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For People over 50-years Alcohol may be less Harmful

For people over 50-years Alcohol may Be less harmful

A recent study examines the health impact of consuming alcohol at different ages. The authors conclude that, for people over the age of 50, the health risks may be less severe.

If alcohol does have protective effects, they are not distributed evenly across all ages.

Heavy drinking is linked to a range of serious health consequences.

These include certain cancers, liver and heart disease, and damage to the nervous system, including the brain.

However, as it has been covered in the popular press, drinking in moderation might have certain health benefits.

Recent study have concluded that drinking alcohol at a low level could have a protective effect.

One study, for instance, found that light and moderate drinking protected against all-cause mortality, as well as mortality related to cardiovascular disease.

It is no surprise that these stories have been well-received and widely read, but not all researchers agree, and the debate is ongoing.

A recent study led by Dr. Timothy Naimi, of the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts, adds further fuel to an already rampant blaze.

The authors take aim at the methodology used in earlier studies, and they published their findings in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs earlier this week.

The researchers argue that the way earlier studies measured alcohol’s impact on health might be flawed. Specifically, they note that the studies are generally observational and usually recruit participants over the age of 50.

The authors argue that this is problematic because it excludes anyone who might have died due to alcohol before the age of 50. As they rightly point out, “Deceased persons cannot be enrolled in cohort studies.”

Dr. Naimi first outlined his concerns about this inherent selection bias in a paper published in the journal Addiction in 2017.

“Those who are established drinkers at age 50 are ‘survivors’ of their alcohol consumption who [initially] might have been healthier or have had safer drinking patterns.”

Dr. Timothy Naimi

According to the authors, almost 40 percent of deaths due to alcohol consumption occur before the age of 50.

This means that the vast majority of research into the potential risks of alcohol do not take these deaths into account and could underestimate the real dangers.

To reinvestigate, the authors dipped into data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Application which is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, this application “provides national and state estimates of alcohol-related health impacts, including deaths and years of potential life lost.”

The difference of age

The analysis showed that the level of an individual’s alcohol-related risk was heavily influenced by age.

In total, 35.8% of alcohol-related deaths occurred in people aged 20–49. When looking at deaths that were prevented by alcohol consumption, the scientists found only 4.5 percent in this age group.

When they looked at individuals aged 65 or over, it was a different story: Although a similar 35 percent of alcohol-related deaths occurred in this group, the authors found a huge 80 percent of the deaths prevented by alcohol in this demographic.

READ ALSO: HIV Cure: London patient might be second to be cured of HIV

A worldwide study of alcohol use concludes that the safest level of consumption is zero.

The researchers also saw this stark difference between age groups when they looked at the number of potential years lost to alcohol.

They showed that 58.4 percent of the total number of years lost occurred in those aged 20–49. However, this age group only accounted for 14.5 percent of the years of life saved by drinking.

Conversely, the over-65 group accounted for 15% of the overall years of life lost, but 50% of the years of life saved.

The authors conclude that younger people “are more likely to die from alcohol consumption than they are to die from a lack of drinking,” but older people are more likely to experience the health benefits of moderate drinking.

Although the conclusions are not explosive, they bring us a more complete understanding of alcohol’s impact on health: Moderate drinking may benefit people of a certain age group, but heavy drinking is harmful to all.

1.9 million Nigerians living with HIV – NACA boss.


The Nigerian HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) indicates that about 1.9 million Nigerians are currently living with the disease, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has said.

The Director-General of NACA, Sani Aliyu, said the percentage of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nigeria, among the age group of 15-49 years, is 1.4 per cent (1.9 per cent among females and 0.9 per cent among males.)

He also said viral suppression among PLHIV aged 15 to 49 years old with access to treatment stands at 42.3 per cent (45.3 per cent among women and 34.5 per cent among men).

Tunisia’s mysterious baby deaths rise to 15

An infant died under unclear circumstances at a hospital in Tunisia, bringing the number of unexplained baby deaths at a hospital in the country to 15 since last week, a judicial official said on Wednesday.

