ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
CAREGIVING
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
The Raw Food Diet
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
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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