Wellington, Nov 2 (AP/UNB) — In an attempt to protect the coral reefs that divers so admire they have dubbed them the underwater Serengeti, the Pacific nation of Palau will soon ban many types of sunscreen.
President Tommy Remengesau Jr. last week signed legislation that bans "reef-toxic" sunscreen from 2020. Banned sunscreens will be confiscated from tourists who carry them into the country, and merchants selling the banned products will be fined up to $1,000.
Remengesau said in a statement that the penalties find the right balance between "educating tourists and scaring them away."
The law defines reef-toxic sunscreen as containing any one of 10 chemicals, including oxybenzone, and states that other chemicals may also be banned.
The legislation also requires tour operators to start providing customers with reusable cups, straws and food containers.
Remengesau said a big impetus for the ban was a 2017 report which found that sunscreen products were widespread in Palau's famed Jellyfish Lake, which was closed for more than a year due to declining jellyfish numbers before being recently reopened.
The president noted legislative findings that "plastic waste, chemical pollution, resource overconsumption, and climate change all continue to threaten the health of our pristine paradise."
Palau's ban comes after Hawaii in July banned the sale of sunscreen containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate from 2021 in an attempt to protect its reefs. In Hawaii, however, tourists will still be able to bring the banned sunscreen with them into the state or buy it there if they have a doctor's prescription.
Scientists have found that some chemicals in sunscreen can be toxic to coral reefs, which are a vital part of the ocean ecosystem as well as a popular draw for tourists. But some critics say there aren't enough independent scientific studies on the issue while others worry that people will suffer from too much sun exposure if they stop using the products.
Some manufacturers, meanwhile, have already started selling "reef-friendly" sunscreen.
Palau, located east of the Philippines and north of Indonesia, is home to 21,000 people and has an economy that relies on tourism and fishing. It has a compact of free association with the U.S.
Dhaka, Nov 01 (UNB) - A five-day-long interactive exhibition titled “Healthy Ocean, Healthy People” began at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Thursday.
The exhibition includes life-size animal models, games, a documentary movie, captivating photographs and fascinating facts in attractive displays.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) organized the first-of-its-kind interactive exhibition aiming to exhibit marine wildlife in the Bay of Bengal and Bangladesh's efforts to conserve wildlife.
Cultural Ministry Joint Secretary Mahbubur Rahman spoke on the opening ceremony program on behalf of Cultural Minister Asaduzzaman Noor.
The program was also addressed by WCS country representative for Bangladesh Zahangir Alom, Chief Forest conservator of Bangladesh Forest Department Md Shafiul Alam Chowdhury, Fisheries Department Director General Abu Sayed Md Rasehdul Haque and among others.
Organizers said that visitors can explore the amazing diversity of dolphins, whales, sharks and other aquatic creatures in Bangladesh's marine waters and to discover why the survival of these threatened oceanic lives in the Bay of Bengal is critical for the continued growth and well-being of our nation.
A short documentary film on “Marine conservation in Bangladesh” by Helal Sujon commissioned by BCAS Bangladesh was screened in the opening ceremony.
The exhibition is open to all from November 1 to 5 from 11am to 8pm.
Dhaka, Nov 1 (AP/UNB) - New evidence about a cancer operation in women finds a higher death rate for the less invasive version, challenging standard practice and the "less is more" approach to treating cervical cancer.
The unexpected findings are prompting changes at some hospitals that perform radical hysterectomies for early-stage disease.
The more rigorous of the two studies was conducted at more than 30 sites in a dozen countries. It found women who had the less invasive surgery were four times more likely to see their cancer return compared to women who had traditional surgery. Death from cervical cancer occurred in 14 of 319 patients who had minimally invasive surgery and 2 of 312 patients who had open surgery.
Results were published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.
Radical hysterectomy is standard treatment for women with early-stage cervical cancer. Rates are declining because of widespread screening. The number of operations has fallen, too, to several thousand a year in the United States. Some women with early-stage cervical cancer are choosing fertility-sparing techniques, treatments not included in the new research.
In both studies, researchers compared two methods for radical hysterectomy, an operation to remove the uterus, cervix and part of the vagina. The surgery costs around $9,000 to $12,000 with the minimally invasive version at the higher end.
Traditional surgery involves a cut in the lower abdomen. In a newer method, a surgeon makes small incisions for a camera and instruments. Patients recover faster, so laparoscopic surgery, which has been around for more than a decade, gained popularity despite a lack of rigorous long-term studies.
