New Measles Outbreak in Europe

According to the World Health Organisation, there was a new massive outbreak of measles in Europe last year. There were four times as many cases in 2017 than there were in 2016, a record low year. Across Europe, over 20,000 people fell ill and 35 died.

The outbreak affected 15 countries. Romania, Italy and Ukraine reported the highest number of measle cases. 

One of the reasons for the new outbreak is that more and more adults don’t want to get vaccinated. Most children in European countries are vaccinated at an early age, however, recently more and more parents have not wanted their children treated. Italy, for example,  reported that only 85% of all under two-year-olds are vaccinated.

Measles is an infectious disease that can be deadly if not treated. It starts with a runny nose, coughing and sneezing and is often accompanied by fever. Typical symptoms show a red-brown rash on various parts of the body. One in a thousand cases develops a swelling of the brain that may cause serious diseases and even lead to blindness.

Apart from Europe, measles has been on the decline worldwide.  For the first time in history, there were less than 100,000 measles deaths a year. About  85 % of the world’s children receive immunisation by the time they reach their first birthday.

The WHO has now put pressure on European countries to raise public awareness. Many are introducing measures to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated.

 

Measles on a person's skin
Measles on a person’s skin – Image : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • accompany = together with
  • affect = here: happen in
  • apart from = except for
  • blindness = not being able to see anything
  • brain = organ inside your head that controls how you think, feel and move
  • decline = to go down
  • encourage = to get people to do something
  • however = but
  • infectious disease = illness that can be passed on from one person to another, especially through the air that you breathe
  • massive = very strong
  • measles = infectious disease in which you have a fever and small red spots on your body or face
  • measures = action; to do something
  • outbreak = here: an illness or disease that starts very quickly and affects many people
  • pressure= to try to make a person do something that you think is important
  • public awareness = to make more and more people know and understand something about a subject
  • raise = improve
  • rash = a lot of red spots on a person’s skin
  • receive = get
  • record = here: lowest ever
  • runny nose = when sticky liquid comes out of your nose, usually because you have a cold
  • swelling = a part of your body that becomes larger than normal
  • symptom = something wrong with your body that shows you have an illness
  • treat = to cure an illness by giving someone medicine
  • vaccinate, vaccination = to protect a person from an illness by giving them medicine that contains  a weak form of bacteria or the virus that causes the disease
  • various = different
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation which helps countries improve their people’s health by giving them medicine and information about diseases

Plastic Found in Bottled Water

A new test, conducted by scientists from the State University of New York, shows that bottled water has microplastic particles in them.

250 bottles of water from nine different countries were examined. More than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. Sometimes concentrations were as high as thousands of plastic pieces per litre of water. Only 17  examined bottles were free of plastic.  On average, 10 plastic particles, about the width of a human hair, were found in each litre of water.

The companies, whose bottled water was examined, claim that their production met the highest quality standards. In most cases, the plastic gets into the water through the packaging process.

Although the results are not catastrophic scientists and doctors are concerned.  However, they state that there is no proof that the smallest particles of plastic can cause damage to your body. Most of it is turned into waste which leaves the body through faeces.

Apart from bottled water, plastic particles have also been found in beer, tap water, seafood and even in the air.

Bottled water is the fastest growing beverage in the world.  Currently, about 150 billion dollars worth of  water is sold worldwide. Packaged water is especially important for millions of people around the world who do not have access to safe drinking water.

 

Bottled water
Bottled water – Image by Ravitave

 

Words

  • access = the ability to get something
  • although = while
  • beverage = hot or cold drink
  • bottled water = drinking water that is sold in a bottle; sometimes it has bubbles in it
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • concentration = the amount of something in a liquid
  • concerned = worried
  • conduct = carry out
  • contain = to have in them
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • especially = above all
  • examine = to test or look at somehting very closely
  • faeces = solid waste that leaves your body after a certain time
  • microplastic particles = very very small pieces of plastic
  • packaging process = the method used to put  water into the bottle
  • proof = facts that show something is true or correct
  • quality standards = level of quality a company accepts in its products
  • safe = clean
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • state = to say officially
  • tap water = water that comes naturally from a tap rather than a bottle
  • tiny = very very small
  • waste = unwanted material
  • width = how wide somehting is
  • worldwide = around the world

New Blood Test May Be Able To Detect Cancer

Researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore have announced that they are close to developing a new blood test that could detect common cancer forms.

