US police killings undercounted by half, study using Guardian data finds

Harvard study finds over half of deaths wrongly classified, in latest example of databases greatly undercounting police killings

Over half of all police killings in 2015 were wrongly classified as not having been the result of interactions with officers, a new Harvard study based on Guardian data has found.

The finding is just the latest to show government databases seriously undercounting the number of people killed by police.

Right now the data quality is bad and unacceptable, said lead researcher Justin Feldman. To effectively address the problem of law enforcement-related deaths, the public needs better data about who is being killed, where, and under what circumstances.

Feldman used data from the Guardians 2015 investigation into police killings, The Counted, and compared it with data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). That dataset, which is kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was found to have misclassified 55.2% of all police killings, with the errors occurring disproportionately in low-income jurisdictions.

As with any public health outcome or exposure, the only way to understand the magnitude of the problem, and whether it is getting better or worse, requires that data be uniformly, validly, and reliably obtained throughout the US, said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology at Harvards Chan School of Public Health and senior author of the study. Our results show our country is falling short of accurately monitoring deaths due to law enforcement and work is needed to remedy this problem.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/11/police-killings-counted-harvard-study

Global cost of obesity-related illness to hit $1.2tn a year from 2025

Health bill will be enormous burden without more preventative measures to check worsening epidemic, say experts

The cost of treating ill health caused by obesity around the world will top $1.2tn every year from 2025 unless more is done to check the rapidly worsening epidemic, according to new expert estimates.

Obesity and smoking are the two main drivers behind the soaring numbers of cancers, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes worldwide, grouped together officially as non-communicable diseases. They are the biggest killers of the modern world.

The United States faces by far the biggest treatment bill, with a rise from $325bn per year in 2014 to $555bn in just eight years time, partly because of the high cost of medical care in the US. But all countries are looking at a very steep rise in costs that will be unaffordable for most. In the UK, the bill is set to rise from $19bn to $31bn per year in 2025. The NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, has already warned that obesity threatens to bankrupt the NHS.

Over the next eight years, the experts say, the US will spend $4.2tn on treating obesity-related disease, Germany will spend $390bn, Brazil $251bn and the UK $237bn if these countries do not do more to try to prevent it.

The new figures come from the World Obesity Federation (WOF), which says there will be 2.7 billion overweight and obese adults by 2025, many of whom are likely to end up needing medical care. That means a third of the global population will be overweight or obese.

The WOFs estimates show adult obesity continuing its steady climb. In 2014, a third of men and women in the US were obese (34%). By 2025 that is predicted to be 41%. In the UK, more than a quarter of adults (27%) were obese in 2014 and that will rise to 34% by 2025. Egypt is predicted to go up from 31% to 37% of adults in the same period, while Australia and Mexico will rise from 28% to 34% if nothing changes.

The annual medical costs of treating the consequences of obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease, is truly alarming, said Prof Ian Caterson, the president of the federation. Continual surveillance by WOF has shown how obesity prevalence has risen dramatically over the past 10 years and with an estimated 177 million adults suffering severe obesity by 2025, it is clear that governments need to act now to reduce this burden on their national economies.

For its new analysis, ahead of World Obesity Day on Wednesday, the federation has for the first time costed in not just cancer, diabetes and heart disease but other harms, including damage to joints which may result in hip and knee replacements and back pain. Thats why the figures are pretty astonishingly high, said Tim Lobstein, its policy director. Some poor countries are already swamped.

Low income countries have healthcare systems that barely manage to cope with childbirth and infectious diseases, and have neither the money nor staff to deal with the epidemic of chronic illness such as cancer and heart disease that is being fuelled by obesity.

For middle income countries we are going to see an enormous impact, said Lobstein. Countries in the Middle East and Latin America where health services are stretched are going to become highly stretched. These are the regions where obesity among children and adults has soared in recent years.

But the increasing costs will be a problem for every country in the world. This is going to be an enormous burden either on the state, the individual or the insurance services which simply wont be able to cope. How high can an insurance premium go? said Lobstein.

Sugary drink taxes are an important measure governments can take, said Johanna Ralston, the federations CEO. Right now there is a big focus on sugar-sweetened beverages, which is fantastic. I think as with tobacco, you want to find something that is tangible that governments can do and is measurable. But it is not enough.

The experts say spending more on treating and preventing obesity will save countries many millions in the long term. Bariatric surgery to reduce the size of the stomach is very effective in reducing appetite, and studies have shown it can reverse type 2 diabetes, dramatically improving peoples chances of a healthy life. But there is not enough treatment available, said Ralston.

