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Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - Excess Drinking Linked to Metabolic Syndrome

Earth as seen from the moon
NASA

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 12, 2008 - One evening next week I am going to audition for a part in St. Louis Shakespeare's upcoming production of War of the Worlds (Don't ask me why a Shakespeare company is putting on a play based on a radio drama by H.G. Wells!), in which invaders from Mars attack Earth. With this sort of prospect buzzing in the back of my mind, I cannot help but note a lot of stories about Mars in the news lately.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - Psychiatrists are engaging in less psychotherapy than they once did and may be more likely to specialize in drug therapy, according to a report in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The trend may be explained by several factors including financial incentives to focus on other aspects of care, fewer psychiatrists being trained in -- or specializing in -- psychotherapy, and the wider range of medications now available to clinicians.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - Hospital errors affect all of us: patients or not. One of the first steps in dealing with and reducing the number of errors in hospitals is getting the staff to report them. Often, fear of punishment drives this information underground; but it is imperative that hospitals find ways to get their staff members to not only report mistakes, but to also learn from them.

Any doctors in the house?

Aug 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 7, 2008 - When Miriam Raskin decided to change primary care doctors a few years ago, she never dreamed she would have trouble finding a new one.

"They always say, 'Ask your friends,'" she said. "All my friends went to doctors who couldn't take me."

Raskin didn't know it but she was up against a growing health issue facing Americans -- a shortage of primary care doctors, generalists who are supposed to be a patient's initial medical contact.

On Science: The war on AIDS is not going well

Aug 5, 2008
2008 beacon archive chart
George Johnson | Copyright Textwriter

This first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - This week the world's AIDS researchers held the 17th Annual AIDS Conference in Mexico City. The news is not good.

In the Doctor's Lounge - Diabetes, exercise, diet

Aug 5, 2008

This article was originally published in the St. Louis Beacon: August 5, 2008 - Diabetes-diet Link Examined in Trio of Studies

We know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. One of a trio of studies on dietary links to diabetes published in the July 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine gives us yet another example of just how much. "Our findings highlight a potentially important public health message on the benefits of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables for the prevention of diabetes," wrote the authors.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 4, 2008 - Cassava. Sorghum. These plant names may be unfamiliar to most of us, but to nearly a billion people in the developing world cassava and sorghum are the food crops that stand between them and starvation.

In doctors, we trust

Aug 1, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 1, 2008 - The New York Times published an all too familiar story this week on the erosion of the doctor-patient relationship. The headline: "Doctor and Patient, Now at Odds." While the doctor-patient relationship is one of the most important components of our medical system, it appears that the old-fashioned notion of a "cradle-to-grave" family doctor is on the verge of extinction.

"Things have become strained overall," agreed Dr. Keith Starke, chairman of the department of internal medicine at St. John's Mercy Medical Center. "A lot has do with the complexities that doctors and patients alike are dealing with."

On Science: TV, murder and lessons learned

Jul 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - Television replaced radio as America's primary means of home entertainment in the 1950s, and in the half-century since many critics have complained that its great potential as an educational venue has never been fully realized. However, programs marketed as entertainment are sometimes surprisingly educational, none more than the CSI programs shown on the CBS network for the last few years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008- Tanning - 1 a: to convert (hide) into leather by treatment with an infusion of tannin-rich bark or other agent of similar effect b: to convert (protein) to leather or a similar substance 2: to make (skin) tan especially by exposure to the sun.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 29, 2008 - Anesthetic Accidents More Common in Afternoon 

A shortage of anesthesiologists is leading to longer working hours and more fatigue among the docs, according to an article in the July issue of the AORN Journal. And further, "Anesthetic adverse events have been found to occur more frequently in surgical procedures performed after 4 p.m."

Technology can help prevent medical errors

Jul 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 29, 2008 - Diane Ray calls it "drilling down."

It's what a hospital does when it wants to find out why a medical mistake happened. Officials dig through the data, trace the path of a patient through the hospital and the care given to find out what went wrong.

"You get to the root cause and you analyze where the breakdown occurred," says Ray, director of nursing at St. Luke's Hospital in west St. Louis County.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 28, 2008 - Let's say you're a recent transplant from Minnesota, now living in St. Louis, and as luck would have it, you're facing surgery with a hospital stay.

You've heard the hospitals in St. Louis are good -- some said to be among the nation's best -- but maybe you want to do some comparison shopping. In Minnesota, when your mother needed surgery, you went online to the state's health department website.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 24, 2008-  Rikiyah McGee bit her lip as she deftly handled the scalpel. Wearing medical gloves and working with a partner, she navigated the landscape of a sheep's brain. She cut the brain in half and sliced the sheep's cerebellum, identifying the leafy pattern white matter makes on gray matter, now grinning. One might even say that she had a surgeon's touch.

On Science: UFO sightings by reasonable people

Jul 23, 2008
Adam Baker | Flickr

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 - Have you ever seen something that jolted you awake from a quiet reverie, I mean REALLY got your attention when you weren't paying any? I have. Last week I was on vacation with my family at a dude ranch in Wyoming, riding by myself in the late evening through nearby pastures on a massive appaloosa horse looking at the stars in a cloudless sky and thinking about nothing in particular. And then I saw ... something.