The new test, called  CancerSEEK ,  would cost about $500 and be able to identify early forms of cancer cells in the body. According to the scientists, the test concentrates on the most frequent types of cancers including lung, breast, colon,  and stomach cancer.

After testing about  1000 people diagnosed with these cancer forms the new blood test found signs of cancer in 70% of them. Tumours release tiny amounts of altered DNA into the bloodstream. The test looks for mutations in 16 genes that frequently come up in cancer.

Although the first tests have had promising results there are still problems that have to be dealt with. There is still a high rate of false alarms, where cancer is shown in patients who are not diagnosed with any disease. Another problem is that the test sometimes shows signs of cancer but cannot pinpoint where exactly in the body they appear.

Doctors state that the new blood test could be a major breakthrough for cancer patients and can extend their lives. The earlier a cancer is found and located the better the chances are for it to be treated.

The ultimate goal is to find cancer at early stages of the illness, at a time when patients can be treated successfully. In some forms of cancer, for example, pancreatic cancer, symptoms show up in the late stages of the illness. As a result, four out of five patients die shortly after it has been diagnosed

 

New blood testing could detect cancer at an early stage
New blood testing could detect cancer at an early stage – Image: GrahamColm

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • altered = changed
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • bloodstream =the blood flowing through your body
  • breakthrough = an important new discovery, especially after having done experiments for a long time
  • cancer = serious illness in which cells in parts of the body grow in an uncontrolled way
  • colon = lower part of your stomach in which food is changed into waste matter that leaves your body
  • common = something that happens very often
  • concentrate on = focus on
  • deal with = to take action to solve a problem
  • detect = find something that is very difficult to see
  • develop = to make or do something new
  • diagnose = to find out what illness a person  has by doing medical tests
  • disease = illness
  • DNA = substance that carries genetic information in the cells of the body
  • extend = lengthen, make longer
  • frequent = often
  • gene = part of a cell in a living thing that controls what it looks like, how it grows
  • goal= something you hope to achieve or finish in the future
  • high rate = very many
  • identify = to recognise and name something correctly
  • including = also
  • major = very important
  • mutation = a change in the structure of something
  • pinpoint = to show the exact position of something
  • promising = to show signs of being successful
  • release = set free
  • researcher = person who studies a subject in order to find out more about it
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • stage = phase, period
  • state = to say that something is true
  • successful = to complete what you have wanted to
  • tiny = very small
  • treat = to try to cure a disease and make someone healthy again
  • tumour = mass of bad cells in your body that have divided and grow very quickly
  • ultimate = final; in the end

UK Government Appoints Minister for Loneliness

British Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed 42-year-old Tracey  Crouch as the country’s first Minister for Loneliness. She will continue the work started by Jo Cox, a Labour Party MP who was shot by a right-wing extremist in 2016.

According to a commission headed by Cox, about 9 million Britons feel some form of loneliness. Half of all people aged 75 and over live alone – about 2 million across the UK. Many of them go on for days and even weeks without communicating or talking to anyone else.

However, not only the elderly feel lonely. A growing number of younger adults, especially those who use social media heavily, are in danger of becoming lonely.

Doctors claim that feeling lonely raises the likelihood of suffering a premature death.  It is even worse than smoking.  People who are isolated for a longer period of time often do not seek help. They eat and exercise less, which can lead to increased blood pressure and heart disease. Loneliness is also associated with dementia and depression.

In addition to the creation of a new government ministry, the statistics department has received the task of working out a way of measuring loneliness. Theresa May has pledged to raise additional funds to deal with the issue.

 

Millions of people in the UK feel lonely at some time or other
Millions of people in the UK feel lonely at some time or other – Image: Bert Kaufmann

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • additional = extra
  • appoint = to choose someone for a job or a government position
  • associated with = connected to
  • blood pressure = the force with which blood travels through your body
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you cannot prove it
  • dementia = illness that affects your brain and memory; it makes you unable to think clearly
  • department = organisation inside the government that deals with certain problems
  • depression = condition in which you feel sad and worried;  you are often unable to lead a normal life
  • especially = above all
  • funds = money
  • head = lead
  • heart disease = when your heart gets weaker
  • heavily = here: a lot
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • increased = higher than nromal
  • isolated = away from other people
  • issue = problem
  • likelihood = how much something can be expected to happen
  • loneliness = the feeling of being alone
  • measure = calculate how much something is
  • MP = member of British parliament
  • pledge = promise
  • premature death = when you die too soon; before you have to
  • raise = go up
  • raise = here: organise more money
  • receive = get
  • right-wing extremist = person who has radical conservative opinions and  is willing to do violent things  to achieve them
  • seek = look for
  • task = job

 

 

 

 

Cailfornia Legalises Marijuana For Recreational Use

California has become the largest American state to legalize the sales of marijuana for recreational use. In November 2016,  citizens in the state voted in favour of a proposition that would allow citizens to possess small amounts of the substance. It is now legal to grow six plants of your own or have an ounce of pot.