One of the reasons is that the consensus that obesity is a disease is only really emerging now, she said. That will also help with the stigma. Bariatric surgery is a fantastic intervention but realistically it will only be for a smallish proportion of the population. It has to be offered in concert with other forms of weight management. Every single individual has to be offered multiple interventions.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/10/treating-obesity-related-illness-will-cost-12tn-a-year-from-2025-experts-warn

Jimmy Kimmel: TV host emerges as unlikely leader in fight to save Obamacare

Republicans are pushing again to tear up Obamas health plan but the man once regarded as a lightweight on late-night is fast becoming a powerful GOP foe

For a second night in a row, the late-night talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel dedicated his opening monologue to excoriating a US senator who represents one half of a renewed push to tear up the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Kimmel is rapidly emerging as the unlikely leader of the counter-crusade to save the ACA, widely known as Obamacare, from Republican efforts to repeal and replace the health insurance system.

After Kimmel accused Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, of having lied to my face about his position on healthcare, Cassidy, a medical doctor who worked in a public hospital with low-income and uninsured patients, went public to say Kimmel did not understand the bill.

But Kimmel, joking that he did not want to turn their war of words into aKanye-and-Taylor-Swift-type situation, refused to back down.

Which part dont I understand? Kimmel countered, in a 10-minute rebuttal. The part where you cut $243bn dollars from federal healthcare assistance? Am I not understanding the part where states would let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having pre-existing conditions?

Could it be, Senator Cassidy, that the problem is that I do understand and you got caught with your G-O-Penis out? Is that possible?

Cassidy, and his co-author, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are rallying Republican senators around a last-gasp effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with legislation that largely shifts money away from states that opted to expand Medicaid coverage to states where Republican governors refused to do so.

Republican leaders in the Senate have announced that they will push for a vote early next week, although full details and implications of the bill are not clear.

Unlike many of his fellow late-night hosts, including Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah, who feast off the chaos and controversy in a Trump-era Washington, Kimmel had been considered less likely to dive into the political fray.

But as host of the Academy Awards in February, Kimmel trained a blistering opening monologue on Trump.

And in May, he revealed in a tearful speech that his son, Billy, had been born with a heart defect and nearly died. Kimmel said that thanks to the top-of-the-line healthcare, his surgery was successful.

Play Video
2:03

Jimmy Kimmel reveals newborn sons surgery in healthcare plea video

In that 13-minute May speech, Kimmel implored Republicans to back off their effort to repeal Barack Obamas healthcare law, which has helped nearly 20 million Americans gain health insurance.

We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all, Kimmel said.

Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance youd never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition. And if your parents didnt have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.

Cassidy heard Kimmels plea to Republicans who were deliberating over an earlier version of ACA repeal and established what he called Jimmy Kimmel test that no family should be denied medical care because they could not afford it.

Does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test? Cassidy told reporters on Capitol Hill when pressed on the details of the Republican healthcare plan. On CNN, Cassidy referred specifically to Kimmels sons medical history: Will a child born with a congenital heart disease get everything she or he would need in the first year of life?

Cassidy then appeared on Kimmels show and agreed that he would apply the Jimmy Kimmel test. But Cassidy ended up voting in favor of a doomed effort that would have repealed parts of the healthcare law.

Republican
Senator Bill Cassidy: the subject of Jimmy Kimmels ire. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Two months after that legislation failed, falling one vote short in the Senate, Cassidy has helped revive Republicans seven-year campaign to dismantle the healthcare law in time for one last try before the vehicle to repeal it on a party-line vote expires at the end of the month.

As their effort started to gain momentum on Capitol Hill this week, Kimmel again stepped in with another lengthy monologue on Tuesday.

We want quality, affordable healthcare. Dozens of other countries figured it out. So instead of jamming this horrible bill down our throats, go pitch in and be a part of that. Im sure they could use a guy with your medical background, Kimmel said.

And if not, stop using my name, OK? Because I dont want my name on it. Theres a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you. Its called the lie-detector test. Youre welcome to stop by the studio and take it anytime.

Cassidy responded to Kimmel on Wednesday and said: Im sorry he does not understand Everybody fears change, Cassidy said. Even if its worse to better, they dont want change.

And on Capitol Hill, Graham, Cassidys co-sponsor, lost his patience when a reporter pointed out that states would be able to opt out of covering pre-existing conditions.

