachers' locations and intervene immediately.

Monday, June 10, 2013

How email is ruining your health

A team of researchers out of Loughborough University in the UK used a set of 30 government employees as guinea pigs to determine the physical as well as psychological effects of email. To do so they tracked the blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol (a hormone related to stress) levels of the syudy participants, who were also asked to keep a diary of their work days. What they found probably won’t surprise you.
Though a single email was no more stressful than receiving a phone call, the amount of email that came at the study subjects throughout the day meant that email ended up being far more stressful than other means of communication. Dealing with all those messages raised cortisol levels as well as increasing blood pressure and heart rate -- all signs of elevated stress. If you need reminding, physical stress like this can lead to a parade of nasty conditions like heart troubles and high blood pressure over the long-term

Read More in Jessica Stillman

Nigeria's Bakarey becomes first African president of Christian Science Church

Church headquarters in Boston
The Christian Science Church with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, has elected a Nigerian, Bosede Bakarey, as its first African president.
A lawyer-turned-clergy, Bakarey serves as president of the church for the next year from her base in Ibadan, Nigeria.  She's expected to travel regularly to the headquarters and other parts of the US and beyond for official duties.
The church is known for its publication, Christian Science Monitor, a print and online publication that has won several Pulitzer prizes for its journalistic works.
"It's an honor to Africa. Sometimes I'm in awe when I think about it"
Bosede Bakarey
Founded in 1879 by a woman called Mary Baker Eddy, the church believes in divine healing and members are known for preferring such healing to that delivered in hospitals.  "The Christian Scientists believe in healing through prayer, and anyone, regardless of religion, can enlist the services of a practitioner, for a fee," writes Dallas Bolen in a yahoo news article.
"It's an honor to Africa. Sometimes I'm in awe when I think about it," she says. "Who am I to be the president of The Mother Church? But I just know it's God; it's beyond me.... We can see the hand of God in it," Christian Science Monitor quotes Bakarey as saying in response to the announcement.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Jobs that make you add the most weight

The work place for many could be the place where they build a lot of weight.  Jobs that require you sitting for a very long time are the most likely to make you put on lots of weight.  That's the finding of a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, a job search firm which discovered that secretaries, engineers, teachers and nurses are the professionals most likely to add weight as a result of their jobs.  The research found that scientists working in fields are the least likely to put on weight.

Read more here