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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Would You Believe It? Living Near Trees Actually Makes You Healthier - Even In A City!

by John McCormick, April 16, 2016

Want to live longer? Think Green! A massive study shows that people living near trees and plants are much less likely to die of cancer and other diseases.

The National Institute of Health has shown us yet another reason for being concerned with keeping the earth green – it turns out that there is a 12 percent lower mortality rate for women living in an area with the highest level of vegetation near their homes.

Far from being the usual tree-hugging silliness dismissed by so many out-of-hand these days of over-industrialization, it has been proven that the social and anti-pollution benefits from living close to the natural earth reduces your chance of dying from cancer, kidney disease, and respiratory complications.

While the report specifically references women’s health, that is simply because they are the subject of the largest ongoing study by self-reporting health professionals.

                                                     trees-help people live longer
                          Trees near his farm in Pennsylvania. Photo:John A. McCormick

Scope Of The Study

The study was the result of statistical data collected on nearly 109 thousand nurses in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Harvard Medical School) Long-Term Nurses’ Health Study.

Living in green surroundings, probably even in urban environments with loads of green space, is definitely good for your health.

While many of the results of the study depend on self-reporting, in this instance the researchers actually looked at satellite images of the areas surrounding the homes of the participants.

The homes were placed in different categories depending on the “level of vegetation within 250 meters and 1,250 meters of homes. They then followed the women from 2000 to 2008, tracking changes in vegetation and participant deaths. During the study, 8,604 deaths occurred.”

Specifically comparing the women in areas with highest level of greenness to women in the lowest, there was a “41 percent lower death rate for kidney disease, 34 percent lower death rate for respiratory disease, and 13 percent lower death rate for cancer in the greenest areas.”

Do Good, Live Longer

The Church of Green is an online ministry based on the moral concept that doing good for other people, our families, and ourselves means also doing good for the planet, the only place we have to live.

This study is yet the latest scientific evidence that living green is good for you and can help you live longer. publishes regular news and hints for living more in tune with nature and our fellow beings.

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ZIKA – A Cautionary Tale of Recycling, International Trade and Travel

By John McCormick -  Mon February 1, 2016

UPDATE: Since this was published there is much more evidence of microcephaly along with some possible ways to mitigate the damage. There is also evidence that everyone is at risk of some neurologic damage from Zika.
Nevertheless I am including this because it contains other important information about Zika.

It is far from certain yet but it is believed the birth defect (microcephaly, meaning small head) which is occurring in large numbers in Brazil is being caused by a virus, specifically the Zika virus which is carried by a mosquito. One reason this is being suggested is that a similar virus, a cytomegalovirus, is known to cause microcephaly.

If this were limited to a few slums it might not be of much interest elsewhere but every indication is that the mosquito and the infection are both spreading at alarming rates to other countries and Zika has already been found in the U.S.


Nothing in our general experience demonstrates the inevitability of mathematics more dramatically than does a developing pandemic.

The mathematics behind a pandemic or epidemic are simple. Some diseases, especially ones where there is little immunity in the population, no vaccine, and is easy to spread, grow exponentially. Exponentially means the number of infected people essentially doubles every day.

No Threat To Most People

Zika is no more threat to the elderly, children or men, than the flu, probably less. It is only dangerous to pregnant women, and even then it doesn’t cause any severe symptoms in women; instead, it appears to cause severe birth defects, at least in the current South American epidemic it is thought to be the source of the birth defects.

Five Reasons Zika Will Be More Difficult to Control Than Ebola

There are five reasons why Zika will be more difficult to control than Ebola and therefore perhaps a much bigger threat.

First, it is spread easily by a rapidly proliferating mosquito while Ebola spreads by exposure to bodily fluids from those who are infected. That makes Zika more like the plague which was spread by fleas.
Second, only about 20 percent of those who have contracted Zika have any symptoms significant enough that they even know they have caught anything.
Third, there has been almost no work on a vaccine and when a potential vaccine is developed it will have to be tested on pregnant women eventually, a very difficult proposition ethically since it would involve infecting the pregnant women.
A fourth factor may be the biggest barrier to stopping the spread of Zika – it is most prevalent in tropical environments – perfect breeding grounds for the mosquito. Only DDT is thought to be both an effective and inexpensive insecticide that can control the mosquito population. Unfortunately, DDT is almost as dangerous to people as the Zika virus itself.
Last we come to sex. Yes, it is possible to transmit Zika via sexual contact but It isn’t known yet how easy it is to transmit sexually.
The center of the new infection is Brazil, the location of both an enormous Mardi Gras celebration this February and the upcoming 2016 Olympics. Even a tiny percentage of infected visitors would spread it world-wide in a few weeks.

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New Hope for 5 to 8 Million Heart Patients in the U.S. Alone.

The latest study shows many more should get bypass surgery.

Until now, most heart patients with some kinds of coronary artery disease were denied coronary artery bypass grafts (CABG) because it was thought few would benefit from the expensive and dangerous operation.

However, a long-term study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has shown that a far greater number of patients would benefit from the CABG surgery than previously considered.

CABG improves blood flow to the heart muscle by using implants to bypass the arteries already clogged with cholesterol plaque.

Left Ventricular Dysfunction Patients

In particular, those with left ventricular dysfunction (the left side doesn’t pump properly) and heart failure were thought too risky to perform CABG and since the ’70s they were essentially excluded from anything but pain medication and experienced poor outcomes (they soon died).

It is estimated that by 2030 there will be nearly eight million individuals in the United States alone with left ventricular dysfunction because of advances in the management of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, which may lead to more people surviving mild cases and eventually becoming advanced chronic cases.