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How we commute associated with cancer and mortality risk

A recent study suggests that in comparison with those who cycle or take the train, people who drive to work have higher rates of cancer, death from heart disease, and total death from all causes.Share on PinterestNew research examines the associations between different types of commute and cancer and mortality risk.Traveling to work by car…



A recent study suggests that in comparison with those who cycle or take the train, people who drive to work have higher rates of cancer, death from heart disease, and total death from all causes.Share on PinterestNew research examines the associations between different types of commute and cancer and mortality risk.Traveling to work by car is worse for your health than cycling, walking, or taking the train, according to a large study spanning 25 years in England and Wales.Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, both in the United Kingdom, tracked the outcomes of more than 300,000 commuters between 1991 and 2016.They tapped into data from the Office for National Statistics’s Longitudinal Study, which collates information on people in England and Wales from several sources, including a national census that takes place every 10 years, cancer diagnoses, and death registrations.The study, which appears in The Lancet Planetary Health, compared commuting by “private motorized vehicle,” public transport, walking, and cycling in terms of cancer incidence and mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality.The researchers adjusted the results for other factors known to influence health, including age, sex, housing tenure, marital status, socioeconomic status, and deprivation.They also made adjustments for ethnicity, university education, car access, population density, long-term illness, and year of entering the study.Cyclists fared best in the analysis. Compared with those who drove to work, cyclists had an 11% lower rate of cancer diagnosis and a 16% lower rate of death from cancer. They also had a 24% lower rate of death from cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower rate of death from all causes.However, only 3% of commuters cycled to work during the course of the study. On average, 11% of people walked, 18% used public transport, and 67% drove.The researchers say that their results suggest that increased walking and cycling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic could reduce deaths from heart disease and cancer. “As large numbers of people begin to return to work as the COVID-19 lockdown eases, it is a good time for everyone to rethink their transport choices,” says Dr. Richard Patterson from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, who led the research. “With severe and prolonged limits in public transport capacity likely, switching to private car use would be disastrous for our health and the environment. Encouraging more people to walk and cycle will help limit the longer term consequences of the pandemic.”Compared with driving, walking to work was associated with a 7% reduced rate of cancer diagnosis. However, walking was not associated with significant reductions in the rate of death from cancer or heart disease. The researchers say that this may be because people who walk to work tend to be less affluent than those who drive and are more likely to have underlying health conditions. They say that they may not have fully accounted for these “confounding variables” in their analysis.The picture was more clear-cut for rail commuters. In comparison with drivers, they had a 12% reduced rate of cancer diagnosis, a 21% reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 10% reduced rate of death from all causes.The authors attribute the worse health outcomes for drivers to lack of exercise rather than to increased exposure to air pollution. In their paper, they cite research suggesting that while the concentration of pollutants can be higher inside cars than outside, the increased breathing rate of pedestrians and cyclists means that they inhale larger amounts. But research has shown physical activity to improve health in several ways, they write, including reducing all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. “Our study did not consider which mechanisms were at play, as we did not have data on these factors,” Dr. Patterson told Medical News Today. “However, other research suggests that physical activity is likely to be the predominant mechanism when compared with air pollution.”In addition to exercise and air pollutant levels, factors such as noise and stress might also have contributed to the health effects of different modes of commuting.Interestingly, the research showed that there were no significant health benefits associated with taking the bus to work compared with driving. Dr. Patterson said that one possible reason for this was that while train commuters are likely to benefit from walking relatively large distances to the nearest train station, bus stops tend to be much closer together, making it possible for most people to reach one in a shorter distance.In addition, the researchers note that people who commute by train are, on average, likely to be more affluent than bus users. Their analysis may not have fully accounted for this potential confounding factor.Another limitation of the study was that it was unable to take into account differences in the participants’ diet, whether or not they smoked, levels of other physical activity, and underlying health conditions.Overall, however, the researchers say that their results are in keeping with other studies that demonstrate the health benefits of cycling and walking.Dr. Anthony Laverty, who is from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and the senior author of the study, welcomed efforts in the U.K. to avoid a rebound in road use after the easing of lockdown restrictions.“It’s great to see that the government is providing additional investment to encourage more walking and cycling during the post-lockdown period,” he says. “While not everyone is able to walk or cycle to work, the government can support people to ensure that beneficial shifts in travel behavior are sustained in the longer term. Additional benefits include better air quality, which has improved during lockdown, and reduced carbon emissions, which is crucial to address the climate emergency.”
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Australian, Briton killed in Solomon Islands blast