It's not clear why it failed to measure up. Experts suspect there may be something about the tools or technique that spreads the cancer cells from the tumor to the abdominal cavity.
Some hospitals went back to traditional hysterectomy after the results were presented at a cancer meeting in March.
"We immediately as a department changed our practice and changed completely to the open approach," said Dr. Pedro Ramirez of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Ramirez led the more rigorous study, which randomly assigned 631 patients to one of two surgeries. After 4½ years, the rate of those still living without disease was 86 percent with less invasive surgery and 96 percent with traditional surgery.
The experiment was halted early last year when the higher death and cancer recurrence rates showed up. The original plan was to enroll 740 patients in the study, which was funded in part by surgical device maker Medtronic.
For 33-year-old Alicia Ackley, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July, the recommendation for traditional surgery came as a surprise, but she followed the advice of her doctor at MD Anderson after hearing about the research. Tests following her September operation show no signs of cancer.
"I'm very glad I went that route," Ackley said. "The open hysterectomy got everything."
The other study looked at 2,461 women with cervical cancer who had radical hysterectomies from 2010 through 2013. It found a 9.1 percent death rate after four years among women who got minimally invasive surgery compared to 5.3 percent for traditional surgery.
"We're rethinking how we approach patients," said study co-author Dr. Jason Wright of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "There's a lot of surprise around these findings."
The research is "a great blow" to the technique and the findings are "alarming," said Dr. Amanda Fader of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. She said Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has stopped doing less invasive hysterectomies for cervical cancer until there is more data.
While some patients with small tumors might do as well with minimally invasive surgery, "surgeons should proceed cautiously" and discuss the new information with patients, Fader wrote in an accompanying editorial.
London, Oct 30 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Sniff dogs could be trained to detect malaria in people infected with the disease even if they are not showing symptoms, according to a new study by Durham University.
"While our findings are at an early stage, in principle we have shown that dogs could be trained to detect malaria infected people by their odor with a credible degree of accuracy," Steven Lindsay, lead researcher from Durham University, said in a press release.
Researchers from the Medical Research Council Unit of The Gambia and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used nylon socks to collect foot odor samples from apparently healthy children aged five to 14 in the Upper River Region of The Gambia in West Africa.
A total of 175 sock samples were tested, including those of 30 malaria-positive children identified by the study using finger-prick tests and 145 from uninfected children.
The sock samples were then transported to Britain where dogs were trained to distinguish between the scent of children infected with malaria parasites and those who were uninfected.
According to the researchers, the dogs were able to correctly identify 70 percent of the malaria-infected samples. They were also able to correctly identify 90 percent of the samples without malaria parasites.
The study, presented Monday at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting in the U.S. city of New Orleans, could potentially lead to the first rapid and non-invasive test for malaria.
The researchers believe that artificial odor sensors might be developed in the future to detect malaria parasites, but until then trained dogs could be a useful alternative at ports of entry.
According to the World Health Organization's latest World Malaria Report, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 2016, an increase of five million cases over the previous year. Deaths reached 445,000, a similar number to the previous year.
Canberra, Oct 30 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The life expectancy of Australian males has hit its highest mark on record, data has revealed.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Tuesday said that the male life expectancy has grown 1.5 years in the last decade to a record-high 80.5 years.
Female life expectancy was 84.6 years, meaning that the life expectancy gap between the two genders continue to shrink.
"Australian males can now expect to live 10.8 years longer than the world average of 69.7 years, according to the United Nations 2015-2020 estimates," ABS Demography Director Anthony Grubb said in a media release on Tuesday.
"Female life expectancy in 2017 remained the same as the previous year (84.6 years) and compares to the global average of 74.3 years," Grubb said.
Australia's male life expectancy has grown by 12.9 years since the 1960s compared to 10.4 years for females.
"Australians have a higher life expectancy than our counterparts in New Zealand, the United Kingdom (Britain) and the USA," Grubb said.
Victoria had the highest life expectancy among the six Australian states and two territories at 81.3 years followed by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) while the reverse was true for females with the ACT leading the way.
The Northern Territory, the smallest of Australia's states and territories by population, had the shortest life expectancy among males and females at 75.9 and 79.4 years, respectively.
However, male life expectancy in the NT grew by 3.5 years in the last decade, comfortably the biggest growth by either gender in any state or territory.