All posts by Sharon Washio

Review: Effects of Climate Change on Infectious Diseases

By Andrew Wu

Climate change has many implications for public health, particularly on the transmission of infectious diseases. Changes in humidity can lead to an increased risk of illnesses that spread through bodily fluids. Vectors such as mosquitoes can become more abundant and affect larger regions. Natural disasters can destroy healthcare infrastructure, alter the immunity of a population, and increase exposure to water-borne diseases. Although there are many factors that modulate infectious disease dynamics, it is crucial that researchers pinpoint associations between the spread of maladies and environmental changes, as they become more drastic and prominent in our lifetimes. A better understanding can lead to more precise models, which can enhance the accuracy of predictions and lead to more effective healthcare. Recently, Professor Metcalf of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs departments published a review paper that thoroughly analyzes techniques that investigate the links between climate change and infectious diseases.

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UV Light: A New Tool for Disease Prevention

By Devorah Saffern

Ultraviolet (UV) light kills cells by causing thymine bases in the cell’s DNA to interact and form dimers, which are then removed by the DNA’s own correction mechanisms. Increased exposure to UV light increases the chances of these mechanisms incorrectly replacing the dimer or not replacing it at all, which changes the way the entire DNA sequence is read by its polymerase. This impairs the DNA and therefore the cellular functions, which can result in cell death or cause the cell to become carcinogenic (develop into a cancerous cell). Increased exposure to UV light, therefore, can cause cancer, most commonly skin cancers due to direct exposure from UV rays in the sun.

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