Concept: Cold War
Being taller is associated with enhanced longevity, and higher education and earnings. We reanalysed 1472 population-based studies, with measurement of height on more than 18.6 million participants to estimate mean height for people born between 1896 and 1996 in 200 countries. The largest gain in adult height over the past century has occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm (95% credible interval 17.5-22.7) and 16.5 cm (13.3-19.7) taller, respectively. In contrast, there was little change in adult height in some sub-Saharan African countries and in South Asia over the century of analysis. The tallest people over these 100 years are men born in the Netherlands in the last quarter of 20th century, whose average heights surpassed 182.5 cm, and the shortest were women born in Guatemala in 1896 (140.3 cm; 135.8-144.8). The height differential between the tallest and shortest populations was 19-20 cm a century ago, and has remained the same for women and increased for men a century later despite substantial changes in the ranking of countries.
Background: Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Social media such as Twitter is an emerging surveillance tool that may assist researchers in tracking suicide risk factors in real time. Aims: To identify suicide-related risk factors through Twitter conversations by matching on geographic suicide rates from vital statistics data. Method: At-risk tweets were filtered from the Twitter stream using keywords and phrases created from suicide risk factors. Tweets were grouped by state and departures from expectation were calculated. The values for suicide tweeters were compared against national data of actual suicide rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results: A total of 1,659,274 tweets were analyzed over a 3-month period with 37,717 identified as at-risk for suicide. Midwestern and western states had a higher proportion of suicide-related tweeters than expected, while the reverse was true for southern and eastern states. A strong correlation was observed between state Twitter-derived data and actual state age-adjusted suicide data. Conclusion: Twitter may be a viable tool for real-time monitoring of suicide risk factors on a large scale. This study demonstrates that individuals who are at risk for suicide may be detected through social media.
The United Nations Paris Agreement creates a specific need to compare consequences of cumulative emissions for pledged national commitments and aspirational targets of 1.5° to 2°C global warming. We find that humans have already increased the probability of historically unprecedented hot, warm, wet, and dry extremes, including over 50 to 90% of North America, Europe, and East Asia. Emissions consistent with national commitments are likely to cause substantial and widespread additional increases, including more than fivefold for warmest night over ~50% of Europe and >25% of East Asia and more than threefold for wettest days over >35% of North America, Europe, and East Asia. In contrast, meeting aspirational targets to keep global warming below 2°C reduces the area experiencing more than threefold increases to <10% of most regions studied. However, large areas-including >90% of North America, Europe, East Asia, and much of the tropics-still exhibit sizable increases in the probability of record-setting hot, wet, and/or dry events.
Excessive sedentary time is ubiquitous in Western societies. Previous studies have relied on self-reporting to evaluate the total volume of sedentary time as a prognostic risk factor for mortality and have not examined whether the manner in which sedentary time is accrued (in short or long bouts) carries prognostic relevance.
- Infection, genetics and evolution : journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases
- Published over 4 years ago
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was discovered in the early 1980s when the virus had already established a pandemic. For at least three decades the epidemic in the Western World has been dominated by subtype B infections, as part of a sub-epidemic that traveled from Africa through Haiti to United States. However, the pattern of the subsequent spread still remains poorly understood. Here we analyze a large dataset of globally representative HIV-1 subtype B strains to map their spread around the world over the last 50years and describe significant spread patterns. We show that subtype B travelled from North America to Western Europe in different occasions, while Central/Eastern Europe remained isolated for the most part of the early epidemic. Looking with more detail in European countries we see that the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland exchanged viral isolates with non-European countries than with European ones. The observed pattern is likely to mirror geopolitical landmarks in the post-World War II era, namely the rise and the fall of the Iron Curtain and the European colonialism. In conclusion, HIV-1 spread through specific migration routes which are consistent with geopolitical factors that affected human activities during the last 50years, such as migration, tourism and trade. Our findings support the argument that epidemic control policies should be global and incorporate political and socioeconomic factors.
