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News to Live By - Spring 2007

By David Dudley


Hazy Forecast

Workers and patrons of Baltimore bars are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke and face a greater risk of lung cancer and heart disease, according to Environmental Health Sciences assistant professor Ana Navas-Acien, MD, PhD '05, co-author of a pair of studies supported by the American Cancer Society and the Institute for Global Tobacco Control. One study showed that average indoor particulate matter concentration in 14 bars was 10 times higher than the EPA's outdoor air safety levels.



Genetics and Insurance

People with such genetic conditions as sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis may have greater concerns with health insurance coverage than those with other chronic illnesses, according to a study published in the February American Journal of Medical Genetics. Principal investigator Nancy Kass, ScD '89, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, found that those with genetic conditions were twice as likely to report being denied health insurance than individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV or colon cancer.


Empty Plate

Americans are still not eating their fruits and vegetables. A study of long-term dietary trends using data gathered from nutrition surveys dating back to 1988 reveals that only 11 percent of U.S. adults met the USDA guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption. According to Epidemiology graduate student Sarah Starke Casagrande, lead author of the study published in the April American Journal of Preventive Medicine, individuals with lower income and education levels are the least likely to meet recommended guidelines.


Tracking Autism

A multi-site Center for Disease Control study involving 13 institutions nationwide has estimated that one in every 150 American children has an autism spectrum disorder. Although the researchers behind the report cannot say if autism spectrum disorders are increasing, the reports will provide important baseline information to evaluate the disorders over time. Among the researchers participating in the CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Network is Li-Ching Lee, PhD, Epidemiology assistant scientist and principal investigator of the Maryland site.