Recently, the Tunisian health minister, Abderraouf Cherif, resigned over the deaths at the Rabta hospital in Tunis after 11 newborns were initially reported dead.

The acting Health Minister, Sonia Ben Cheikh, said samples taken from the maternity section at the hospital were being analysed at three laboratories to ascertain the cause of death.

Nigeria improves on HIV ranking, now fourth worst hit country — Minister

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, says Nigeria has moved to the fourth position among countries worst hit by the HIV epidemic.

With an earlier estimate of about 3.2 million people living with HIV, Nigeria was ranked second after South Africa which ranks first with about 7.1 million people living with HIV.

Speaking after the announcement of the Nigeria HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) result on Thursday, Mr Adewole said Nigeria has now moved to the fourth position after South Africa, India and Mozambique following the findings of the survey.

In 2016, a report by the World Health Organisation stated that Nigeria had the second largest HIV epidemic, with over 196,000 adolescents representing 10 per cent of the global burden epidemic.

About 18 Nigerians die of tuberculosis every hour – Expert

At least 18 Nigerians die from Tuberculosis (TB) every hour, a TB expert, Lovett Lawson, has said.

Mr Lawson, the Board Chairman of Stop TB partnership Nigeria, said Nigeria has the highest burden of the disease in Africa and the third highest burden in the world after India and Indonesia.

He lamented that over 75 per cent of Nigerians with the disease are yet to be diagnosed or receive any form of treatment.

This, he blamed on the lack of awareness about the disease among the communities and the social stigma attached to those diagnosed with the ailment.

Prevention, best way to manage kidney diseases

In view of the increasing incidence of kidney diseases, the Renal Dialysis Centre (RDC), Ikeja, Lagos, says the best way to manage the condition is through prevention.

READ ALSO:Tuberculosis (BCG) vaccine not enough protection against TB infection – Experts

John Okoh, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RDC, said that from clinical observations and available statistics, more people were coming down with kidney disease.

Mr Okoh said: “One of the prescribed ways of managing the disease now is actually prevention, protection and early detection and to do the things to keep the kidneys healthy.

More women die from caesarean delivery in Africa – Research

More women die from caesarean delivery in Africa than in high-income countries, a study published in the Lancet medical journal revealed on Friday.

Cesarean section (C-section) is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus.

The study found the maternal mortality rate for C-sections in Africa is substantially higher than expected at 5.43 deaths per 1,000 operations compared to just 0.1 per 1,000 operations in Britain.

“One in six women in Africa also develops complications during surgery, almost three times that of women in the U.S.

WHO urges govts to enforce ban on tobacco adverting

WHO is urging governments to enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at sporting events, including when hosting or receiving broadcasts of Formula 1 and MotoGP events.

WHO also urged all sporting bodies, including Formula 1 and MotoGP, to adopt strong tobacco-free policies that ensure their events are smoke-free and their activities and participants, including race teams, are not sponsored by tobacco companies.

These calls come in the light of tobacco companies establishing new partnerships with motor-racing teams.

WHO urged governments to implement their domestic laws banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in the strongest possible ways? This may include issuing penalties applicable under domestic laws and taking preventative action, such as by preventing the screening of events that violate domestic laws

Tuberculosis (BCG) vaccine not enough protection against TB infection – Experts

Tuberculosis (BCG) vaccine not enough protection against TB infection – Experts

Receiving vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) during childhood does not totally cover an individual from getting infected with the disease, a health expert, Odume Betrand has said.

Bacilli Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is the vaccine for the prevention of TB and often administered to children at birth. However, there are some exceptional cases where people who had received the vaccines still get infected with the disease.

This could explain the reasons why there are TB cases recorded even among children or people who were given BCG vaccines at birth.

Mr Betrand, senior programme specialist, TB/HIV, United State Centre for Disease Control, said the vaccine would only reduce the severity of the disease, if contacted, because some people already have latent TB.

