Republican aide says Donald Trump ‘didn’t care or particularly know about healthcare’

Claim comes after President admits ‘we learned a lot about loyalty’ in wake of repeal bill defeat

President Donald Trump “didn’t care or particularly know about health care” despite trying to push a major reform bill through Congress, a senior Republican aide has reportedly claimed.

Mr Trump and top House Republican Paul Ryan tasted defeat on Friday when they were forced to pull the bill, designed to replace Barack Obama’s flagship Affordable Care Act, because they could not get enough votes within their own party to pass it.

The President blamed Democrats for failing to support the plan, but the self-professed dealmaker also said: “We learned a lot about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process.” He insisted “Obamacare will explode” eventually and that opposition politicians would see the light and work with him on a new plan.

Vice President Mike Pence and budget director Mick Mulvaney joined Mr Trump in aggressive lobbying for votes with members of the dissenting Republican Freedom Caucus faction, and the President had also tried to court moderates.

However, a Republican congressional aide told CNN: “He didn’t care or particularly know about health care. If you are going to be a great negotiator, you have to know about the subject matter.”

CNN also reported that during a meeting with moderate Republicans, when Pennsylvania congressman Charlie Dent said he did not support the repeal-and-replace bill, Mr Trump said: “Why am I even talking to you?”

In his meeting with the Freedom Caucus the President reportedly urged sceptical legislators to ignore the “little s***” of the policy detail and give him the support he needed.

Among the group’s objections was the “essential health benefits” clause of the bill.

It said that requiring insurance companies to cover a list of items—including, but not limited to, access to mental health services, substance abuse counselling, physical therapy, maternal care and paediatric care like vaccinations—would raise premiums.

The American Health Care Act, Mr Trump and Mr Ryan’s proposed plan, would have left 24 million people uninsured by 2026 according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO also said that while it would have saved the government money, people’s insurance premiums would have risen by between 15 and 20 per cent above the expected increase under Obamacare.

Deaths From Rare Cancer Linked to Breast Implants

CNN reports that nine deaths have been attributed to breast implants. In each case, a rare form of breast cancer, anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) was responsible. The FDA responded that this cluster was no cause for alarm as breast implants are linked to only a slightly increased risk of cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the most feared diagnoses a woman can receive. One in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Genetics play a role in breast cancer but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

In the largest review of research into lifestyle and breast cancer, the American Institute of Cancer Research estimated that about 40 percent of U.S. breast cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle choices. I believe this number understates the positive impact of lifestyle modifications.

One of the easiest to implement changes is to improve your diet. Refrain from consuming sugar, especially fructose, and consume only nourishing and whole foods. Processed foods are to be avoided and I recommend limiting protein intake and increasing healthy fat consumption. Obviously, you will want to optimize your gut flora and make sure GMO foods don’t sneak their way onto your menu.

Iodine may also be a crucial player in cancer prevention. Iodine is an essential trace element required for the synthesis of hormones, and the lack of it can also cause or contribute to the development of a number of health problems, including breast cancer. There is evidence that mega doses of iodine are counterproductive.

No matter what health challenges you face, I always recommend optimizing your vitamin D levels. There are hundreds of studies showing the importance of vitamin D. According to Carole Baggerly, founder of GrassrootsHealth, as much as 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer may in fact be related to vitamin D deficiency.

Ketamine for Depression Treatment

The experimental drug esketamine (also known as ketamine) has been placed on the fast track for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for treating major depression, according to Janssen Pharmaceutical.

Ketamine — perhaps best known as a street drug — is listed by the World Health Organization as an important anesthetic and has been used off-label for pain, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, CNN reported.

In 1970, the drug received FDA approval for use in people and was used on American soldiers in Vietnam as an analgesic and sedative. However, doctors became reluctant to use it because it caused minor hallucinogenic side effects.

If the new use gets the go-ahead from the FDA, it would be the first new treatment for major depression approved in about half a century, according to CNN.

USFDA approves breakthrough drug for hepatitis C.

The nod represents a significant shift in treatment paradigm

The U.S. has approved a breakthrough therapy for treatment of chronic hepatitis C that is expected to offer a more palatable cure to millions of people infected with the liver-destroying viral disease.

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the pill, Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) is the first drug that has demonstrated safety and efficacy to treat certain types of HCV infection without the need for co-administration of interferon, an official announcement said on Friday.

“Today’s (Friday’s) approval represents a significant shift in the treatment paradigm for some patients with chronic hepatitis C,” said Edward Cox, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Sovaldi is the second drug approved by the FDA in the past two weeks to treat chronic HCV (hepatitis C virus) infection.

On November 22, the FDA had approved Olysio (simeprevir).

Sovaldi is marketed by Gilead, based in Foster City, California. Olysio is marketed by Raritan, New Jersey-based Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Clinical trials

The FDA said Sovaldi’s effectiveness was evaluated in six clinical trials consisting of 1,947 participants, who had not previously received treatment for their disease (treatment-naive) or had not responded to previous treatment (treatment-experienced), including participants co-infected with HCV and HIV.

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver that can lead to diminished liver function or liver failure.

About 3.2 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CNN said.


Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay—coloured bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice, according to the CDC.

The once-a-day pill is the first approved to treat certain types of hepatitis C infection without the need for interferon, an injected drug that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. Hepatitis C, which is often undiagnosed, affects about 3.2 million Americans, killing more than 15,000 each year, mostly from illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Most patients will be treated with the $1,000-a-day drug for 12 weeks, resulting in a total list price of $84,000, according to Gilead spokeswoman Cara Miller.

Last year, the CDC recommended that all baby boomers, born from 1945 to 1965, be tested for the virus. Introduction of blood and organ screening in the 1990s has dramatically lowered infection rates for younger generations.

The Gilead drug’s approval was supported by several studies showing that it helped to eradicate the virus in significantly more patients, with fewer side effects, than the current drug regimen.

Sovaldi is the first in a new class of medications known as nucleotide analogue inhibitors, or “nukes,” designed to block a specific protein that the hepatitis C virus needs to copy itself.

No magic bullet for keeping off the pounds.


At his heaviest in June 2009, Matthew Shack weighed 500 pounds. He decided he was going to lose weight by tracking his calorie intake every day. At hisTORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Matthew and Amy Shack have lost a combined 425 pounds
  • Amy Shack had gastric bypass surgery, and she closely monitors her diet
  • Matthew Shack struggles to keep the pounds off but has a plan in place

Do you have a weight-loss success story to share? Tell us how you did it, and you could be featured on

(CNN) — Stories about weight loss usually have a beginning, middle and end. How did these people gain so much weight? What made them decide to change? And how much do they weigh now?

But in real life, weight loss isn’t that linear.

Matthew Shack has struggled with his weight since college when a knee injury ended his promising football career. The 35-year-old from Oxnard, California, has lost more than 100 pounds several times, only to gain it back.

“My being overweight is just — I don’t know why it’s happened to me,” Shack says. “I don’t know why I (continue to) overeat.”

After dropping out of college to join the work force, Shack ate out three meals a day, seven days a week. By his 20th birthday, the 6-foot-3 computer consultant weighed 400 pounds. He decided he wanted a girlfriend and knew it would be difficult to find one at his current size. So he started working out several hours a day.

In six months, he lost 100 pounds.

A short time later he met Amy. While the two were dating, Shack caught mononucleosis, or mono. For months, he slept 12 to 18 hours a day and slowly regained the weight he had lost.

Amy didn’t care. She had started gaining weight in middle school and never stopped. When she met Shack in 2000, she carried 180 pounds on her 5-foot-1 frame.

The couple married after three years together. When she got pregnant with their first son, Sidney, Amy weighed 220 pounds. When she delivered their second son, James, two years later, she weighed more than 300.

“We were eating out, and having fun, and we just kept on getting bigger and bigger,” Amy remembers.

Medical emergency motivates couple to lose 538 pounds

The Shacks really wanted a girl to complete their family, but Amy had trouble getting pregnant again. After undergoing infertility treatment without success, they decided to become foster parents.

The interview process was brutal. “You guys are so large, what are you going to do when you die?” Amy recalls the agency asking. “Who’s going to take care of the children when you pass on?”

It was something neither had considered.

On June 22, 2009, the Shacks celebrated their sixth anniversary at Outback Steakhouse. While they chowed down on Aussie cheese fries, several rounds of bread and butter, salad, French onion soup, an 18-ounce prime rib, baked potatoes with the works and dessert, the couple realized they had to make a change.

“We knew we were heading down a path we weren’t going to be able to come back from,” Shack says.