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The bomb blast occurred in the capital Honiara

Two men working for an aid agency which helps dispose of unexploded bombs have been killed in an explosion in the Solomon Islands.Briton Stephen Atkinson and Australian Trent Lee were employees of Norwegian People’s Aid.The blast took place in a residential part of the capital Honiara on Sunday. The Solomon Islands, a WW2 battleground in the South Pacific, are littered with thousands of unexploded bombs.The Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) described the explosion as a “tragic accident”. Its Deputy Secretary General Per Nergaard said an “investigation needs to be completed before there can be a conclusion on the cause of events”.The organisation’s Secretary General Henriette Killi Westhrin added that it was “devastated by what has happened”. Lee had described himself as a Chemical Weapons Advisor on his Facebook page, adding that his role was “to survey and locate the items, then hand information over [to] the Solomon Islands Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal team”.This was confirmed by a statement from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force who said that the survey team typically goes out first to confirm the location of unexploded ordnances before relaying the information to them. According to the NPA, they were assisting the government in developing a centralised database “that gives an overview of the extensive amounts of explosive remnants of war contamination dating from the Second World War”.Workers had been in the capital Honiara clearing sites of bombs ahead of the 2023 Pacific Games.

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Vaccine Tracker

An effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is everyone’s hope for a real return to normal life. More than 100 teams of scientists around the world are working to develop and test a vaccine against the virus SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible. They’re employing a huge variety of strategies and technologies, including some…




An effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is everyone’s hope for a real return to normal life. More than 100 teams of scientists around the world are working to develop and test a vaccine against the virus SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible. They’re employing a huge variety of strategies and technologies, including some that have never been used in an approved vaccine before.

“It’s a very fascinating and kind of impressive effort,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“It’s absolutely crucial.”
Even in countries that have had a devastating number of deaths from COVID-19, there is nowhere close to a level of “herd immunity” within the population preventing the disease from spreading exponentially if we go back to normal levels of social interaction, she said.

How far are we from the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccine?

Typically, it takes an average of more than 10 years for a vaccine to get from pre-clinical development (including animal testing) through three phases of clinical (human) trials to market registration.

The process has been fast-tracked for COVID-19. The first human vaccine trials began in March, just two months after the virus and disease were identified. And different phases of human trials are being run in an overlapping fashion instead of one at time — for example, Phase 2 might begin just a few weeks after the start of a six-month Phase 1 trial.

Still, officials, including the World Health Organization, have reassured the public that no steps will be skipped. That’s why Russia drew fierce criticism when it announced in mid-August that it was granting regulatory approval to a vaccine developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology after less than two months of human testing, with only two incomplete Phase 1 trials registered with the WHO.

Canada has a notably large number of vaccine candidates registered with the World Health Organization — at least eight.

Candidate vaccines in clinical trials

Multiple vaccines on the horizon?

Most vaccine candidates that make it to preclinical testing never make it to market (about 94 per cent fail, a 2013 study found). But in this case, with so many different vaccines under development, there may still end up being multiple vaccines for the coronavirus, possibly using different strategies, Saxinger predicts.

There are a number of potential advantages if that happens:
They’d be using different ingredients and manufacturing facilities and wouldn’t be competing for resources — allowing for more vaccine production.
Different vaccines have different pros and cons. Some vaccines require more doses to be effective than others, while ease of manufacturing, testing and distribution varies.
Some vaccines may be more suitable for some populations than others, due to factors such as age or genetics.
Stephen Barr is associate professor of microbiology and immunology who is part of a COVID-19 vaccine development team at at Western University in London, Ont. He noted that the “best” vaccine in the end may not be best for everybody. “But the second one might be, for those that don’t respond, right? So it’s always good to have these backup vaccines as well or vaccines that can be used in parallel around the world.”

Many teams are working on a COVID-19 vaccine using technologies that have been in development for decades, but have never yet been approved for wide-scale human use, such as DNA, RNA, and viral-vector vaccines. Many of those candidates are considered very promising, garnering huge amounts of funding and billions of preorders from some countries. In August, Canada announced deals to reserve millions of doses of RNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, and also from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.