About 90 licences are to be handed out statewide to shops that want to sell recreational marijuana. In the last two decades, special shops have been allowed to sell marijuana only for medical reasons, in order to treat pain and anxiety. People who want to buy medical marijuana need a prescription from a doctor.

Apart from legalizing the drug, there will be strict controls monitored by state authorities. Californians will not be allowed to consume marijuana in public places or near schools. Local governments will be able to set up their own rules on where smoking is allowed.

Despite this new state law, the federal government still looks at marijuana as an illegal substance. California has become the eighth state to legalize the drug.

In 2016 California produced about 13 million pounds of pot. 80% of it was transferred illegally out of the state.The illegal marijuana market, currently at 5 billion dollars, is expected to grow to 7 billion in California by 2020. In addition, the state will be able to generate additional taxes from selling legal marijuana.

Shopkeepers who have been able to sell medical marijuana are worried that prices will go up because of additional taxes. Some fear that additional licences could ruin their business.

 

 

medical marijuana
Medical marijuana card that allows a person to buy marijuana for medical purposes

Words

  • additional = extra
  • anxiety = feeling worried about or afraid of something
  • apart from = besides
  • authorities = organisation that can make decisions
  • billion = a thousand million
  • citizen = person who lives in a place and has rights there
  • consume = here: smoke
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • despite = even though
  • federal government = the government of the United States, not the state government
  • generate = produce, get
  • government = people who rule a country or state
  • hand out = give to someone
  • illegal substance = drug that is not allowed
  • in addition = also
  • in favour of = to be for something
  • legal = allowed
  • legalize = allow
  • licence = here: a document that allows you to sell something
  • marijuana = illegal drug that is smoked like a cigarette
  • monitor = to watch carefully
  • ounce = unit for measuring weight = 28.35 grams
  • pain = feeling you have when something hurts
  • possess = own, have
  • pot = another word for marijuana
  • prescription = piece of paper on which a doctor writes down what medicine you need
  • proposition = a suggested change of the law
  • public place = place where everyone can go to
  • recreational use = for fun or pleasure
  • ruin = destroy
  • small amounts = a little bit
  • statewide = in the whole state
  • substance = material ; here: drug
  • transfer = take, carry
  • treat = to try to help if oyu have an illness

 

 

Regular Exercise Can Improve Your Memory

According to a new publication by Amercian neurologists, regular exercise can improve your memory and thinking skills. We know that exercise has proven to be good for your heart and overall fitness, but now doctors say that it can actually help you remember things.

As we get older most of us have problems  with memory, language  and thinking about certain things. This is called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) .In most cases, such problems don’t influence our everyday life but we realize them. Exercising may slow down the rate of MCI and reduce the risk of getting dementia at a later phase in life.

Unlike people with dementia, those with mild cognitive impairment can cope with their regular routine, like getting dressed or preparing meals. However, they may have trouble remembering dates, appointments and where they left their keys.  This may be the first step to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

While there is no medicine and dietary way to fight against memory loss, neurologists encourage people to do some form of aerobic exercise, like walking, running or cycling or swimming for a total of 2 .5 hours a week. They recommend exercising just so fast that you don’t sweat and can talk to others.

More than 6% of all people around the world have a mild form of cognitive impairment. As people get older the rate increases and jumps to 37% of all over 85 year olds.

Jogging and other forms of aerobic exercise helps you with your memory
Jogging and other forms of aerobic exercise helps you with your memory – Image: Ed Yourdon

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • aerobic exercise = activity that makes your lungs and heart stronger
  • Alzheimer’s disease = disease that affects the brain, especially of old people; it is difficult to move, talk and remember things
  • appointment = meeting you have with someone
  • cope = deal with
  • dementia = illness that affects the brain and memory; you slowly lose the ability to think clearly and remember things
  • dietary = about the food you  eat
  • encourage = say that you should do something because it is good for you
  • exercise = do physical activity
  • however = but
  • improve = to make a situation better
  • increase = go up
  • influence = change
  • memory = the ability to remember things, places and events
  • memory loss = losing your memory
  • publication = when information is printed so that everyone can read it
  • neurologist = person who studies the brain and our nervous system and the diseases connected to them
  • overall = general
  • rate = how fast something grows
  • realize = know that something is there or exists
  • recommend = suggest
  • reduce = make lower
  • regularly = often; at the same time every day or week
  • skill = things we can do because we have practised them
  • slow down =make slower
  • sweat = to do something so fast that you have drops of salty liquid coming out of your skin
  • unlike =different from something

 

World Health Organisation Introduces Gaming Disorder

The World Health Organisation has added the term “gaming disorder” to its International Classification of Diseases. It refers to people who are addicted to video and other games and cannot stop. It is the first update in the WHO’s catalogue in almost three decades.

