This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special
English. I'm Bob Doughty.
I'm Barbara Klein. This week, we tell
about deaths around the world linked to drinking alcohol. We tell about a new discovery that chimps get
the disease AIDS. And we tell better
news about overfishing around the world.
Canadian study says drinking alcohol is linked to one in every twenty-five
deaths around the world. Alcohol was
linked to deaths caused by accidents, injuries and violence. It was also linked to medical conditions like
heart disease, liver disease and cancer.
study was released in a series of articles published in the Lancet. It found that almost four percent of deaths
around the world in two thousand four were linked to drinking alcohol. The
study also found that alcohol drinking disabled a large number of people around
the world. It was responsible for more
than four and one-half percent of all the years people lived with disability. The study concludes that the worldwide health
effects from drinking are about the same as that of smoking nine years
One of the researchers was Jurgen Rehm. He works at the Center for Addiction and
Mental Health in Toronto, Canada. Mister
Rehm says the average person around the world has about twelve alcoholic drinks
a week. One drink equals a bottle or can of beer, a medium glass of wine or a
very small glass of liquor.
However, the amount of
alcohol that people drink is different around the world. For example, people in Europe drink the most
alcohol, about twenty-two drinks a week. People drink the lowest amount in eastern
Mediterranean countries, about one drink a week.
alcohol drinking is rare in many parts of the world, including Muslim countries
and India. Mister Rehm said the high
death rate is even more surprising because the large majority of adults around
the world do not drink alcohol at all. This
is often because of religious or cultural reasons.
study found that alcohol-related deaths were highest in Europe -- one in ten. Within Europe, the former Soviet Union
countries had the highest rate. In
Russia, about one in seven deaths were linked to alcohol. The report said these risks are also
increasing in developing countries, especially Asian countries like China and
Earlier studies have shown a positive effect of
moderate drinking, especially of wine, on heart health. But Mister Rehm said heavier drinking can
lead to heart disease. Drinking large
amounts of alcohol over long periods of time has also been linked to a number
of cancers. These include cancers of the
head and neck, esophagus, breast and colon.
The researchers say two kinds of
alcohol drinking affect health. They are
the amount a person drinks on average and heavy drinking at one time, called
"binge drinking." Jurgen Rehm said having
one or two drinks a day is not as harmful as having seven drinks at once. And he said it is better to drink alcohol
Mister Rehm suggested that countries where alcohol is a
problem should take action. He says they
should make alcohol more costly and harder to get. This would result in people drinking smaller
amounts that are not as harmful.
study showed the effects of alcohol drinking on road deaths. Researchers studied one hundred seventy-eight
countries. They found that between
thirty and forty percent of road deaths are caused by drinking alcohol. Experts
from the World Health Organization said drunk driving is more than a law
enforcement issue. It is also a public
Many scientists have long
believed that non-human primates were the source of the human immunodeficiency virus, H.I.V. They believe the simian immunodeficiency virus, S.I.V., probably crossed from chimpanzees to humans in
the last one hundred years. H.I.V. in
humans can cause AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It weakens the
body's natural defense system against disease. Scientists have believed that
S.I.V. did not cause a similar immune system problem for primates. Now, researchers say they have evidence that
chimpanzees with S.I.V. suffer a condition like AIDS.
Beatrice Hahn is a
professor of medicine and microbiology at the University of Alabama in
Birmingham. She is an expert in the development and genetics of immune
deficiency viruses in primates. Her team spent nine years studying ninety-four
chimps in Gombe National Park in Tanzania. The chimps are among a group that
Jane Goodall and her team have been studying since the nineteen sixties.
Doctor Hahn and her team
gathered liquid and solid waste from chimpanzees in the park. They tested the
material for genetic information to identify the virus in two chimp
Seventeen chimps were
found to be infected with S.I.V. Seven of them died of the disease or
disappeared and were believed to have died.
day, a team of researchers followed one of the ninety-four chimps. Doctor Hahn says the scientists discovered
that infected chimps were ten to sixteen times more likely to die in any given
year than uninfected chimps. She says
infected females were three times less likely to have babies. Four babies were
born to infected mothers, but all of these babies died during their first
scientists found the strongest evidence of AIDS in studies of tissue from the
chimps that died. Animal doctor Karen Terio of the University of Illinois
carried out some of those examinations. She says the chimpanzee tissue showed a severe loss of immune system
cells. She said they looked similar to
tissue from human patients who had died of AIDS.
Hahn notes that chimpanzees are ninety-eight percent genetically identical to
humans. She says the discovery that chimps can develop AIDS may help
researchers understand the disease in humans.
Hahn says she suspects chimps first got infected with S.I.V. much longer than
one hundred years ago. She believes the chimp virus infection is not quite as
damaging as H.I.V. is in humans. The difference is the way the virus damages
tissue. She suspects that chimps may be
a step ahead of humans in how their bodies deal with the virus. The research was published in the journal
years ago, a study of overfishing led to sharp debate. It warned that the
world's ocean fish could be almost gone by the middle of the century. Now, a
new study offers more hope. It shows that the risk of fisheries collapse has
recently decreased in some areas, but not all.
Worm at Dalhousie University in Canada and Ray Hilborn at the University of
Washington in Seattle were lead authors of the new study. They led a team that
studied ten areas. In five of them, the rate at which fish are being taken out
of the sea has dropped to a level that should let the populations recover.
Three areas still had overfishing, but corrective measures have begun.
in all, almost two-thirds of fish populations studied worldwide still need
rebuilding. Only two areas did not have
an overfishing problem in either the new study or the earlier one. They are New
Zealand and the American state of Alaska.
The new study found that overfishing has been reduced
in Canada's Newfoundland-Labrador area and in Iceland and southern Australia.
It also found improvements in the northeastern United States and the California
Current that flows south along the West Coast. The study found that better
controls are still needed in the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Bay of
Biscay between France and Spain.
methods can help reduce overfishing. They include using nets that let smaller
fish escape and agreeing not to fish in certain areas. The study showed that these measures helped
fish populations grow in Kenya. The findings from two years of research appeared
in the journal Science.
This SCIENCE IN
THE NEWS was written by Marisel Salazar, Caty Weaver and Jeri Watson. Brianna
Blake was the producer. I'm Bob
I'm Barbara Klein. For transcripts, MP3s
and podcasts of our shows, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. You can
also post comments about our programs. Listen
again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of