Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 6, 2008 - This Thursday, Oct. 9, the St. Louis Science Center kicks off SciFest 08, a five-day festival celebrating science in St. Louis and around the world. From global warming, to the physics of baseball, to the science of chocolate, the festival promises something for everyone.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 5, 2008 - Bowood Farms and Cafe Osage, on Olive in the Central West End, prepare for fall with mums and pumpkins. 

A bright, growing green spot is blossoming on the northern edge of the Central West End where a deep, rural Missouri heritage intersects with the grit of the city. In centuries past, the earliest Missourians used the wood from Osage orange trees to fashion hunting bows, giving rise to the term "bow wood." Many years later, a farm family near Clarksville, Mo., honored that Osage heritage by calling their spread "Bowood Farms."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 2, 2008 - Paul Newman, screen legend, racing enthusiast, philanthropist extraordinaire and dedicated family man, died last week. The icon, an ex-smoker, had reportedly been battling lung cancer, although he had kicked the tobacco habit many years ago.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 1, 2008 - Nano-this and nano-that. Recently, anyone who follows science news is seeing the prefix "nano" everywhere -- nano(ro)bots, nanotubes, nanotechnology. We are told that nanoscience holds great promise for the future, and that the future is beginning now.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 1, 2008 - As the economy absorbs one hit after another, many of us feel like we want to pull the covers over our heads until it's over. That's a symptom of stress and it can affect our health.

Elevated levels of stress hormones can result in hormonal imbalances, increased risk of health conditions including heart disease, and also instigate a wide range of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. And chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation and an even greater incidence of these afflictions.

Auction will offer little bits of 'heaven'

Sep 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 26. 2008 - I have to believe humans are the only animals that are truly sentimental. For instance, give someone a lump of coal, and they'll roll their eyes and sarcastically say, "thanks a bunch." But, tell them it was recovered from the Titanic, and they'll treasure it. The same is true with a rock. Who wants it? I have loads in my backyard. But, if notified the rock is from the moon, anyone would pay a fortune to own it.

The bottom line: Each has no value until its origin (read sentiment) is affixed. Then it's priceless.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - Babies the world over live on milk, rich in proteins, fats and other nutrients. But now it appears this food can be deadly to the babies who are fed it. In China over the past few weeks, thousands of babies have become ill from the milk-based bottle formula they were fed, many of the babies critically ill.

As of this week, China's Ministry of Health reports that the number of infants in China's hospitals after ingesting tainted baby formula is 12,892, and that 39,965 more with less life-threatening symptoms are being treated at their homes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - They were the faces behind the flashbulbs, the awkward adolescents who begged their dads to use the camera, promising to be careful as they hoped to catch a shot of a deep line drive. They were the teenagers who opted out of a party to drive their Jeep Cherokees downtown to Busch Stadium on a Friday night, praying for the chance to experience baseball history.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - Beth Hudson and Susan Bober. Bober found out she had a BRCA1 genetic mutation through testing and then informed her sister. Hudson also inherited the mutation.

"This is my sister Sue and she saved my life."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - Finding a single test to screen for early detection of ovarian cancer has been cancer researchers' equivalent of the search for the Holy Grail.

Doctors use mammography to screen for breast cancer, the Pap smear for cervical cancer and PSA blood tests for prostate cancer. Ovarian cancer has had no equivalent screening test.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - Just in time to help with high energy costs, the 2008 Green Home and Renewable Energy Festival brings together a slew of energy efficiency experts Saturday to show you ways to "go green" and soften the blow of soaring prices.

The seventh annual festival, which showcases practical ways to incorporate renewable energy and sustainable practices into everyday life, has something for everybody whether you're planning to build a new home and want to go solar, retrofitting a house to make it energy efficient or considering options to a gas guzzler.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 18, 2008 - Visitors won't be coming on streetcars to see the lily ponds in bloom as they once did. And more than likely, you won't see women in long dresses holding parasols and men in Victorian suits standing on lily pads.

But what you will find these days in the middle of historic Tower Grove Park are the same three lily ponds, newly revived after a $400,000-plus renovation. And they are looking as they did nearly a century ago when people rode streetcars to see them in full bloom, and some did pose for pictures standing on lily pads.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 17, 2008 - St. Louis is on pace to exceed the rainfall received in any year since 1871, when accurate record keeping began. This heavy rain and unwise development have caused serious flooding in practically all of our regional watersheds, large and small.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 16, 2008 - Along with flashing cameras and the intense eye of the public, here are a few more things Bristol Palin will have to deal with in the months ahead -- queasiness in the morning, afternoon and evening, exhaustion, strange cravings and a growing belly.

As the media have widely reported, the daughter of Sarah Palin, No. 2 on the Republican presidential ticket, is 17 years old, a high school senior and pregnant. Palin’s daughter is in the unfortunate spot of not only becoming a teen mom, but doing so in the midst of a political campaign.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 16, 2008 - No one seeing the ring of fat decorating my middle would take me for a runner. Only in my memory do I get up with the robins, lace on my running shoes, bounce out the front door and run the streets of University City for an hour before going to work. Now my 5 K runs are 30-year-old memories. Any mention I make of my running in a race only evokes screams of laughter from my daughters, and an arch look from my wife.

Memory is cruelest when it is accurate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 16, 2008 - Students at Lutheran High School South receive abstinence-only education in both health and theology classes. "We're a Christian school," says Brian Ryherd, principal. "And that's what God said, so that's what we teach."