He said if a person is coughing for more than two weeks, they should suspect TB and go for a test. The test and treatment is free, in government facilities.

‘Investing in research’

The specialist, at the Pre World TB Day in Abuja last Thursday, said lots of new TB can be prevented with early diagnosis if people present their cases to the health facilities on time.

He lamented that Nigeria ranks at one of the highest prevalent TB countries that are still taking about detecting and treatment of the disease, while many developed countries are beginning to talk about preventive means to stop the disease.

“Receiving the BCG vaccine as a child might not deter an individual from getting infected with TB. It can only cause the infection to be mild and not as severe as in people who did not receive the vaccine”.

He said TB prevention is necessary to ending TB, globally. Mr Betrand said there is a frontline target issue around vaccine, for the prevention of TB.

“We cannot talk about ending TB without a candidate vaccine. We need to be talking about investing in the research on vaccine. There are many on-going TB vaccine researches, but none has been certified,” he said.

TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer.

Each day, nearly 4500 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.

The national professional officer, TB, Ayodele Awe, said there is a need to raise awareness on TB in Nigeria in other to find most of the missing cases.

He said for this to be achieved, the media has a lot of work to do in the eradication of the TB in the country.

“We need the media to rise up to the task of raising awareness and enlightenment on TB in Nigeria. Most people do not know the symptoms of the disease. This has also affected their health seeking behaviour.

“TB is diagnosable, treatable and curable, but the burden of the disease in Nigeria is further fuelled by the huge number of missing cases, which serve as a pool of reservoir for the continuous transmission of the disease.

“The only way to arrest them is when they present themselves to the health facilities for treatment.”

Mr Awe said the theme for this year’s world TB day in Nigeria is “It is time –with the slogan, ‘enough is enough’”.

“We have been on this business for a long time. I have been working on TB in Nigeria for 30 years and we kept getting same report. We are meant to be detecting 400,000 TB cases yearly but we are only reporting 100,000, meaning we are missing 300,000 cases, each year.

“Every TB case not detected can be a risk to 10 to 15 persons. TB causes ill health for approximately 10 million people each year.

“The federal government and partners have provided about 300 health centres where TB can be treated and the treatment is free. Unfortunately, only about 27 per cent of Nigerians know the symptoms of the disease. We need the press to educate people on the disease and take it serious just like the way you did with Ebola and HIV. You need to do so for TB too.”

Mr Awe lamented that the limited diagnosis machine was part of the reason why Nigeria has been missing lots of cases. He said there is a need to improve diagnosing TB in the country because the common methods – microscopic slide test and culture of sputum samples- is no longer effective, and, therefore, misses lots of cases.

“We have 774 local governments in Nigeria and barely all of them do not have the geneXpert machine to diagnose TB. We only have two mobile TB trucks for TB diagnosis and treatments. That is not enough for a country as big as Nigeria. If every state can have at least one mobile TB truck, it will go a long way to fight TB,” he said.

Drug-resistant TB

Speaking on effort government is making in finding the missing cases, Adebola Lawanson, National Coordinator, National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Buruli-Ulcer Control Programme, said OPD screening for TB has been instituted and is currently being scaled up to include all health facilities in the country.

She also lamented the proportion of TB missing cases among children as the country was able to notify only seven per cent of estimated TB cases in 2017.

“The increasing pool of drug resistant TB in the country continues to be a major threat to the control of TB in Nigeria. Nigeria is sixth high Multi-Drug Resistance –TB (MDR-TB) burden countries and is among 10 countries that accounted for 75 per cent of the incidence treatment enrolment gap for DRTB globally,” she said.

Ms Lawanson, however, said the major challenge for finding missing cases is the low awareness among people about the disease.

She said there are only 394 diagnosis machines in 315 local government Areas out of 774 LGAs in Nigeria.