​This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008 - Flavonoid-rich Foods Improve Cardiac Risk Factors

Chocolate, soy and green tea get the green light while black tea gets blacklisted in an article published in the July American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

St. Louis can be a health and science mecca

Jul 18, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 18, 2008 - Anheuser-Busch has been sold; another one bites the dust.

But take a closer look and one might see some blips punctuating what many fear may be a flat-line in the landscape of our regional economy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 16, 2008 - Psoriasis Patients Often Under-treated

As many as 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, and a significant portion of those afflicted may not be getting adequate treatment. "There remains a gap in treatment for about 40 percent of patients with severe disease," the authors of a recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology write.

'Voices of Autism' explains the silence

Jul 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - One summer about 30 years ago, when Anne Spollen was 15, she first met “the silent, green-eyed boy who moved in next door.”

“He doesn’t speak,” his mother whispered to her. “No one knows why.”

bat
Provided by George Johnson | Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - Bats are dying. A plague has killed tens of thousands of them in the Northeastern states this spring. The cause of "white nose syndrome," named for a white fungus that appears on bats' noses and wings, is a mystery to biologists.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 11, 2008 -  Doctors caring for children should start cholesterol screenings for those as young as two years old to focus on reducing the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a report published in the July issue of Pediatrics. The policy replaces a 10-year-old statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics on cholesterol in childhood and adds to one issued by the American Heart Association last year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 9, 2008 - As the baby boomer generation ages, so do the problems associated with its unofficial motto: Sex, Drugs, Rock n' Roll.

The British Medical Journal reported online June 27 that sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea and syphilis, are on the rise among older adults in the United Kingdom. The researchers conclude: "The results indicate that sexual risk-taking behaviour is not confined to young persons." 

On Science: Tanning to death

Jul 8, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 8, 2008 - Almost all the cells in your body replace themselves as they wear out, your skin cells more frequently than any other tissue. Exposed to a lot of wear and tear, the cells of your skin divide about every 27 days to replace dead or damaged cells. In each instance, the skin sloughs off dead cells from the surface and replaces these with new cells from beneath. The average person will lose about 105 pounds of skin by the time he or she turns 70.

Alzheimer's patients and families need home care help

Jul 8, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 8, 2008 - Jeannie Jacobs' aunt was always independent. She lived in a convent, worked as a teacher, did all her own carpentry work. Jacobs was surprised when she heard her mother received calls from her aunt about six times a day with questions about everyday tasks, such as how to unlock car doors.

Jacobs' aunt was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease -- a progressive, neurodegenerative disease of unknown cause that ultimately leads to death.

old computer monitor in the trash. 300 pixels. 2008
Tom Nagel | St. Louis Beacon Archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 3, 2008 - Next February's shift to digital may be all the reason people need to replace their old TV with a sleek new one. But what to with that TV? 

Local recycling officials, businesses and others are working with state programs to expand electronics recycling programs. In the meantime, they want consumers to take responsibility for getting rid of their obsolete TVs, computers, DVD players and other equipment without damaging the environment.

You say tomato, I say 'Is it safe?'

Jul 1, 2008
A vendor with Silent Oaks Farm at Clayton Farmers Market. 300 pixels. 2008
Jo Seltzer | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 1, 2008 - "Every time there's a food scare, it's like a billboard advertising local food," says Andy Ayers, owner emeritus of Riddles Penultimate Cafe and Wine Bar in the U. City Loop.

This summer's tomato scare has left many of us wondering what is the safest way to enjoy the fruits of summer? Where is the best place to buy produce? How does produce get contaminated anyway? Once you've brought those bags of fruits and veggies home, what should you do next?

On Science: Type II diabetes epidemic

Jul 1, 2008
diabetes_chart247.jpg - 2008, 300 pixels
Copyright Textwriter | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 1, 2008 - We Americans love to eat; but on June 24, 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report warning we are eating ourselves into a diabetes epidemic.

Diabetes affected 7 million Americans in 1991. By mid-2008, the number was 24 million, more than 8 percent of all Americans, an alarming increase, with 3 million new cases in just the last 2 1/2 years! Twenty-five million more Americans are reported to be pre-diabetic, with blood sugar levels high enough to indicate they are well on their way to becoming diabetic.

2008 photo of plants growing on roof. 300 pixels
St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 30, 2008 - When visitors look through the floor-to-ceiling glass-paneled back wall of SIU-Edwardsville's engineering building, they can't miss the assortment of small green plants on a slab of black asphalt.

Plants for sale? Not exactly. Sedum is the common name for this ground cover, which also goes by the fancy names of immergranch, spurium and sexangulure. Researchers are testing the plants to see which are best suited to live on rooftops, a location where only the toughest of plants can survive.

Increasing the buzz about pollination

Jun 27, 2008
These bees live and work out of the St. Louis Zoo. 300 pixels. 2008
Rachel Heideny taken at the Zoo | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 27, 2008 - Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt didn't make headlines when he proclaimed June 22-28 "Pollinators' Week," but the gesture was a victory for the little guy: the hundreds of thousands of insects, birds and small mammals that aid in the growth and reproduction of plants worldwide.

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