TIME Healthcare

Chilean 14-Year-Old With Cystic Fibrosis Asks To Be Allowed To Die

'I am tired of living with this disease'

A video of a 14-year-old Chilean girl with cystic fibrosis asking to be allowed to die has captured attention across the Spanish-speaking world and launched a debate about the right-to-die movement in a region with strong Catholic influence.

“I am asking to speak urgently to the president because I am tired of living with this disease, and she can authorize the injection to put me to sleep forever,” said a teary-eyed Valentina Maureira, addressing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The video, which Spanish media outlets said had been posted to Facebook Sunday evening, shows Maureira sitting on a hospital bed speaking directly to the camera. She explained later that she was “tired of continuing to fight,” according to a translation of a BBC interview. Cystic fibrosis—a genetic disorder that causes problems in the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems—is a terminal illness that typically results in death in a person’s 30s. In Chile, one in 8,000 newborns has been diagnosed with the disease in recent years, the BBC reported.

Fredy Maureira, Valentina’s father, told radio station Bío Bío Chile that the video had come as a surprise to him, though he said he knew that his daughter had been unhappy in recent months.

“I told her: ‘Daughter, if you want to fight, we will fight. You know how your disease is,'” he told the BBC.

It seems unlikely that Bachelet could authorize the procedure. Presidential spokesperson Alvaro Elizalde said that euthanasia violates Chilean law. Instead, he said, the government would provide Maureira with medical and mental health resources.

“We have to be completely clear, the current norm, the current law in Chile does not allow the government to agree to a request of this nature,” he said, according to Reuters.

The story had spread throughout the Spanish-speaking world by Thursday, with major Spanish language outlets on three continents covering the news, and inspired thousands of Facebook likes.

“I did not think it would get so high,” she told the BBC. “I liked it because [it] motivates people. And this [disease] is a reality.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s Which Produce Has the Most Pesticides

697685-001
Getty Images Plane spraying pesticide

Nearly two-thirds of produce tested contained pesticide

Apples tops the list of produce with the most pesticides, according to a new report, followed by peaches and nectarines.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of produce tested contained pesticides, but the prevalence varied greatly between types, according to the report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). More than 95% of the apples, peaches and nectarines tested contained pesticides.

“We see consistent differences between foods,” said EWG senior analyst Sonya Lunder. “This is an important piece of information for people who want to eat zero pesticides, people who are concerned about eating pesticides who maybe live in an area where they don’t get organic food or can’t afford it.”

A number of factors determine which produce farmers spray with pesticides. Farmers tend to use pesticides for fruit with sensitive skin like peaches and nectarines, she said. On the other hand, the skin or peel on produce like avocados, pineapples and bananas largely prevents pesticides from affecting consumers who eat them.

Avocados, sweet corn and pineapples topped the list of produce with fewest pesticides.

The report looked at a number of factors in United States Department of Agriculture data to develop the rankings including the percentage of a type of produce that tested positive for pesticides, the weight of the pesticides and the average number of pesticides. Consuming produce with multiple pesticides may have “synergistic effects” on the human body, said Lunder.

The report is not meant to discourage consumers from eating fruits and vegetables, Lunder said. In fact, the EWG’s database of 80,000 food items finds that produce rates among the healthiest items in the supermarket.

“We know everyone needs to eat fruits and vegetables and we would never say this is a reason to choose something else instead,” she said. “This is important tool for understanding and making informed choices about the food you purchase.”

TIME public health

Here’s What Foods Are Most Likely To Have E. Coli or Salmonella

'For more than a decade, our fragmented federal food safety system has been in need of dramatic reform'

More than 80% of the reported E. Coli illnesses were traced to beef and vegetables, according to a new report on foodborne illness. Salmonella, meanwhile, is transmitted in many different kinds of foods, including seeded vegetables, eggs, fruits, chicken, sprouts, beef and pork.

The report, the result of collaboration between three federal agencies that handle food safety, examined nearly 1,000 instances of patient infection with foodborne illness to provide a reliable understanding of how pathogens spread. Researchers hope the findings will “enhance efforts to inform and engage stakeholders, including industry and consumers, about food safety strategies,” the report says.

The news comes as members of Congress push for new federal laws to strengthen food safety. More than 9 million people are infected with foodborne illness every year, and more 50,000 people are hospitalized, according to the report.

“For more than a decade, our fragmented federal food safety system has been in need of dramatic reform,” wrote Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut in an op-ed in The Hill last month. “This leaves millions of Americans vulnerable to foodborne illness and contamination, whether intentional or unintentional.”

