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Posts Tagged ‘study’

Autism-vaccine study was a ‘fraud’, journal says

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:14 am

A study that unleashed a major health scare by linking autism to a triple vaccine was “an elaborate fraud,” the British Medical Journal (BMJ) charged Thursday.

Blamed for a disastrous boycott of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children, the 1998 study was retracted by The Lancet last year.

Hundreds of thousands of children in Britain are now unshielded against these three diseases, said the BMJ.

In 2008, measles was declared endemic, or present in the wider population much like chicken pox, in England and Wales.

File photo shows a boy with autism at a Special Education and Training Center in Chengdu, China

After a long-running hearing by the General Medical Council, the study’s senior author, Andrew Wakefield was barred from medical practice in 2010 for conflict of interest and the unethical treatment of patients involved in the research.

But the BMJ, taking the affair further, on Thursday branded the study a crafted attempt to deceive, among the gravest of charges in medical research.

The findings had been skewed in advance, as the patients had been recruited via campaigners opposed to the MMR vaccine, the journal added.

And, said the BMJ, Wakefield had been confidentially paid hundreds of thousands of pounds (dollars, euros) through a law firm under plans to launch “class action” litigation against the vaccine.

“The paper was in fact an elaborate fraud,” the BMJ said in an editorial, adding: “There are hard lessons for many in this highly damaging saga.”

It pointed the finger at Wakefield, then a consultant in experimental gastro-enterology at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

Wakefield and his team suggested they had found a “new syndrome” of autism and bowel disease among 12 children.

They linked it to the MMR vaccine, which they said had been administered to eight of the youngsters shortly before the symptoms emerged.

Other scientists swiftly cautioned the study was only among a tiny group, without a comparative “control” sample, and the dating of when symptoms surfaced was based on parental recall, which is notoriously unreliable. Its results have never been replicated.

The controversy unleashed a widespread parental boycott of the jab in Britain, and unease reverberated also in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The BMJ, delving into the accuracy of the study as opposed to its ethics, said Sunday Times investigative journalist Brian Deer had “unearthed clear evidence of falsification”.

Not one of the 12 cases, as reported in the study, tallied fully with the children’s official medical records, it charged.

Some diagnoses had been misrepresented and dates faked in order to draw a convenient link with the MMR jab, it said.

Of nine children described by Wakefield as having “regressive autism,” only one clearly had this condition and three were not even diagnosed with autism at all, it said.

Deer, in a separate piece published by the BMJ, compared the scandal with the “Piltdown Man” hoax of 1953, when a supposed fossil of a creature half-man, half-ape turned out to be a fake.

The Wakefield study “was a fraud, moreover, of more than academic vanity. It unleashed fear, parental guilt, costly government intervention and outbreaks of infectious disease,” he said.

Wakefield, who still retains a vocal band of supporters, has reportedly left Britain to work in the United States.

Wakefield and his publishing agent did not respond to calls and emails from AFP requesting comment.

Wakefield has previously accused Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC) of seeking to “discredit and silence” him and shield the British government from responsibility in what he calls a “scandal.”

The Lancet told AFP it would not comment on the BMJ accusations.

Autism is the term for an array of conditions ranging from poor social interaction to repetitive behaviours and entrenched silence. The condition is rare, predominantly affecting boys, although its causes are fiercely debated.

Source: SGGP

More than a million Atlantic sharks killed yearly: study

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:07 am

Alcohol more harmful than heroin, crack cocaine: study

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2010 at 4:41 am

Students must study English from third grade on

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2010 at 7:18 am

The Ministry of Education and Training has recently drafted a new proposal that would include teaching English at the primary school level, as part of the Strategy for Education Development for 2008-2020, which aims to build a modern educational system.

Pupils of Phan Dinh Phung Primary School study English in their class (Photo: SGGP)

According to the draft, primary school students would have to learn English starting in third grade and completing a total of 1,155 hours by the end of primary school.

According to the draft, after completing the program, students will be tell short stories in English, write five-sentence paragraphs, read and comprehend short English lessons and conduct brief conversations in English.

Students graduating from primary school will possess English capabilities equivalent to the Level 1 English proficiency as determined by the European Association for Language Testing and Assessment (EALTA).

Source: SGGP

More and more Asian men forced to marry foreigners: study

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

PARIS, July 26, 2010 (AFP) – Increasing numbers of southeast Asian men, particularly in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are marrying foreigners because fewer women in their homelands are willing to wed, a new study said Monday.

The phenomenon, which dates back more than a decade, has even created a detectable trend in women’s migration, said the study by Daniele Belanger of the University of Western Ontario University.

