CO2 significantly reduces nutrients in major food crops

Rising levels of CO2 around the world will significantly impact the nutrient content of crops according to a new study. Experiments show levels of zinc, iron and protein are likely to be reduced by up to 10% in wheat and rice by 2050. The scientists say this could have health implications for billions of people, especially in the developing world.

Researchers have struggled over the past two decades to design large scale field trials to accurately model the impacts of increased CO2 levels on the nutritional makeup of crops…Now an international team has put together a global analysis based on experiments in Japan, Australia and the US.

They’ve grown 41 different varieties of grains and legumes in open fields, with levels of carbon dioxide expected in the middle of this century.

“It is possibly the most significant health threat that has been documented for climate change,” said lead author Dr Samuel Myers from the Harvard School of Public Health…”We found significant reductions in iron, zinc and protein in rice and wheat, and we found significant reductions in iron and zinc in soybeans and field peas as well,” he said.

The researchers estimate that these reductions of up to 10% could have major health implications for millions of people around the world.

Around a third of the global population are already suffering from iron and zinc shortages, leading to some 63 million life years being lost annually as a result.

“We found that close to 2bn people are getting at least 70% of their iron and zinc from these grains and legumes. So reductions in those crops are potentially quite worrisome in terms of increasing those deficiencies,” said Dr Myers…

The impact of carbon on nutrient levels is another straw on the camel’s back of poverty. The IPCC has already projected diminishing crop yields as a result of rising temperatures.

Folks who tie their gonads to the denial of climate change aren’t worried of course. They act like food magically appears every morning at McDonalds and Taco Bell. Climate has nothing to do with it.

The number of chemicals linked with brain disorders in children continues to grow

.

Toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children—such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia—according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The researchers say a new global prevention strategy to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.

“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis. They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH.

The report follows up on a similar review conducted by the authors in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits. The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized ones, including manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides), tetrachloroethylene (a solvent), and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).

The study outlines possible links between these newly recognized neurotoxicants and negative health effects on children, including:

Manganese is associated with diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills
Solvents are linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior
Certain types of pesticides may cause cognitive delays

Grandjean and co-author Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai, also forecast that many more chemicals than the known dozen or so identified as neurotoxicants contribute to a “silent pandemic” of neurobehavioral deficits that is eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, and damaging societies. But controlling this pandemic is difficult because of a scarcity of data to guide prevention and the huge amount of proof needed for government regulation. “Very few chemicals have been regulated as a result of developmental neurotoxicity,” they write…

“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” said Grandjean. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development—now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”

The report was published over the weekend. It is available at Lancet Neurology.

Mail me a penny postcard when governments in industrial nations producing, utilizing, distributing, selling these chemicals decide to respond to Philippe Grandjean’s recommendation. When they make testing mandatory. When they put an end to human contact with these chemicals and their residues.

I’m used to waiting. Excuses. Lies.

Fossil fuel particulates, air pollutants linked to autism

Women in the U.S. exposed to high levels of air pollution while pregnant were up to twice as likely to have a child with autism as women who lived in areas with low pollution, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health. It is the first large national study to examine links between autism and air pollution across the U.S…

Exposure to diesel particulates, lead, manganese, mercury, methylene chloride and other pollutants are known to affect brain function and to affect the developing baby. Two previous studies found associations between exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and autism in children, but those studies looked at data in just three locations in the U.S.

The researchers examined data from Nurses’ Health Study II, a long-term study based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital involving 116,430 nurses that began in 1989. Among that group, the authors studied 325 women who had a child with autism and 22,000 women who had a child without the disorder. They looked at associations between autism and levels of pollutants at the time and place of birth. They used air pollution data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to estimate women’s exposure to pollutants while pregnant. They also adjusted for the influence of factors such as income, education, and smoking during pregnancy.

The results showed that women who lived in the 20% of locations with the highest levels of diesel particulates or mercury in the air were twice as likely to have a child with autism as those who lived in the 20% of areas with the lowest levels.

Other types of air pollution—lead, manganese, methylene chloride, and combined metal exposure—were associated with higher autism risk as well. Women who lived in the 20% of locations with the highest levels of these pollutants were about 50% more likely to have a child with autism than those who lived in the 20% of areas with the lowest concentrations.

Most pollutants were associated with autism more strongly in boys than girls. However, since there were few girls with autism in the study, the authors said this finding should be examined further.

This doesn’t suggest the association means air pollution causes autism directly. There is a contributory link. Research samples from both mothers and babies will be analyzed over time to see exactly which chemicals are involved.

Though air pollution has diminished since the Clean Air Act there is an enormous task remaining to get to truly healthful air chemistry. Know-nothings, Tea Party-types and other butt-kissers of the Oil Patch Boys will try their darndest to impede or roll back measures taken. Even though they offer the potential for a longer healthier life for their own kids and grandkids.

Swapping nuts for red meat will lower your risk of diabetes

A new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers finds a strong association between the consumption of red meat — particularly when the meat is processed — and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The study also shows that replacing red meat with healthier proteins, such as low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains, can significantly lower the risk…

…Researchers found a daily 100-gram serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 19 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

They also found that one daily serving of half that quantity of processed meat — 50 grams (for example, one hot dog or sausage or two slices of bacon) — was associated with a 51 percent increased risk.

“Clearly, the results from this study have huge public health implications given the rising type 2 diabetes epidemic and increasing consumption of red meats worldwide,” said Frank Hu. “The good news is that such troubling risk factors can be offset by swapping red meat for a healthier protein.”

The researchers found that, for an individual who eats one daily serving of red meat, substituting a serving of nuts per day resulted in a 21 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes; substituting low-fat dairy, a 17 percent lower risk; and substituting whole grains, a 23 percent lower risk…

Red meat, they add, should be replaced with healthier choices, such as nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish or beans.

Mind you – I’m talking about balance not complete replacement.

I love beans. I like whole grain pasta. I love beans. I love Mediterranean-style yoghurts. I like beans. I finally got back to enjoying fish – after surviving a childhood of subsistence fishing and eating critters from coastal waters 5 days a week minimum.

Did I mention I love beans?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Another Study

Replacing as little as a third of a daily serving of white rice with an equal amount of brown rice may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a study suggests. And replacing white rice with other types of whole grains can cut the risk even more.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health say their study is the first to look at the relationship between rice intake and diabetes in a U.S. population. The authors based their findings on diet, lifestyle and health information from three studies covering 197,228 health-care workers, 80% of them women.

They found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with a slightly higher risk of type 2 diabetes than eating less than one serving a month. Eating two or more servings a week of brown rice, however, was associated with slightly lower risk.

The researchers conclude that replacing 50 grams of cooked white rice, equivalent to about a third of a serving, with an equal amount of brown rice seems to cut the risk of type 2 diabetes by 16%. Replacing white rice with other whole grains such as whole wheat and barley appears to lower risk by an estimated 36%, the paper says. The findings were published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study didn’t prove that eating brown rice cuts the risk of diabetes. And it is possible that brown rice eaters are simply healthier in other ways. But the study’s lead author, Qi Sun, now an instructor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says that researchers adjusted for factors such as physical activity, body mass index and alcohol consumption that might have skewed the results. “After we adjusted for those, you still see an association,” he says…

Dr. Sun says rice intake is increasing in the U.S., but that people are mostly eating white rice. “The message for the public is that they should try to avoid refined carbohydrates, no matter if it’s [in the form of] rice or bread, and replace them with whole grains.”

Let’s face it, brown rice is the safe bet. But I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t indulge in white rice also, simply because I enjoy it.