“TB diagnosis is also a challenge as Xpert MTB/RIF, which is the first line of test for the diagnosis of TB in the country, has a coverage of 41 per cent,” she said

#AHAIC2019: Nigerian delegation holds session to bridge child, family health funding gaps


To bridge financial gaps of Child and Family Health, the Nigerian delegation at the 2019 Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) is holding a session this afternoon, the second day of the event.

The Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) in collaboration with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPPS led the Nigerian delegation for the conference holding at the Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda.

Themed ‘2030 Now: Multi-sectoral Action to Achieve Universal Health Coverage in Africa’, the three-day event is co-hosted by Amref Health Africa and the Ministry of Health of Rwanda.

Speakers at the opening ceremony of the conference yesterday included Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health of Rwanda; Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa among others. They expounded the urgency of accelerating efforts to reach Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in African countries by 2030.

According to Bill and Melinda gates Foundation, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth and 4th country with the worst maternal mortality rate.

This is majorly because of poor funding for health.

Nigeria hosted the 2001 conference now known as “the Abuja Declaration”, where African leaders pledged at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to their health sectors.

But this is yet to become a reality today in Nigeria. The highest percentage since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95% of the budget was allotted to health.

Also, the joy that the Basic Health Care Provision Fund – a major funding mandate of the National Health Act was added to the 2018 annual budget was short-lived.

To date, funds appropriated under the 2018 and Q1 of the budget for BHCPF have not been released. Also, the BHCPF has not yet been made a Statutory Transfer, meaning there is no guarantee of its continuity.

On the other hand, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is supposed to lead the charge in reducing out-of-pocket spending on health services is Stifled by administrative, legal, political and technical encumbrances coupled with a poor social accountability implementation framework.

It is against this backdrop that the Nigerian delegates led by DRPC and NIPPS would be holding today’s panel session.

Nasirdeen Usman, the Secretary General of the Alumni association of NIPSS, would head the panel discussion themed ‘Unlocking the potentials of Universal Health Coverage as a domestic resource base to meet child and family health funding gaps in Nigeria’, by 3:45pm. at AD 4 hall inside the Kigali convention center.

A series of strategic engagements and panel discussions would follow until 5:10p.m. When organizers planned to wrap up the session.

Those expected to participate in the session among others include Enyantu Ifenne, Chairperson NHIS; Dogo Muhammad Waziri, Past Executive Secretary NHIS; Kyauta Bulus Tanyigna (NIPPS); Nneka Orji-Achugo, Health Economist at the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health among others.

Lanre Tejuoso, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health is also expected to be at the session.

3:50 Kigali Time: 2:50 Nigerian Time – Nasirdeen Usman, the Secretary General of NIPPs, the anchor of this afternoon’s session takes stage.

First to be welcomed on the high table by Mr. Usman is Mr. Tejuoso who played a significant role that saw to the approval of the BHCPF in the Nigerian budget for the first time in 2018.

He was followed by Mrs Ifenne, the chairperson of the NHIS governing council and Mr. Mohammad-Dogo, a former Executive Secretary of the scheme. Other panelists are now on stage.

Mr Usman starts by reeling out the grim statistics of the NHIS coverage in Nigeria. He says only 5 percent of Nigerians are covered under the NHIS. Of that 5 percent he said only 4 are in the formal sector with only one percent in the informal sector.

“It is as bad as that. In view of this we want to interrogate why we still have serious deficit in our journey to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

He says Nigeria is falling behind in achieving the 15 percent commitment of the Abuja Declaration.

The first part of the discussion starts with the policy angle of achieving UHC.

Kyauta Bulus Tanyigna of the NIPPS sets the ball rolling on the policy discussion.

Mr Tanyigna, a professor says the role of policy in achieving UHC is very fundamental. He goes down memory lane when President Abulsalami Abubakar signed policy for the UHC. The coming of the Olusegun Obasanjo regime he said heralded the inception of the NHIS.

He says all these where achieved through policies but “we are yet to make reasonable progress in implementation.”

