Death toll from sudden temperature swings may surpass AIDS

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Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Many studies have looked at the immediate effect on death rates in the days following a heat wave. But it is difficult to say whether some of these people, with compromised cardiovascular or respiratory systems, would have died anyway. Few studies look at long-term effects or compare the harm of summer heat waves with the benefits of warmer winters. So Schwartz and his colleagues calculated average summer and winter temperatures in New England zip codes for 8 years, and tracked the deaths of elderly people living within them, based on Medicare data. In addition to finding that milder winters do not make up for hotter summers, the team discovered that sudden shifts in temperature—jumping from a cold winter day to a warm winter day and back again, for example—was a worse killer than summer heat waves, in either winter or summer. Schwartz says the killing power of jumpy temperature swings is greater than that of AIDS, and comparable to diseases such as liver cancer, which kills about 25,000 people in the United States each year. The team reports its results online today in Nature Climate Change.The work highlights “a major public health issue,” says Jonathan Patz, a public health researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who not involved with the research. “I think it’s a very important study.”As for why temperature swings are so deadly, Schwartz says that it has do to with not giving a person enough time for their cardiovascular or respiratory systems to adapt. Looking ahead, he wants see if the same trends hold up in other regions, starting with the southeast of the United States, where people may be more acclimatized to warmer temperatures. He also wants to study temperatures and death rates in Europe, where air-conditioning is less prevalent. Emailcenter_img It’s no surprise that a sudden summer heat wave can kill the elderly; it’s a serious public health hazard that will only grow as the world warms. But will more old folks survive milder winters, balancing out the loss of life in the summers?A new study suggests not. A rise of 1°C in mean summer temperatures killed 1% more people, whereas that same rise in mean winter temperatures saved a mere 0.6%, according to an analysis of death records for nearly 3 million people 65 years and older living in New England from 2000 to 2008. Not only that, but sudden swings in temperature—another phenomenon that could increase along with climate change in some regions—were found to be even worse killers, in either winter or summer.“People do physically adapt,” says study author Joel Schwartz, an environmental epidemiologist at Harvard University. “But if [temperature] bounces back and forth, we don’t.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img

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