Brain Scans Could Predict Suicide Thoughts

A new study shows that brain scans might be able to find out if people are thinking about killing themselves. Scientists have trained a computer program to examine the thoughts of people based on brain scans.

The study examined two groups of people – one group were known to have suicidal thoughts and the other group were without such thoughts.  During a brain scan doctors gave them words related to certain topics. Ten words were related to positive things, like “carefree” and “praise“, the other ten were connected to negative things like “desperate” and “death”.   The computer program then recorded the emotions they were feeling.

Researchers said that in 94 % of all cases they could identify people who had suicidal thoughts.They were also able to find out who had attempted suicide before.

This new experiment gives scientists a method of looking at what goes on in your brain and what you think about topics related to death.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 800,000 people die from suicide every year. In the United States, it is the second largest cause of death in the age group between 15 and 24. Although the findings are not 100% accurate,  we may be able to assess a person’s mental health by looking at brain scans in the near future.

 

Scan of a normal human brain
Scan of a normal human brain

Words

  • according to = as said or reported by …
  • accurate = exact ; correct in every detail
  • although = while
  • assess = here: to find out how good or bad something is
  • attempt = try
  • brain scan = doctors take photos of the inside of your brain and look at them closely
  • carefree = if you have no worries or problems
  • cause = reason why something happens
  • desperate = needing or wanting something very much
  • examine = look at closely to find out facts
  • identify = name, find
  • mental = about the brain and mind
  • praise = to say that you admire someone or what a person does
  • related to = about
  • researcher = a person who studies  a topic closely in order to find out more about it
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • study = a piece of work that is done to find out more about a certain topic
  • suicidal = wanting to kill yourself
  • thoughts = what you think
  • topic = subject
  • World Health Organisation = international organisation that helps countries improve their people’s health by giving them medicine  and information about diseases

Environmental Pollution Kills More People Than Smoking and Wars

A new report concludes that environmental pollution is world’s number one killer. Every year it kills more people than global wars , natural catastrophes,  or hunger. About 9 million people die prematurely every year because of our polluted environment.  Experts state that this costs  about $4.5 trillion  a year, 6% of the world economy.

Researchers say that pollution has never reached such a dangerous level before. Pollution-related deaths are one and a half times higher than the number of people killed through smoking and six times higher than people who die in road accidents. The real figures are thought to be even higher because pollution isn’t monitored in some remote place in Africa , South America or Asia.

Two thirds of the deaths are caused by air pollution. Burning wood and coal, as well as fumes of cars and other vehicles cause 6.5 million deaths every year.

The authors of the new report examined not only air quality , but took soil and water probes as well. They received additional data from the World Health Organisation.

Most of the deaths  occur in poor developing countries  , where governments care less about the environment and do not have strict laws in effect. Bangladesh and Somalia are among the most polluted countries.  In India, the second most populous country in the world,  one out of four deaths is caused by some form of pollution. China’s environment is also considered to be one of the deadliest  in the world. 

On the other side Sweden and Brunei have the lowest pollution levels. Pollution in developed countries is especially high in low-income areas of large cities, whereas  the rural countryside shows very low pollution levels.

The report makes a few recommendations . Fighting pollution should become a priority everywhere and more funds should be made available to combat pollution.

Environmental pollution from a factory
Environmental pollution from a factory

Words

  • additional data = more facts and information
  • available = to be used
  • coal = hard black stone which is dug out of the earth and can be used  to produce heat and energy
  • combat = fight
  • conclude = to come to a result
  • developed countries = the richest countries in the world
  • developing countries = the poorest countries in the world
  • economy = the system of products , services and money in a country
  • environmental pollution = the process of making air, water  and soil dangerously dirty so that we cannot use it
  • especially = above all
  • examine = to look at something closely
  • fumes = gases and smoke that come out of a car or factory
  • funds = money
  • global = worldwide
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • level = amount
  • low-income = people earn very little money
  • monitor = watch closely
  • occur = happen
  • populous = many people live there
  • prematurely = something that happens before the normal time
  • priority = the thing that you think is most important  and that needs attention before anything else
  • probe = a sample of water or soil
  • recommendation = suggestion
  • remote = faraway
  • researcher = person who studies a subject very closely in order to get more information about it
  • rural = countryside
  • soil = the top layer of the earth, on which plants can grow
  • state = to say that something is true
  • strict = something that you must obey
  • whereas = on the other side
  • World Health Organisation = UN organisation that helps countries improve the health of the population by giving medicine and offering information about diseases
  • vehicle =  machine with an engine that is used to  take people or things from one place to another

Scientists Find Connection Between Sugar and Cancer Growth

A Belgian research team has found out that there is a connection between sugar consumption and the growth of cancer in a person’s body.

