ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
DIET, NUTRITION
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Clear Skies Have Become Less So Over Time, Data Show
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
EYE CARE, VISION
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
FDA Bans Unapproved Prescription Cough, Cold and Allergy Meds
Can You Talk Your Way to Happy?
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
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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