ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
CAREGIVING
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
EYE CARE, VISION
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
FITNESS
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Add your Article

Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Anyone who has arrived at Chicago O'Hare, Orlando or Dallas airports during one of the dozens of huge medical meetings held every year will no doubt encounter tens of thousands of specialists from all over world thronging the hallways, the Starbucks, the luggage claim area.

Of course, the attendees use jet fuel to get to the meeting and gas to get from the airport to the hotel where, once they're checked in, they'll have the option or reusing or not reusing their towels.

But an expert writing in the June 28 issue of the British Medical Journal argues that medical meetings should be a thing of the past.

The author, Dr. Malcolm Green, a professor emeritus of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, confesses to having attended such meetings himself throughout an illustrious career going back 30 years.

"This is not a matter of whether, but when," Green said. "The adaptations to climate change over the next few decades will be massive. This will be an inevitable part of that change. Canute was unable to hold back the tide, and we will be unable to hold back the consequences of climate change. The current 'crisis' of oil prices is here to stay and will intensify."

Green makes the point that the relatively cozy meeting of the American Thoracic Society draws more than 15,000 respiratory doctors and scientists each year, some 3,500 of whom are from Europe. The 2006 conference in San Diego, by one estimate, resulted in 100 million person air miles and produced a carbon burden of 10,800 tons.

The American Cardiac Society meeting, with about 45,000 attendees, represents 300 million person air miles. Add to that the American Heart Association last year, which had almost 26,000 attendees, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology's meeting, which drew crowds of 34,000 or more.

Green estimates that the overall impact of travel to and from conferences is at least 6 billion person air miles a year, or 600,000 tons of carbon, equivalent to the sustainable carbon emissions for 500,000 people in India. And this doesn't include the impact from the use of hotels, conference centers and more.

So, Green argues, virtual networks and virtual meetings should be the order of the day.

"Teenagers and others get to know each other and conduct all manner of relationships over the Internet," Green said. "It is just as possible for researchers and doctors to establish professional relationships and exchange information, ideas and discussions. It will require learning new ways of working, indeed, but this should not be unattainable."

And curbing air travel has another advantage not mentioned by Green.

"Close contact is a factor in the spread of respiratory diseases," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "[There was] a reduction and delay of the spread of influenza in 2002 due to the curb on flying and the reduction in air travel after 9/11."

However, another doctor countered in the same issue of the journal that giving up all medical conferences will have little effect on global warming, since the majority of international travel is recreational in nature.

James Owen Drife, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology from Leeds General Infirmary in England, wrote that conferences are essential for stimulating global initiatives in the medical community. Cutting back on conferences that duplicate each other is a reasonable option, he acknowledged.

However, "hiding behind our computer screens and pretending that this is helping the planet" isn't the answer, Drife added.

Adding to that point was yet another American expert. "I absolutely agree that we all should do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint, but does somebody really think if physicians stopped traveling to international conferences that all planes would be grounded?" said Dr. Kirby Donnelly, department head of environmental and occupational health at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.

"There are a lot of things we can do other than stop flying," he added. "We could do a lot more with conferences and video conferences. But, still, the face-to-face contact is extremely important and the opportunity to make connections."

More information

Calculate your own carbon footprint at carbonfootprint.com.



SOURCES: Malcolm Green, professor emeritus, respiratory medicine, Imperial College, London; Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Kirby Donnelly, Ph.D., department head, environmental and occupational health, Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, College Station; June 28, 2008, British Medical Journal

Last Updated: June 27, 2008

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