The pair noted that 15 federal agencies are responsible for monitoring the food supply, diminishing their effectiveness. (Among them are the three organizations behind the report—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service).

DeLauro and Durbin have proposed legislation to consolidate the food safety organizations into one agency. Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York has proposed requiring grocery stores to contact customers individually who have purchased recalled items.

TIME Heart Disease

The Strange Connection Between Saunas and Longevity

Higher frequency and longer duration of sauna use was correlated with less risk for heart problems and a lower chance of mortality

Frequenting the sauna appears to be connected to a reduced risk of number of cardiovascular conditions including heart failure and coronary heart disease and ultimately lead to a longer life, according to a new study in journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers collected health data for more than 2,300 Finnish men who used the sauna between 1984 and 1985. The researchers followed up on the participants in 2011. Higher frequency and longer duration of sauna use was correlated with less risk for heart problems and a lower chance of mortality.

“More is better,” says study author Jari Laukkanen of the time spent in the sauna. “It seems that with more than four sauna sessions per week had a lowest risk, but also those with two to three sauna sessions may get some benefits.”

The benefits of sauna use are much like those of exercise, according to the study. Sauna use increases heart rate and greatly boosts sweat levels like light or moderate exercise does. Overall, sauna use also leads to “better relaxation and well-being,” Laukkanen said.

Despite the study’s limitations—it looked only at men, it was associative—Laukkanen, a cardiologist at the University of Eastern Finland, said he thinks it can be generalized for women as well. Still, he added, further tests would be needed for more definitive evidence.

Before you head to the sauna it’s worth noting that not all saunas are built equal. The study looked specifically at Finnish saunas, which typically have very dry air and a temperature between 80 and 100 degrees Celsius—that’s a minimum of 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

While studying saunas may seem like a fringe research interest in the United States, saunas’ ubiquity in Finland prompted Laukkanen to investigate their impact on health. Of the 2,327 Finnish men initially reached for the study, only 12 said they do not use a sauna.

Read next: What Longevity Looked Like in the 1950s

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Oscars

These Four Policy Issues Got Our Attention at the Oscars

Hollywood is never shy about sharing its thoughts on politics, especially on Oscar night. But after the acceptance speeches fade, what happens next? Here’s a look at the status of several issues raised at the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night.

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood,” on Equal Pay

The issue: The Pew Research Center estimates that women earn 84 percent of what men earn, though the gender pay gap has narrowed since the 1980s. This is the rare issue that also affects Hollywood. The 10 highest-paid actors were paid $419 million in 2013 while their female counterparts earned $226 million, barely half as much.

What Arquette said: “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

The outlook: Legislation introduced last year would have made it illegal for companies to retaliate against employees who share how much they make, a key step in ensuring men and women are paid equally. It failed to pass the Senate and is dead in the current Republican Congress. Some states, such as Vermont, are tackling the issue, however.

Common and John Legend, “Selma,” on Racial Justice in the U.S.

The issue: Racial disparities persist decades after the events depicted in Selma. In their acceptance speech, singers John Legend and Common highlighted two: the high rate of incarceration among black men and changes in voting rights laws, such as requirements that voters show government ID at polling stations.

What Legend said: “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today then were under slavery in 1850.”

The outlook: Protests over how police have handled black male suspects have given the cause momentum. The Eric Garner case helped inspire New York City officials to begin to rethink their approach to policing. Activists on the left and right are coming together to push for reforms to the criminal justice system, though voting rights legislation isn’t going anywhere in Congress.

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, “Birdman,” on Immigration Reform

The issue: Immigration reform has been a hot button political issue for years. Millions of undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. and there’s widespread disagreement about how they should be addressed.

What Iñarritu said: “I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can build the government that we deserve. And the ones living in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who come before and built this incredible nation.”

The outlook: Immigration reform is a thorny issue, and legislators in Washington repeatedly have had trouble finding common ground. President Obama took action on his own, taking executive actions providing temporary legal status to millions of immigrants. Still, those actions remain contested in court and Congress isn’t likely to do much on this issue.

Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry, “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” on Veteran Suicide

The issue: Twenty-two veterans commit suicide everyday — a rate that more than double the rate in the general population. While the Veterans Affairs Department provides mental health services, mental health experts say many the veteran culture makes many hesitant to take advantage of the resources.

What Kent said: “This immense and incredible honor goes to the veterans and their families who are brave enough to ask for help.” What Perry said: “I want to dedicate this to my son Evan Perry, we lost him to suicide, we should talk about suicide out loud.”

