ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin D Plus Calcium Guards Against Fractures
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
CANCER
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
CAREGIVING
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
FITNESS
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Barefoot Best for Running?
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Any Old Cane Won't Do
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Any Old Cane Won't Do
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Add your Article

Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- The warming of planet Earth is "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century," a varied group of experts warned Wednesday.

Their report is one of the latest to expound on the deepening environmental crisis, and one of the first to focus on the potential role of health-care professionals in ameliorating the problem.

"This is a bad diagnosis not just for children in different lands. It's for our children and grandchildren," Anthony Costello, a professor of international child health and director of the Institute for Global Health at University College London, said during a Wednesday teleconference. "Even the most conservative estimates are profoundly disturbing and demand action. Climate change raises an important issue of intergenerational justice, that we are setting up a world for our children and grandchildren that may be extremely frightening and turbulent."

Costello is lead author of a thick report produced jointly by The Lancet journal and University College London (UCL) and published in the May 16 issue of the journal.

"There are no institutions at the global level who can really deal effectively with devising complex solutions to these complex problems," added Lancet editor Dr. Richard Horton. "It is an urgent threat. It is a dangerous threat. It has been neglected, and requires an unprecedented response by governments and international organizations."

Among other things, the report's authors call for the involvement of health professionals, who have not yet been central to the cause.

Climate change is now a fact of life on this planet.

"The vast majority of experts, 95 percent, maybe even 99 percent, agree that global warming is taking place," said Kirby Donnelly, head of environmental and occupational health at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. "The big issue is the model: When will global warming become a problem?"

The report based its predictions on a 2- to 6-degree warming over the next century but focusing on a pessimistic 4-degree rise, said Mark Maslin, director of UCL's Environment Institute.

Among the health consequences of such a rise:

* Vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria, once confined to warmer areas, will move north and become more widespread as a result of increased temperatures.
* Heat waves will kill more people in more areas of the world (more than 70,000 people died during a heat wave in Europe in 2003).
* Crop yields will decline, leading to greater food insecurity in a world where 800 million already go to bed hungry every night.
* Water shortages will lead to more gastroenteritis and malnutrition, among other health problems.
* Extreme climactic events such as flash flooding due to changing rainfall patterns and melting ice sheets will hinder the world's sewage systems, leading to diarrhea and other problems, said Dr. Hugh Montgomery, director of UCL's Institute for Human Health and Performance. Severe cyclones and hurricanes will also take more lives.
* More people living in cities will lead to a shortage of housing, which will lead to slums, which will lead to inadequate sanitation systems and increased vulnerability to extreme weather events.

The authors propose adopting policies to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon biosequestration and to equalize the world's health systems, among other recommendations.

"We have a moral dilemma: How do we protect the health of the poorest people in the world and allow them to develop," Maslin said.

"There are so many public health issues associated with global warming that certainly, once it becomes a significant problem, it will be the most significant public health problem at that point in time," Donnelly said.

"This is a problem that affects the entire planet, and the longer it takes 'us,' the people on this planet, to take action, the more difficult it will be to resolve the problem," Donnelly said. "We urgently need to take at least minimal action to try to reduce emissions and move toward taking more significant action to reduce global warming."

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more on global warming.



SOURCES: Kirby Donnelly, Ph.D., head, environmental and occupational health, Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, College Station; May 13, 2009, teleconference with Anthony Costello, M.B., professor, international child health, and director, Institute for Global Health, University College London; Mark Maslin, Ph.D., director, Environment Institute, and head, geography, University College London; and Hugh Montgomery, M.D., director, Institute for Human Health and Performance, University College London; May 16, 2009, The Lancet

Last Updated: May 14, 2009

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