Category Archives: Health

Study Finds People Who Can Legally Treat Themselves With Cannabis Use Less Allopathic Prescription Drugs

By: Kat Mccue of Salud Móvil

A new study finds that patients who can legally treat themselves with medical cannabis stop using prescription opioids or use fewer opiates to care for chronic pain symptoms.

Patients enrolled in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program also suffered less pain, and they enjoyed a higher quality of life, better social experiences, higher levels of activity, and concentration.

The investigation published in the journal PLOS One analyzed health records from 66 habitual opioid users who were diagnosed with severe chronic pain to determine if and how legalized medical marijuana programs affected patients’ opioid use. Thirty-seven of the patients were enrolled in a legal medical cannabis program in New Mexico between 2010 and 2015 while the remaining 29 patients were not registered

New Mexico’s medical marijuana program allows its patients with severe chronic pain to self-manage their marijuana use, including how and how often the patients take cannabis, and what strength and strain of cannabis are used, giving patients much latitude over managing their condition.

For the study, researchers had access to 21 months of prescription data, including three months of data before patient enrollment in the medical cannabis program. Compared to those patients not enrolled in the program, cannabis users were 17 times more likely to cease their prescription opioid use and over five times more likely to reduce their daily dosage of opioids.

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Research Shows Correlation Between Cannabis Use And Creativity

By: Eric W. Dolan of Psypost

A new study suggests that differences in personality traits account for the link between marijuana use and enhanced creativity.

“I became interested in this topic upon the realization that a number of my favorite musicians and artists were well known for their cannabis use, and that this cannabis use was commonly thought to have been a cause of the creative success of many artists,” explained study author Emily LaFrance, a graduate student at Washington State University.

“I began to wonder about this commonly held idea – are cannabis users really more creative than non-users? And if so, is this because cannabis use makes them more creative, or is something else causing differences in creativity between users and non-users?”

For their study, which was published in Consciousness and Cognition, the researchers had 412 cannabis users and 309 non-users complete a series of psychological tests.

They found that cannabis users tended to be more extraverted and also tended to be more open to new experiences.

Cannabis users self-reported higher levels of artistic creativity than non-users, but they did not report a higher number of creative works or achievements.

Cannabis users also performed better than non-users on a test of convergent thinking — meaning the creative process of narrowing down potential solutions to find one correct answer.

But the statistical relationship between cannabis use and creativity disappeared when the researchers accounted for the effect of openness to experience. The results suggest that cannabis users’ higher levels of openness to experience are responsible for their enhanced creativity.

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Enterprise To Donate 30 Million To Protecting Rivers and Watersheds

By: Lisa Brown St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The foundation arm of Enterprise Rent-A-Car is donating $30 million to The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to preserve and protect rivers and watersheds in the U.S. and

internationally.

The Clayton-based rental car giant’s Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundatiwatershedson said the gift over five years is expected to benefit 150 million people.

The four areas of focus for the donation include supporting efforts to reduce the amount of excess nutrient runoff that enters the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The donation will also help fund the restoration of and improve water quality on the Colorado River and in wetlands and major rivers in Canada and Europe.

Based in Arlington, Va., the nonprofit The Nature Conservancy operates in 34 countries and all 50 U.S. states. The Nature Conservancy will spend $60 million on river conservation globally for the next five years, said Shelly Lakly, the Nature Conservancy’s managing director of Saving Rivers Strategy.

“This donation will make a significant impact on us and our mission,” Lakly said. “We’re at a critical point in the development of the world with population increases and the need for people to work together. It’s truly a tipping point.”

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Study Finds Cats Protect NewBorns Against Asthma 

By: Thomas Hoffman 

We know that cats keep mice away. But did you know that they can also help prevent asthma in newborns? That is the conclusion of a new study by scientists from the Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood Research Center (COPSAC), Denmark.

Cats neutralise the effect of a gene that, when activated, doubles the risk of developing asthma in children.

Having a cat in the home when a child is born means that this gene is never activated.

