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Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

On Science: Angry over mad cow disease

Jun 10, 2008
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USDA

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 10, 2008 - I visited Korea for a week at the end of May, a speaker at a world conference on Peace and the Environment, and was surprised to find myself questioned by almost everyone I met about the dangers of American food. On walls everywhere in the city of Seoul are posters showing a cute little girl holding a candle and saying, “I don’t want to die from American beef.” On May 2, tens of thousands of protesters crowded downtown Seoul. The conference speaker before me, Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, was late, delayed by more street demonstrations.

Doctor, heal thyself: How one woman did

Jun 10, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 10, 2008 - Dr. Emily Storch still doesn't remember the highway accident that nearly took her life.

She does recall coming out of her coma a month later, overcoming amnesia and discovering that some doctors thought she would never walk again.

Rita Cooper, 67, examines pieces of clay and stone retained by the half-inch screen she used to filter dirt. 2008 photo 300 pals
Amanda King | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 6, 2008 - While Indiana Jones strikes gold at the box office, amateur archaeologists at Cahokia Mounds state historic site are digging for a different type of treasure.

Beginning May 19, volunteers with the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society picked up their trowels and got down in the dirt, digging for clues to unravel more of the mystery surrounding the ancient mound-building society that settled the area near present-day Collinsville more than 1,300 years ago.

Study evaluates hospital care for kids

Jun 6, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 6, 2008 - For the first time, medical researchers are taking a close look at preventable complications - some fatal - that occur at children's hospitals nationwide. In most cases, the complications do not lead to deaths, but to infections and other maladies.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 4, 2008 - Editor's Note: In his column of June 4, George Johnson laid out four environmental problems and the responses to them so far. Now, he uses that groundwork to discuss the role of science in identifying environmental problems, educating the public and finding soutions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 3, 2008  - This week, the Senate began considering legislation to combat global warming. A carbon dioxide emissions “cap-and-trade” system, it seems to have little chance of becoming law. It is, however, a welcome sign that our government is beginning to come to grips with a problem that has the entire world worried. In this week’s column I would like to step back and consider the science behind the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. We as a nation cannot hope to implement the sort of changes necessary to achieve a sustainable world if we as citizens do not clearly understand the nature of the problem we face.

St. Louis' outsized carbon footprint

May 30, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 30, 2008 - The St. Louis metropolitan area has an outsized carbon footprint, with each resident spewing over 40 percent more into the atmosphere than the average. In the race to the climate change bottom, that ranks St. Louis seventh worst among the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas.

Childhood obesity numbers may be leveling off

May 30, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 30, 2008 - A glimmer of hope may be appearing in the bleak landscape of our nation's childhood obesity epidemic. The number of children with a high body mass index has shown no increase from 1999 to 2006, according to an article published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But experts warn that only cautious optimism is warranted.

The reason for the apparent leveling off is seen as a mystery. It could be sign of progress or, rather, that we have simply bottomed out. Or maybe we just can't get any fatter.

Editor's Weekly: Lessons from the West Lake Landfill

May 30, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 30, 2008 - I can't say whether the Environmental Protection Agency has made the right decision in leaving low-level radioactive waste buried in the West Lake landfill not far from the Missouri River. But for personal reasons, the announcement a few days ago made me wonder again about the wisdom of expecting people to keep track of something dangerous over a long period of time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to build a "multilayered engineered cover" over a 40-acre section of the West Lake Landfill and then install monitoring wells on the site to protect the public from radioactive waste buried there. Local environmentalists, however, say that leaving radioactive waste in a landfill on a floodplain is not a solution in the public interest.

Can you really eat for healthy eyes?

May 28, 2008
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St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 28, 2008 During your next eye exam, your doctor may show you a small viewing box connected to a computer and ask if you want to take a test that might predict your risk for developing macular degeneration.

It's probably a good idea given that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. Even if you don't yet count yourself among that group, you should know that the disease can get started much sooner.

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Wikipedia

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 27, 2008 - This month a most unusual animal had its genome sequenced by molecular biologists: the platypus. Some of its genes match those of humans, like a cluster of casein genes involved in milk production. This was not unexpected, as both of us are mammals and possess mammary glands. Other genes were very different from ours, more like those found in birds and reptiles. Again, this was not unexpected; after all, the platypus is a very primitive mammal, not far removed from reptiles and birds on the evolutionary ladder.

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St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 27, 2008 - Health-care officials in Missouri are gearing up for a major campaign this summer to convince uninsured, low-income women to take advantage of free vaccinations to guard against human papillomavirus or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.

Dr. Joshua Dowling is part of a team positioning a patient to use a Gamma Knife
Provided by the hospitals | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Despite significant medical advances in dealing with many types of cancers over the past decade, aggressive brain tumors remain extremely difficult to treat successfully.

As a result, Sen. Ted Kennedy and patients like him have a only a slight chance of surviving more than a couple of years.

That is the grim assessment of two of the St. Louis area's top experts on brain cancer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Nowhere has the influence of environment on the expression of genetic traits led to more controversy than in studies of I.Q. scores. I.Q. is a controversial measure of general intelligence based on a written test that many feel to be biased toward white middle-class America. However well or poorly I.Q. scores measure intelligence, a person’s I.Q. score has been believed for some time to be determined largely by his or her genes.

How did science come to that conclusion?

The disappearing polar bears

May 18, 2008
2008 photo of Hope, the polar bear at the St. Louis Zoo. 300 pxls
Michael Abbene | St. Louis Zoo | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Hope, the sole polar bear at the St. Louis Zoo, is set to begin another summer of backstroking, ball-playing and other antics in the protective custody of the zoo’s Bear Bluffs exhibit.

Meanwhile, far to the north, the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the Arctic wild will continue their precipitous population decline with another year of unusual starvation, drowning and infant mortality – a decline caused by melting sea ice.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Some retailer health clinics showing signs of decline while others flourish

The recent surge in walk-in health clinics at pharmacies, supermarkets and other retailers is showing signs of slowing. Yet many are surviving and even thriving.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Every mile you drive your car releases about a pound of CO2 into the air. How many miles do you drive in a year? Now think about the natural gas that heats your home, the electricity that lights it (mostly generated by the burning of fossil fuels). Your life is pumping an enormous amount of CO2 into earth's atmosphere.

Mammalian Mash-up: Platypus genome shows three animals in one

May 12, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: An international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of a duck-billed platypus. Part bird, part reptile and part mammal, the platypus genome sheds light on the evolution of mammals, including humans, and on the genetics of disease. Led by Richard K. Wilson, director of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine, the scientific team found that this mammal's DNA is as unusual as its duck-bill.

Mammalian Mash-up: Platypus genome shows three animals in one

May 11, 2008

An international team of scientists has sequenced the genome of a duck-billed platypus. Part bird, part reptile and part mammal, the platypus genome sheds light on the evolution of mammals, including humans, and on the genetics of disease. Led by Richard K. Wilson, director of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine, the scientific team found that this mammal's DNA is as unusual as its duck-bill.

Mixed-up Mammal

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