He speaks about the percent allotted to health in the Nigerian annual budget. He listed some African countries that have achieved the 15 per cent Abuja declaration.

READ MORE:Why did we keep silent for so long? Nun condemns Catholic church over clerical abuse

He says through good policies, the 15 percent benchmark is achievable and can also chart the road-map in achieving UHC.

Senator Tejuoso speaks for the first time. He says to achieve UHC has been a tough road in the senate. He says there so many unimplemented laws in Nigeria.

He explains the pivotal role he played in the implementation of the National Health Act. “First of all I had to educate and lobby my colleagues on the need for health financing. I started with the senate president. i told them let us consider the Basic health Provision Fund.

“In 2016 and 2017, nothing happened, but in 2018 per advocacy amplified. With help of PACFAH we formed what we called the legislative network. We were able to bring in so many legislators and it was the game changer.”

The BHCPF is the fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act and was appropriated for the first time in the 2018 budget since the Act was signed in 2014.

Oyo sets pace in mandatory health insurance

Access to health care

Access to health care remains a challenge in Nigeria. This single challenge has escalated high rates of child and maternal mortality and morbidity across the country. Although 14 years ago, the country worked towards improving access in its bid to achieve universal health coverage established the National health insurance, NHIS, sadly, less than 5 percent of Nigerians are covered under the scheme. However, despite the NHIS failure, many states including Lagos, Kwara, amongst others have also established their own state’s health insurance following successes recorded in improved healthcare by most countries of the world. Unlike at the national level, one state that is making a different in health insurance currently is the Oyo State where the citizens are currently enjoying mandatory but affordable health insurance system.

In Oyo, beneficiaries can pay as low as N8, 000 to get enrolled in the scheme. To ensure a successful scheme, Oyo State Health Insurance Agency developed different healthcare plans to cover all categories of residents of the state in order to ensure that they have access to good healthcare services. These plans include: standard plan which is designed with the aim of achieving universal health coverage. It is designed for formal sector, Informal sector, vulnerable group like pregnant women, children under five, prisoners, retirees & aged, communities & rural dwellers. The top-up plan which is for two different categories of standard plus & standard peak are to provide alternatives for the formal sector segment and to generate subsidy for the vulnerable group. HEALTH AGENDA: NMA organizes debate for Lagos governorship candidates The students & tertiary institutions plan is also ages 5-18 and segments of the populace in tertiary institutions.

According to the Executive Secretary, Oyo State Health Insurance Scheme Agency, OYSHIA, Dr Olusola Akande the rationale behinds the government commitment to health insurance in the state was to improve health service utilization as well as provide financial protection against huge medical bills among citizens of the state. The Oyo State Health Insurance was established in 2015 and passed into law November 2016, assented to by Governor Abiola Ajimobi in December, 2016 and flagged off on 25th May, 2017. The scheme was also through legal frame work made mandatory for all residence of the state. Speaking recently during a two day media dialogue organized by United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF in collaboration with the State Ministry of Information, Akande said: “We have lots of testimonies from beneficiaries since the scheme started. It makes patients to see their doctors when nothing is wrong with them and also improve their health seeking behaviour,” he said. Noting that there was a very strong connection between Social Health Insurance and community empowerment, he said over 100,000 people has been enrolled in the mandatory scheme. Stating that the over 10,000 children less than 5 years and pregnant women are on the scheme, he disclosed that 350 vaginal deliveries and 78 Caesarean sessions carried have been carried out under the scheme. “We are upgrading the facilities in the state. Already, Primary Healthcare Centers accredited for the scheme have been fully upgraded to offer best quality healthcare services to the people, he added. He further explained that OYSHIA is being funded with 2 percent consolidated fund from the State’s

Internally Generated Revenue, IGR. Akande said they are also procuring grants, premium, and philanthropy, adding that the scheme has been rated very high in terms of performance. He stated that the agency would not relent in making sure that the people of the state enjoy quality healthcare without spending their last savings on medical bills. Speaking, a UNICEF Health Specialist, Dr. Adebola Hassan said health insurance is very necessary to prevent avoidable death particularly among children. Adebola in a presentation tagged: Leaving No Child Behind”, added that the benefits of health insurance are enormous particularly in attaining UHC

HIV Cure: London patient might be second to be cured of HIV


A second person has experienced sustained remission from HIV-1. Some scientists believe that the “London patient” has been cured of the viral infection, which affects close to 37 million people worldwide.