The result surprised co-author Hans Bisgaard, professor of paediatrics and the head of COPSAC. Not because the results will lead to any new treatments—they will not—but because the study shows that the genes behind a disease can be switched on or off depending on the environment around us.

“For me, this is the core message because it’s a recognition in the direction of how disease occurs. It documents the interplay between genetics and the environment we live in, and in particular that this occurs very early in life, both during pregnancy and in the home,” says Bisgaard.

Cats help children who carry a particular gene

In the new study, Bisgaard, Jakob Stokholm, and three colleagues from COPSAC and Næstved Hospital, Denmark, studied data from 377 Danish children whose mothers have asthma.

They mapped the children’s genes and collected information about their upbringing and surroundings, both by taking samples from the children’s home and by a number of surveys taken by the parents.

The results reveal that cats remove the increased risk of developing asthma among children with a particular variation of the gene 17q21, called TT, which has the strongest impact on whether or not a child could develop asthma.

Almost one in three children in the study carried the TT gene variant, regardless of whether or not their mother had asthma.

No protection from dogs

Interestingly, only cats seem to reduce the risk of developing asthma among children carrying the TT gene variant. Dogs do not have the same effect, say the scientists behind the new study.

Their analyses suggest that cats not only protect against asthma, but also against pneumonia and inflammation in the lower airways of small children (bronchitis).

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Syria Signs The Paris Climate Agreement Leaving U.S.A As The Only Country Out

By: Akshat Rathi of QZ

It’s everyone against the United States of America.

When Donald Trump announced that he intends to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, the implication was that the US would join Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories of the accord. The other holdouts had legitimate excuses: Syria was in the middle of a war and Nicaragua thought the agreement wasn’t ambitious enough.

Now, both countries have had a change of heart.

At the climate talks in Bonn, Germany today (Nov. 7), the Syrian government announced that it will sign the Paris climate agreement after all, according to Climate Tracker. Last month, Nicaragua also signed up. That leaves the US as the only country opting not to be part of the global consensus on climate action.

The Paris climate agreement sets out a goal to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, a crucial threshold above which dangerous changes to the climate are likely irreversible. This requires the world to achieve net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by about 2050.

The climate accord lets each country determine its own plan of action. As per current commitments, even if Trump were to change his mind and re-engage the US in climate action, the total reduction in global emissions would still warm the planet beyond the 2°C threshold. In Bonn, countries are trying to figure out ways to work together to ensure we don’t cross that threshold.

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New Republican Tax Plan Will Kill Electric Vehicle Incentive 

By: Jonathan M. Gitlin of Ars Technica 

The nascent market for electric cars will suffer a big setback if the Republican tax plan released on Thursday enters into law. Among the changes to the current tax code would be an end to the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit. That’s the tax incentive that currently means up to $7,500 back from the IRS when you purchase a new battery or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Personal EV incentives gone

Since the start of 2010, the EV tax credit has been $2,500 for a plug-in vehicle with at least 5kWh battery capacity. Every extra kWh nets another $417 up to a maximum of $7,500, although you would need at least that amount in income tax liability—the IRS won’t cut you a check to make up the full amount. It was never meant to be permanent; once an automaker sells 200,000 qualifying vehicles (starting from January 1, 2010) its eligibility is phased out over a matter of months.

But in the almost seven years since, no one has reached that limit yet. Tesla will almost certainly be first, with General Motors not far behind; between them, they’ve sold a lot of Model Ses and Chevrolet Volts. If this tax plan is enacted, it will surely mean pain for both companies, as well as anyone else hoping to sell a lot of EVs here in the US. The data is pretty clear—tax incentives sell electric cars, and the market for EVs can dry up very fast when they’re abolished, as Georgia’s recent experience shows.