Amy decided that she would undergo gastric bypass surgery. Never a foodie like Shack, she figured the surgery would be the simplest way to cut back on her portion sizes.

Shack made an appointment at his doctor’s office to weigh in because his home scale wouldn’t go past 350 pounds. He figured he would top out at 400 pounds — 450 max. When the doctor’s scale hit 500, he was floored.

Shack decided to use the app LoseIt! to track his calories. He created a spreadsheet and figured out how much he needed to eat every day to reach his goal weight of 235 pounds in 14 months.

“At the end of the day, losing weight is really just a big math equation — calories in, calories out,” he says.

Amy had her surgery the following month. “The next day, it felt like a truck hit me,” she says. But she pushed through the pain, altered her diet to eat small amounts every couple of hours, and lost 100 pounds in five months.

Two months later, Amy found out she was pregnant. It was a girl.

She lost another 40 pounds during pregnancy, which worried her obstetrician. But a healthy Samantha Shack was born on November 1, 2010.

TV reporter: Lose weight or lose my job

Shack saw quick results as well. He restricted his calories to 1,400 a day and lost his first 100 pounds in a few months. By September 2010 he had lost 265 pounds and had reached his goal weight. LoseIt! called him its biggest loser ever.

That should have been the end of Shack’s story. But while losing weight is hard, keeping it off often can be even harder.

Shack stopped counting his calories and tried to stick to a healthy diet without constantly monitoring it. He barely noticed when the pounds started to creep back on.

“Since my frame is so large, I don’t gain weight in my stomach, I gain it head to toe,” he explains.

Over the next two years he reached 300 pounds, then 340.

He and Amy became foster parents, and a new influx of kids reminded Shack why he had lost weight in the first place. In April 2012, he decided he wanted to do a “century” bike ride of 100 miles. Between April and November 2012, he lost 100 pounds in training.

After the bike race he regained some, then dropped some. He recently started gaining again when he lost his job. But he’s aware of his pattern — and has a plan to tackle the extra pounds.

“I haven’t been able to find my magic bullet,” he said. “There’s usually some motivation point that makes me want to lose weight. Once I hit that goal, I kind of lose my motivation.”

Amy has maintained her goal weight of 160 pounds for more than three years. She finished a half marathon in January. She stays active — “when you have six kids, they are your activity” — and continues to monitor what she eats closely. She knows people have gained back their weight even after gastric bypass surgery.

“I’m going to battle my weight for the rest of my life,” she says.

No one’s weight loss story really has an end.

The goal of a healthy lifestyle is to avoid ending the tale too soon.

The science behind positive thinking your way to success.

Psychology expert RIchard Boyatzis says there is strong evidence to suggest that regular physical or leisure activities throughout the day stokes compassion and creativity at work.

  • Activating our parasympathetic systems stokes compassion and creativity, say scientists
  • Positivity increases when workers are given more flexibility in their roles
  • Research shows chronic stress levels hinder professionals and those in leadership positions.


Editor’s note: “Thinking Business” focuses on the psychology of getting ahead in the workplace by exploring techniques to boost employee performance, increase creativity and productivity.

 Whether it’s infuriating colleagues, inept management or a lack of appreciation, the modern day workplace can be a positivity free zone.

Sometimes counting to ten or daydreaming of a desert island just won’t purge the everyday monotony of office life and it’s common to become trapped in a spiral of negativity.

But regular coffee breaks, yoga and even praying to a loving god could change all that.

Are we wired to be optimistic?

Leading the doodle revolution

Brain science behind One Direction fans

According to psychology expert Richard Boyatzis, these simple exercises can engage the parasympathetic nervous system — the function responsible for relaxation and slowing the heart rate — resulting in renewed optimism and improvements in working relationships.

Boyatzis, psychology and cognitive science professor at Case Western Reserve University, said there is strong neurological evidence supporting the theory that engaging our parasympathetic systems — through regular physical or leisure activities — stokes compassion and creativity.

Read more: Don’t get stuck in your own success

“Strain causes a person to be cognitively, perceptually and emotionally impaired,” he said, “if you’re under pressure and stress at work, then you can’t think outside the box because you can’t see the box.”

Boyatzis maintains that chronic stress levels hinder professionals and those in leadership positions from performing to their best. He argues that while we need stress to function and adapt, too much can cause the body to defend itself by closing down.

