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Domestic coal use ups lung cancer risk

The use of “smoky coal” for household cooking and heating was found to be associated with a substantial increase in the lifetime risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study from China.

 This represents one of the strongest effects of environmental pollution reported for cancer risk in any population, the researchers said.

It also underlines the importance of taking action to minimise exposure to the most hazardous types of fuel.

About half the world’s population uses coal and other solid fuels for cooking and heating, often in simple stoves that are unvented.

Exposure to certain types of solid fuel smoke is associated with several diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute respiratory infections, and lung cancer. However, the relationship between smoky coal use and lung cancer is not fully understood.

So an international team of researchers compared deaths from lung cancer between lifelong users of “smoky coal” and “smokeless coal” for household cooking and heating in Xuanwei County, Yunnan Provine, China, where lung cancer rates are particularly elevated.

Eye movement helps detect neurological disorders
Scientists have devised a new low-cost method, which promises to detect certain neurological disorders by studying eye movements.

The researchers at the University of Southern California revealed that because Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Parkinson's each involve ocular control and attention dysfunctions, these diseases could be easily identified through an evaluation of how patients move their eyes while they watch television.

"Natural attention and eye movement behaviour – like a drop of saliva – contains a biometric signature of an individual and her/his state of brain function or dysfunction,” the researchers said.

Typical methods of detection, which include clinical evaluation, structured behavioural tasks and neuroimaging are costly, labour-intensive and limited by a patient's ability to understand and comply with instructions.

Butterflies at greater risk of extinction than tigers
Bumblebees, beetles and butterflies are more endangered than lions and tigers, a new study has warned.

The biggest study of invertebrates ever conducted found that one in five is at risk of dying out. This can affect humans by threatening crops and food supplies.

Prof Jonathan Baillie, the director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London, said insects, slugs and snails may not be as glamorous as lions or dolphins but are just as important to providing the food we eat and the countryside we love. “These critters form the basis of many of the essential benefits that nature provides; earthworms recycle waste nutrients, coral reefs support a myriad of life forms and bees help pollinate crops,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
“If they disappear, humans could soon follow,” he said.

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