Posts tagged: Public Health

Are carbon nanotubes the next asbestos?


A study published last week in Particle and Fibre Toxicology has found that carbon nanotubes can induce cancer in rats, in a similar way to asbestos. In this guest post, Dr Craig Poland, Associate Editor on the journal, examines the study and explains why it doesn’t mean that carbon nanotubes are the next asbestos.

Last week, Susanne Rittinghausen and colleagues from the Fraunhofer and Leibniz Institutes in Germany published the outcome of a two-year rodent study into the carcinogenicity of carbon nanotubes.


The results were surprising although not wholly unexpected and show the most convincing evidence to date on the potential for some carbon nanotubes to cause a type of cancer most commonly associated with asbestos exposure.


But before we …

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Time for a change: Could additional daylight saving improve public health?

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With the clocks going back in Europe this weekend, most of us will probably be looking forward to that extra hour in bed. But that joy of catching up on sleep is always short-lived, when throughout the winter we have to cope with longer, darker evenings.

In some countries, there have been intense debates on whether there should instead be permanent daylight saving, with the clocks shifted forward by an additional hour year round. A proposal known as “Single/Double Summer Time” could see the UK enjoying later sunsets, as it adopts the same time as mainland Europe, essentially GMT+1 hour in the winter and GMT+2 hours in the summer.

Supporters of the proposals say that the changes could lead to fewer road …

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How safe is the air we breathe?


Research in the field of particle and fiber toxicology doesn’t often hit in the headlines, but these researchers have been vital in uncovering human health ‘black holes’ – illness-causing issues on a grand scale. We take a look into the field, some of its history and what’s still left to uncover.

There’s a material that humans have been using for perhaps as long as 5,000 years. It absorbs sound effectively, is resistant to heat and fire, as well as electrical and chemical damage, and it’s affordable too. By the mid-20th century we were using it in everything from concrete, bricks and pipe insulation, to lawn furniture and flooring. In Japan it was even used in the process of rice …

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Hepatitis in Europe – the hidden epidemic

Jeffrey V. Lazarus

As the HepHIV 2014 Conference in Barcelona continues, guest blogger Professor Jeffrey Lazarus, Secretariat Director of Health Systems Global, and a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Health and Infectious Diseases Research, tells us about the challenges we face to combat hepatitis in Europe.

When is it important to gather more evidence to inform the response to a major public health problem, and when must we act on the limited available evidence in order to save as many lives as possible? As I worked with my colleague Kevin Fenton to prepare a supplement published by BMC Infectious Diseases on viral hepatitis and drug use in Europe, I found myself reflecting often on this question.

It weighed on my …

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Not motivated enough? How you can get walking more (with the help of science)


Today is World Car-free Day. As the planet heats up and our sedentary behavior increases, it may be time to face up to the facts: we really ought to walk more often. That’s easier said than done. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to find the encouragement to ditch our vehicles. 

You may have seen in the news last week that commuters who choose public transport, ride a bike or walk to their offices will often feel better, both mentally and physically, compared to those that go by car. Yet despite that, people still decline the healthier option. Why is this? Sometimes it requires the right dose of motivation – but we all know motivation can be hard to come across. Thankfully …

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Time to reduce needless deaths from liver cirrhosis


Our guest author, Ali. A. Mokdad is based at University of Texas and affiliated with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE). He is the lead author of a recent study published in BMC Medicine, focusing on deaths caused by liver cirrhosis. 


Liver cirrhosis is a costly disease that is devastating to families and their finances. Most of these deaths are preventable, however. Countries can reverse the tide of liver cirrhosis by implementing a variety of cost-effective solutions.

When my colleagues and I saw just how many deaths occurred each year as a result of liver cirrhosis, we decided to write a paper to raise awareness about these disease trends and the steps that could be taken …

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Implementing nature’s solution to dirty bacteria with the bioinspired Sharklet™ micropattern


A guest blog from Dr. Ethan Mann, a research scientist at Sharklet Technologies, Inc, in which he discusses how different materials can prevent the spread of human disease bacteria.

Microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses  are contacted during interaction with everyday surfaces. Picking up germs from surfaces contributes to transmission of infectious diseases. Bacteria are able to survive on hard surfaces for days to weeks before they are reintroduced to a host. Once in a host, the bacteria are able to cause an illness often resulting in further propagation of the microorganism and potentially the need for treatment.

High touch public surfaces such as door handles and railings would benefit from a self-cleaning surface technology to reduce the amount of microorganisms …

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We are all sweet enough; it’s time for less sugar now


Katharine Jenner is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist and the Campaign Director of Action on Sugar, a new campaign group concerned with the effects of sugar on our diet, and of Consensus Action on Salt and Health; who have already been successful in reducing the UK’s salt intake and are expanding worldwide. Katharine is also Chief Executive of Blood Pressure UK, Chair of the Better Hospital Food campaign, and a lecturer in nutrition and public health at Queen Mary University of London.

A gold standard of evidence in nutritional science is notoriously hard to achieve. Calls for double blind trials of free sugars, or systematic reviews on intakes are often used as delaying tactics favoured by organisations that are …

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A whole new world. How physiological anthropology helps study our modern lives


Our environment has changed dramatically since our hunter-gatherer days, but how is this having an impact on our health? Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Physiological Anthropology, Akira Yasukouchi, explains how the study of physiological anthropology will help us understand our relationship with this new world in his latest guest blog. 


What is physiological anthropology?

Research in physiological anthropology focuses on the capacity for environmental adaptation seen in the physiological function of present-day humans. Areas of study include physical and cultural aspects related to living environments as factors that affect the capacity for environmental adaptation.

At the same time, researchers investigate the interactions of these factors with the genetic triggers that are the basis of human physical and functional resources.  All humankind …

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Encouraging walking through changing our surroundings


A study published at the end of July in International Journal of Health Geographics suggests that changes in the built environment can increase how far a person will walk to get somewhere. So why should we be bothered about getting people walking?

Walking is a big part of my life. Not only do I love getting out to the countryside for a good old ramble, I walk as much as I can in the city (which, for me, is usually London). This wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to walk to work, for example. I just opted for the quickest journey time – bus, tube, whichever was faster.

That all changed when I …

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