“You have to engage your parasympathetic nervous system so that you change your hormonal flow,” Boyatzis told CNN, adding that mood and positivity can be “infectious” in the workplace, particularly in positions of leadership.

He added: “If you’re having a horrible marriage, or your teenage kids are dissing you right and left, you get to work and it’s very likely that you are just a bummer.”

Read more: Training the brain to stress less

Evidence shows that positivity increases when workers are given increased flexibility in their roles and more work-life balance, according to a report on well-being and success produced by the World Economic Forum [WEF].

[When] people enter a more positive space they become more willing to take risks and make comments.”
Sarah Lewis, chartered organizational psychologist.

Meanwhile, the report showed bad management and bullying in the workplace can have a damaging effect on employees’ physical and mental health.

Can positivity and happiness lead to success?

A recent study by the University of California entitled ‘Does Happiness Promote Career Success,’ professors concluded that ‘happy people’ are more satisfied with their jobs and report having greater autonomy in their duties.

Additionally, they perform better than their less happy peers and receive more support from coworkers.

Finally, positive individuals are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to be physically healthier and live longer.

And the debate over happiness and work goes way back in history. Ancient Greek philosopher Galen said employment is “nature’s physician, essential to human happiness.”

Read more: ‘Power naps’ may boost right-brain activity

Sarah Lewis, chartered organizational psychologist, told CNN that when people are positive at work it can lead to opportunities because they are more engaged and resilient:

“[When] people enter a more positive space they become more willing to take risks and make comments,” she said “they go into the more difficult conversations and they’re more productive.”

But in a study entitled ‘Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?’ the results concluded that positive attitudes can sometimes lead to poor problem solving.

If you want to instigate behavioral change you need to engage the implicit system which operates in the subconscious realm.”
Reut Schwartz-Hebron, founder of the Key Change Institute

The study also stated that the evidence to suggest happy people are more popular and have superior coping abilities is “almost non-existent.”

Reut Schwartz-Hebron, founder of the Key Change Institute — an organization that focuses on workplace behavior — believes that a constant state of positivity in the workplace can be “dangerous.”

“There’s certain things that have to be challenged,” she said, “certain things that have to be improved you can’t just constantly think that everything is going to be fine and positive.”

Schwartz-Hebron — a former Israeli military lieutenant — said to improve working life, it is first necessary “to rewire your brain” by creating new experiences and engaging two different cerebral systems; the explicit and the implicit memory.

The explicit is responsible for storing information and facts while the implicit memory relies on previous experiences to perform a task and is associated with the subconscious.

“If you want to instigate behavioral change you need to engage the implicit system which operates in the subconscious realm,” said Schwartz-Hebron, who runs workshops for Fortune 500 companies.

She added: “We typically work in very, very negative environments because our expertise is actually in difficult change.”

“[The people we work with] don’t see the need for the change; they don’t feel the problem is being defined correctly or they don’t believe that the solution is correct.”

The study by the University of California concludes that while positive emotions are particularly important to encourage optimal success at work, it is important for employees and those in positions of leadership to experience both positive and negative feelings in day to day routine.

Seizure Disorders Enter Medical Marijuana Debate.

The role of cannabinoids in the treatment of seizure disorders in children has come under the spotlight in recent months amid a string of media reports of parents obtaining the substances in states where medical marijuana is now legal and claiming “miraculous” reductions in seizures with the treatment.

Among the reports was that of a 6-year-old boy with Dravet’s syndrome, a rare form of childhood epilepsy, reported by CNN. In an interview, the parents said the boy was left immobilized by the 22 antiseizure pills a day required to control his seizures, but after treatment with a liquid, nonpsychoactive form of marijuana, he was able to make it through an entire day without a seizure for the first time since he was 4 months old, and continued to see substantial reduction.

“Instead of medical marijuana, this is miracle marijuana,” the father told CNN.

Another child with Dravet’s syndrome in Colorado, who was having 300 grand mal seizures a week and had lost the ability to walk, talk, and eat, was similarly reported to have her seizures drastically reduced to just 3 times per month after treatment with the liquidized form of cannabis, CNN reported.

In both cases, the treatment was low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound associated with the psychoactive properties of marijuana, and high in cannabidiol, which is not psychoactive and is instead believed to be medicinal. Both cases were also featured in a CNN documentary on medical marijuana, “Weed,” that aired Sunday, August 11.