The outlook: President Obama recently signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which creates an outreach system for veterans suffering from mental health issues and provides financial incentives to encourage psychiatric doctors to treat veterans. The law is a good start, but activists working to stem suicide say the issue requires more attention.

TIME Crime

Georgia Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, 2 Wounded, Questions Unanswered

Joey Terrell
Habersham County Sheriff's Department/AP Sheriff Joey Terrell of Habersham County, Ga.

The gunfight apparently pitted a former sheriff's deputy against the sheriff

Authorities were attempting to piece together Monday the sequence of events in a shooting incident in Georgia over the weekend that left three people dead and a sheriff and his deputy injured.

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell and deputy William Zigan found a woman dead on Sunday while investigating a domestic disturbance at the Clarkesville home of former deputy Anthony Gianquinta, according to local news reports. The woman was later identified as Gianquinta’s ex-wife.

The officers fled the scene after a suspect, believed to be Gianquinta, shot and wounded both of them. When law enforcement officials returned to the scene later, Gianquinta and a third, unidentified man were both dead on the premises.

Both Terrell and Zigan were hospitalized at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and were said to be improving.

[NBC News]

TIME infectious diease

2 Superbug Deaths Reported in North Carolina

The bacteria is thought to kill 50% of those infected

Two North Carolina residents have died in recent months from a deadly “superbug,” out of the approximately 15 who have been treated.

Carolinas HealthCare System told the Associated Press it has begun an aggressive effort to combat the superbug, formally known as Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which includes isolating the infected and using special cleaning procedures in rooms where they have stayed. Hospital officials cited patient privacy laws to explain why the deaths were not reported earlier.

The bacteria, which is thought to kill 50% of those infected, was recently revealed to have infected two patients who died in a California hospital. More than 100 more were thought to have been potentially exposed.

MORE: What You Need to Know About the California ‘Superbug’

[AP]

TIME Research

This ‘Peanut Patch’ Could Protect Against Peanut Allergies

peanuts
Getty Images

Half of those who used the largest patch saw their peanut tolerance increase 10-fold

A small skin patch applied to patients with peanut allergies appears to safely and effectively protect against the sometimes life-threatening condition, researchers said Sunday

“This is exciting news for families who suffer with peanut allergies because Viaskin represents a new treatment option for patients and physicians,” study author Hugh A. Sampson, a doctor at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

The patch exposed patients to a small dose of peanut protein, ranging from 50 to 250 micrograms, for the course of the study. The study, which evaluated more than 200 patients with peanut allergies for a year, found that the treatment worked, particularly for patients who used the 250-microgram patch. Half of those who used the largest patch saw their peanut tolerance increase 10-fold. Tolerance increased 19-fold for some children treated with the 250-microgram patch.

The researchers, who presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, reported no serious side effects to the treatment.

“EPIT appears safe, well tolerated and effective,” Sampson said. “That’s good news for families who suffer from food allergies.”

Read next: 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Gluten

TIME real estate

Americans Are Running Out of Office Space

office space
Getty Images

And running out of privacy, too

Companies looking to trim the fat are looking to people’s workspaces, according to a new report, leading to a decline in in personal space and privacy at work, even among some corporate employees used to spacious offices.

“Every client we talk to, they’re using less space per person,” Kenneth McCarthy, an economist at the commercial real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield, told the New York Times.

The average space per North American worker in 2012 was 176 square feet, down from 225 in 2010, according to commercial real estate association CoreNetGlobal, and it’s expected to drop to 151 square feet in 2017.

Read more at the Times

Read next: How to Deal When Your Company Moves to an Open Floor Plan

TIME North Korea

North Korea Said to Ban Foreigners From Marathon

Regime reportedly cites Ebola as a concern

North Korea has banned foreigners from participating in the 2015 Pyongyang Marathon, citing concerns over Ebola, a company that facilitates foreign travel to the isolated country said Monday.

“We are sorry to announce that our North Korean partners contacted us this morning with news that the 2015 Pyongyang Marathon has — as of today — been closed to amateur and professional foreign runners,” Koryo Tours said in a statement on its website.

The marathon, scheduled this year for April 12, typically draws a large foreign contingent. Koryo Tours alone had planned to take 500 people to the country for the event, according to Reuters. The company said it planned for March tours to proceed as previously scheduled.

North Korean authorities also reportedly cancelled the annual Mass Games—a gymnastics festival that typically drew a foreign crowd—without providing an explanation.

The North Korean government offered no apparent explanation for its Ebola concerns. The disease has killed thousands of people around the world, but none of the deaths have been in Asia. The country’s government has claimed through state television that Ebola was created by the U.S. government.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser