03 August 2011

Green tips and shoots 3

Meat farming and blood cancer, 'smartphone eye', and how environmental tobacco smoke could be attacking teenagers' ears.


Our regular crop of fresh EnviroHealth tips and trends.

Another reason not to support the meat industry
Children who grow up on livestock and poultry farms may be at significantly higher risk of developing blood cancers (including leukaemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) later in life.

In a study of New Zealand farms, children who grew up on livestock farms had 22% greater chance of developing a blood cancer than those who didn’t; children who grew up on poultry farms were three times more likely to develop a blood cancer.

The exact cause is not yet understood, but scientists think that exposure to certain viruses in childhood may modify the immune system response and lead to higher risk for blood cancer.

There’s good news for kids on crop-growing farms however: they had a nearly 20% lower risk of developing blood cancer.
Read more: Growing up on a farm ups cancer risk

Watch out for ‘smartphone eye’
Smartphone users are risking eye strain, headaches and dry eye.

People reading text messages or browsing the Net on smartphones tend to hold the devices closer than they would a book or newspaper, making their eyes work harder to focus.

The closer reading distance, as well as the small font sizes on smartphones, could be particularly taxing to the eyes in the case of people who already wear glasses or contact lenses.

Previous studies have found that up to 90% of computer-users experience eye problems.

To minimize eye strain, increase font size. This is especially important for prolonged periods of use e.g. reading a book on Kindle. If you're a regular computer user, try using Verdana 12-point font.
Read more: Smartphones may be taxing your eyes

Educate your teenager about smoky venues
In addition to all the ills already linked to environmental tobacco smoke, research has now revealed that exposure may put teenagers at higher risk of hearing loss.

Second-hand smoke is thought to be especially damaging in the young, and to worsen a wide range of health conditions, from respiratory infections to behavioural problems.

Tobacco smoke might have an effect on the blood flow in teenagers’ inner ear. Adolescents whose levels of nicotine-related substances told researchers they spent a lot of time around smokers were more likely to have hearing loss at the lower frequencies of human speech than those without exposure to cigarette smoke.

Smokers of any age have a higher risk of hearing loss.
Read more: Smoke tied to hearing loss

- Compiled by Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, August 2011

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