According to the WHO, gaming becomes a disorder if you are unable to control how long you play and when to stop. When that happens, it gets control of your life, influences everyday situations and affects your daily routine. WHO officials say that excessive gaming is  a serious disorder that must be closely watched

In order for a person to be regarded as having a gaming disorder, the behaviour must be going on for at least one year, either constantly or in phases. Gamers put their addiction above their family life, meeting with friends and going to school.

On one side studies have shown that playing video games may help with problems like depression and dementia.However, gaming is highly addictive and many people play for a longer time than is healthy. As a result, people get fired for not going to work or miss school classes for a longer period of time.

Many continue with their addiction, even if they see and realize the negative consequences it leads to.

 

 

Gaming is now regarded as a WHO disorder
Gaming is now regarded as a WHO disorder – Image: Marco Verch

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • addicted to = not able to stop doing something that may be harmful
  • addiction = when you have to and want to do something regularly
  • behaviour = here: too much gaming
  • classification = when you put people into a group
  • consequence = result
  • constantly = all the time, without interruption
  • daily routine = what you normally do every day
  • decade = ten years
  • dementia = illness that affects the brain, in which you cannot think clearly and behave in a normal way; you also forget a lot of things
  • depression = situation in which you are unhappy, nervous  and cannot live a normal life
  • disorder = mental or physical illness which stops your body from working the way it should
  • excessive = too much
  • get fired = lose your job
  • highly addictive = here: the will to play a game is so strong you cannot stop
  • however = but
  • influence = change
  • official = person who is in a high position in an organisation
  • realize = understand how bad the situation is
  • refer = to be about something
  • regard as = here: to put a person into this category
  • serious = very bad
  • studies = work that is done to find out more about a topic
  • update = change
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation that is part of the United Nations, which helps countries improve the health of their population; it also offers information about diseases and provides medicine

US Life Expectancy Drops Because of Opioid Abuse

For the second year in a row life expectancy in the United States has decreased. One of the main reasons is the rise in opioid-related deaths, especially with young adults.

Life expectancy in 2016 was 78.6 years, compared with 78.4 years two years earlier. It is the first two-year decline in over 50 years. While life expectancy in other parts of the world is going up, the average American is dying at an earlier age.

According to a recently published report, overdoses of painkillers and other opioids are causing more and more premature deaths. The figures have risen from 6.1 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 21 per 100,000 people in 2016.

Last year 63 000 people died from some form of drug overdose. While 15000 of them were heroin addicts an alarming 14000 died from other painkillers. Most of them were in the 28-54 year age group.

In many cases, drug abuse is caused by a general dissatisfaction with a person’s personal situation. This results in depression and hopelessness if addicts don’t have a family to support them. Such victims don’t have the stability that they need. As a consequence, they turn to alcohol and drugs.

Opioids are drugs that reduce pain by targeting pain receptors in the brain. You need a doctor’s prescription to get them, but more and more people are buying them illegally on the streets.

While many start out with painkilling drugs, they later turn to heroin, also an opioid. In the terminal stages of cancer, morphine is often used to reduce a patient’s pain.

 

Different kinds of painkilling drugs
Different kinds of painkilling drugs

Words

  • abuse = using something in a way that you shouldn’t
  • according to = as reported by …
  • addict = someone who is not able to stop taking drugs
  • as a consequence = this results in; it leads to
  • average = normal
  • brain = organ in your head that control your thoughts, feelings and movements
  • cancer = very serious illness in which cells in your body grow in an uncontrollable way
  • compared with= to look at two things and see how they are different
  • decline = when something goes down
  • decrease = to go down
  • depression = a medical condition in which you are unhappy with yourself and cannot lead a normal life
  • dissatisfaction = here: not being happy with yourself
  • especially = above all
  • heroin = powerful and illegal drug made of morphine
  • illegally = not allowed; against the law
  • life expectancy = the number of years a person is expected to live
  • morphine = powerful drug that is used to make people calmer and stop the pain
  • opioid = a drug that acts on the nervous system to reduce pain
  • overdose = to take too much of a drug at one time
  • pain = the feeling you have when part of your body hurts
  • painkiller = medicine which removes or reduces pain
  • premature = when something happens before the natural time
  • prescription = piece of paper that a doctor writes so that an ill person can get medicine
  • recently = a short time ago
  • receptor = a nerve ending that gets information  and causes the body to react in a special way
  • reduce = lower
  • result in = lead to, be the reason for somehting
  • stability = here: strength
  • target = attack
  • terminal stages = the last days, weeks or months before a person dies of an illness

Baby Girl Born From Embryo Frozen 24 Years Ago

A human embryo that was frozen 24 years ago has now become a baby girl.  Emma Wren Gibson was born in Knoxville, Tennessee from an embryo frozen in 1992. The mother, Tina Gibson, at 25,  is only a year older than the embryo.  It is the longest known frozen embryo that has successfully become a baby.

The Gibsons are unable to have children of their own and, in the past, have taken care of several other children.

Couples who use IVF to have a baby usually end up with more embryos than they need. They can decide to store them for later use, dispose of them or donate them for scientific research. Many parents who have leftover embryos give them to special centres where they can be used for others.

Doctors claim them frozen embryos can develop just as well as fresh ones. The dangerous part, however, is the thawing process.Only about 75% of all frozen embryos survive it. Health experts think that there may be up to a million frozen embryos in the United States.

For those who can’t have babies, using a frozen embryo from a donation centre is similar to adoption, only that the baby grows inside the adoptive mother.

 

An eight-cell human embryo
An eight-cell human embryo

Words

  • adoptive = to become parent of a child that isn’t your own
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • develop = grow
  • dispose of = get rid of; destroy
  • donate = give something to an organisation in order to help
  • donation centre = here: a place where couples can give embryos they don’t need for others to use
  • embryo = a human being that has not yet been born but just started to develop
  • however  = but
  • IVF = in vitro fertilisation = process in which a human egg gets together with male sperm outside a woman’s body; it is also called a test-tube baby
  • leftover = here: embryos that you do not need any more
  • scientific research = when scientists try to find out more about a disease or medical problem
  • similar = like
  • store = to put things away and keep them somewhere until they are needed
  • successfully = having the effect that you wanted
  • survive= live on after a dangerous situation
  • take care of = to care for someone or look after them
  • thawing process = here: to take an embryo out of a freezer and wait until its body temperature becomes normal
  • unable = cannot

 

 

 

California Publishes New Cell Phone Guidelines

California’s Department of Health has published new guidelines on how to handle cell phones. It warns that radiation emitted from cell phones can be harmful but does not say that cell phones are dangerous.

.Health authorities in California suggest a few measures cell phone users should take. When sleeping, you should keep your phone at least an arm’s length away from your body.  You should also avoid keeping your cell phone in your pocket. They also recommend only using cell phones when reception is strong.

Some doctors agree that carrying cell phones close to your body could increase the risk of getting brain tumours , cancer and becoming infertile. It may also lead to headaches, hearing problems and a loss of memory. On the other side, there are many health experts who say that the risks cell phone usage present are not proven

Cell phones emit radiation in the form of low-energy radio waves when they receive and send signals from cell towers.    The frequencies that cell phones use could be linked to various illnesses.

The new cell phone guidelines have existed since 2009 but not been published. Recently, a Berkeley professor won a lawsuit against the Department of Health to release the guidelines to the public and push for more action.

 

The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.
The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.

Words

  • authorities = government organisation that can make decisions
  • avoid = stop; not do something
  • brain tumour = illness in your brain  in which cells increase in an uncontrolled way
  • cancer = serious disease in which cells in one part of your body start to grow in a way that is not normal
  • cell tower = high object that sends out and receives cell phone signals
  • Department of Health = authorities that are responsible  for health programs and health information that is given to the public
  • emit = release, send out
  • guidelines = instructions on how people should do something or deal with something
  • handle = use
  • increase = go up
  • infertile = if you are not able to have babies
  • lawsuit = a problem that is settled by a judge in court
  • loss of memory = when you start forgetting things
  • public = the people in general
  • publish = to release official information to all people
  • radiation = form of energy that is sent out as waves that you cannot see
  • receive = pick up, get
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reception = the quality of the signal you get for your cell phone
  • suggest = recommend
  • usage = how something is used