Where are you getting this garbage? Where are you getting this garbage? Graham told NBC News. Thats complete garbage.

Graham said Kimmel heard some liberal talking points about the bill and bought it hook, line and sinker.

In a sign of Kimmels impact on the debate, Donald Trump defended Cassidy and the bill on Twitter. The president called Cassidy a class act and said he wouldnt lie.

Senator (Doctor) Bill Cassidy is a class act who really cares about people and their health(care), he doesnt lie just wants to help people! Trump tweeted.

The president also said he would not sign Graham-Cassidy into law if it did not protect people with pre-existing conditions from being charged more by insurers.

But analysts and fact checkers have repeatedly disputed this assessment, largely siding with Kimmel. In the debate over who might lose insurance protections, the Associated Press fact checker reported, the TV guy is the hardest to refute.

As the healthcare debate ticks closer to the 30 September deadline, Kimmels impact is uncertain. In an August interview, Kimmel said he thought his advocacy had swayed some viewers but he doubted whether it changed any hearts or minds on Capitol Hill given how narrowly the bill failed in July.

I think it made a big impact on American citizens, Kimmel told the Hollywood Reporter. Im not sure, based on how our so-called leaders voted, whether it made a big impact on the Senate or House.

Kimmel on Wednesday implored viewers who were concerned about losing healthcare under the latest repeal attempt to call one of several Republican senators who have not publicly made up their minds on the legislation.

Karina Peterson, a spokeswoman for Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski, who could determine the fate of the bill, said she did not have any numbers to share on the number of calls her office had received. But she said: Its fair to say people are very engaged on the issue of healthcare.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/21/jimmy-kimmel-tv-host-republicans-obamacare-health

I live a healthier life now Im free of the trappings of modernity | Mark Boyle

Being healthy is not about doctors, ambulances and technology. I use natural methods to keep my body in balance, writes Mark Boyle, the Guardians Life Without Technology columnist

When people learn of my decision to reject modern complex technology in favour of older, slower, forgotten ways, their first line of inquiry usually involves healthcare. Considering its importance to our lives, this is hardly surprising. Yet because of its emotive nature which of us, after all, doesnt have friends or family needing glasses, hearing aids, stents or prescription drugs? it seems difficult to have a calm, objective discussion on the subject.

The more concerned and curious inquirers often ask me what I would do if I got seriously ill. While the long answer is complicated and nuanced, honestly, I dont know. Its easy to live by your values when times are good, much harder when youre having a stroke or dying of cancer.

One thing I can say with more confidence is this: if we continue pursuing this political ideology of mass industrialism which has given us ambulances, dialysis machines, wheelchairs and antidepressants not only will we continue to harm our physical, emotional and mental health (leading to even more people needing such things) well also wipe out much of life on Earth.

Industrial civilisation, itself only 200 years old, is already causing the sixth mass extinction of species of the last half billion years. Whats that got to do with an ambulance? Well, both nothing and everything. The ambulance itself undoubtedly saves lives (including my dads). Yet deconstruct a single ambulance with its plastics, oils, fluids, copper, acids, glass, rubber, PVC, minerals and steel and Ill show you how to lay waste to the very thing all our lives depend upon: the planet.

Big picture aside, most of what afflicts us today cancer, obesity, mental illness, diabetes, stress, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, along with those slow killers: meaninglessness, clock-watching and loneliness are industrial ailments. We create stressful, toxic, unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by sugar, caffeine, tobacco, antidepressants, adrenaline, discontent, energy drinks and fast food, and then defend the political ideology that got us hooked on these things in the first place. Our sedentary jobs further deplete our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but instead of honestly addressing the root cause of the illness we exert ever more effort, energy, genius and money trying to treat the symptoms and contain the epidemics.

Weve developed Stockholm syndrome, sympathising with the very system that has economically held us hostage since the 18th century. Industrialism, along with its partner in crime, capitalism, has even persuaded us that, in order to save ourselves and loved ones from the horrors of disease we should spray every surface with chemicals, keep childrens hands out of the dirt and muck, and try to sterilise our entire world. With our immune systems compromised as a result, multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies then sell us products to fend off what our bodies should be able to fight off naturally.

In their cleverness they have even persuaded us to pop painkillers for things that hardier generations would balk at. My own approach to healthcare wont satisfy the critics, the advocates of this strange thing called progress that seems to have us all more stressed and less content. And thats OK; Im not trying to tell people what to do, and Ive got no product to sell. I share it only because my editor tells me its the most common online inquiry.

