Spotlight on Relationships
Having frequent arguments with family members is associated with a double risk of dying in middle age. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen tracked almost 10,000 middle-aged people over an 11-year period.
They also found that participants who frequently argued with someone close to them were far more likely to die prematurely than those who seldom had conflicts.
An author of the study says that handling worries and demands and managing conflicts “may be considered important strategies for reducing premature deaths.”
“Cyclical couples”—those who break up and get back together during courtship—are more likely to have a trial separation during the first five years of their marriage, according to a recent study of 564 newlyweds in Louisiana. They also tend to have more conflict and to be less satisfied with their marriage.
Spotlight on Religion
More than three quarters of the world’s population live in countries with significant restrictions on religion, either because of official policies or social hostilities. In a recent five-year period, the number of countries with incidents of abuse against religious minorities nearly doubled.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair writes in the Observer newspaper that “an abuse of religion” is a common motive behind recent acts of terrorism.
“The battles of this century,” he adds, “are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology—like those of the 20th century—but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that 1 out of 5 Australians claims no affiliation with a religion. Even “religious affiliation is not the same as actively participating in religious activities,” says the report. Only 15 percent of men and 22 percent of women with religious affiliations profess that they actively participate in a religious or spiritual group.
Spotlight on Health
Despite medical advances, disease continues to plague mankind. Yet, as evidence shows, many health problems are preventable.
The World Health Organization predicts that 24 million people will be diagnosed with cancer annually by 2035. This is an increase of about 70 percent more than the number currently diagnosed, which is thought to be over 14 million.
An estimated half of those cases will be caused by lifestyle factors, such as alcohol abuse, inactivity, obesity, radiation exposure, and cigarette
After an evidence presentation, the British government launched an inquiry into the possibility that the human form of mad cow disease could be spread by procedures such as blood transfusions.
“We were extremely concerned to hear evidence that this incurable disease still poses a significant risk to public health,” said Andrew Miller, a member of Parliament. “We were told [the infection could be spread] through widespread contamination of the blood and organ supply,” he added.
Depression can increase the risk of heart failure by up to 40 percent, suggests an 11-year study of nearly 63,000 Norwegians.
The European Society of Cardiology quoted one of the authors of the study. It was as said that, depression not only triggers stress hormones that can lead to heart disease but also hinders a person’s ability to follow advice that could improve his health.
Spotlight on Africa
Many organizations and individuals continue to put forth efforts to improve the quality of life in Africa. The region, however, is still plagued by seemingly insurmountable problems.
A total of 1,004 rhinos in South Africa were illegally killed in 2013, compared with just 13 in 2007. Despite this increased supply of rhino horn, though, it continues to be in such high demand that it can cost more per kilogram than gold. A single horn can fetch up to half a million dollars.
Countries in East Africa have some of the highest rates of bribery in the world, says Transparency International. Yet, some 90 percent of the people who encounter bribery do not report it. A spokesman for the organization’s Kenya chapter says: “Citizens do not seem to trust their governments to respond to the reports on corruption.”
Almost 20 percent of Africans were expected to be using the Internet by the end of 2014, according to the International Telecommunication Union. The number of mobile Internet subscriptions in Africa is growing at a rate twice the global average.
Spotlight on Europe
Benefits of a Mother’s Voice
Researchers in Milan, Italy, concluded that infants born prematurely gained several health benefits by being exposed to their mother’s voice through a device on the wrist of the infant while in the hospital.
This technique attempts to mimic how the baby sensed her voice while still in the womb. “Early exposure to maternal voice,” concluded the study, “exerts a beneficial effect on preterm infants.”
According to a study of 565 children in the Netherlands, children whose parents described them as “more special than other children” and as children who deserve “special treatment” scored higher than their peers on tests for narcissism and expressed feelings of superiority and entitlement. “Children believe it when their parents tell them that they are more special than others,” says an author of the study. “That may not be good for them or for society.”