But his students aren't in the dark, he says. They learn about anatomy, human sexuality and morality as well. "It's not a simple no," Ryherd says. "It's not the whole 'just say no' thing. It's no, not now, here's why."

Richard Sayre
Courtesy of the Danforth Plant Science Center

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 12, 2008 - Richard Sayre always wanted to be a scientist.

"I was a nerdy little kid," he says laughing and recalling an early foray into renewable energy production. In high school, he and his father built a device they hoped would generate an electrical current when heated, almost like a solar-powered battery. For the first test run, they put it in an oven, rigged up a way to measure current, and flipped the switch.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 12, 2008 - Suicide rates among 10- to 19-year-olds are on the rise in the United States, according to research published in the Sept. 3 Journal of the American Medical Association. While the overall numbers declined from 1996 to 2002, an increase of 18 percent was seen from 2003 to 2004. Suicide trends continued to be higher in 2005, although the numbers fell by 5.3 percent between 2004 and 2005. An excess of 326 and 292 deaths were seen in 2004 and 2005, respectively, relative to what was expected based on the trend predictions, the report indicated.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 9, 2008 - I can remember when I was a Boy Scout being instructed by my scout master that if I ever got lost in the woods without a compass, I should look to see what side of a tree had moss growing on it (the idea being, I suppose, that in the Northern Hemisphere the north side of a tree get the least sun, and that mosses favor this shade). That turns out to be a real lousy way to tell direction. What I should have been told, I learned last week, was to look for a grazing cow.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 5, 2008 - Selwyn Pepper, a member of reporter teams that earned three public service Pulitzer Prizes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, died Thursday, Sept. 4, of infirmities at a retirement center in Overland Park, Kan. He was 93.

A graveside service and burial will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 7, at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol, 9125 Ladue Road, Ladue. Burial arrangements are by Berger Memorial, St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 5, 2008 - Sarah Palin is a name new to many of us this week, but the situation involving her infant son, Trig, is familiar to many. Trig has Down Syndrome, one of the chromosomal conditions that occur more frequently with a mother's advancing age. Palin, now the Republican candidate for vice-president, was 44 when she gave birth in April to Trig, her second son and fifth child.

Commentary: Why do we stay in New Orleans?

Sep 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 3, 2008 - Less than half an hour after Gustav's worst winds had passed, our street corner filled up like a stage populated by a director. We had stepped out, past fallen branches and random debris, to meet our good friend Jazz, who lives a couple of blocks down the street. She'd called to announce "I need some fire!" The electricity had gone with the first gusts five hours before and her stove required a jumpstart. Jazz had stayed so she could take care of her elderly uncle Leroy, ailing with diabetes and epilepsy and generally unable to fend for himself.

Commentary: Why do we stay in New Orleans? Part 2

Sep 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 3, 2008 - According to news reports we heard while battened down in our home for Hurricane Gustav, some 10,000 of us had stayed behind -- less than 5 percent of the city's population. Hmmm, don't the Hell's Angels call themselves the 5 percenters? Do we stay because we're closet outlaws?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 2, 2008 - The Grevy's zebra born at the St. Louis Zoo on Aug. 21 adds one more baby to the new arrivals this year, including a baby tree kangaroo that's just starting to peek out of his mama's pouch, five baby tigers and a baby giraffe.

In all, there are 12 new babies and two toddlers at the Zoo.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 2, 2008 - The Food and Drug Administration recently released a long-awaited draft report on the safety of a controversial chemical used to line the metal interior of canned foods and to make plastic bottles shatterproof. Called bisphenol A or simply BPA, the chemical has been banned from use in baby bottles in Canada, and legislation to restrict its use has been introduced in California, New Jersey and 10 other states.

Bill Nye gives the how and why of going green

Aug 27, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 27, 2008 - As Kermit the Frog said, it's not easy being green. But Bill Nye - the Science Guy - hopes to simplify the process in a new television show.

"It's so hard for us to understand, but every single thing you do affects everyone in the world," says Nye, who is also an author and inventor. "Traditionally environmentalists want you to do less. Don't drive as much. Wear dirty clothes. If you can, just don't even eat. Turns out this doesn't really appeal to people. What we have to do is find ways to do more with less and the show makes that point."

On Science: Restaurant forensics

Aug 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 26, 2008 - This past week, we learned of two Manhattan high school students who, in a science project, gave us a glimpse of the future. They asked a simple question: "When you buy fish, do you get the kind of fish you think you are buying?"

Anyone who has bought fish at the market or ordered fish at a sushi restaurant knows the problem: In the store, one fish looks pretty much like another. In particular, some of the more trendy, tasty and expensive kinds of fish look a lot like cheaper substitutes. White tuna, for example, is difficult to distinguish in the store from farm-raised tilapia, although you pay a lot more for it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 25, 2008 - Kristin Armstrong began a new job right in the middle of a baby boom. It was a small boom at City Sprouts, perhaps. But with both her manager and the owner of the University City baby boutique pregnant, it was noticeable.

Photo by Robert Joiner | Beacon staff

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 22, 2008 On some summer evenings, after the sun and heat disappear and the weather turns cool and pleasant, Brenda Benedict sits on her front porch on Bellevue Avenue in Maplewood, does needlepoint and recites a prayer that nothing else will go wrong in her world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 22, 2008 - Christina Applegate, the Emmy Award winning actress who starred in Married ... with Children, was recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. She has since undergone a double mastectomy and is now reportedly cancer-free. Applegate's cancer was discovered through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It's a test not commonly performed on women because it is expensive and can detect false abnormalities.

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