Scientists have found out that sugar not only gives us energy but may also be responsible for faster-growing tumour cells of cancer patients. Although  there is no proof that eating less sugar is good for cancer growth there are indications that if there are already cancer cells in your body sugar can make them grow faster. Low sugar diets, therefore,  could be beneficial for people who already have cancer.

The study shows that cancer cells process food differently than healthy cells in the body.  They also break down glucose, a form of sugar, more rapidly.

The research has been carried out for 9 years and now gives doctors new insights in the connection between sugar and cancer.

 

Sugar
Sugar

Words

  • although = while
  • beneficial = to have a good effect on your body
  • cancer = a very serious disease in which cells in one part of your body start to grow in a way that is not normal
  • carry out = here: to do experiments
  • connection = link, relationship
  • consumption = intake; the amount that we eat
  • diet = the food that we eat regularly
  • indications = signs that shows that something is happening
  • insight = to be able to understand  something better
  • process = here: to turn into substances that your body can use
  • rapidly = quickly
  • research = to study a subject closely in order to find out new facts about it
  • responsible = to cause or lead to something
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • therefore = that is why
  • tumour cell = the bad cells in your body that divide and increase quickly

Outbreak of Plague in Madagascar

60 people have died so far due to an outbreak of plague in Madagascar. According to the World Health Organisation, Madagascar witnesses about 400 cases of plague every year. However, this year infections have started much earlier and are spreading from remote rural areas to cities  as well.

Most cases were pneumonic plague, a dangerous and severe infection of the lung. It is highly infectious and can be transmitted through air by coughing and sneezing. It invades the lungs and can lead to death within 24 hours.

156 cases were attributed to bubonic plague, an infection that is transmitted by rats and spreads to humans through flea bites. It can be very painful and causes fever, headache, chest pain as well as swollen lymph nodes.

While both forms of plague can be treated it is important to detect the illness at an early stage and get medical help to people as soon as possible. The WHO has helped with millions of doses of antibiotics. The International Red Cross has set up treatment centres  throughout the island. In addition the government has been supplying people with masks and has closed down schools.

Madagascar, with a population of 25 million,  has witnessed outbreaks of plague since the 1980s, usually during the rainy season between November and March.  Officials fear that this time the disease  might not be contained and could spread to many regions of the country.

The most deadly plague in history occurred in Europe in the 14th century.  About a third of the continent’s population when  killed as sailors brought the infectious disease from Asia.

International Red Cross  parcel arriving at a treatment centre
International Red Cross parcel arriving at a treatment centre

Words

  • according to = as reported by
  • antibiotic = medicine that is used to kill bacteria and cure infections
  • attribute = to believe that something is caused by …
  • century = a hundred years
  • chest = front part of your body between your neck and stomach
  • contain = to stop something from spreading
  • detect = discover, notice
  • dose = an amount of medicine that you should take
  • due to = because of
  • flea = very small insect without wings that bites animals and people and eats their blood
  • in addition = also
  • infectious = disease that can be passed on from person to person, mostly by air
  • invade = here: attack
  • lymph node = small round swelling in your body with liquid that helps fight off infections
  • occur = happen
  • official = person in a high position in the government
  • outbreak = when something suddenly starts
  • remote =  far away
  • rural = in the countryside
  • severe = very bad
  • spread = move from one place ot another
  • supply = give
  • swollen = larger than normal
  • throughout = all across
  • transmit = to pass on to another person
  • treat = cure an illness with medicine and other drugs
  • treatment centre = place where people can come to in order to get medicine
  • witness = experience ; see something happen
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation which helps countries improve health care  by giving people medicine and providing information about diseases

Childhood Obesity Rates At All-Time High

Experts from the World Health Organisation say  that childhood obesity  has risen tenfold in the last four decades  and is at its highest rate since 1975.

