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Wednesday, Oct 22nd

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Silently among us: Scientists worry about milder cases of MERS

MERS fearsScientists leading the fight against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome say the next critical front will be understanding how the virus behaves in people with milder infections, who may be spreading the illness without being aware they have it.

Establishing that may be critical to stopping the spread of MERS, which emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and has so far infected more than 500 patients in Saudi Arabia alone. It kills about 30 percent of those who are infected.

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Study: Everyday chemicals that may increase breast cancer risk

chemicals causing breast cancerGasoline and chemicals formed by combustion from vehicles, lawn equipment, smoking and charred food are among the largest sources of mammary carcinogens in the environment.

Ruthann A. Rudel, Janet M. Ackerman and Julia Green Brody of the Silent Spring Institute and Kathleen R. Attfield of Harvard School of Public Health identified the highest priority chemicals to target for breast cancer prevention.

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U.S. alone among Western countries on lack of paid maternity leave, UN finds

Maternity leave in USThe United States is the only Western country _ and one of only three in the world _ that does not provide some kind of monetary payment to new mothers who’ve taken maternity leave from their jobs, a new U.N. study reports.

Two other countries share the U.S. position of providing “no cash benefits during maternity leave,” according to the report, which was released Tuesday by the International Labor Organization: Oman, an absolute monarchy in the Persian Gulf; and Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific nation where the U.S. State Department says violence against women is so common that 60 percent of men in a U.N. study acknowledged having committed a rape.

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FDA approves 'Star Wars' robotic arm for amputees

robotic arm approvedThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a robotic arm for amputees that is named for the "Star Wars" character Luke Skywalker and can perform multiple, simultaneous movements, a huge advance over the metal hook currently in use.

The FDA said on Friday it allowed the sale of the DEKA Arm System after reviewing data, including a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study in which 90 percent of people who used the device were able to perform complex tasks. These included using keys and locks, feeding themselves, using zippers and brushing and combing hair.

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Bob Kincaid: Letter From Summersville Hospital

ACA letterMy Dear Fellow Americans

Sitting here in a hospital room in Summersville, West Virginia waiting to find out if a combination of genetic Calvinism, environmental toxins and my own mistakes have finally caught up with me, I heard playing on my roommate’s television an advertisement for some politician whom the announcer told me would “go to Washington and fight against Obamacare.” I am furious at a time when I probably shouldn’t be, but I may as well make the best of it.

Seldom do I pause to answer in writing the mad, hateful ravings of a right-wing, self-absorbed, Republican candidate for elected office; for if I did, I would never be able to get to the microphone to do it via radio every night. But since the question of healthcare is a matter of importance to Americans of good will across this once-great nation, and since I’m sitting in a hospital bed instead of behind the mic anyway, I feel compelled.

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Less Nutritious Grains May Be In Our Future

less nutritious foodIn the future, Earth's atmosphere is likely to include a whole lot more carbon dioxide. And many have been puzzling over what that may mean for the future of food crops. Now, scientists are that some of the world's most important crops contain fewer crucial nutrients when they grow in such an environment.

The data come from that have been set up to see how crops will perform as levels of carbon dioxide in the air soar past 500 parts per million. (The current level is around 400 ppm.)

These experiments are operating in various parts of the world, and have included test plots of rice, wheat, peas and other crops.

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Polio Declared Emergency as Conflicts Fuel Virus Spread

Polio emergency worldwideThe spread of polio to countries previously considered free of the crippling disease is a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said, as the virus once driven to the brink of extinction mounts a comeback.

Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria pose the greatest risk of exporting the virus to other countries, and should ensure that residents have been vaccinated before they travel, the Geneva-based WHO said in a statement today after a meeting of its emergency committee. It’s only the second time the United Nations agency has declared a public health emergency of international concern, after the 2009 influenza pandemic.

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