The new case report comes more than 10 years after the first case, known as the “Berlin patient.” Both patients were treated with stem cell transplants from donors who carried a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5-delta 32, that made them resistant to HIV. The London patient has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” said Ravindra Gupta, lead author of the study and a professor in University College London’s Division of Infection and Immunity.

READ MORE:FDA approves two new HIV oral drugs

Gupta added that the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies. He and his colleagues will continue to monitor the man’s condition, as it is still too early to say that he has been cured of HIV.

Almost 1 million people die annually from HIV-related causes. Treatment for HIV involves medications that suppress the virus, known as antiretroviral therapy, which people with HIV need to take for their entire lives.

2 men face trial over alleged operation of fake clinic, impersonation

Two men, Paul Kahomen and Ettenne Hounsa, who allegedly set-up a clinic and impersonated as doctors, appeared before an Ogudu Magistrates’ Court in Lagos. The defendants, Kahomen, 30, and Hounsa, 20, who both reside at Ferry Street, Oworonshoki, Lagos, are facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, unlawful possession of medical instruments/drugs and impersonation.

Read More: Why Lagos health insurance scheme is mandatory for residents

However, they pleaded not guilty to the charge. The Police Prosecutor, Insp. Lucky Ihiehie, had told the court that the defendants committed the offense on February. 4 at the Oworonshoki area of Lagos. Ihiehie said the defendants were found with medical instruments and drug.

Furthermore, they operated an illegal clinic, where they admit patients, carry out abortions, administer dangerous pills and deliver pregnant women of their babies. This practice had resulted in the death of many innocent people,’ he said.

Why Lagos health insurance scheme is mandatory for residents

Why make the state’s health insurance scheme mandatory when some residents are already under the NHIS?
For those contributing to the NHIS, we are not going to force them to join us as it might create unnecessary problems out there. We are going to focus on the people who don’t have at all. And most of the people contributing are in the formal sector because it is easier to get their contribution.

How do you intend to take care of those in the informal sector, since they are not on salary?
The pay is flexible, but if an enrollee fails to contribute on time, it is going to affect other people. If you want to pay monthly or quarterly, there are provisions for that. We have to be reasonably sure that enrollees will pay or else they would be cheating other people. After breakdown, the entire amount went to as low as N500 per person per month. This is so because we do not want a situation where a person has to fall ill before visiting the health facility or paying his/her premium. Doing so would defeat the whole essence of the scheme.

READ MORE:Six states to benefit from N23.3b UK malaria intervention project

What becomes of residents of rural and riverine communities, who do not have public and private healthcare facilities in their domain?
We have about 120 wards in the state with no public primary healthcare facilities at all. We also know that our budget can’t cover all those places because of many things we need to do. In those communities, there are private facilities and there is a payment scheme in the works, at least when they provide services to the people, the healthcare providers are sure of getting paid, which is what the insurance scheme is going to ensure.

Smoking more than 20 cigarettes daily can damage your vision

Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day can damage your vision, a study co-authored by a Rutgers researcher finds.
The research appears in the journal Psychiatry Research.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 34.3 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes and that more than 16 million live with a smoking-related disease, many of which affect the cardiovascular system.

The study included 71 healthy people who smoked fewer than 15 cigarettes in their lives and 63, who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day, were diagnosed with tobacco addiction and reported no attempts to stop smoking. The participants were between the ages of 25 and 45 and had normal or corrected-to-normal vision as measured by standard visual acuity charts.

