SCIENCE IN THE NEWS #2089 - Digest

By StaffThis is Bob Doughty.And this is Ray Freeman with SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, a VOA Special English program about recent developments in science. Today, we tell about some health differences between men and women. We tell about the health of America's children and old people. And we tell about a deadly form of skin cancer.

A new study has compared the health differences between American men and women. The study found that men in the United States are more likely than women to do things that increase their risk of health problems. For example, American men are more likely than women to smoke cigarettes and drink too much alcohol.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the findings. Tens of thousands of adult Americans provided information for the study. They were questioned by telephone in Nineteen-Ninety-Six and Nineteen-Ninety-Seven.The C-D-C officials say tobacco use is a major cause of sickness and death in the United States. However, the percentage of Americans who smoke has changed little since Nineteen-Ninety-One. About one-fourth of all adult Americans smoke cigarettes. The new study found that about twenty-five percent of the men questioned said they smoked cigarettes. More than twenty-one percent of the women said they smoked.

In the United States, alcohol use is the leading cause of death from liver failure. Drinking alcohol also has been linked with high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The study found that men were almost seven times as likely as women to report drinking alcohol often. More than three times as many men as women reported drinking a lot of alcohol at one time.Experts at the Centers for Disease Control say extra body weight increases the risk of problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers. The new government study also found that about fifty-three percent of adult Americans weigh too much. About sixty percent of the men questioned said they weigh too much. About forty percent of the women reported being overweight. However, the women were more likely to report they did not take part in physical exercise or sports.

The report noted that women were more concerned with safety. Women were more likely than men to report that they always wore a safety belt while riding in a car.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Another government report says the condition of children in the United States is better now than ever before. The report says American children are generally in better health and are less likely to be poor than in past years. The report used information from twenty federal agencies.

The report says there are about seventy-million children under eighteen years of age in the United States. They represent about twenty-six percent of the American population.The report noted a decrease in childhood death rates in the United States. The death rate for children between the ages of one and four years dropped by almost half during the past twenty years. The death rate for children between the ages of five and fourteen decreased by one-third.

Accidents were the leading cause of death among children. Many deaths resulted from motor vehicle crashes. In Nineteen-Ninety-Seven, more than two-thirds of these deaths involved children who were not in special car seats or wearing safety belts at the time of the crash.

The report says fewer American children are living in poor conditions than any time in the past twenty years. It says eighteen percent of American children are living in poverty. The childhood poverty rate has decreased every year since Nineteen-Ninety-Three.The report also notes some good news about teenagers. It says fewer teenagers are having babies. The birth rate for American girls seventeen years of age and younger dropped to the lowest rate ever reported. And the report said the rate of serious violent crimes by young people also continued to decrease. However, the report notes that the rates of young people who drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or use drugs have not changed much in recent years.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))You are listening to the Special English program SCIENCE IN THE NEWS on VOA. This is Bob Doughty with Ray Freeman in Washington.

Another new American government report says most older Americans are living longer and better than ever before. However, the report says many older Americans face physical disability or have health problems. And, it says many of them are poor. Several agencies of the federal government prepared the report.

In the United States, about thirty-five-million people are age sixty-five or older. That represents thirteen percent of the population. The number of older people is expected to increase one-hundred percent in thirty years. The report says people eighty-five years old and older are the fastest growing group in America.The report says the economic situation for most older Americans is improving. The number of poor people has dropped sharply. However, the report notes major differences between the races. It says older black people were more likely to be poor than older white people.

Heart disease, stroke and cancer were the leading causes of death among older people. Death rates for heart disease and stroke have decreased by one-third since Nineteen-Eighty. The rate for cancer has increased slightly. Most older Americans say they are in good or excellent health. But the report says many suffer from memory loss, depression, or other conditions.

Most older people say they are socially active. The report says this may help their physical and emotional health. However, some older Americans make choices that the government says could interfere with their health and independence. These include failure to take part in physical exercise or to receive vaccines to prevent diseases.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Last month, United States Senator John McCain was treated for the most serious kind of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. Doctors removed the cancer in an operation. Later tests showed that the cancer had not spread from the skin to other organs.

Malignant melanoma can be cured if it is removed before it spreads to other parts of the body. But the disease can kill if it spreads.

The World Health Organization says two-hundred-thousand people around the world are found to have malignant melanoma each year. About forty-seven-thousand new cases of melanoma are found in the United States each year. The American Dermatology Association says almost eight-thousand Americans will die this year from the disease.The cancer begins in body cells that produce a brown color. It usually first grows in a dark area of skin called a mole. Melanoma most often is recognized as a dark area with an unusual shape.

An operation to remove the cancerous cells can cure melanoma if the cancer has not spread. Doctors treat melanoma that has spread with chemotherapy drugs to kill any cancer cells that were not removed in the operation. Radiation also may be used to kill cancerous cells and reduce the size of any cancerous growths.Doctors believe too much sunlight can cause melanoma. This is especially true for people who have light skin and were burned by the sun when they were young. Some people are more likely than others to develop melanoma. These include people whose family members had the disease. They also include people who have a large number of moles on their bodies.

Doctors say people should protect their skin from the sun. They should always wear a hat and protective clothing. They should use a sun protection liquid. Doctors also say people should examine their bodies often for any changes in moles or the presence of new dark areas.

This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS program was written by George Grow and Nancy Steinbach. It was produced by George Grow. This is Ray Freeman.And this is Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

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