GM told Ars that “tax credits are an important customer benefit that can help accelerate the acceptance of electric vehicles. Because General Motors believes in an all-electric future, we will work with Congress to explore ways to maintain this incentive.” Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

Renewables for investors not so bad

Things aren’t quite as bad on the renewable energy side. There are new incentives to invest in small-scale wind, geothermal, solar, or fuel cell energy properties, and others have been extended. The nuclear industry also gets an extension on a tax incentive that was meant to expire in 2021. But the wind industry won’t be happy. Currently, wind power qualifies for a 2.3 cents/kWh credit; under the new scheme this would be just 1.5c/kWh.
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Tokyo Firm Grants 6 Day Additional Holiday To Non-Smoking Employees 

By: Chloe Farand if The Independent 

A Japanese company is granting its non-smoking staff an additional six days of holiday a year to make up for the time off smokers take for cigarette breaks. 

Marketing firm Piala Inc introduced the new paid leave allowance in September after non-smokers complained they were working more than their colleagues who smoked. 

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, told The Telegraph: “One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”

Following the suggestion, the company’s CEO Takao Asuka decided to give non-smoking employees extra time off to compensate, Mr Matsushima added. 

The matter has been taken seriously by the Tokyo-based company which is reportedly based on the 29th floor of an office block — making any cigarette break last at least 15 minutes, according to staff. 
Mr Asuka hopes the scheme will create an incentive for the company’s staff to quit smoking. 

Efforts to reduce the number of smokers and impose tougher anti-smoking regulations have been seen across Japan in recent months. 

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Au Revoir To Vaping Indoors in New York 

By: BBC

A new rule, which will come into law in 30 days, will mean that the practice will be treated the same as smoking normal cigarettes.

Vaping will be banned in places including restaurants, bars and offices.

New York was one of the first states to ban cigarettes in indoor public spaces in 2003.

Using e-cigarettes has become more popular since tighter restrictions were introduced around real cigarettes.

But this new law will have a relatively small effect.

Many areas of New York State already have a ban in place, including New York City, which has had it since 2013.

The New York Times reports that 70% of municipalities in the state had already prohibited using e-cigs in public indoor spaces.

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Puerto Rico Receives 300m recovery Contract 

By: Ken Klippenstein of The Daily Beast

Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company that is primarily financed by a private-equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump, an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast has found.

Whitefish Energy Holdings, which had a reported staff of only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria touched down, appears ill-equipped to handle the daunting task of restoring electricity to Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents.

Much larger utilities are more commonly used following natural disasters on the scale of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last month.

The private-equity firm that finances Whitefish, HBC Investments, was founded by Joe Colonnetta, who serves as its general partner.

Federal Elections Commission data compiled by The Daily Beast shows Colonnetta contributed $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC during the general election, $2,700 to Trump’s primary election campaign (then the maximum amount permitted), $2,700 to Trump’s general election campaign (also the maximum), and a total of $30,700 to the Republican National Committee in 2016 alone.

Colonnetta’s wife, Kimberly, is no stranger to Republican politics either; shortly after Trump’s victory, she gave $33,400 to the Republican National Committee, the maximum contribution permitted for party committees in 2016.

Joe Colonnetta is not the only Republican connection to the controversial Whitefish contract. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Whitefish Chief Executive Officer Andy Techmanski is friends with Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Moreover, Whitefish is located in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Monatana.

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Could Global Warming be solved by Regreening the planet ?

By: Reuters

Planting forests and other activities that harness the power of nature could play a major role in limiting global warming under the 2015 Paris agreement, an international study showed on Monday.

Natural climate solutions, also including protection of carbon-storing peatlands and better management of soils and grasslands, could account for 37% of all actions needed by 2030 under the 195-nation Paris plan, it said.

Combined, the suggested “regreening of the planet” would be equivalent to halting all burning of oil worldwide, it said. 
“Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought,” the international team of scientists said of findings published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

The estimates for nature’s potential, led by planting forests, were up to 30% higher than those envisaged by a UN panel of climate scientists in a 2014 report, it said.

Trees soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. That makes forests, from the Amazon to Siberia, vast natural stores of greenhouse gases.

Overall, better management of nature could avert 11.3bn tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year by 2030, the study said, equivalent to China’s current carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.

The Paris climate agreement, weakened by US president Donald Trump’s decision in June to pull out, seeks to limit a rise in global temperature to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial times.

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