“Since the beginning of the 1990s, more and more men in southeast Asia are looking abroad to find a wife,” wrote Belanger in the journal of France’s National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED).

In Taiwan, 15 percent of wives were of foreign origin in 2009; eight percent in South Korea.

In Japan, the phenomenon started earlier, in the 1980s, but has remained at a modest level: only five or six percent of marriages in the mid-2000s involved foreign wives.

But in all three places, foreign brides represented the largest group of new immigrants apart from the temporary workers, wrote Belanger. And the reason the men went looking abroad was the lack of women at home, she added.

With women’s education levels rising so was their representation in the workplace, she explained.

Increasing numbers of them were not willing to settle for the traditional role of a wife — at least as it exists in its current form. They preferred to keep their jobs and stay single.

For men however, “they have the responsibility to continue the paternal line by giving birth to a son and, in many cases, looking after their aged parents,” Belanger wrote.

They could not therefore remain bachelors.

The foreign brides generally came from China and Vietnam, and if at first this kind of marriage was more common among the rural poor, it subsequently spread to the urban middle classes.

There were even marriage agencies specialising in this sector, charging the man’s family between 5,000 and 10,000 euros.

Some observers have expressed fears that some of the brides involved are victims of trafficking.

But Belanger noted: “The great majority of migrant women marry of their own accord and not under parental pressure, and their objective is both to marry and to migrate.”

Source: SGGP

90 percent of Americans eat too much salt: study

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 4:50 am

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2010 (AFP) – Only one in 10 Americans keep their salt intake within recommended levels, with the rest overstepping the limits and risking high blood pressure and heart ailments, a CDC report said Thursday.

The Atlanta, Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the average daily sodium intake of Americans was 3,466 milligrams, twice as much as recommended in health authorities’ guidelines.

Americans in good health are advised to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, while people with high blood pressure, all middle-age and older adults and all African-Americans should limit their intake to 1,500 milligrams.

The CDC study found that only 9.6 percent of the US population fall within the sodium intake guidelines, including 5.5 percent of the group limited to 1,500 milligrams and 18.8 percent of the 2,300 milligrams per day group.

It also determined that 77 percent of the salt eaten by Americans comes from processed and restaurant foods, especially pizza, breads and cookies that “may not even taste salty.”

“Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it’s difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits,” said the study’s lead author Janelle Peralez Gunn.

The study coincides with a Food and Drug Administration review of daily sodium guidelines, which experts recommend should be lower than they are.

Source: SGGP

Whalewatching worth billions and booming: study

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 4:48 am

AGADIR, Morocco, June 25, 2010 (AFP) – Whalewatching revenue topped two billion dollars in 2009 and is set to grow 10 percent a year, according to a new study.

The findings boost arguments that the marine mammals are worth more alive than dead, the researchers said.

They also coincide with a decision by the 88-nation International Whaling Commission (IWC), meeting in Agadir, Morocco, to move forward with a “five year strategic plan” exploring the economic benefits and ecological risks of whalewatching.

A member of the Japanese delegation walks past anti-whaling militants on June 21, 2010 as he arrives for the opening of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Agadir. AFP

Some 13 million eco-tourists in 2009 paid to see the animals in their natural element, generating 2.1 billion dollars (1.7 billion euros) and employing 13,000 people across hundreds of coastal regions worldwide, the study found.

“This shows that we can have our whales and still benefit from them, without killing them,” said co-author Rashid Sumaila, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

Whale tourism has expanded steadily over the last two decades, and could add more than 400 million dollars and 5,700 jobs to the global economy each year, said the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Policy.

“Given our methods of calculation, this is a conservative estimate. The real figures are probably much higher,” Sumaila said by phone.

At least half of this growth would benefit seaside communities in developing countries, especially in the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa, where many fisheries are in decline.

“It can be launched with little initial investment and carried out by local fishers who are already familiar with the area,” the study noted.

Whaling countries have argued that watching whales and killing them are not necessarily incompatible when populations are robust and expanding.

Indeed, every year half-a-million people ply the coastal waters of whaling nations in the hope of glimpsing a humpback, orca or other whale if full breach.

But if attitudes continue to shift toward protection, the researchers suggested, tourists may one day insist on observing whales near countries that are not also engaged in slaughtering them for market.

An effort to bridge the gap between pro- and anti-whaling nations during the IWC’s annual meeting, which ends Friday, collapsed earlier this week.

Despite a moratorium on commercial whaling that went into effect in 1986, Iceland, Japan and Norway — taking advantage of legal loopholes — harvest hundreds of large cetaceans every year, more than 1,500 in the 2008-2009 season alone.

