Egypt Independent: Science-Main news http://www.egyptindependent.com//enhome_channel/Environment/rss.xml en Adapt or die: Arctic animals cope with climate change http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2456871 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/09/01/501010/arctic.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>When it comes to coping with climate change in the Arctic region, which is warming at three times the global average, some animals are more equal than others.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Migrating Barnacle geese that fly north to lay eggs amid the Norwegian Arctic&#39;s craggy peaks and melting glaciers are adapting very well, thank you, at least for now.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Reindeer, foxes and polar bears, however, are having a harder time of it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Just finding enough to eat can be a struggle.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The geese -- which leave Scotland each year by the thousands -- have come like clockwork since time immemorial in the Spring to Spitsbergen and other islands in the Svalbard archipelago to nest.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Until, that is, a few years ago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;In 2007 they suddenly pushed forward their 3,000-kilometer (1,860-mile) trip by two weeks and it&#39;s been that way ever since,&quot; said Maarten Loonen, a Dutch ornithologist who studies the archipelago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The revised travel schedule does not seem to pose a problem. Indeed, the number of goslings that hatch each season has more than doubled in two decades, from 15,000 to some 35,000.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But experts caution that the geese may be thriving in spite of climate change, not because of it: their growing numbers, they suspect, are mainly due to strict European conservation laws.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Arctic has warmed more than any other region on Earth, an amplifying effect linked to sea ice loss and changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In December, 195 nations will gather in Paris with a mandate to forge a planet-saving climate pact. Their goal: prevent average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On Svalbard, temperatures shot up an average of 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last century, far exceeding the global increase of 0.8 C since the pre-industrial era.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Other animals have not managed to adapt as well as the geese to these rapid changes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The freezing rain that often falls now instead of snow, for example, is making it harder for foxes and reindeer in Svalbard to get a meal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The animals cannot break through the frozen rain to reach their food supplies.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;During winter the foxes sometimes have trouble accessing their stockpiles of gosling cadavers that they buried in reserve,&quot; said Loonen.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Svalbard reindeer, which eat lichen and moss, have hoofs designed by evolution to clear the snow off their food supply in winter. But against ice, they are useless.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For now, reindeer, fox and geese populations in the Arctic are all stable, according to the International Union of Nature, which tracks at-risk species.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But scientists are tracking them carefully for signs of trouble.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>&#39;Melting very fast&#39;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The travails of polar bears, which no longer have as many floating ocean perches from which to hunt seals, has been well documented.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This shrinking hunting ground may be one reason they have taken to scarfing down the ready supply of goose eggs, a high-protein snack for the lumbering carnivores.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their new foraging habits have also brought polar bears into closer contact with humans, who they slightly outnumber here.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Svalbard -- one-and-a-half times the size of Switzerland -- is home to some 3,000 polar bears and 2,500 homo sapiens.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Most of the Svalbard bears live in the archipelago&#39;s east, but over the past few years they have been exploring new territories and have been coming closer to Ny-Alesund,&quot; said Norwegian scientist Sebastian Barrault, referring to a remote settlement that hosts 150 scientists and staff during the Arctic summer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thirty years ago, leaving the compound without a gun was not a problem. Today, it&#39;s a no-no.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Warmer temperatures have also wrought havoc on the glaciers of Spitsbergen, the archipelago&#39;s biggest island.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One of the biggest among them, 30-kilometer (18-mile) long Kronenbreen, is going fast.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Kronenbreen has shrunk by a kilometer in three years. It&#39;s unbelievable,&quot; said Heidi Sevestre, a doctoral student studying glaciers at the University Center in Svalbard.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Marine maps of glacier positions in local fjords are often out of date within a few years of being drawn.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And the pace is picking up. &quot;Changes in the ocean levels are going to arrive faster than they did during [the end of] the last Ice Age,&quot; said Florian Tolle, a glaciologist who&#39;s been working on Svalbard for a decade.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The UN&#39;s climate science panel says melting glaciers will account for a quarter of total sea level rise, which is pegged at 26 to 98 cm (10 to 39 inches) by 2100.</div> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:36:00 +0000 AFP 2456871 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/01/501010/arctic.jpg Women are not getting treated for menopausal symptoms http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2456841 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/06/07/43/screen_shot_2015-06-07_at_3.12.04_pm.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Many women with severe menopausal symptoms are not being treated for them even though safe, effective remedies are available, a study from Australia suggests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The findings may be applicable to other countries, too, according to senior author Dr. Susan R. Davis from Monash University in Melbourne.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;From my interactions with colleagues from across the globe, I do not believe that what we have observed is Australian-specific,&quot; she told Reuters Health by email. &quot;The management of menopause has been relatively similar in the UK, the USA and in Australia.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Up to half of women in menopause experience so-called vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which generally combines estrogen plus progestin, is very effective. But after the initial findings of the Women&rsquo;s Health Initiative study showed that HRT can increase the risk of breast cancer, stroke and other serious problems, many women stopped using it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As reported in the journal Menopause, in 2013 and 2014 Davis and her team analyzed survey responses from nearly 1,500 women ages 40 to 65.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Seventeen percent were having moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, and 18 percent reported moderate to severe sexual symptoms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But most were not receiving any kind of treatment. Only 11 percent reported use of HRT, and less than 1 percent were using any type of therapy that didn&#39;t involve hormones.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The women who did use hormones were mostly taking pills containing estrogen, rather than preparations that are absorbed into the skin and that are potentially safer, the researchers found.