With the increasingly abundant anecdotal but very high profile reports, neurologists can likely expect a surge in interest from parents, particularly those frustrated by intractable epilepsy in their children, who are logically asking “why not?”

“When patients, children or otherwise, are faced with bad situations and no good treatment they, or their parents, look ‘out of the box’ to find one,” said David M. Labiner, MD, a neurologist with the University of Arizona and director of the Arizona Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, in Tucson.

“Medical marijuana is one of those things being utilized now,” he told Medscape Medical News.

He added, however, that despite the anecdotal reports, the bigger picture in terms of clinical evidence of efficacy, or, importantly, long-term safety on such treatments is lackluster at best. “There is limited high-quality evidence about the efficacy and virtually no data about the safety of using marijuana or cannabinoids,” he said.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, and in some states the approval explicitly includes treatment for epilepsy.

But a 2012 Cochrane review of all published randomized controlled trials involving the treatment of marijuana or one of marijuana’s constituents in people with epilepsy concluded that “no reliable conclusions can be drawn at present regarding the efficacy of cannabinoids as a treatment for epilepsy.”

With a primary outcome investigated for the trials of seizure freedom for 1 year or more or 3 times the longest interseizure interval, the researchers found 4 reports with a total of 48 patients randomly assigned to placebo or to 200 to 300 mg of cannabidiol per day.

Although none of the patients in the treatment groups were reported to have sustained adverse effects, none of the trials included reliable details of randomization and all were deemed to be of “low quality.”

In a commentary on the review, Jonathan W. Miller, MD, PhD, noted that in addition to the inconclusive evidence of efficacy, other evidence has suggested marijuana and low-dose THC can represent a possible seizure precipitant.

“Marijuana itself has major shortcomings as an epilepsy treatment,” writes Dr. Miller, who is director of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery and director of Epilepsy Surgery at University Hospitals, Case Medical Center/Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “Its psychotropic action can only be regarded as an adverse effect.”

“It is a biological product containing multiple compounds with unclear, possible, anti- or pro-convulsant effects, delivered in varying amounts from dose to dose,” he adds. “Long-term safety has not been adequately investigated.”

With the need for new epilepsy treatments pressing, however, he underscores the importance of evaluating the potential benefits of cannabinoids with more reliable clinical trials.

“Cannabidiol or other individual cannabinoids with minimal adverse effects could be extracted and given in precise doses in rigorously designed, blinded, randomized clinical trials to test efficacy and safety,” Dr. Miller urges. “This is a reasonable route for development of new antiepileptic drugs.”

Safe Dispensing a Concern

In the case of the California boy described in the CNN story, the parents said they obtained the cannabis from the Harborside Health Clinic, a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, California, that has billed itself as the “world’s largest pot shop” and sells concentrations with names such as “Deadhead OG” and “Afghani Hash.”

The clinic does claim to screen all of its products for safety and tests for potency as well as the presence of pathogenic molds, but Dr. Labiner, in agreement with Dr. Miller, asserted that if cannabinoids are shown to be effective anticonvulsants, they should be provided to the public with the same safety assurances as any other epilepsy drug.

“Rather than thinking about how to keep sick people from using these compounds, as many of our elected officials and law enforcement are doing, we need to support efforts to determine how to appropriately use these compounds in a controlled fashion and not delegate that responsibility to [places like] ‘the world’s largest pot shop’.”

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) favors the pursuit of a better understanding of the potential benefits of medical marijuana, but, with the same concerns of operating in an unregulated environment in mind, the academy opposes laws legalizing medical marijuana.

“The AAP strongly supports more cannabinoid research to better understand both how these substances can be used therapeutically as well as their potential side effects — which we may well be underestimating,” said Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children’s Hospital Boston and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts.

“[But] the AAP does not support ‘medical marijuana’ laws as they circumvent regulations put in place to protect patients, and children are a particularly vulnerable population,” Dr. Levy told Medscape Medical News.

While noting that the reports on children finding seizure control from cannabinoids are “quite compelling,” Dr. Levy emphasized that medical marijuana as a policy misleads the public on the level of research behind the endorsement.

“It implies, incorrectly, that marijuana is an established medication and opens the doors to people and parents ‘experimenting’ with it for all kinds of conditions.”

And when it comes to experimenting with drugs to be used particularly on children, the practice is best left to experts in highly controlled conditions, she added.