Opponents of commercial whaling hope that tourism will help tilt an organisation created in 1946 to insure the long-term viability of the whaling industry toward other goals.

“All international bodies must evolve,” said Peter Garett, Australia’s minister for environment protection. “We see a future for the IWC that is much more about conservation than counting the number of whales that are killed.”

“There is a tremendous economic future — a sustainable future — in whale watching, not whale killing,” he told AFP.

Many local communities are thriving thanks to mammoth sea mammals that happen through their waters, delegates said.

The New Zealand town of Kaikoura, for example, “has subsequently been transformed, and now attracts 100,000 visitors annually,” said Kerena Lyons.

And in tiny Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic, “43 boats and 10 tour operators offer trips for more than 25,000 tourists every year,” said Liliana Betancourt of the Conservation Centre of Bahia de Samana.

But whalewatching can have unintended consequences, warned Vincent Ridoux, a marine biologist at the University of La Rochelle in France and a member of the French delegation.

“We tend to observe whales where they feed and reproduce. If the whalewatching is too invasive and always in the same place, it can push the whales into less optimal areas,” he explained.

But perhaps the greatest danger is running out of whales.

“It could be a multi-million dollar industry, but in Tonga there are not enough whales anymore,” Sue Taei of the Pew Environment Group said of the Pacific island nation.

The region’s whales were decimated by Soviet factory ships in the 1960 and 1970s, she explained.

Source: SGGP

More chance for students to study in the US

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm

More chance for students to study in the US

QĐND – Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 22:4 (GMT+7)

A get together between Vietnamese students studying in the US and those in Vietnam was held by VietAbroader on June 22 in Hanoi as part of a US educational conference that attracted more than 50 leading US universities.

At the meeting the domestic students met with Vietnamese students such as Trinh Minh Duc and Phan Duc Toan who are studying at Harvard, Nguyen Trung Hieu from Bates and Dang Tra My who are at Colgate.

They are all key members of VietAbroad who faced many difficulties when choosing a university and preparing the necessary paperwork. Therefore, they are only too pleased to help other Vietnamese students win a scholarship to study in the US.

The VietAboarder’s organising board also sponsored several disadvantaged students from remote and mountain areas to attend the conference.

Vietnam is placed 13th among countries that have a large number of students in the US.

VietAbroader is a non-profit organisation set up by a Vietnamese student in the US to share useful information about scholarships with under-graduates, especially high school students.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Ministry to study opening new faculties in college and university

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 5:05 pm

A conference held on May 18 discussed high school graduation exams, proposed increased tuition fees and the moratorium placed on opening more new faculties in university and colleges.

The education system has not suffered under the decision, made by the Ministry of Education and Training, to halt opening new faculties in college and university, said Mr. Ngo Kim Khoi, deputy head of the University Education Department.

A delegation of inspectors established by the Ministry will monitor the condition of schools and decide when it is necessary and suitable for increasing facilities, he added.

According to the ministry, more than one million students will take part in the high school graduation exam this year.


Source: SGGP

Earth may be too hot for humans by 2300: study

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

(AFP file) A farmer works on his land in Nsanje district of Malawi in 2005.

SYDNEY (AFP) – Climate change could make much of the world too hot for human habitation within just three centuries, research released Tuesday showed.

Scientists from Australia’s University of New South Wales and Purdue University in the United States found that rising temperatures in some places could mean humans would be unable to adapt or survive.

“It would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about seven degrees Celsius (13 Fahrenheit), calling the habitability of some regions into question,” the researchers said in a paper.

“With 11-12 degrees Celsius warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed.”

Researcher Professor Steven Sherwood said there was no chance of the earth heating up to seven degrees this century, but there was a serious risk that the continued burning of fossil fuels could create the problem by 2300.

“There’s something like a 50/50 chance of that over the long term,” he said.

The study — which examined climate change over a longer period than most other research — looked at the “heat stress” produced by combining the impact of rising temperatures and increased humidity.

Sherwood said climate change research had been “short-sighted” not to probe the long-term consequences of the impact of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

“It needs to be looked at,” he told AFP. “There’s not much we can do about climate change over the next two decades but there’s still a lot we can do about the longer term changes.”

In a commentary on the paper, published in the US-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Australian National University academics said climate change would not stop in 2100.

“And under realistic scenarios out to 2300, we may be faced with temperature increases of 12 degrees (Celsius) or even more,” Professor Tony McMichael said.

“If this happens, our current worries about sea level rise, occasional heatwaves and bushfires, biodiversity loss and agricultural difficulties will pale into insignificance beside a major threat — as much as half the currently inhabited globe may simply become too hot for people to live there.”

Source: SGGP