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Extrapolating our findings to 3.7 million Australian women aged 40 to 64 years, we found that 455,000 women are likely to have moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, with most women (385,000) remaining untreated,&quot; they write.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In addition, very few women were receiving vaginal estrogen therapy for sexual symptoms. Vaginal dryness is common with menopause and affects sexual functioning. Vaginal estrogen preparations are very safe and effective for this problem but were prescribed to less than 5 percent of the women, the authors say.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Why are so few women being treated?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Overall, there is the uncertainty of women and of doctors as to what the options are, what is and is not safe, and of the safe options - what and how to prescribe them,&quot; Davis said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There is also, she said, a complete lack of understanding that for most women, these symptoms are not fleeting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It isn&#39;t &#39;grin and bear it for a few months&#39; and it will all pass, as many women suffer severe symptoms for five-plus years,&quot; she said. &quot;Women and doctors simply are not aware that symptoms can last this long.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Finally, many women don&rsquo;t realize that non hormonal options can be safe and effective, she added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dr. Wulf H. Utian, medical director of the North American Menopause Society, agrees that many reasons may underlie the lack of treatment. &quot;It is partly &#39;fall out&#39; from the controversy over hormone therapy,&quot; he told Reuters Health in an email.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But overall, he said, it is a combination of patients not wanting therapy or not having information about it, and also the provider not prescribing it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:01:00 +0000 Reuters 2456841 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/07/43/screen_shot_2015-06-07_at_3.12.04_pm.png Regulations may make kids' fast food meals healthier http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2456837 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/06/19/43/screen_shot_2015-06-19_at_12.22.18_pm.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Regulating fast food kids&#39; meals that include toys may end up making the meals healthier, according to a new study.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If a proposed new policy in New York City is approved, then fast food meals that come with toys would contain fewer calories overall, and fewer from fat and sodium, researchers report.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We can create policies that will nudge us toward healthier behaviors,&quot; said senior author Marie Bragg, of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The proposed policy, which was introduced to the New York City Council, says fast food meals that come with a small toy must include a serving of fruit, vegetable or whole grain. The law would also limit meals with toys to no more than 500 calories, and it would place additional restrictions on fat and salt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To estimate the effect of the proposal, researchers analyzed food purchases made by 358 adults for 422 children at Burger King, McDonald&#39;s and Wendy&#39;s restaurants in New York City and New Jersey in 2013 and 2014.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The average child in the study was seven years old.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the adults purchased an average of 600 calories of food for each child, with a third of those calories coming from fat.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The meals contained an average of 869 mg of salt - more than half the total daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>About 35 percent of the children ate kids&#39; meals that came with toys - and 98 percent of those meals did not meet the proposed guidelines, the researchers write.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If all the meals with toys met the proposed standards, children would consume 9 percent fewer calories and there would also be 10 percent reductions in salt and calories from fat, the researchers calculated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&rsquo;s a rather small amount in comparison to how bad the country&#39;s obesity problem really is,&quot; Bragg acknowledged. But small changes could add up, she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There&#39;s a lot of value in the incremental changes that can sum up to a great impact with all the other changes occurring in the environment,&quot; such as policies that create healthier workplaces and communities, Bragg told Reuters Health.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bragg hopes fast food restaurants won&#39;t try to sidestep any new policies.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We&rsquo;re at a point where we have to move the needle and we have to do it with policies like this,&quot; she said.</div> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 09:28:00 +0000 Reuters 2456837 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/19/43/screen_shot_2015-06-19_at_12.22.18_pm.png Stress could keep you from getting pregnant: study http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2456823 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/08/31/43/pregnant_woman_feature.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">Can stress affect the ability to conceive? A new study points to yes.</span></p><div>Women with high levels of alpha-amylase, a biological indicator of stress measured in saliva, were 29 percent less likely to get pregnant each month and more than twice as likely to meet the clinical definition of infertility compared to women with low levels of this enzyme, researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Researchers tracked 501 American women ages 18 to 40 years for the study. These women had no known fertility problems and had just started trying to get pregnant.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The research team followed them for 12 months or until conception as part of the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study. Saliva samples were taken from participants the morning of enrollment and the morning following the first day of their first menstrual cycle as recorded by researchers. Samples of 373 women were analyzed for the salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol, two stress biomarkers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This is now the second study in which we have demonstrated that women with high levels of the stress biomarker salivary alpha-amylase have a lower probability of becoming pregnant, compared to women with low levels of this biomarker,&quot; said Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at OSU Wexner Medical Center.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;For the first time, we&#39;ve shown that this effect is potentially clinically meaningful, as it&#39;s associated with a greater than two-fold increased risk of infertility among these women.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lynch said the study results should encourage women experiencing problems conceiving to try assorted stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Other stress-reduction tips include engaging in relaxing activities such as reading or gardening, getting regular exercise, working on effective time management and eating healthfully.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lynch also said it&#39;s important that couples not blame themselves regarding fertility problems.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Eliminating stressors before trying to become pregnant might shorten the time couples need to become pregnant in comparison to ignoring stress,&quot; said Germaine Buck Louis, director of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the LIFE Study&#39;s principal investigator.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The good news is that women most likely will know which stress reduction strategy works best for them, since a one-size-fits-all solution is not likely.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The study was published in the journal Human Reproduction.</div> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:18:00 +0000 AFP 2456823 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/08/31/43/pregnant_woman_feature.jpg