Worldwide obesity rates have increased from less than  1% in 1975 to about 7% today. A total of 120 million children are considered to be obese, boys more than girls. The researchers examined data  that tracked the height and weight of over 30 million 5 to 19 year-olds in the last 40 years.

Obesity at a young age can lead to heart disease and diabetes as well as social problems like bullying and teasing . It also can affect the progress of pupils at school. Apart from that, the effects of childhood obesity are estimated to cost the world’s health care systems over $1 trillion in the next ten years.

While the increase in childhood obesity rates in developed  countries in Europe and North America has slowed down , it is still at a very high rate.  Children in middle and higher class areas are especially at risk because families have more money to buy unhealthy food.

Experts suggest that countries in which childhood obesity is increasing should think about measures like introducing a tax on sugary drinks  or unhealthy food. Schools should offer healthier products in their canteens and better labelling could help show consumers how much sugar, fat and salt products have.

On the other side, many children in poor countries remain underweight and malnourished. Countries with the highest number of underweight children include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In southern Asia about 25% of all children are thought to be underweight.

The WHO claims that if the trend continues there will soon be more obese  than underweight children in our world.

Childhood Obesity
Childhood Obesity – Image: Robert Lawton

Words

  • affect = change
  • apart from … = also
  • bullying = someone who uses their strength  or power to frighten or hurt someone who is weaker
  • canteen = place at school where students get a meal or other food
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you do not have the facts to prove it
  • considered = people think that
  • examine = look at information very closely
  • data = information
  • decade = ten years
  • developed countries = rich countries in the world
  • diabetes = serious illness in which there is too much sugar in your blood
  • especially = above all
  • estimate = guess how  high something is by looking at the information you have
  • height = how tall a person is
  • increase = to go up
  • labelling = information on a product
  • malnourished  = if you don’t have enough food to eat
  • measure = action that the government takes
  • obesity = when someone is very fat in an unhealthy way
  • offer = give, provide
  • remain = stay
  • researcher = person who studies a topic in order to find out more about it
  • rise – rose – risen = to go up
  • tax = money you must pay to the government for products you buy
  • tenfold = ten times as much
  • track = to look at information about something over a certain period of time
  • trillion = 1,000 000 000 000 = one thousand billion
  • weight = how heavy a person is
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation that helps improve health around the world by giving medicine and providing information about diseases

 

 

Japanese Woman Dies After Working Too Hard

Miwa Sado is a Japanese journalist who died in 2013 after working too hard. Her case became public this week after labour inspectors published a detailed report

The journalist worked 160 hours of overtime  a month and then died of heart failure.  She was working for Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and at the time of her death was gathering information on a Tokyo election

The death of Sado is expected to make the Japanese government more aware of the health risks involved in working too much. According to a survey, about one in five workers risk a critical health condition because of too much work . Now the government wants to limit overtime to a maximum of 100 hours a month and fine companies that do not comply.

In another case that became known, 24-year old Matsuri Takahashi, killed herself in 2015 after suffering from stress and working long hours for a a Japanese advertising agency.

Japanese employees , on average, work more hours than anywhere else in the western world. They also consume only a third of the holidays they are entitled to. Many Japanese work hard in order to show that they are loyal to their company.

In 2016, two thousand Japanese workers killed themselves  due to  stress and overwork. Many other died from stress-related diseases, suffering from heart attacks and high blood pressure.  The Japanese refer to such work-related deaths as karoshi

 

Too much work causes stress and illnesses
Too much work causes stress and illnesses

Words

  • according to = as reported by
  • advertising agency = company that designs ads for other companies
  • aware = when you know that a situation exists
  • blood pressure = the power with which blood flows through your body
  • case = here: what happened to her
  • comply = follow the rules and laws
  • consume = use up ; spend
  • critical = dangerous
  • due to = because of
  • election = when people vote to  choose someone for an official position
  • employee = person who works for a company
  • entitled = the right to have something
  • fine = money that you have to pay as punishment
  • gather = collect
  • government = the people who rule the country
  • heart failure = when your heart stops beating
  • labour inspector = a person who checks to see if companies obey the rules and the law
  • limit = here: not allow more than a certain number
  • loyal = here: to show that you are connected to a company
  • overtime = time that you spend working in addition to your normal working hours
  • public = known about by everyone
  • public broadcaster = TV company that belongs to the state
  • publish = to print something so that everyone can read it
  • refer = call
  • stress-related = coming from stress
  • survey = set of questions that you ask many people in order to find out what they think about a topic

Prince Harry Talks About How He Struggled After Diana’s Death

For the first time England’s Prince Harry has talked about how he struggled emotionally after the death of his mother , Lady Diana, in September 1997. The 32 year old prince said that the the past few years of his life had been disturbing until finally his brother, William, urged him see a counselor.

