June 11, 2013

   

A Lack of Trees Can Kill You, Study Says

Studied the effects of the ash borer beetle

While the presence of trees has long been associated with better health, you probably didn’t think that removing them entirely could straight-up kill you. But that's what a new report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says.

The study, undertaken by the U.S. Forest Service, tracked the 2002 outbreak of the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that infests all 22 species of North American ash and is almost always fatal for trees. They found that in the 15 states where the ash borer had devastated tree populations, 15,000 more people died from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 more from lower respiratory disease. The uninfected states experienced no such spike.

U.S. Forest Service researcher Geoffrey Donovan went on PBS’s Newshour program to discuss the findings and the unique opportunity afforded researchers when drastic changes take place over such a short period of time. “Imagine if you were trying to look at the effect of trees growing on someone's health and I got 100 people,” he said. “I put them in 100 identical houses, and I planted trees in front of 50 of those houses and then waited. It would take 40 or 50 years before you found anything because trees grow really slowly.”

The results, he said, were staggering in their consistency. “We looked across space and time and saw this repeated over and over again in places with very different demographic make-ups,” he said. “You're seeing it in Michigan but then you're seeing it in Ohio, you're seeing it in Indiana, in New York, Maryland and Tennessee.”

Donovan’s final message? Just plant trees. “I think people intuitively know that,” he stressed. “The idea that trees and humans are linked is as old as humanity.”

Read more about the health effects of trees in The Nature Cure

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    Photo: Tyler Olson

The Coldest Journey Polar Expedition Halted

Stuck in crevasse field

The Coldest Journey, a five-man expedition to be the first to cross Antartica via the South Pole in winter, has been halted by impassable terrain. The team is trapped in a crevasse field that may extend 100 kilometers to the south of their position.

"The situation is made all the more concerning," the expedition's base team reported, "Because the efforts required to navigate and haul their many tons of essential equipment and supplies through such treacherous terrain means that they risk forfeiting much of the unique scientific work which they have been commissioned to undertake throughout the winter months."

Instead of forgoing their research, the team plans to remain put while developing a plan for the months ahead. Over the past few weeks, their progress has been excruciatingly slow. They've been stuck repeatedly and even spent 20 days in one spot.

Read more about the expedition and their custom caravan.

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    Photo: Tour de Cure via Flickr

Swimmer to Attempt Cuba to Florida

Will swim 100 miles with no shark cage

The 103-mile journey to cross the Straits of Florida features swift currents, sharks, and the extremely venomous box jellyfish. But 29-year-old Australian swimmer Chloe McCardel will battle it out this week, attempting to be the first to complete the swim from Havana to Key West sans shark cage.

Though Australian Susie Maroney completed the swim with a shark cage in 1997, no one has yet made it completely exposed. American Diana Nyad has tried three times, and Australian Penny Palfrey made an attempt, but both had to give up due to injury, jellyfish stings, or strong currents.

McCardel has been training for the 50- to 60-hour swim for six months now. Her attempt will raise money for cancer research in dedication to her mother, a breast cancer survivor. But McCardel also says, “At the moment it's the most high-profile marathon long-distance swim, and swimmers really want to come here and be the first. It’s like winning a gold medal.”

She set off yesterday, and you can follow her progress via GPS tracker.

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    Photo: Norm Clark

Heading Soccer Ball Linked to Brain Injury

In new study from Yeshiva University

 

Soccer players who frequently head the ball may be at risk for suffering traumatic brain injuries, according to a new study from Yeshiva University. Researchers from the school's Albert Einstein College of Medicine tested 37 amateur soccer players using an MRI-based technique to measure damage to axons, a type of nerve fiber in the brain. The team found that the players who headed the ball the most had damage similar to patients who had suffered from concussions.
"While further research is clearly needed, our findings suggest that controlling the amount of heading that people do may help prevent brain injury," said Dr. Michael Lipton, the associate director of the college's Gruss magnetic Resonance Research Center. The study also found that players who headed soccer balls more than 1,800 times a year were more likely to have poorer memory scores than players who headed it less.
Via Science Daily

 

Soccer players who frequently head the ball may be at risk for traumatic brain injuries, according to a new study from Yeshiva University. Researchers from the school's Albert Einstein College of Medicine tested 37 amateur soccer players using an MRI-based technique to measure damage to axons, a type of nerve fiber in the brain. According to Science Daily, the team found that the players who headed the ball the most had damage similar to patients who had suffered from concussions.

"While further research is clearly needed, our findings suggest that controlling the amount of heading that people do may help prevent brain injury," said Dr. Michael Lipton, the associate director of the college's Gruss magnetic Resonance Research Center.

The study also found that players who headed soccer balls more than 1,800 times a year were more likely to have poorer memory scores than players who headed it less.

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