Whole virus vaccines

These are the most traditional types of vaccine. They’ve been used for a long time, and most of us have had these kinds of vaccines.

Inactivated virus

In this case, the virus is grown in large quantities in cells, and then killed, often with a chemical, which is usually formaldehyde, but heat or radiation can also be used. Two kinds of flu vaccines are made this way, grown in either chicken eggs or mammalian cells.

Unlike live virus vaccines, it can even be given to people with weakened immune systems.
It doesn’t lead to as strong an immune response as a live virus. Several doses, including boosters at regular intervals, are usually necessary.
It requires the virus to be grown in large quantities and that can take time and may not be as easy to scale up as other kinds of vaccines.

Live, attenuated virus

In this case, viruses are also grown in cells, but instead of being killed they’re genetically “weakened” so they can’t infect cells and reproduce as effectively. Traditionally, this was done by getting the virus to grow in and adapt to an environment different than the one they normally infect. That’s the approach used for vaccines such as varicella (chicken pox) or yellow fever. The SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates of this type use a high-tech genetic engineering approach called “codon deoptimization,” where the virus is rebuilt from scratch, incorporating targeted mutations that weaken it. None of these vaccine prototypes for COVID-19 have made it to human trials.

Similar to real infection and usually provides long-lasting protection — sometimes lifelong — after one dose.
May not be suitable for people with weakened immune systems, long-term health problems, or people who’ve had organ transplants.
Live viruses need to be refrigerated, making them more difficult to transport and unusable in countries without access to refrigeration.
The virus must be grown in large quantities. That can take time and it may not be easy to scale up.

Vaccines that target part of a virus

These types of vaccines don’t contain entire viruses. They present parts of viruses, such as proteins or sugars, to your immune system to help it learn to recognize the virus and build an immune response.

In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the part of the virus that’s typically targeted is the spike or “S” protein — the projections on its outer coat that make it look like a crown under a microscope (“corona” means “crown.”) That’s the protein the virus uses to bind to human cells, allowing it to enter.

What varies among different vaccine candidates is the way they make the spike protein and get it into the body — it may be injected directly, transported by a “carrier” virus that doesn’t cause disease, or it may be manufactured by the human body itself using instructions encoded in DNA or RNA.

Virus-like particles

These are a special class of subunit vaccines, where the proteins are self-assembled into artificial particles that are intended to look like viruses to the human immune system. They bind to and enter cells like a virus, which is different from the way individual protein subunits do.

Some vaccines on the market that use VLPs include vaccines for HPV (human papilloma virus) and Hepatitis B.

Produce a stronger immune response than regular subunit vaccines.
Production is much faster than for traditional vaccines.
Ensuring stability and purification can add to production time.
Can be hard to produce in large quantities.

Non-replicating viral vector

Viral vectors are “carrier” viruses that don’t cause the disease you’re vaccinating against, such as COVID-19, but can be engineered to carry a piece of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Non-replicating viral vectors are viruses that have been genetically engineered so they can’t replicate and cause disease. Then they’re further modified to produce the protein for the disease you want, such as the coronavirus spike protein, and injected into the body to provoke an immune response.

The viruses used by COVID-19 vaccine candidates include adenoviruses, MVA (modified vaccinia ankara, a weakened pox virus), parainfluenza and rabies.

Generates more powerful immune response than subunit proteins.
Some don’t have to be stored at very low temperatures (according to China-based company CanSino), so they’re viable for use in resource-limited tropical areas.
People who have already been exposed to the viral vector, such as adenovirus, may be resistant.
Harder to scale up than protein or DNA because a virus still needs to be grown.
Because each virus can only infect one cell, large quantities of the virus need to be grown and injected, adding to production time.

Replicating viral vector

These are “carrier” viruses that can replicate in the body, but are either weakened or don’t cause any symptoms in humans. Like non-replicating viral vectors, they’re modified to produce a protein from the virus you want to protect against, such as the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2.

The replicating viral vectors used in COVID-19 vaccine candidates include weakened versions of influenza and measles, as well viruses that cause animal diseases such as horsepox and VSV (Vesicular stomatitis virus).

Closely mimics a real infection and induces a stronger, more widespread immune response.
Because it can replicate, much less virus needs to be injected as a vaccine to induce a good response.
That also means less needs to be grown to produce the vaccine, cutting the cost, time and labour needed compared to whole virus and non-replicating viral vector vaccines.
Requires more testing before approval than protein or nucleic acid-based vaccines, adding to development time.
Needs to be stored and transported at cool temperatures to keep the virus alive, which may make it harder to distribute in warmer parts of the developing world.