Harry told journalists that it took him almost two decades to finally get over the tragic event. When Princess Diana died in a car accident, Harry was 12 years old.

He said that counselling helped him a lot because it is always good to open yourself up to a complete stranger. Apart from getting professional help, Harry started boxing to help overcome his grief.

In his late 20s Harry said that he had felt angry and left alone . He almost suffered a nervous breakdown as well. He said he had been dealing with the situation by not thinking about his mother and sticking his head into the sand.

Together with Prince William and his sister-in-law, Kate, Harry started the Heads Together campaign , a charity that helps people who have psychological problems.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry – Image: Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

Words

  • apart from = besides, also
  • campaign = movement ; events about a certain topic
  • charity = organization that gives money or goods to people who are poor or need help
  • counselor = a person who advises you and gives you help
  • decade = ten years
  • disturbing = worrying, upsetting
  • emotionally = about your feelings and how you control them
  • grief = extreme sadness because someone you love has died
  • nervous breakdown = a mental illness in which someone becomes extremely nervous and cannot deal with normal situations
  • open yourself up = to stop being shy and say what you really think
  • overcome = to control a feeling or a problem
  • psychological = about the way your mind works  and how it influences your behavior
  • sister-in-law = the sister of your husband or wife
  • struggle = fight against
  • urge = to say you should to something

Pfizer Forbids Sales of Drugs For Lethal Injection

The American pharmaceutical conmpany Pfizer has said it will no longer sell drugs that can be used for lethal injections to the Amercian government.  A total of 7 substances on the list are mostly used for operations and certain illnesses but are also in liquids used for executions. According to a Pfizer representative, the company’s aim is to save lives and not help kill people.

Pfizer says it will closely monitor buyers who try to resell the drugs to state institutions, which may use  them for executions.

After Pfizer’s decision , there are no more companies in the USA and Europe that sell lethal injection drugs to the Amercian government . The European Union  has banned the export of such drugs to the US.

As a result, state authorities are trying to find new drugs and combinations of substances that can be used for executions. Normally, three mixtures of drugs are used to execute a prisoner. The first one makes you unconscious , the second liquid paralyses the muscles  and the third stops the heart from beating.

In the past few years, the number of executions has decreased, in part due to the availability of lethal drugs. Last year only 28 executions were carried out in the US. Among the 32 states that allow capital punishment, all of them use lethal injections as the main method of execution but some allow the electric chair,hanging, the firing squad and the gas chamber as alternatives.

Human rights organizations and other groups opposed to capital punishment have welcomed Pfizer’s decision as a bold move to ban the death penalty in the United States.

Pfizer stops selling lethal injection drugs
Lethal injection room in San Quentin, California

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • aim = what someone wants to do or achieve something
  • authorities = group of people who make decisions and have power in certain areas
  • availability = the fact that something can be bought and used
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • bold move =  action that shows a lot of courage
  • capital punishment = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
  • combination = mixture
  • death penalty = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
  • decrease = go down
  • drug = chemical that is used as medicine
  • due to = because of
  • execution = the official killing of a person by the state
  • firing squad = group of people who are ordered to shoot and kill a prisoner
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • human rights = the basic rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or the freedom of speech
  • illness = disease
  • in part = partly
  • lethal injection = a drug that is injected into your blood stream; it is used to execute people who have committed  certain crimes
  • liquid = substance like water
  • main = most important
  • method = way
  • mixture = here: combination of liquids
  • monitor = watch closely
  • opposed to = against
  • paralyse = if a person cannot move arms or legs or feel anything
  • pharmaceutical = about producing medicine
  • resell = sell again
  • substance = here: drug, medicine
  • unconscious = if you are not awake and do not know what is going on around you
  • welcome = here: to agree with