Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified

Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified.

From  Failure to Listen -Gene-Environment Interactions Simplified, January 26, 2013

I have many theories on how to empower communities but understanding the genetic-environmental interplay is key. Frameworks that simplify these complex interactions can have a powerful impact in explaining the pivotal role of early childhood development and education in building healthy foundations.

The first five years are the most important, those are the years when important brain circuits  develop (like roots from a tree) or some  circuits remain dormant or die. Although the ability to learn continues way into “old age;” the stronger the circuits developed the more pertinent they become in guiding our behavior. These are the years we develop the foundation on which we build our identities.

The formative years begin at birth as our bodies grow and our brain develop. This is the time to make the greatest impact; ‘Pay now or pay a lot more later!’

For us to survive as a country or a society, children need to become the center of our policies. We need to bring back communities by sharing a common vision, and pooling our resources to help those in the community.

The individualistic thinking of me and my accomplishments ignores that we live in a connected world not a vacuum. We are responsible for each other’s accomplishments and faults. There is a larger collective sense that we are all part of and we should tap into more often.

Here is an example of Gene and Environment Simplified:

Society composed of many smaller communities, which are dynamic with each member belonging to many communities, moving in and out of a variety of communities.

The landscape surrounding my house is very similar to society. Individual sections represent communities and each group of plants represent neighborhoods where each plant reflects race, culture and our unique characteristic. There are obvious differences between plants and humans but early preventive interventions are most cost-effective for both….

March 22, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Book] Environmental Health Ethics

From the summary at Cambridge University Press

Environmental Health Ethics illuminates the conflicts between protecting the environment and promoting human health. In this study, David B. Resnik develops a method for making ethical decisions on environmental health issues. He applies this method to various issues, including pesticide use, antibiotic resistance, nutrition policy, vegetarianism, urban development, occupational safety, disaster preparedness, and global climate change. Resnik provides readers with the scientific and technical background necessary to understand these issues. He explains that environmental health controversies cannot simply be reduced to humanity versus environment and explores the ways in which human values and concerns – health, economic development, rights, and justice – interact with environmental protection.

Features

• Develops a method for ethical decision-making for environmental health controversies which incorporates insights from traditional ethical theories and environmental ethics
• Covers a wide range of timely and important issues, ranging from pesticide use to global warming
• Provides a description of the relevant background information accessible to an audience of educated non-specialists

June 25, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Population Action International – Videos and more on contraception and related topics

From the About Page of Population Action International

Population Action International advocates for women and families to have access to contraception in order to improve their health, reduce poverty and protect their environment. Our research and advocacy strengthen U.S. and international assistance for family planning. We work with local and national leaders in developing countries to improve their reproductive health care programs and policies. PAI shows how these programs are critical to global concerns, such as preventing HIV, combating the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, and strengthening national security.

Current topics include Climate Change, Contraceptives and Condoms, Environment, Family Planning, Population Trends and Demography, and Security and Governance.

Each topic has resources in at least several of  these publication types

  • Publications
  • Blog posts
  • News
  • Policy and Issue Briefs
  • Reports
  • Advocacy Guides
  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Data and Maps
English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral cont...

Image via Wikipedia

February 13, 2012 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Data Day” Conference Shows the Power of Numbers « Science Is Everyone’s Story

“Data Day” Conference Shows the Power of Numbers « Science Is Everyone’s Story.

From the 28 January 2012 blog item

There’s power in numbers. That was the consensus in the workshops I visited this Friday at the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission’s Data Day in Boston.

MAPC Data Day logo

The name “Data Day” may not conjure up visions of dramatic reversals of public policy. But the community advocates and data experts at the conference knew otherwise. Here are two stories they told about how data can change how we judge people and situations – both socially and legally.

There are many ways environmental organizations can use data to change conversations. The Knight Foundation funded a data-sharing project which bridged divides between environmental justice groups. Projects like this one can yield local stories for both traditional and social media. What chemicals are in your neighborhood’s backyard?

Although the EPA’s approach to reporting potential flooding may seem dry, reports on climate change indicators in the United States can also provide story ideas for journalists. If climate change produces floods or disrupts the growing season, superimposing those maps on maps of crop production could yield interesting results – especially for crops grown in low-lying areas. In some states, the answer to the question “What’s for dinner?” may be very different in a few years from what it is today.

January 31, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

NIH Launches Research Program to Explore Health Effects from Climate Change

 

National Institutes of Health

Image via Wikipedia

NIH Launches Research Program to Explore Health Effects from Climate Change.

Excerpts from the Environmental News Bits Blog item

A new research program funded by the National Institutes of Health will explore the role that a changing climate has on human health. Led by NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the program will research the risk factors that make people more vulnerable to heat exposure; changing weather patterns; changes in environmental exposures, such as air pollution and toxic chemicals; and the negative effects of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

In addition to better understanding the direct and indirect human health risks in the United States and globally, one of the program’s goals is to determine which populations will be more susceptible and vulnerable to diseases exacerbated by climate change. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and those living in urban or coastal areas and storm centers may be at elevated risk. This program will also help to develop data, methods, and models to support health impact predictions.

“Governments and policy makers need to know what the health effects from climate change are and who is most at risk,” said John Balbus, M.D., NIEHS senior advisor for public health and lead for NIEHS’ efforts on climate change. “The research from this program will help guide public health interventions, to ultimately prevent harm to the most vulnerable people.”

The funding program is an outgrowth of two previous efforts led by NIH. A December 2009 workshop, sponsored by a trans-NIH working group, brought leaders in the field together to begin identifying priorities for NIH climate change research. NIH then led the ad hoc Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health in developing an outline of research needs, which are described in a report available atwww.niehs.nih.gov/climatereport.

November 20, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

The gene-environment enigma & personalized medicine

From the December 3, 2010 news item

Personalized medicine centers on being able to predict the risk of disease or response to a drug based on a person’s genetic makeup. But a study by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that, for most common diseases, genes alone only tell part of the story.

That’s because the environment interacts with DNA in ways that are difficult to predict, even in simple organisms like single-celled yeast, their research shows.

“The effects of a person’s genes – and, therefore, their risk of disease – are greatly influenced by their environment,” says senior author Barak Cohen, PhD, a geneticist at Washington University School of Medicine. “So, if personalized medicine is going to work, we need to find a way to measure a human’s environment.”

The research is available online in PLoS Genetics….

….

The new research raises many questions: what is a human’s environment and how can it be measured? Is the environment a person lived in during childhood important or the environment he lives in now?

Cohen suspects that any environment that matters is likely to leave a measurable molecular signature. For example, eating a lot of fatty foods raises triglycerides; smoking raises nicotine levels; and eating high-fat, high-sugar foods raises blood sugar levels, which increases the risk of diabetes. The key, he says, is to figure out what are good metabolic readouts of the environment and factor those into statistical models that assess genetic susceptibility to disease or response to medication.

“Measuring the environment becomes crucial when we try to understand how it interacts with genetics,” Cohen says. “Having a particular genetic variant may not have much of an effect but combined with a person’s environment, it may have a huge effect.”

Cohen says he’s not hopeless when it comes to personalized medicine. As scientists conduct ever-larger studies to identify rare and common variants underlying diseases such as cancer, diabetes and schizophrenia, they will be more likely to uncover variants that have larger effects on disease. Even then, however, a person’s environment will be important, he adds.

 

 

December 4, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 173 other followers

%d bloggers like this: