Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release]Health Canada Publishes Findings From Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study |

Icon of Wind Turbines

Icon of Wind Turbines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Health Canada Publishes Findings From Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study |

From the 2014-11-06  Health Canada press release

Today, Health Canada published findings from the Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study. Launched in 2012, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, this study explored the relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and the health effects reported by, and measured in, people living near wind turbines.

In the effort of being more open and transparent, the findings are available on Health Canada’s website. The findings provide a more complete overall assessment of the potential impacts that exposure to wind turbines may have on health and well-being.

No evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported or measured health endpoints examined. However, the study did demonstrate a relationship between increasing levels of wind turbine noise and annoyance towards several features (including noise, vibration, shadow flicker, and the aircraft warning lights on top of the turbines) associated with wind turbines.

It is important to note that the findings from this study do not provide definitive answers on their own and must be considered in the context of a broader evidence base.

Health Canada has consulted the Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study Expert Committee on these findings. Detailed analysis and results will be shared with Canadians and the international (scientific) community over the next several months with updates provided on the Health Canada website.

Health Canada will hold a technical background briefing with interested media at 11:00 AM EST today (Dial-in information below).

Quick Facts

  • The study was conducted in Southwestern Ontario and Prince Edward Island and included 1238 households out of a possible 1,570 households living at various distances from 399 separate wind turbines in 18 wind turbine developments.
  • This study is the first study related to wind turbine noise to implement the use of both self-reported and physically measured health endpoints.
  • Measured health-related indicators included hair cortisol as a biomarker of stress, blood pressure, resting heart rate and sleep.

Related Products

Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study Results Pamphlet

Wind Turbine Noise

Frequently Asked Questions

Associated Links

Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Updated Research Design and Sound Exposure Assessment

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[press release] Current nutrition labeling is hard to digest

Current nutrition labeling is hard to digest

From the 20 January 2015 McGill University press release

Study compares four types of nutrition labels, the least effective being the one currently required in Canada and the US.
PUBLISHED: 20 JAN 2015

Current government-mandated nutrition labeling is ineffective in improving nutrition, but there is a better system available, according to a study by McGill University researchers published in the December issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

The researchers compared four different labeling systems and found that the Nutrition Facts label currently required on most food products in the US and Canada was least useable. That label, which lists the percent daily value of several nutrients, took more time to understand and led to nutrition choices hardly different from chance. Another label type, NuVal, enabled quick and nutritious choices. NuVal is a shelf sticker used in some American food markets, which indicates the overall nutritional value of each food item with a number from 1-100.

Resolving “nutrition conflicts”

“Food shoppers typically have a limited amount of time to make each food choice, and they find the Nutrition Facts labels to be confusing and difficult to use,” says Peter Helfer, lead author and PhD student in Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill. “One product may be low in fat, but high in sugar, while another product may be just the opposite. Nutrition Facts labels can highlight nutrition conflicts but fail to resolve them. Even educated and motivated shoppers have difficulty picking out the most nutritious product with these labels.”

NuVal scores are calculated by nutrition experts at several universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Northwestern, and emphasize both the positive and negative aspects of each food. By reducing nutritional content to a single number, NuVal labels resolve nutrition conflicts.

Two other labeling methods produced mixed results. The Traffic Light system used in the UK allowed for a bit more nutritious choices than chance. But it took more time to use, because the colors of several traffic lights have to be counted and compared. Labels that certify some foods as nutritious, but not others, are used in Denmark, Sweden, and Canada. These allowed quick decisions, but did not increase nutritious choices. “Such certification labels are not sufficiently discriminating to produce consistently better nutrition. They also create controversies about exactly where to draw the line between nutritious and harmful foods,” says co-author Thomas Shultz, Professor of Psychology and Computer Science at McGill.

The widespread availability of low-nutrition, high-calorie food is believed to be an important cause of an epidemic of obesity and associated diseases throughout the world. Shultz argues that “Empowering consumers to make healthier food choices with valid and useful nutrition labeling could help to stem this epidemic. If consumers have the information to make nutritious choices, this could nudge food sellers and producers to improve their products.”