Armed conflict and population displacement as drivers of the evolution and dispersal of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 4 years ago
The “Beijing” Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) lineage 2 (L2) is spreading globally and has been associated with accelerated disease progression and increased antibiotic resistance. Here we performed a phylodynamic reconstruction of one of the L2 sublineages, the central Asian clade (CAC), which has recently spread to western Europe. We find that recent historical events have contributed to the evolution and dispersal of the CAC. Our timing estimates indicate that the clade was likely introduced to Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan war and spread further after population displacement in the wake of the American invasion in 2001. We also find that drug resistance mutations accumulated on a massive scale in Mtb isolates from former Soviet republics after the fall of the Soviet Union, a pattern that was not observed in CAC isolates from Afghanistan. Our results underscore the detrimental effects of political instability and population displacement on tuberculosis control and demonstrate the power of phylodynamic methods in exploring bacterial evolution in space and time.
The ratio between the body circumference at the waist and the hips (or WHR) is a secondary sexual trait that is unique to humans and is well known to influence men’s mate preferences. Because a woman’s WHR also provides information about her age, health and fertility, men’s preference concerning this physical feature may possibly be a cognitive adaptation selected in the human lineage. However, it is unclear whether the preferred WHR in western countries reflects a universal ideal, as geographic variation in non-western areas has been found, and discordances about its temporal consistency remain in the literature. We analyzed the WHR of women considered as ideally beautiful who were depicted in western artworks from 500 BCE to the present. These vestiges of the past feminine ideal were then compared to more recent symbols of beauty: Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present. Then, based on Playboy models and Miss pageants winners, this decrease appears to slow down or even reverse during the second half of the 20th century. The universality of an ideal WHR is thus challenged, and historical changes in western societies could have caused these variations in men’s preferences. The potential adaptive explanations for these results are discussed.
Microwaves in the cold war: the Moscow embassy study and its interpretation. Review of a retrospective cohort study.
- Environmental health : a global access science source
- Published almost 8 years ago
BACKGROUND: From 1953 to 1976, beams of microwaves of 2.5 to 4.0 GHz were aimed at the US embassy building in Moscow. An extensive study investigated the health of embassy staff and their families, comparing Moscow embassy staff with staff in other Eastern European US embassies. The resulting large report has never been published in peer reviewed literature. METHODS: The original report and other published comments or extracts from the report were reviewed. RESULTS: The extensive study reports on mortality and morbidity, recorded on medical records and by regular examinations, and on self-reported symptoms. Exposure levels were low, but similar or greater than present-day exposures to radiofrequencies sources such as cell phone base stations. The conclusions were that no adverse health effects of the radiation were shown. The study validity depends on the assumption that staff at the other embassies were not exposed to similar radiofrequencies. This has been questioned, and other interpretations of the data have been presented. CONCLUSIONS: The conclusions of the original report are supported. Contrary conclusions given in some other reports are due to misinterpretation of the results.
At noon Pacific Standard Time on December 10, 2014, thousands of students from 70 medical schools throughout the United States held silent “White Coats for Black Lives” die-ins. These demonstrations, the largest coordinated protests at U.S. medical schools since the Vietnam War era, were initiated by medical students in California and spread across the country in response to the following call to action posted online at thefreethoughtproject.com: “We feel it is essential to begin a conversation about our role in addressing the explicit and implicit discrimination and racism in our communities and reflect on the systemic biases embedded in our . . .
Chronic osteomyelitis management in austere environments: the International Committee of the Red Cross experience
- Tropical medicine & international health : TM & IH
- Published over 6 years ago
Chronic osteomyelitis (COM) causes major physical disability. In situations of limited resources and war zones, western world treatments are neither affordable nor sustainable. The International Committee of the Red Cross has established a COM treatment project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with emphasis on affordability and sustainability.