Health Points: Wednesday
- Wow, who would have thought? Smoking and obesity shortens women’s lives. The AFP reports:
Life expectancy has declined for many women in the United States, largely due to smoking-related diseases and obesity, a study published Tuesday showed.
Nearly one in five US women saw the number of years they are expected to live decline or hold steady, starting in the 1980s, showed the joint study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington.
The study looked at data from more than 2,000 county "units" between 1959 and 2001.
BPA migrates into food from polycarbonate plastic bottles or the epoxy resin coatings that line canned food. The typical adult ingests an estimated 1 microgram of BPA for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Babies who use polycarbonate bottles and formula from cans get more, an estimated 10 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. A microgram represents a trace amount. Consider this: a single M&M is about a gram. If you cut it into 100,000 slices, one slice would equal about 10 micrograms.
The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over 6.
- Officials are looking to ban “downer cattle” from entering the food supply. More from the Associated Press:
Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer wasn't able to estimate how many additional cattle might be affected by a total ban, and the overall economic impact is difficult to calculate, though Mark Dopp, of the American Meat Institute, said it wasn't expected to be significant. Dairy farmers get several hundred dollars for each cow they sell for slaughter.
Undercover video taken at Westland/Hallmark Meat in Chino, Calif., showed workers shocking cattle and pushing them with forklifts to force them to slaughter. That led to the recall of 143 million pounds of beef, though authorities said the health risks were minimal.
Downer cows are more prone to infections such as mad-cow disease, partly because they typically wallow in feces.
- A new study claims “eating locally” has little effect on global warming. From National Geographic News:
On average, food racks up about 1,000 food miles (or 1,650 "food kilometers") traveling from farms to processing or packaging plants before reaching Americans' dinner plates, the study estimates.
The whole supply chain—including delivering grains to feed cattle and delivering fuel to farms, for example—adds another 4,200 miles (6,750 kilometers).
Yet all that shipping, driving, and flying accounts for only a sliver of foods' climate impact—just 11 percent of the total—compared with the impact from producing the food itself, the study showed.
- Bad news for Chipotle, their restaurants are being linked to a disease outbreak. From the U.S. News & World Report:
About 180 people who ate at a Chipotle restaurant near Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, became sick with a gastrointestinal illness, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Health officials began investigating the outbreak after people started arriving at local emergency rooms complaining of diarrhea, nausea, and severe vomiting.
Many of those affected were Kent State students who had eaten burritos at the restaurant on Thursday and Friday. Some had donated blood and gotten a coupon for free food at the restaurant, according to WLWT, the Cincinnati NBC affiliate.
- Amidst the push to go green, plastic bags are becoming a scourge. More from The CBS Early Show:
While most environmentalists take aim at plastic, paper comes from trees, and processing bags creates greenhouse gases.
So, Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman points out, the best bag is the one you can use again and again -- provided you remember to bring it with you to the store -- and can get out of the habit of using them!
Some are even becoming fashion statements! The now chic "I'm not a plastic bag" by designer Anya Hindmarch quickly sold out in London and New York at $15 each, but are readily available at more than double that price on eBay!
- TreeHugger takes a look at BPA-free aluminum water bottles. Check it out:
In our post on Bisphenol A from Nalgene water bottles and other polycarbonate bottles, a number of commenters asked about the lining in SIGG aluminum bottles, expressing concern that their linings might leach BPA. So we asked them, and received a response from the CEO, Steve Wasik. He says that SIGG uses a proprietary liner formula from a Swiss supplier with "an impeccable reputation for quality" but that "as there are many copy-cat manufacturers in the market (most based in China) that would like to get their hands on this formula, our supplier has an agreement with SIGG to keep his formula confidential."
Wasik continues: "Very thorough migration testing in laboratories around the world is conducted regularly and has consistently shown SIGG aluminum bottles to have no presence of lead, phthalates, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Bysphenol A (BPA), Bysphenol B (BPB) or any other chemicals which scientists have deemed as potentially harmful.
- Big surprise, the least healthy breakfast cereals are marketed the heaviest. Reuters reports:
Breakfast cereals for children are less healthy than cereals meant for adults, and those marketed the most aggressively to kids have the worst nutritional quality, according to a new analysis of 161 brands.
"The cereal the parent is eating him or herself is probably better than what they're feeding their child," Dr. Marlene B. Schwartz of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters Health.
Schwartz and her colleagues also found that health claims made for kids' cereals were often misleading. Cereals sold as "low fat" or "low sugar" were not lower in calories, as parents might assume, and while brands touted as "whole grain" did have more fiber, they had just as much salt, sugar and fat as other brands and the same calorie content.
New Yorkers handed over $45 million in internet sales tax last year alone. Still, that’s less than half of what the government thinks it’s owed.
So, starting in June, 2008, New York will require the largest online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases shipped to the Empire State.
Japanese farmers have had somewhat better luck with the honor system, which they employ in thousands of unmanned produce stands across the country. Many of the stands see payment rates approaching 90 percent. But in Japan, as in New York, the free ride may be coming to an end, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports, as farmers start to insist on being paid in full.
- According to new research, aerobic exercise may protect the brain against aging. Reuters is on it:
In an analysis of pooled data from previous clinical trials, researchers in the Netherlands found that when healthy adults older than 55 improved their fitness through aerobic exercise, there was also often an improvement in memory, attention or other mental abilities.
The findings appear in the Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.
Aerobic exercise is any activity, such as brisk walking, that gets the heart rate up and improves endurance, over time. This type of exercise has proven benefits for the heart.
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