Watching the World
Water Gives Life
The Brazilian magazine Claudia says that without water a person may die in just 48 hours. Scientists estimate that water makes up 70 to 80 percent of the human body’s weight. The water is primarily within the cells. A smaller percentage is in the interstitial fluid that fills the space between the cells. Water carries proteins, hormones, fats, salts, and sugars. Hence, without water, normal biochemical reactions cannot occur. Furthermore, lack of water, according to Claudia, can seriously damage the joints and cause thickening of the blood, which places an undue burden on the heart; the kidneys become exhausted in trying to eliminate fluids full of toxins, resulting in fatigue and indisposition. Doctors recommend a daily consumption of two to three quarts [liters] of water.
“The next Sherlock Holmes may be a female,” says Japan’s Asahi Evening News. In a new school in Tokyo, three hundred students are training to become detectives, and over two thirds of them are women, mostly in their early 20’s to early 40’s. Sleuthing appeals to them for different reasons. A 46-year-old housewife was reported as enrolling in the school because “she was not satisfied with conventional courses that teach women how to arrange flowers and how to put on a kimono properly.” For others, though, the study is more than a hobby. Over half the housewives in the school have not told their husbands. Some of them are acquiring skills to check up on their cheating mates.
Trees Under Attack
A study of the trees in 24 European countries reveals a worsening problem. The European reports that 1 tree in 5 has suffered an abnormal loss of its leaves. Outside the EC (European Community), most damage has occurred in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Lithuania. Within the EC, France and Spain are home to the healthiest forests, whereas the most damaged are located in Britain. In 1988 a quarter of the trees in that country showed signs of damage. By 1991 more than half had lost 25 percent or more of their leaves. Although acid rain is widely blamed, successive dry summers in Britain have added to the trees’ problems.
Salmonella on the Increase
“In Germany there are 60,000 to 100,000 cases of salmonella infection each year, of which at least 200 end in death,” reports the monthly magazine Kosmos. These figures were released by Professor Hans-Dieter Brede of the Georg-Speyer-Haus Chemotherapeutic Research Institute in Frankfurt. The illness has been on the increase in recent years, mainly because of inadequate hygiene where animals are kept or processed. Undercooked eggs or poultry contaminated with salmonella is a common cause. “Salmonella [bacteria] die at a temperature of not lower than [160 degrees Fahrenheit [70° C.]],” the magazine explained.
“Poor supervision is a leading cause of employee burnout and low productivity,” reports The Toronto Star. A bad supervisor “can ruin your day, and even upset your personal life. . . . Poor supervision was much more likely to cause bad job performance than personal problems such as the death of a close relative or a rocky marriage,” states the Star. It can cost a company “increased accidents, absenteeism and stress-related illnesses.” On the other hand, a good supervisor is a good communicator and motivator and can produce “a more creative and productive work force.” Experts suggest that supervisors establish clear goals and provide necessary resources to do the job. They should be accessible, be good listeners, not play favorites, and not be afraid to learn from their employees.
A Pattern of Abuse
About half of all physical attacks on older women in the United States are committed by their own husbands. During 1991 “more than 700,000 women over the age of 50 were hit by their husbands,” according to the magazine New Choices for Retirement Living. A significant number of husbands in their 50’s, 60’s, and even 70’s hit their wives on an average of three or four times a year. “It’s become part of the marriage ritual,” says Richard Gelles, director of the Family Violence Research Program at the University of Rhode Island. Said a woman of her experience: “What I found much more devastating was the mental and verbal abuse. That was constant.”
Sharing Earrings—A Health Risk
“Earrings contaminated with blood are a potential source of infection with numerous organisms [including] hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus,” claim Philip D. Walson and Michael T. Brady, doctors at Ohio State University and Children’s Hospital. In a joint letter published in the American medical journal Pediatrics, concern was expressed over the apparently widespread practice of sharing nonsterilized earrings. Adolescents and young adults who share earrings may be aware of the health risks associated with sexual activity and the sharing of needles—but not so with this practice. It “has potential for transmission of bloodborne diseases,” claim both doctors. They recommend that physicians “dissuade their patients from this practice.”
Canadians Have Trouble Sleeping
Nearly 1 in every 4 adult Canadians had sleep problems in 1991, according to a recent study of social trends by Statistics Canada. Stress was the primary cause. The Globe and Mail of Toronto said that “painful health problems” caused sleep disorders for 44 percent of those surveyed. Of the women surveyed, 28 percent had trouble sleeping. There was a 19-percent incidence among men who responded. Lone mothers, the poor, the elderly, shift workers, and those looking for work had a particularly high rate of sleeplessness. Dr. Jeffrey Lipsitz, of the Sleep Disorders Centre of Metropolitan Toronto, whose clinic sees over a thousand new patients a year, noted that as people worry more about job loss or money, they begin to lose sleep.
Each year tens of thousands of young children are taken to hospital emergency rooms for costly X rays after swallowing coins. Most of these coins pass through the body safely, but occasionally a coin gets stuck in the esophagus, causing internal bleeding, infection, and sometimes death when it perforates the esophagus. A simple and completely safe hand-held metal detector, similar to those sometimes used by airport security, has been designed so that pediatricians can pinpoint the swallowed coin. Dr. Simon Ros, a director of pediatric emergency medicine in Illinois and one of the technique’s developers, says the device may eliminate a trip to the emergency room, “where detection can cost more than $300.” This technique, reported in the Journal of Pediatrics and Pediatric Emergency Care, is likely to be widely used soon because of its efficiency and low cost.
A rise in the number of suicides in Hong Kong has officials “shocked, bewildered and frightened,” reports The Toronto Star. Children between the ages of 8 and 15 are jumping out of buildings to their death. What is troubling these youngsters? Some blame the education system. Thomas Mulvey, director of the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society, says: “In Hong Kong, schools have been described as a mental health hazard to children, making unreasonable demands on students and being insensitive to their needs.” Parents also “put a high value on educational success” and show “little concern for their children’s feelings,” states Mulvey. Children “feel emotionally isolated, lonely and neglected.” The Star reports that government officials are convinced that “the root of many problems lies in the home.”
Abortions in Colombia
In Colombia, about a million and a half women have had at least one abortion. That is close to 20 percent of all women of childbearing age in that country. Many women die as a result of abortion-related complications. The Colombian magazine Semana reports that in the “Maternal-Infantile Institute of Bogotá, abortions generate the larger number of maternal deaths.” It is estimated that about 400,000 abortions are performed every year in Colombia. That is an average of about 45 abortions every hour.
“Shame on Hollywood for an endless stream of films filled with profanity, nudity, sex, violence and killings.” This statement was part of a full-page advertisement published recently in the newspaper USA Today. According to the ad, one major TV network has allowed a program that “is a favorite with young people to put on skits about masturbation, morticians having sex with dead people,” and other objectionable subjects. The ad noted that by viewing TV programs, the “average child of 16 [has] seen more than 200,000 acts of violence and 33,000 murders.”