“I fully support the parents who are trying to advocate for something they believe will be helpful for their children. But let’s do it the right way — the same way we develop all other medications. We are bound to make mistakes when we try and take short cuts.”




Air pollution killing over two million annually, study says.

More than two million people are dying every year from the effects of outdoor air pollution, according to a new study.

An estimated 2.1 million deaths are caused by anthropogenic increases of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) while a further 470,000 are killed annually as a result of human-caused increases in ozone pollution.


Jason West, co-author of the study published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters said: “Outdoorair pollution is an important problem and among the most important environmental risk factors for health.”

East Asia is the worst affected area with researchers estimating more than a million people dying prematurely every year from PM2.5 pollution and 203,000 from ozone pollution.

India has the second highest air pollution mortality rates with an estimated 397,000 deaths from fine particulates and ozone accounting for, on average, 118,000.

Next comes Southeast Asia which has estimated average of 158,000 deaths from PM2.5 and 33,300 attributed to ozone.

Europe has fractionally less PM2.5 deaths (154,000, on average) and 32,800 premature deaths related to ozone while in North America there were an average of 43,000 deaths from fine particulates and 34,400 related to ozone.

West et al used an ensemble of global atmospheric chemistry climate models to estimate concentrations of PM2.5 and ozone pollutants.

Outdoor air pollution is an important problem and among the most important environmental risk factors for health


Fine particulate matter (dust, soot, smoke and liquid droplets) is classified as less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. It is particularly dangerous to human health because it can lodge deep in the lungs causing cancer and other respiratory disease, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ground level ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight, say the EPA.

The study also investigated the effects of climate change on worsening air pollution, comparing climate models from the year 2000 with pre-industrial times (1850).

“Very few studies have attempted to estimate the effects of past climate change on air quality and health. We found that the effects of past climate change are likely to be a very small component of the overall effect of air pollution,” said West, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Going forward into the future, climate change will get more severe and that could have greater effects on air pollution.”

The research adds to a growing body of evidence revealing both the human and economic impacts of air pollution around the world.

A recent report published in the British medical journal, The Lancet found that the incidence of heart failure rises when air pollution is higher. The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, concluded that a reduction of PM2.5 could reduce hospitalizations due to heart failure in the U.S. saving a third of a billion dollars per year.

Going forward into the future, climate change will get more severe and that could have greater effects on air pollution
Jason West, co-author of study

Another recent study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences highlighted air pollution problems in Northern China, suggesting life expectancy could have been lowered by five-and-a-half years.

Even in the European Union, air pollution takes a sizable 8.6-month chunk off life expectancy according to theWorld Health Organization.

But technology to monitor air pollution is improving all the time, says Roland Leigh, an air quality scientist from theUK’s University of Leicester.

“Historically, air quality is something very much we’ve tried to measure and manage spatially — considering over a total city what the average air quality is. What we are getting to now is systems that let us manage the distribution of air quality with knowledge of where people are and what people are doing,” Leigh told CNN.

Improved data can help manage the exposure of sensitized individuals (the young, asthma sufferers, the elderly), he says. But he concedes that the road to improved air quality might be a long one.

“We have come to terms with the fact that in the urban environment we get exposed to emissions by our transport systems. That transport system is essential and at the moment there is no economically viable way of not emitting pollution at the point of use.

“Either we have to manage those emissions and exposure more intelligently or technologies need to change in our cars.”


Source: CNN

Aspergillus Meningitis Linked to Steroid Injections Sickens 26, Kills 4 .

Twenty-six patients have contracted fungal meningitis after receiving spinal steroid injections for back pain, CNN reports. Four of the patients have died.

The majority of cases — 18 — have occurred in Tennessee; the rest are divided among Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Clinicians suspect that the steroid, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, was contaminated with the fungus Aspergillus. All patients received injections between July 1 and September 20, and with the incubation period lasting as long as 4 weeks, more cases may still be identified.

The New England Compounding Center, which has been implicated in the outbreak, has recalled three lots of methylprednisolone acetate: #05212012@68, #06292012@26, and #08102012@51.

Asked to comment, Journal Watch‘s Paul Sax said: “What makes this [outbreak] notable is both the severity and the rarity of the condition, Aspergillus meningitis. Needless to say, consultation with a specialist in infectious diseases would be highly recommended for any clinician encountering such a case.”

Source: CNN