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Sunscreen makers sued for tall claims

With summer just around the corner, lawsuits filed in a court in California accuse sunscreen makers of exposing millions of people to cancer and other dangers through false and misleading claims about the effectiveness of their products, says a Reuters report. The nine suits ' involving some of the most popular brands ' charge that manufacturers dangerously inflate claims about the protective qualities of sunscreens, lulling consumers into believing they are safe from the dangers of prolonged sun exposure. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. “The skin protection products, at best, only protect the skin against harmful UVA rays with shorter wavelengths, while the skin remains exposed to harmful UVB rays with longer wavelengths that penetrate deep within the skin,” according to the suits.

Cellphone-cancer link

The use of mobile phones over a long period of time can raise the risk of brain tumours, says a Swedish study, which contradicts the conclusions of several other studies. Scientists at the Swedish National Institute for Working Life looked at mobile phone use of 2,200 cancer patients and an equal number of healthy control cases. Of the cancer patients, aged between 20 and 80, 905 had a malignant brain tumour and about a tenth of them were also heavy users of mobile phones. Published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, the study defines heavy use as 2,000 plus hours, which “corresponds to 10 years’ use in the work place for one hour per day”.

Travel to office spreads flu

Commuting to work, rather than long-distance travel, seems to be the prime driving force behind the regional spread of influenza, US researchers report. Scientists at the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health in the US used data on influenza-related deaths to analyse the spread of influenza in the US over the last 30 years. At household and city levels, pediatric cases of influenza largely account for disease spread, whereas at regional levels, workplace commuting is the major factor, they report in the journal Science. The researchers believe their analysis could be useful in predicting and planning for future influenza epidemics, as well as other infectious diseases.

Software to read your mind

A device that can pick up on people’s emotions is being developed to help people with autism relate to those around them. It will alert its autistic user if the person they are talking to starts showing signs of getting bored or annoyed. One of the problems facing people with autism is an inability to pick up on social cues. The new software will help them read people’s minds better.

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