Picture: compared labelling systems (%Daily Value, Traffic Light, NuVal, and Heart)

The effects of nutrition labeling on consumer food choice: a psychological experiment and computational model
Peter Helfer, Thomas R. Shultz
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Dec. 2014
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24913496

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Canada paying more than double for common generic drugs, study says | Metro

Canada paying more than double for common generic drugs, study says | Metro.

From the 14 October article

Canada is paying more than double for six commonly used generic drugs compared with other developed countries because of a “highly unusual” purchasing plan, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Researchers found that through a mix of negotiations with drug companies and calls for tender, countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Germany are paying less than Canada for generic medications that treat everything from high blood pressure to depression. It’s all thanks to a model the author of the study, Amir Attaran, calls “a uniquely Canadian stupidity.”

The model implemented by the provinces and territories (except for Quebec) in April 2013 simply sets the price for the six generic drugs at 18 per cent of the price of the brand-name versions. At the time, the premiers, under the auspices of the Council of the Federation, said the six drugs represented 20 per cent of publicly funded spending on generic drugs and that the new spending plan was expected to save up to $100 million.

“The Canadian approach of setting a single price ceiling for multiple medicines is highly unusual,” says the study. “All other countries studied here have preferred competition or negotiation to varying extents.”

………..

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips for a Chemical free summer (part 2)

Dr. Ibby Omole ND

I would hope that after reading my first blog, some of you would have rushed out to replace your Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen with something that is a little bit better for your health.

Pesticides are a significant source of toxicity. People are exposed to pesticides via food and the environment in particular lawn care. While research is usually focused on massive pesticide exposure, low dose long-term pesticide exposure is difficult to capture. Not to mention the fact that pesticide residue has been linked to everything from hypospadias to decreased intelligence, learning and memory in children. Children are particularly vulnerable because of their immature organs, rapidly dividing and migrating cells, higher metabolic rate and smaller size.

Ways to decrease pesticide exposure.

1. Eat locally and organically. Summer is the perfect season to do this. Farmer’s markets are filled with everything from organic produce to baked goods and plants. Summer is also…

View original post 318 more words

July 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fewer Young People Smoking, Drinking and Using Drugs – New survey reveals encouraging trend

Heaven knows I post enough somewhat depressing health statistics items…
Here’s some good news for a change..and an example of a public health measure that seems to have worked (as always be careful when inferring cause/effect!)

From the 31 May 2012 Health Canada press release (via an RSS feed I subscribe to…Full Text Reports)

May 31, 2012
For immediate release

OTTAWA – According to the latest results of the Youth Smoking Survey, only three per cent of Canadian students in grades 6-12 said they smoked daily in 2010-2011, down from 4% in 2008-2009.

The school-based survey also found that fewer students have even tried cigarettes once; a decline among those who had ever tried little cigars; and a drop in the percent of students reporting using alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.

“After seeing smoking rates hit historic lows in Canada recently, these new statistics are encouraging,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “In particular, the drop in little cigar smoking suggests that the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act is having an impact on consumption of these products by youth.”

The Youth Smoking Survey, funded by Health Canada and conducted by the University of Waterloo’s Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, is a survey of Canadian youth in grades 6-12 that captures information related to tobacco, alcohol and drug use. Among the findings for 2010-2011:

  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) of youth in grades 6-12 said they have never tried smoking a cigarette, not even a puff, a significant increase from 67% in 2008-2009.
  • Among younger students, just 2% of those in grades 6-9 smoked daily or occasionally, the lowest smoking rate recorded by the survey since it began, in 1994.
  • Just 6% of youth in grades 6-9 had ever tried smoking little cigars, a significant decrease from 10% in the previous survey. Similarly, in grades 10-12, 26% of youth reported having ever tried smoking little cigars, also a significant decrease from 35% in 2008-2009.
  • Among students in grades 7-12, alcohol use in the past 12 months fell to 45% from 53% in 2008-2009. Although one-third (33%) of students in the past year reported binge drinking (i.e., five or more drinks on one occasion), this is a significant decrease from 39% in 2008-2009.
  • Cannabis use was reported by 21% of students in grades 7-12, compared to 27% in 2008-2009. There were also significant decreases in the use of MDMA (ecstasy), hallucinogens and salvia, and in the abuse of psychoactive pharmaceuticals.