In doing so Im very aware that Ive been blessed to be born without any serious long-term health issues, and that at 38 Im relatively young. That said, Im not convinced that its necessary to fall into such poor physical shape, as civilised peoples tend to do. My dad is almost 73 and he can still cycle 150km before dinner, simply because he has never stopped looking after his health.

The philosophy underlying my approach is that of any herbalist: keep the vitality in your body strong, and be mindful to do it every day. When it goes out of ease and into disease, use the appropriate plants the original source of many industrial medicines to bring your body and mind back into balance, and to restore optimal functioning. Your body is always aiming for balance and health, and listening to it is one of the best things you can do. Illness is feedback the sooner you heed it and restore your vitality, the less likely it is youll develop more serious problems.

I find it impossible to describe my approach to health without describing my approach to life. I wouldnt dream of suggesting that this is a prescriptive solution for anyone else; but with the exception of a voluntary vasectomy, I havent seen a doctor or nurse for 20 years.

I pick my own fruit and vegetables from the garden and hedgerows, and eat them as fresh, raw and unwashed as is optimal. I cycle 120km each week to lakes and rivers, where I then spend three evenings of that week relaxing and catching the following days dinner. I work outdoors, getting sweaty and dirty doing things I enjoy. I made the tough decision to live in the natural world so that I could breathe clean air, drink pure water and create life that allows others the same. I wash with water, and water only. I use no chemicals inside or outside the house. I wear as few clothes as I need, I use nothing electrical no fridge, no screens, no phone. I avoid sugar, caffeine and stress like the plague.

Sleep comes and goes with the light I find six hours of peaceful rest sufficient. If and when I do feel ill or out of balance, my girlfriend Kirsty (who illustrates these articles and is teaching herself herbalism) recommends a plant from our herb patch and I slowly feel vital again. Shes currently drying yarrow, horsetail, silverweed, self-heal, calendula and chamomile for the winter months.

Ive suffered from hay fever something becoming more common as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase since I was a child. These days I eat a handful of plantain leaves a natural antihistamine three or four times a day, and that sorts it. Plantain comes out just before hay fever season and goes to seed shortly afterwards, and is a common in the cracks of city pavements and lawns as it is in the countryside.

I appreciate that this may sound unrealistic to many. When I was working 60 hours a week in a low-paid job in the City, 10 years ago, it did to me too. I only managed to do it by stripping away modernitys bullshit, learning to live with the land, and reducing my bills down to zero. Simplicity in these times is hard won, but Ive found that its worth it.

I can only speak for myself, and I support everyones decision to care for their own health as they see fit. Ultimately, were all going to die and I wish to go out like the American writer and conservationist Edward Abbey: by taking off to the wilderness, where wildlife can feed on my dead body just as I have done on theirs. It seems only fair.

Two things, in this respect, I find important. One is that like Henry David Thoreau once remarked, I do not safely reach death and discover that I had not lived. Second, that I dont cling to my own fading light so desperately that I extinguish it for all else. Like all good guests, its wise not to overstay your welcome.

This article was written by hand and posted to an editor at the Guardian, who typed it up to go online. Get in touch with Mark Boyle, the Guardians Living Without Technology columnist, here or in the comments below, a selection of which will be posted to him

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/21/healthier-life-free-modernity-doctors-technology-exercise-herbs

5 Reasons Millennials Should Destroy The Concept Of Marriage

When you are young and free, the summer is a time to be off school, travel, and lament that you aren’t beach-body ready. But once you get a bit older, summer means one thing: Wedding season. Just, so many goddamn weddings. Whether it’s traveling to a destination wedding, sitting through an hour-long mass, or just hanging out in someone’s backyard, you are expected to be there, smile, and bring a gravy boat for the happy couple that will undoubtedly never be used.

But … what if we just got rid of the institution all together? Don’t worry, I’m not some bitter spinster, I’ve been happily married for ten years. But bear with me here, because for millennials, it might make more sense to just stop getting married once and for all. Here’s why.

5

Society Is Failing At It

Let’s say you’re in high school and you really, really suck at math. You never get better than a D on any of your tests. But you decide you want to study math in college. Then you want to go on and get a master’s degree, and even a PhD. Everyone around you is trying to talk you out of it: your friends, your parents, your creepy guidance counselor that keeps touching your knee. But you are insistent. How crazy would that be? Now pretend math is actually marriage. Because society is totally failing at it, yet we keep trying to make it work.

The divorce rate in America is estimated to be between 40 and 50 percent. For millennials, it might end up being even worse thanks to all the divorces our parents went through. If your parents got divorced, you are up to 60 percent more likely to get divorced yourself. It’s called “intergenerational transmission of divorce,” and it means that your parents pass on divorce to their kids just like they do other terrible things like heart disease or ginger hair.

Then there are the infamous “starter marriages.” These are marriages between people in their 20s that usually last less than five years and don’t involve children. The problem with these is that getting divorced once means you will probably divorce again. 67 percent of second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce. A recent survey of millennials found that 43 percent of them would like a starter marriage that could be either “renewed” or easily dissolved after two years. 36 percent thought that marriage licenses should be treated like mortgages, on fixed year terms that have to be “renegotiated” once they run out. If this is how we really think marriage should be approached, why have it at all? Why not just live together for as long as you want, and if you break up there is no legal aspect involved?

4

It Fixes Some Legal Issues With Other Types of Relationships

Remember way back in the hot summer of 2015, when it seemed like Obama would be president forever and gay people finally got the right to get married? It was the end of a decades-long slog toward equality, and there was every chance it wouldn’t happen. Until the decision was released, people still thought the five conservative judges might block marriage equality. Fortunately, one of them flipped. But it is easy to forget just how long and hard the fight was, and how close it came to not happening.

Within hours of the decision, think pieces appeared on the “next logical step”: legalizing polygamy. Now, we’re not talking about weird old guys in cults forcing dozens of underage girls to marry them. This is about three or more consenting adults who want to be, for lack of a better word, a couple. Is there really anything wrong with that? If there is anyone out there who loves to cook and clean and maybe knows how to fix cars, I would gladly welcome you into my marriage. In 2015, only 16 percent of people found polygamy “morally acceptable” but that was more than double the 7 percent who thought so in 2001. But it will be another long hill to climb before any case on polygamy gets to the Supreme Court. The simplest way to fix this? Take the legal aspect of marriage out of the picture entirely.

This will work for millennials as well, who are more likely to be in polyamorous relationships than any other group. According to one poll, only 51 percent of people under 30 say that their perfect relationship would be completely monogamous. This is compared to the 70 percent of people over 65 who only want to bump uglies with one person at a time. If we get rid of marriage, millennials can form lasting relationships with any number of people and have them all be equally important.

3

It Ends The Wedding-Industrial Complex

You can’t spend an hour online without finding some millennial talking about the unfairness of student debt. And they’re right, it sucks to start adulthood with negative money if panhandling wasn’t your dream in life. Now that you’ve graduated, you’re right in the sweet spot, age wise, for marriage. Time to bust out the calculator.

According to a survey of 13,000 brides and grooms who got married in 2016, the average American wedding now costs over $35,000. That doesn’t even include costs like the engagement ring, the honeymoon, and the interest you will be paying for years. And sure, some people’s parents pay for their big day, but not everyone is that lucky, which is why a full one-third of couples go into debt to pay for their wedding.

That is worse than it sounds. Money is the biggest cause of stress in a marriage. According to a study of 4,500 couples, money arguments last longer and are more intense than fights over anything else. And if you fight about money issues early on in your marriage, the same study shows you are more likely to end up divorced. One older study found that 10 percent of people broke up mainly because of financial problems, and a whopping 57 percent said it was a primary cause of their divorce. Suddenly that $35,000 party you put on your credit cards isn’t looking like such a brilliant idea.

Look, I get it. Women especially are conditioned to want the big day. I used to buy wedding magazines with my friends and have fun imagining. If you are madly in love with someone you want to show everyone just how huge your love is by proving it with an even bigger wedding. But why do we need to prove anything? If you love someone and are a happy, functional couple, you are proving how committed you are to everyone already. We don’t need weddings to do that. You don’t need to put yourself at the risk of divorce if you never spend the money and never even get married. You can still stay together as long as you want, and have an even better chance of lasting if you don’t start off with money issues and fights about whether or not you invite your fiance’s racist uncle.

2

We’re Already Putting It Off Longer Than Ever

Marriage ages for millennials is already higher than any other generation. These days the average woman gets married at 26.5 and the average man at 29. But that is just the average. In some places, as many as 81 percent of young people are single.

And this might not change much according to one study. The researchers determined that unless marriage rates changed drastically in the near future, up to one-third of millennials will never get married. And those that do find it less important than other generations. Gone is the time where you had to be married to live with someone, or even have a kid with them.

Millennials are putting off marriage for lots of reasons. Some have no money to pay for a wedding (see the wedding-industrial complex above.) Some want to be able to own a house. Others want to live with a partner for a few years first. That might all sound fine, but there are dangers if marriage is still your final goal. Living with someone prior to getting hitched makes you 8 percent more likely to get divorced than people who don’t. And if you put off marriage for too long the same thing happens. Your risk of divorce rises by 5 percent for every year you wait after 32. You know how to avoid divorce? Don’t get married. If we are putting it off for so long already, and so many people will end up single anyway, why not just end the institution once and for all?

1

It Might Be The Natural Way

Thanks to Marilyn Monroe everyone knows about the supposed seven-year itch. But surely that was just made up for a movie, right? No way does everyone want to cheat on their spouses after being tied down for less than a decade.

Wrong. It just takes even less time than seven years. One study looked at animals and found that many of them are serial monogamists. They stay with one partner just long enough to have and raise their children, and then once they fly the nest (in some cases literally) they move on to another mate. Then the same researcher looked at humans and found that in more primitive societies, the same thing often happens. Once a child is four, and is weaned and old enough to be looked after by older siblings or grandparents, the parents move on and find new partners. Biologically, this is a good thing, since having children with different genetic makeups means at least one is likely to be healthy enough to make it to adulthood.

And our biological urge to split up after four years carries over into more advanced civilizations. The study found that four years is peak divorce time for couples. Something about that time makes us want to run off and find a heartier mate. So why tie ourselves down for life when our biology might be telling us to end things much, much sooner? We could take the idea of the starter marriage, get rid of the legal aspect, and expand it throughout our lives. You could find one person to party with in your twenties, then someone more responsible to have kids with, and finally someone fun and financially stable to enjoy your retirement with. It won’t be slutty if we all start doing it.

When you think about it, no other area of life expects you to stay in it forever. Friendships come and go, as do jobs. Why are we expected to legally bind ourselves to one person for life? No one should have to smell the same person’s farts for that long.

Kathy wrote a very funny book called FUNERALS TO DIE FOR and you can buy it here. Or follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-legitimate-reasons-that-marriage-should-be-abolished/

Reflections Of Research: British Heart Foundations Photo Competition Reveals Science Can Be Stunning

If there’s one way to capture the public’s attention and showcase the incredible work being done by people in a particular field, it’s through breathtaking photography. And just because it’s scientific research done on a cellular level doesn’t mean it can’t be truly breathtaking.

The British Heart Foundation’s Reflections on Research competition has been running since 2005, showcasing the groundbreaking research it funds through exciting and often beautiful photographs.

This year was no different, with images of a heart-shaped blood clot, the inside of a blood vessel, and a fibroblast that looks like a comet all vying for the number one spot.

The images are impressive to look at, but it’s important to remember that they are more than just a pretty picture. Their real value is in highlighting the vital work helping us to understand heart disease that the people behind the camera do every day.

The judge’s winner, “Getting to the heart of the problem” by Fraser Macrae of the University of Leeds (above), shows a red blood cell compressed into a heart shape by the fibrin fibers, which hold clots together, contracting around it. Macrae is studying blood clot structure and how the fibers adapt to clot-busting drugs. 

“I was amazed when I saw the blood cell which by chance had been squeezed into a heart shape,” Macrae told the Daily Mail. “As someone who is investigating aspects of heart disease, it seemed to be very symbolic.”

The supporter’s favorite – as voted by the Foundation’s online followers – was “An artery’s insides” by Dr Matthew Lee of the University of Strathclyde (below) revealing the innermost layer of blood vessels on an incredible scale.

content-1503395848-supporter-s-favourite
“An artery’s insides”  –  Dr Matthew Lee, University of Strathclyde. BHF

“This image tells a story of how science and art can come together to help advance our knowledge of modern medicine,” judge and royal photographer at Getty Images, Christopher Jackson, said. “At the same time, images like this give us the opportunity to appreciate the incredible beauty in something that is invisible to the human eye.”

Check out the rest of the incredible shortlisted photographs here.

content-1503396495-cellular-comet.jpg
“Cellular comet” – Dr Marcela Rosas, Cardiff University. BHF

 

content-1503396605-heart-of-hearts.jpg

“Heart of hearts” – Dr Sean Davidson, UCL. BHF

 

content-1503396674-an-inflammatory-storm
“An inflammatory storm” – Dr Tamara Gibri, QMUL. BHF

 

content-1503396739-butterfly-in-a-cell.j
“Butterfly in a cell” – Dr Nicoletta Surdo, University of Oxford. BHF

 

content-1503396831-zebrafish-motorways.j
“Zebrafish motorways” – Dr Yujie Yang, University of Edinburgh. BHF

 

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/reflections-of-research-british-heart-foundations-photo-competition-reveals-science-can-be-stunning/

Exercise Changes The Way Our Bodies Work At A Molecular Level

Exercise is good for you, this we know. It helps build muscle, burn fat and make us all into happier, healthier people. But long before you start looking the way you want, there are other hidden, more immediate, molecular and immunological changes taking place inside your cells. Changes which could be responsible for protecting us from heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and even stave off old age and cancer. The Conversation

You may think that molecular changes may not be that much of a big deal. Surely it is fat loss and muscle gain that are the best outcomes of exercise? Actually molecular changes affect the way genes and proteins are controlled inside cells. Genes can become more or less active, while proteins can be rapidly modified to function differently and carry out tasks such as moving glucose into cells more efficiently, or protect cells from harmful toxins.

Type 2 diabetes causes all kinds of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage, and may lead to limb amputation. The underlying cause is the development of a heightened inflammatory state in the bodys tissue and cells. This damages cells and can eventually lead to insulin resistance and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes.

The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, we have found that even low intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, can increase the bodys insulin sensitivity. This means that people at risk of developing diabetes become less prone because they are able to metabolise glucose more efficiently.

In our study, we asked 20 sedentary people who were at risk of developing diabetes to walk briskly for 45 minutes, three times a week, for eight weeks. Although there was no change in their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol level, on average each participant lost a significant six centimetres from their waist circumference. And, more importantly, there was a reduction in their diabetic risk.

Immune system benefits

Interestingly, there were also exercise-induced changes in the participants monocytes an important immune cell that circulates in the bloodstream. This led to a reduction in the bodys inflammatory state, one of the main risks for type 2 diabetes.

When our body is under attack from foreign invaders such as microbes, immune cells such as monocytes change into microbe-eating macrophages. Their main function is to fight infection in our tissues and lungs. There are two main types of macrophages, M1 and M2. M1 macrophages are associated with pro-inflammatory responses and are necessary for aggressively fighting off infections. However, in obese people who do not exercise, these cells become active even in the absence of infection. This can lead to an unwanted, heightened inflammatory condition which may trigger diabetes.

On the other hand, M2 macrophages play a role in switching-off inflammation and are instrumental in damping-down the more aggressive M1s. So a healthy balance of M1 and M2 macrophages is crucial to maintain an optimal immune response for fighting infections and it may help prevent the heightened inflammatory condition which comes from lack of exercise and obesity too.

Macrophages fight off infectious microbes that infiltrate the body. sciencepics/Shutterstock

Other studies have also shown that exercise has a beneficial impact on tissues immune cell function and can reduce unnecessary inflammation. Exercise training in obese individuals has been found to reduce the level of tissue inflammation specifically because there are less macrophage cells present in fat tissue.

In addition, researchers have found a significant link between exercise and the balance of M1 and M2 macrophages. It has been shown that acute exercise in obese rats resulted in a shift from the aggressive M1 macrophages to the more passive M2 and that this reduction in the inflammatory state correlated with an improvement in insulin resistance.

Time to move

There is no definitive answer as to how much and what intensity of exercise is necessary to protect us from diabetes. Though some researchers have shown that while higher-intensity exercise improves overall fitness, there is little difference between high and low-intensity exercise in improving insulin sensitivity.

However, a new study has found that all forms of aerobic exercise in particular high-intensity interval training such as cycling and running can effectively stop ageing at the cellular level. The exercise caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes. Researchers also observed that these molecular changes occurring at the gene and protein levels happened very quickly after exercise and that the effects prevented damage to important proteins in the cells and improve the way in which insulin functions.

Although you might not see the changes you want immediately, even gentle exercise can make a big difference to the way the bodys cells behave. This means that exercise could have far-reaching health benefits for other inflammatory associated diseases and possibly protect us against ageing and cancer too.

Andrew Thomas, Principal Lecturer, Cardiff Metropolitan University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/exercise-changes-the-way-our-bodies-work-at-a-molecular-level/

A Starbucks barista gave a note to a deaf man and became a shining example of service.

A man goes in for a coffee and comes out with a double shot of human compassion.

When Ibby Piracha, a deaf man from Leesburg, Virginia, headed into his regular Starbucks location last week, he wasn’t expecting a random act of empathy.

But then the barista pulled a surprise move. She handed him a note and then asked him in sign language what he wanted to drink.

Piracha told thelocal ABC news affiliatehe was moved that she was motivated to dedicate herself to learning American Sign Language (ASL).

“She actually wanted to learn a different language….Sign language is really a totally different language and it was something that she wanted to do because of me? Because I was a deaf customer? I was very, very impressed.”

Just how many people are missing out on easy transactions because of a hearing impairment?

According to the Gallaudet Research Institute’s calculationsfrom 2005, “anywhere from 9 to 22 out of every 1,000 people have a severe hearing impairment or are deaf.”

And HearingLoss.org reports that “hearing loss is a major public health issue that is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease.”

What would happen if more agencies, businesses, and online media outlets provided services for those who speak ASL, or provided transcripts for the deaf and hard of hearing?

The world might just be a little more inclusive, making Ibby Piracha and other deaf citizens like him feel just a little bit more at home.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-starbucks-barista-gave-a-note-to-a-deaf-man-and-became-a-shining-example-of-service?c=tpstream

These 10 Remarkable Body Features Are Very Rareand Fascinating

Load Comments

Read more: http://twentytwowords.com/these-10-remarkable-body-features-are-very-rare-and-fascinating/

Type 2 diabetes rise in children ‘disturbing’ – BBC News

Image copyright Getty Images

More than 600 children and teenagers are being treated for type 2 diabetes in England and Wales, and the rise in cases is a “hugely disturbing trend”, local councils are warning.

The figures come from a report by child health experts which found 110 more cases among under-19s in 2015-16 than two years previously.

The youngest children affected are aged between five and nine.

Council leaders said urgent action on childhood obesity was needed.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, added that government cuts to public health budgets had affected their ability to tackle the issue.


Why are children getting type 2 diabetes?

Being overweight is the biggest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, and three-quarters of these children were obese.

With child obesity rates in England rising – but now by a smaller amount than they have been – it’s no surprise more children are being treated for the condition.

In primary schools in England, one in 10 children in Reception and one in five children in year 6 were classified as obese in 2015-16.

Type 2 diabetes in children is a serious condition which can lead to long-term health complications such as heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.


Who are they?

Children from Asian and black ethnic backgrounds were particularly affected, and children who lived in deprived areas were more likely to have type 2.

There were twice as many girls than boys with the condition and most of the cases were among 15-19 year olds.

Across all children and teenagers, numbers are on the rise – from 507 cases in 2013-14 and 543 in 2014-15 to the current tally of 621.

But there could be more who are undiagnosed, the report said – these are only the ones being treated by paediatric specialists around the country.


What should parents do?

Parents can make an appointment with their family GP if they are concerned about their child’s weight.

They can then be referred to a paediatrician, weight loss services or a dietician, depending on what is available in the area.

When children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the whole family will normally be involved in encouraging more physical exercise and a healthier diet, which are crucial to managing the condition.

Because type 2 diabetes can be more aggressive in children than in adults, it is important to manage the condition carefully in order to prevent any health problems occurring.


What do experts say?

Children’s doctors, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, say type 2 diabetes is preventable in most cases and more action is need to reverse the trend.

Dr Justin Warner, from RCPCH, said the sugar tax was “a positive step” towards reducing sugar in diets, but the government should be doing more to ban junk food adverts on TV targeted at children.

Diabetes UK said there should be moves to reduce the sugar and saturated fat content in food.

Libby Dowling, senior clinical adviser at the charity, said: “We need to make it as easy as possible for children and their families to lead healthy lives and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its serious complications.”


What is the government’s plan?

It published a childhood obesity plan a year ago, which included measures asking the food and drink industry to cut 5% of the sugar in products popular with children, with a target of 20% over four years.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said this was already delivering results.

The plan also called on primary schools to deliver at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and to help parents and carers ensure children got the same amount at home.

But local councils in England, which now fund public health, want an increased budget to tackle the problem.

They say more needs to be done to reach out to black and other minority ethnic groups, where a disproportionately high number of children and teenagers have type 2 diabetes.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40900269