A meta-analysis of studies covering over 1 million people finds that doing at least one hour of physical activity per day, such as brisk walking or cycling for pleasure, may eliminate the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8h a day. The findings come in one of the papers in a special series published inThe Lanceton 27 July, ahead of the summer Olympic Games opening in Rio next Friday. Image: Pixabay.com
To look at the impact of activity and inactivity, researchers led by Professor Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Norway and the University of Cambridge, UK, went back to the authors of 13 existing papers and asked all of them to reanalyse their data. The 13 papers were taken from 16 studies selected after a systematic review of six databases, with the 13 final papers providing data on sitting time and all-cause mortality. Of just over 1 million people in these studies, 84,609 (8.4%) died during the follow-up periods of 2-18 years.
The results found that people who sat for eight hours a day, but were physically active, had a much lower risk of premature death compared with people who sat for fewer hours a day, but were not active. This suggests that physical activity is particularly important, no matter how many hours a day are spent sitting. In fact, the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8 hours a day was eliminated for people who did a minimum of 1 hour physical activity per day. The greatest risk of death was for people who sat for long periods of time and were inactive.
A report published earlier this week by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) suggests that improving co-operation between the forestry and agricultural sectors could help to improve food security as well as reducing deforestation, highlighting the successful efforts of Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia, Ghana, Vietnam, Tunisia and the Gambia. According to the FAO, integrating land-use planning is vital to balancing land uses, supported by suitable policy instruments to promote both sustainable agriculture and forests.
Image: Woman in the West Indies with mycetoma caused by a fungal organism CDC/ Dr. Lucille K. Georg
From Harpur Schwartz, an economics/global health student from Connecticut College, USA, interning with Cabi’s Global Health team.
While tuning in to the live broadcast of the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly taking place at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, mycetoma reached the discussion floor. At the risk of sounding naïve, I’m going to tell you that I had never heard of mycetoma - although a quick google search revealed images resembling elephantiasis. As a student studying global health, I was a little disappointed with myself; I mean I have at least heard of the other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). But if mycetoma was unfamiliar to me, how many other people had never heard of this disease? I have provided answers to some basic questions I had about mycetoma in case you too are unfamiliar with this disease...
What is mycetoma?
The World health Organization describes mycetoma as, “… a chronic, progressively destructive morbid inflammatory disease usually of the foot but any part of the body can be affected”. This disease is caused by a bacterial (actinomycetoma) or fungal (eumycetoma) infection where the organism enters the body through a minor trauma or a penetrating injury (i.e. commonly a thorn prick). It is believed that the infection enters the body after this pricking occurs, but there are no concrete studies determining transmission. A good video on it can be found here in Global Health Now's Spotlight on Mycetoma by Amy Maxmen.
Is there a cure?
In terms of treatment, curing actinomycetoma using antibiotics has about a 90% success rate. The use of antifungals to treat eumycetoma has a success rate of about 35%, but in 2016 a new antifungal agent, fosravuconazole, will be the subject of the First Clinical Trial in Mycetoma conducted by Drugs for Neglected Diseases Institute (DNDi). Because the disease takes a slow, relatively pain-free progression, mycetoma is at its most advanced stages once it is diagnosed. It is at these later stages when amputation becomes necessary.
This week I had the pleasure of heading down to the south coast to attend the Society for Experimental Biology’s main meeting in Brighton. The flagship meeting attracts an international audience covering topics across the animal and plant sciences and also cell biology. For me, the main focus was to attend a plant biology session – From source to sink: Resource partitioning in plants – which I have spent the past 18 months organising with colleagues from the University of Sheffield and the University of Illinois.
The future prosperity of sub-Saharan African farmers is closely linked to partnerships and joint businesses. Their investment will unleash agriculture’s potential. As government budgets for the sector decline, an increasing expectation is on the private sector and other partners to finance the gap. These partnerships advance mutual interests and mobilize strengths and resources in a transparent and equitable manner to achieve a common goal.
What do wellington boots drying in the African sun have to do with blood donation in the post-Ebola era? Tell you later.
But first, as its World Blood Donor Day on June 14th, lets consider the differences between the blood transfusion services in a high income country like the UK with those in Nigeria or Sierra Leone? How has the Ebola epidemic impacted on these services?
Blood transfusion services in the UK
I think we in the UK probably take our well-established national blood service(s) somewhat for granted and only really give it a second thought when either we need to call on its use or something drastic goes wrong.
Established in 1946, the Blood Transfusion Service (BTS) in England and Wales employs over 6000 people to collect & process the blood alone. All sorts of rules and practices surround the preparation and distribution and use of that blood. We are very fortunate that over 3% of people in the UK donate that blood (1% being the figure recommended as a minimum by the W.H.O. to meet a populations needs) but even then we get regular appeals for more blood and we still suffer shortages for particular blood groups and platelets.