These and other results of the survey are available on Health Canada’s website.

In recent years, the Government of Canada has taken steps to reduce smoking among Canadian youth. The Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, in force since 2010, prohibits the sale of little cigars and blunt wraps in packages of fewer than 20 units, and prohibits the sale of little cigars and other tobacco products that contain specified additives, including most flavouring agents.

June 9, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How we manage water resources has a direct impact on our health, says Canada Research Chair

How we manage water resources has a direct impact on our health, says Canada Research Chair

Margot Parkes

From a February 20 2011 Eureka news alert

For Margot Parkes, Canada Research Chair in Health, Ecosystems and Society at the University of Northern British Columbia, watersheds are living systems that are essential for healthy communities.

“My research focuses on the relationships between ecosystems and health,” says Parkes, who presents her work at the THINK CANADA Press Breakfast panel discussion today at AAAS. Originally trained as a medical doctor, Parkes says it is important to take a holistic view of the issue.

“As with the body, you need to view the whole of the system to better understand the parts,” she says. “This applies not only to the circulatory system of the body, but also the circulatory systems of landscapes, which are the watersheds in which we all live.”

As Parkes explains, water is the bloodstream of the natural world and, in a nutshell, if our water sources are not healthy, then neither are the communities that depend on them.

To better understand how changes to our water systems affect our health and well-being, Parkes works with knowledge from across the sciences as well as research into social processes and health dynamics to answer questions about better water management.

For example, who is responsible for ensuring our water sources are clean and healthy?

“Everybody… and nobody,” says Parkes. “There is often an assumption that because this issue is so important the lines of responsibility are very clear. Instead, responsibility is often partial, or shared between many different agencies, which means it is essential that we work together to bridge the gaps. How we manage our water has a direct correlation on how we live as a species.”

To promote an integrated approach to water management, Parkes brings together communities, different levels of government, health agencies, researchers and First Nations to discuss issues around watershed management and what this means for the health and well-being of the communities living within them.

“Our common challenge is to create a dialogue among the different groups involved so we can weave a ‘safety net’ from their individual knowledge,” she says. “This will help ensure thoughtful and sound decisions for the future health of our waterways and the communities who depend on them.”

Parkes will discuss her research and answer questions from the press as part of the THINK CANADA Press Breakfast on the theme of water. The breakfast will be held in Room 202A of the Washington Convention Center at 8 a.m. on February 20, 2011 and will feature Canadian research experts across natural sciences and engineering, health, social sciences and humanities.

Related news alert

Is the link between poverty and water-related disease making rich people sick?


February 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Social Determinants of Health – The Canadian Facts

Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. by J Mikkonen & D Raphael Foreword by Hon. Monique Bégin (Former Minister of National Health & Welfare of Canada) Published in May 2010. ISBN 978-0-9683484-1-3 – 62 pp [63p.]http://thecanadianfacts.org/The_Canadian_Facts.pdf

“……The primary factors that shape the health of Canadians are not medical treatments or lifestyle choices but rather the living conditions they experience. These conditions have come to be known as the social determinants of health. This information – based on decades of research and hundreds of studies in Canada and elsewhere – is unfamiliar to most Canadians. Canadians are largely unaware that our health is shaped by how income and wealth is distributed, whether or not we are employed and if so, the working conditions we experience.”

Improving the health of Canadians requires we think about health and its determinants in a more sophisticated manner than has been the case to date. Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts considers 14 social determinants of health:

1. Income and Income Distribution 2. Education 3. Unemployment and Job Security 4. Employment and Working Conditions 5. Early Childhood Development 6. Food Insecurity 7. Housing 8. Social Exclusion 9. Social Safety Network 10. Health Services 11. Aboriginal Status 12. Gender 13. Race 14. Disability

“The publication outlines why they are important; how Canada is doing in addressing them; and what can be done to improve their quality. The purpose of the document is to provide promote greater awareness of the social determinants of health and the development and implementation of public policies that improve their quality. ….”

From: Open Medicine Blog #261

May 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: