WATCHING THE WORLD
Spotlight on Health
Despite medical advances, disease continues to plague mankind. Yet, as evidence shows, many health problems are preventable.
The World Health Organization predicts that 24 million people will be diagnosed with cancer annually by 2035. This is an increase of about 70 percent more than the number currently diagnosed, which is thought to be over 14 million. An estimated half of those cases will be caused by lifestyle factors, such as alcohol abuse, inactivity, obesity, radiation exposure, and smoking.
After an evidence presentation, the British government launched an inquiry into the possibility that the human form of mad cow disease could be spread by procedures such as blood transfusions. “We were extremely concerned to hear evidence that this incurable disease still poses a significant risk to public health,” said Andrew Miller, a member of Parliament. “We were told [the infection could be spread] through widespread contamination of the blood and organ supply,” he added.
Depression can increase the risk of heart failure by up to 40 percent, suggests an 11-year study of nearly 63,000 Norwegians. The European Society of Cardiology quoted one of the authors of the study as saying that depression not only triggers stress hormones that can lead to heart disease but also hinders a person’s ability to follow advice that could improve his health.
Scientists are investigating the potential health hazards of so-called thirdhand cigarette smoke, which consists of residues from smoking that are left behind on surfaces and in dust in apartments, hotel rooms, and vehicles. Accumulating residues can become progressively more toxic as they age.