Insight News

Oct 07th


New year, new hope: Suggestions for facing the New Year after losing a loved one

With the majority of the holiday spotlight directed towards Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's easy to overlook the difficulty that New Year's Eve can cause after a traumatic year. Joni Aldrich offers support and advice to those who are facing 2011 without a loved one.

Most of us look forward to the second when that famous ball drops in Times Square. After all, a new year represents a fresh start, a chance to make the changes in our lives we've been wanting, and an opportunity to put the troubles of the past behind us. All around the world, it has become tradition to close out the past twelve months with cheerful abandon and to toast the incoming year with family and friends.

Metro Refugee Health Task Force Update

Summary of topics:
Jan 4: Metro Refugee Health Task Force Meeting
Jan. 24: National Children’s Study Launch Event
Jan. 29: "Telling Your Story" for Non-Profits

Feb. 4 & 5: 6th Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference in St Paul!
Feb. 15: Dr. Judith Kaur Cancer Disparities Grand Rounds

March 3: Rally For Youth Day at the Capitol


One of five deaths caused by cigarette smoking

One of five deaths caused by cigarette smokingWhether you smoke or not, you may already know that tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable death in the United States, exceeding the death toll from HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, motor vehicle accidents, suicide, and homicide combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, an estimated one out of five deaths in this country are caused by cigarette smoking alone.

As the curtain starts to come down on the year, it is the time of year when we focus on Lung Cancer Awareness, and many people use this period to smoke less or to quit smoking for good on a specially designated day called the Great American Smokeout, which this year was November 18. But, whether it is during the Lung Cancer Awareness period or any other time of year, it is never a bad time to take the pledge to stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, pledge to help a family member or a friend quit.

Amphibians still declining

Amphibians still decliningDear EarthTalk: Are the world’s amphibians still in decline and what’s being done to help them? -- Chris W., Stamford, CT

Unfortunately yes, amphibians are still in serious trouble around the world. A recently updated worldwide population assessment by the non-profit International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that 32 percent of the 6,000-plus amphibian species left on the planet have declined to dangerously low levels—and qualify for vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered status on the group’s “Red List” of at-risk wildlife.

Perhaps even more disturbing is that upwards of 160 amphibian species—some of which have been around for hundreds of millions of years—have gone extinct just in the last 25 years. Since amphibian species are particularly sensitive to environmental change, they are often the first animals to decline in areas just beginning to experience environmental degradation, and as such are considered to be important indicators of the health of the wider ecosystems surrounding them.

China's carbon emissions

China's carbon emissionsDear EarthTalk: I understand that China is about to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest global warming polluter. What is China doing to address this issue as well as its other environmental impacts as such a populous nation? -- Sophie N., Andover, MA

Actually, China passed the U.S. as the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter back in 2006 and today produces some 17 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide output. According to the China Daily news service, air and water pollution, combined with widespread use of food additives and pesticides, make cancer the top killer in China. Meanwhile, World Bank data show that, based on the European Union’s air quality standards, only one percent of the country’s 560 million urban inhabitants breathe air deemed safe. But many Chinese insist that all this environmental trouble is part of the cost of developing into a world superpower, and government leaders there are hesitant to impose restrictions on economic development.

Organic beers

Organic beersDear EarthTalk: I see more and more organic wines on store shelves these days, but what options are out there today for organic beer? -- Ken Strong, Wichita, KS

Some 80 million Americans drink beer, yet organic beer represents still only a sliver of the $7 billion U.S. craft beer market. But this sliver is quickly turning into a slice: Between 2003 and 2009, according to the Organic Trade Association, U.S. organic beer sales more than quadrupled from $9 million to $41 million.

According to Seven Bridges Cooperative, which has been selling organic brewing ingredients for a decade already, organic beers tend to feature exceptional clarity and a clean, flavorful taste. “On a more technical side, organic malts on average have a lower protein content which produces a clear mash and less haze problems in the finished beer,” reports Seven Bridges. “Organic malts and hops have no chemical residues to interfere with fermentation to give the organic brewer a clean, unadulterated beer.”

Clock is ticking for Medicare sign-up

Minnesota seniors sifting through their options for the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have until the end of the month to make their choices. Open enrollment ends December 31, and free counseling and resources are available to help with these decisions.

Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging, says it’s important to carefully weigh the options, because different plans offer different coverage. The first question to ask is whether your physician or clinic is covered, she says.

“The other thing to know is what prescription drugs you’re taking, because they will only cover drugs that are part of a formulary. And then, if you have a special, chronic disease—and I’ll use Alzheimer’s as an example—there are some specialized plans that will help you cover that.”
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