With RNA vaccines, what’s injected into the body is simply the genetic instructions to make a viral protein such as the spike protein. Cells in your body then use the instructions to make the protein inside the body for your immune cells to see and respond to.

No virus is needed to make the vaccine, cutting production time compared to conventional vaccines.
Don’t always produce a strong immune response compared to whole viruses, and may require adjuvants.


This is very similar to the RNA vaccines, except that DNA is used instead of RNA. It’s often delivered as a ring of DNA called a plasmid. That enters the cell, and the cell produces the virus protein.

Quick and relatively inexpensive to manufacture in large quantities.
Shelf stable and doesn’t require freezing in storage and transport.
Easy to switch to different gene/virus, and you can combine multiple in single vial.
Requires adjuvants for a good response.

Protein subunit

With this type of vaccine, the protein is made outside the body. Traditionally, this was done by breaking whole viruses into pieces using detergent or a solvent such as ether. However, this can now be done with “recombinant” genetic technology, where the gene for a protein is inserted into another organism to grow the protein in large quantities.

Can be produced more quickly than live vaccines.
Doesn’t generate as strong an immune response as whole virus vaccines.A compound called an adjuvant needs to be included to boost a patient’s immune response.
Can’t be scaled up as quickly as production of RNA or DNA vaccines.

Lots of Canadian candidates

As mentioned earlier, Canada currently has at least seven vaccine candidates under development, with Canadian involvement in the development of some others. Saxinger said that maximizes the impact of the expertise we have, from work on diseases such as Ebola, SARS and MERS.

Developing and producing vaccines here at home could also give Canada more control over when Canadians can get the vaccine, and who can be prioritized, given that there will likely be huge demand for the vaccine from countries around the world.

“I don’t think we want to rely on others, hoping they will remember us,” said Volker Gerdts, director and CEO of VIDO-Intervac at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, one of the Canadian teams developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The current race for a vaccine underscores why it’s important for countries like Canada to be self-sufficient, he added.

Canadian vaccine candidates

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Here’s where you can preorder the better-but-cheaper Oculus Quest 2 VR headset – CNET

Facebook If you’ve worn the original Oculus Quest, you probably know that it’s among the best VR experiences money can buy; completely wireless, great visuals and even a controller-free hand-tracking mode, and you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the new Quest 2. If you’re brand-new to VR and the Quest 2 will be your…




If you’ve worn the original Oculus Quest, you probably know that it’s among the best VR experiences money can buy; completely wireless, great visuals and even a controller-free hand-tracking mode, and you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the new Quest 2. If you’re brand-new to VR and the Quest 2 will be your first VR experience, you’re in for a treat. Shaping up to be better (on paper, at least) than the Quest in almost every way — and cheaper to boot — the Quest 2 is likely going to be the new gold standard in VR. And you can preorder it right now.The new Quest’s list of enhancements and upgrades reads like a VR addict’s wish list. First and foremost, perhaps, is the improved resolution. Now with about 2K per eye, the headset has about twice the original headset’s resolution and should go a long way toward mitigating the dreaded “screen door” effect. It has a faster processor, is about 10% lighter, and even is reported to wear more comfortably thanks to a redesigned strap. Want to learn more? Read CNET’s Scott Stein’s deep dive into the new Quest 2. You won’t have to wait long to get a Quest 2. While the original Oculus spent most of 2020 sold out everywhere, the Quest 2 is landing at retail on Oct. 13 for just $299 — an impulse buy if I’ve ever seen one. That’s the 64GB version; you can also get the Quest 2 with 256GB for $399. Here is where you can preorder the Oculus Quest 2 right now so you have it in your hot little hands as quickly as possible. Right now we were able to track down exactly one deal: Get the 256GB Quest 2 bundled with the Elite Strap and Fit Pack for $430 at Costco. That’s a savings of about $60 compared to buying all three items separately. The Elite Strap is an enhanced strap with a wheel that tightens and loosens the fit; the Fit Pack includes a pair of light blockers and two interchangeable facial interfaces for wider or narrower faces.Otherwise, there are no deals to be had here yet, so pick whichever retailer you like best:This article was first published last week. 

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