But, have you ever asked yourself why we need continuing fresh donations of blood and who are the usual recipients of that blood?
In 2014, in England & Wales, the 3 major “consumers” of blood were:
67%, to treat medical conditions including anaemia, cancer and blood disorders
27%, in surgery, including cardiac surgery and emergency surgery
6%, to treat blood loss after childbirth
The most frequently transfused patient group is over 65 years of age.
100% of the blood donated is voluntary. This is important, as the W.H.O. has declared that the foundation of a safe blood supply is 100% voluntary donation. Blood obtained this way has lower rates of infections and so reduces chances of disease transmission via blood or blood products.
How does this compare with a blood transfusion service in West Africa ?
My interest in equine thermography started during my Equine Science Masters degree studies at Aberystwyth University, Wales in 2008.
The initial research in equine thermography was for my Masters dissertation on the application of thermography in diagnosing injuries of racehorses (fig. 1). The main objective of the investigations was to assess thermography for predicting, detecting and monitoring lameness, and to determine if thermography could be a suitable tool for trainers in monitoring a horse’s limbs.
Our guest blogger this month is Harpur Schwartz, an economics/global health student from Connecticut College, USA. Harpur is interning with Cabi’s Global Health team, learning how information resources can support public health education programmes.
World Blood Donor Day 2016 [June 14th] is quickly approaching, and this year’s theme will be “Blood connects us all”. The goal is to motivate regular blood donors to continue to give blood while motivating new blood donors to start by showing how patients and donors are connected. With the current blood donation crisis, the worry is people do not understand that they qualify to donate. To clear up any blood donation confusion, many countries like the UK have provided specific guidelines [blood donation rules] for who can give blood. Donors have to wait only four months after getting a tattoo or piercing to give blood and a mother only must wait six months after giving birth. Gay and bisexual men [men who have sex with men] who used to face a lifetime ban in the UK, can donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for at least 12 months. This 12 month rule came into force in 2011 in the UK but has only recently done so in the USA (December 21st 2015, FDA revises donor deferral guidelines). It is the reason why many people in Orlando USA, anxious to donate blood to help their injured friends, are not able to do so (Gay Blood Donation Ban Under Fire in Wake of Orlando Shooting).
I have always been interested in how society is responsible for defining disease, and how once a person is labeled as having a certain disease, it frames their very being. In one of my university classes, we discussed how ‘Disease as framed’ is the way in which a person’s image changes as a result of disease. The example we discussed was AIDS and gay men. With the current blood donation policy, my question is if gay men are still being discriminated against because of their association with HIV and AIDS, or if the policy is based on sound evidence?
There has always been a stigma attached to the gay population in regards to HIV and AIDS, mainly because this was where the disease was first identified. [The story of the discovery of the AIDS epidemic is chronicled in the 1993 film “And the Band Played On”. Attitudes began to change in the USA when Mary Fisher delivered her speech, “A Whisper of AIDS”, at the Republican National Convention that took place in Houston in 1992. As a white female, and mother of two, Mary became a new face for HIV and AIDS. She was not a haemophiliac, she was not gay, she did not inject drugs, and yet she still tested HIV positive. Fisher explained to the world how “…HIV asks only one thing of those it attacks. Are you human?”
The gay and bisexual community are still unhappy with being treated differently. A 12 month ban does not take into account if they practiced safe sex, or have been in a committed relationship for 10 years with the same man. However, the 12 month ban policy is based on research evidence and is supported by numerous countries including the UK, the US, and Australia.
A ground-breaking report from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has produced an estimate of the number of plants known to science. By searching through existing databases, the researchers have estimated that there are now 390,900 known plant species, of which around 369,400 are flowering plants. But this figure is only those species currently documented: new species are being discovered all the time, including over 2000 in 2015 alone. But more worryingly, it is suggested that 21% of plant species are under threat, from a range of pressures including climate change, habitat loss and invasive species. The invasive species component of the report, which draws heavily on CABI’s Invasive Species Compendium, says that nearly 5,000 plant species are documented as invasive, from over 13,000 vascular plant species naturalised outside their native range.
Prof Kathy Willis, director of science at RBG Kew, said: "It's really important to know how many plant species there are, where they are and the relationship between the groups, because plants are absolutely fundamental to our well-being”
And on invasive species, the head of conservation science at Kew, Dr Colin Clubbe, said that invasive species are one of the biggest challenges for biodiversity. Quantifying the number of species regarded as invasive is a key step towards addressing the problem. "Now that we've got this list and this number, it's certainly a bit like know your enemy," said Dr Clubbe.
Dr Ross Cameron of the University of Sheffield outlines his latest book (Environmental Horticulture – Science and Management of Green Landscapes), co-authored with Prof. James Hitchmough and how writing the book can sometimes be easier than settling on a name that everyone approves of.