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healthbriefs


A Bus Pass to Green Well-Being T


here’s a way to simultaneously help both Planet Earth and one’s own health, report scientists from Imperial College London, in England. The researchers examined four years of data from the country’s Department for Transport National Travel Survey beginning in 2005, the year before free bus passes were available for people ages 60 and older. The study team found that those with a pass were more likely to walk frequently and take more journeys by “active travel”—defined as walking, cycling or using public transport. Staying physically active helps maintain mental well-being, mobility and muscle strength in older people and reduces their risk of cardiovascular disease, falls and fractures. Previous research by Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes published in The Lancet has shown that just 15 minutes of moderate daily exercise lowers the risk of death in people over 60 by 12 percent, and


another study at Newcastle University found that 19 percent of Britain’s adults achieve their recommended amount of physical activity through active travel alone. Public health organizations in the UK believe that “incidental” exercise, such


as walking to and from bus stops, may play a key role in helping seniors keep fit and reduce social exclusion.


Getting the Lead Out T


E


COFFEE AND VISION LOSS LINKED


asing up on java consumption or switching to decaf may be a wise


move for coffee lovers, according to a scientific paper published in Investiga- tive Ophthalmology & Visual Science. The study links heavy consumption of the caffeinated beverage to an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma, a condition in which fluid builds up inside the eye and puts pressure on the optic nerve. This leads to some vision loss and in serious cases, total blindness. Researchers obtained data from


he U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently redefined the “action level” for lead exposure in children. Youngsters are now considered at risk and qualify for careful medical monitoring if they have more than five micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood—half the previous threshold. Lead poison- ing can cause cognitive and behavioral problems, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends testing blood lead concentration levels at age 1 and again at 2, when concentrations peak.


Most lead poisoning cases occur in substandard housing units, especially those with window frames still coated with lead-based paint banned since 1978. Families in dwellings built before 1950 should also be vigilant about lead. The Consumer Products Safety Commission cautions that home lead test kits sold online and at hardware stores may not be reliable enough to identify and remove sources of exposure. Professional contractors offer more accurate results. Children exhibiting blood lead levels above the new threshold are usually


monitored, rather than treated with medications that carry serious risks. Once lead sources are removed, children’s blood lead levels typically return to a more normal range within weeks. The CDC confirms that rather than remedial treatment, the primary goal should be making sure children aren’t exposed to lead in the first place. Fortu- nately, the levels of most of America’s youngest children today are well below the revised action point, with average blood lead content of 1.8 micrograms, while school-age children, teenagers and adults face little risk.


14 New York City Edition NaturalAwakeningsNYC.com


78,977 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,202 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study that focused on caffeinated coffee, tea and cola servings. They found that drinking three or more cups of caffein- ated coffee daily was linked with an increased risk of developing the eye condition, especially for women with a family history of glaucoma. However, the researchers did not find associations with consumption of decaffeinated tea, chocolate or coffee.


“Because this is the first [such]


study, confirmation of the U.S. results in other populations would be needed to lend more credence to the possibility that caffeinated coffee might be a modifiable risk factor for glaucoma,” says Doctor of Science Jae Hee Kang, of the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts. “It may also lead to research into other dietary or lifestyle risk factors.”


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