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

 

 

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

Moderate Coffee Consumption May Keep You Healthy

According to new research drinking coffee may actually be healthier than previously thought. Some health experts now say that a few cups of coffee a day could reduce the risk of certain illnesses including liver disease, cancerstrokedementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Coffee may contain substances that help fight these diseases. Caffeine is probably not one of them since people who drank decaffeinated coffee had the same benefits.

Although there is no real proof that coffee consumption will actually help you live longer, it seems to be safe to drink it. The research collected evidence from previous studies and showed that, compared with non-coffee drinkers, those who drink an average of 3 cups a day, experience a lower risk of some diseases.

On the other side, drinking too much coffee during pregnancy could be harmful to the unborn child. Health experts also say that coffee drinkers should avoid putting too much milk, cream or sugar in their coffee. In addition, doctors say you shouldn’t start drinking coffee if you haven’t done so before. 

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Two billion cups are consumed every day.

 

A cup of coffee
A cup of coffee – Image : Julius Schorzman

Words

  • according to = as shown by …
  • although = while
  • avoid = not do something
  • benefits = good sides, advantages
  • billion = a thousand million = 1,000,000,000
  • beverage = hot or cold drink
  • caffeine = a substance that keeps you awake
  • cancer = very serious disease in which cells in one part of the body grow in an uncontrolled way
  • compared = if you look at …
  • consume = here: drink
  • contain = to have in them
  • decaffeinated = without caffeine
  • dementia = illness that affects the brain and your memory; it slowly makes you unable to think and remember things
  • evidence = facts that show that some things really are true or exist
  • experience = here: the effect that something has on you
  • illness = disease
  • in addition  = also
  • liver = large organ inside your body that cleans your blood
  • popular = common; liked by many people
  • pregnancy = situation in which you are expecting a baby
  • previously = before, earlier
  • research = studies about a special subject
  • stroke = a blood vessel in your brain suddenly bursts or gets blocked; you could die or be unable to move some muscles
  • studies = research work
  • substance = material; small parts of something

Dog Ownership May Improve Your Health

A Swedish publication released recently says that having a dog could not only make your life more worthwhile but actually save it. Apart from being great companions, especially for single individuals, dog ownership may lengthen your life. The survey studied Swedish individuals between 40 and 80 over a 12-year period.

The study found out that owning a dog reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by almost a third. The risk of suffering a heart attack is 11% lower compared to singles without a dog. People who owned hunting dogs, like terriers and retrievers, benefited the most.

Dog owners are more active because they exercise with their dogs. Extensive physical activity reduces the risk of heart diseases, strengthens the immune system and makes life less stressful. It also results in lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Dogs are increasingly used as a therapy after a severe illness. An American study shows that patients who have undergone surgery recovered more quickly if they had contact with dogs.

On the other side dogs have a calming effect on people and are important company for those living alone. Loneliness and lack of social interaction is one of the biggest problems of older people. Petting a dog, for example, has proven to be helpful to those suffering from depression. In addition, dogs are especially helpful in helping and guiding disabled and blind people.

 

Dog helping an elderly person
Dog helping an elderly person

Words

  • apart from = besides; in addition to
  • benefit = to have advantages
  • blood pressure = the force with which blood travels through your body
  • calming = relaxed and quiet
  • cardiovascular  disease = illness connected with the heart and blood moving through your body
  • cholesterol = chemical substance in your blood; too much of it may cause heart disease
  • company = when you are with someone else and not alone
  • compare =to look at two things and show how much the same or different they are
  • companion = friend
  • depression = the feeling of sadness  that makes you think there is no hope for the future
  • disabled = someone who cannot use parts of their body properly
  • especially = above all
  • exercise = physical activity that makes you stronger and keeps you healthy
  • extensive = a lot ; much
  • guide = lead to a place
  • heart attack = when your heart suddenly stops beating
  • heart disease = illness related to your heart
  • illness = disease
  • immune system = system by which your body protects itself  against diseases
  • in addition = also
  • increasingly = more and more
  • lack = not enough of …
  • lengthen = make longer
  • loneliness = being alone
  • ownership = having or possessing something
  • patient = someone who receives medical treatment in a hospital or at a doctor’s
  • pet = to touch or move your hand softly over an animal
  • publication = when you make something known to the public
  • recently = a short time ago
  • recover = to get better after you have been ill for some time
  • reduce = lower
  • release = to publish
  • severe = bad
  • social interaction = when two or more people do things together
  • strengthen = to make stronger
  • survey = a set of questions you ask a larger number of people about a certain topic
  • therapy = treatment or an illness after  a long period of time
  • worthwhile = if something is important or useful; you can profit from  something
  • undergo surgery = to be operated on

American Cardiologists Publish New Blood Pressure Guidelines

America’s heart specialists have published new guidelines on blood pressure limits. Now, high blood pressure begins at 130 over 80 instead of 140 over 90.  Under the new guidelines, an additional 30 million Americans are considered to suffer from high blood pressure. 46% of the population have blood pressure above the new limits.

The guidelines were changed because studies have shown that blood pressure above 120/80 put people at a higher risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. It is the first change in standards since 2003.

Although cardiologists say that you shouldn’t get worried if you are above the new limits, you should take it seriously and talk with your doctor about it. The new limits do not automatically raise the risk of having a heart attack or stroke tomorrow but they may affect your overall health within the next 20 to 30 years.

For people who suffer from high blood pressure, doctors recommend changes in lifestyle. Thirty minutes of exercise on five days a week will not only help you lose weight but also lower your blood pressure. A healthy and balanced diet, the reduction of sodium, salt and alcohol, as well as not smoking will also contribute to lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Medical experts recommend checking your blood pressure regularly.

High blood pressure is often called a silent killer because people don’t feel it.  Not treating it over the years can lead to severe heart problems and eventually death. Doctors often prescribe medicine that lowers blood pressure, even if patients are within safe limits.

 

Checking blood pressure
Checking blood pressure – Image : www.volganet.ru

Words

  • additional = extra
  • affect = influence , change
  • although = while even if
  • balanced diet = when you eat many different types of food
  • blood pressure = the force with which blood travels through your body; it is expressed in two numbers, for example, 120/80 . The first number shows the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats and pushes blood through your body, the second number refers to the pressure between heartbeats.
  • cardiologist = doctor who studies and treats heart diseases
  • cardiovascular disease = illness that is connected to the heart and the tubes that push blood around your body
  • considered = thought to …
  • contribute = help
  • eventually = slowly, as time goes on, in the end
  • exercise = physical activities that help you stay healthy and make your body stronger
  • guideline = here: rules, instructions or limits that doctors suggest
  • heart attack = when your heart suddenly stops beating
  • lead to = cause
  • lifestyle = the way you live, what you eat etc..
  • limit = range
  • lower = reduce
  • prescribe = to say what medicine a person should take
  • publish = to make information possible for everyone to read
  • raise = increase, move up
  • recommend = suggest
  • reduce , reduction = to lower the amount of something
  • regularly = often, like once a week or once a month
  • risk = danger
  • seriously = it is important
  • severe= very serious, dangerous
  • sodium = the chemical Na; it is in salt
  • standards = guidelines
  • stroke = a blood vessel in your brain suddenly bursts  or becomes blocked, so that you may die or not be able to move or use  some muscles
  • study = piece of work that is done in order to find out more about a subject
  • suffer = to have a disease or disorder for a longer time
  • treat = cure an illness or disease  by using medicine
  • weight = how heavy you are

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