READ MORE: What are the Causes of Unemployment in Nigeria?

The researchers looked at how participants discriminated contrast levels (subtle differences in shading) and colors while seated 59 inches from a 19-inch cathode-ray tube monitor that displayed stimuli while researchers monitored both eyes simultaneously.

The findings indicated significant changes in the smokers’ red-green and blue-yellow color vision, which suggests that consuming substances with neurotoxic chemicals, such as those in cigarettes, may cause overall color vision loss.

They also found that the heavy smokers had a reduced ability to discriminate contrasts and colors when compared to the non-smokers.

“Cigarette smoke consists of numerous compounds that are harmful to health, and it has been linked to a reduction in the thickness of layers in the brain, and to brain lesions, involving areas such as the frontal lobe, which plays a role in voluntary movement and control of thinking, and a decrease in activity in the area of the brain that processes vision,” said co-author Steven Silverstein, director of research at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.

“Previous studies have pointed to long-term smoking as doubling the risk for age-related macular degeneration and as a factor causing lens yellowing and inflammation. Our results indicate that excessive use of cigarettes, or chronic exposure to their compounds, affects visual discrimination, supporting the existence of overall deficits in visual processing with tobacco addiction.”

Although the research did not give a physiological explanation for the results, Silverstein said that since nicotine and smoking harm the vascular system, the study suggests they also damage blood vessels and neurons in the retina.

Silverstein said the findings also suggest that research into visual processing impairments in other groups of people, such as those with schizophrenia who often smoke heavily, should take into account their smoking rate or independently examine smokers versus non-smokers.

‘Why did we keep silent for so long? Nun condemns Catholic church over clerical abuse

A nun has condemned the Catholic Church’s hierarchy for its failure to tackle the scourge of clerical sexual abuse, saying leaders must concede that their “mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency” has brought the church to a “disgraceful place”.

In her speech, delivered at the Vatican’s unprecedented summit on the issue, Sister Veronica Openibo from Nigeria said the church was in a state of “crisis and shame”.

“We proclaim the Ten Commandments and parade ourselves as being the custodians of moral standards, values and good behaviour in society,” she said. “Hypocrites at times? Yes. Why did we keep silent for so long?”

READ ALSO:Smoking more than 20 cigarettes daily can damage your vision

Openibo, one of only three women to address the event, went on to say the scandal had “seriously clouded the grace of the Christ-mission”.

“Is it possible for us to move from fear of scandal to truth? How do we remove the masks that hide our sinful neglect?” she said.

Vatican abuse summit shines light on long fight for justice

Read more: No More Doctors’ Strike Without Permission – NMA

She said that while preparing her speech, she recalled the sadness felt after watching the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, which told the story of the Boston Globe journalists whose investigation exposed sexual abuse of minors by clergy and showed how most of the accused priests were simply moved to other parishes.

“How could the clerical church have kept silent, covering these atrocities?” she asked. “The silence, the carrying of the secrets in the hearts of the perpetrators, the length of the abuses and the constant transfers of perpetrators are unimaginable.”

Openibo, who has worked in Africa, Europe and the US, said: “Too often we want to keep silent until the storm has passed,” she said. “This storm will not pass by. Our credibility is at stake.”

Opening the event on Thursday, Pope Francis said church leaders had a responsibility to deal effectively with the crimes of priests who rape and molest children and called for “efficient and concrete measures” to be established.

The pontiff and the 190 bishops and cardinals in attendance watched videotaped testimony from survivors of abuse telling of their trauma and the cruel indifference shown by church leaders.

One woman from Africa told the summit that a priest who had begun raping her at age 15 forced her to have three abortions, and beat her when she refused him sex. A survivor from Chile told the bishops and religious superiors they had inflicted even more pain on survivors by discrediting them and protecting priests who abused.

A list of 21 “reflection points” written by the pope is expected to provide the basis for the development of new anti-abuse procedures for bishops.

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