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Humanoid that lived 6 million years ago walked on all fours and may be closer to chimps than humans

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humanoid that lived 6 million years ago walked on all fours and may be closer to chimps than humans

A new report challenges the theory that Sahelanthropus tchadensis, a hominid that lived more than 6 million years ago, was our earliest known human ancestor.

French paleontologists uncovered a Sahelanthropus in Chad almost two decades ago. 

Nicknaming it ‘Toumai,’ they heralded the creature as an early biped — with a skull indicating it had an erect spine. 

But a new report suggests Toumai is just an ancient primate, more closely related to a chimpanzee than a human. 

Researchers are basing their claim on the shape of femur that they say belongs to Toumi.

They maintain thigh bone, curved like an apes, was intentionally left unexamined, because it would have discredited the theory he walked on two feet. 

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French paleontologist Michel Brunet discovered remains belonging to Sahelanthropus tchadensis in northern Chad in 2001. Brunet maintains the creature, dubbed 'Toumai,' walked on two legs more than 6 million years ago and is humanity's oldest known ancestor

French paleontologist Michel Brunet discovered remains belonging to Sahelanthropus tchadensis in northern Chad in 2001. Brunet maintains the creature, dubbed 'Toumai,' walked on two legs more than 6 million years ago and is humanity's oldest known ancestor

French paleontologist Michel Brunet discovered remains belonging to Sahelanthropus tchadensis in northern Chad in 2001. Brunet maintains the creature, dubbed ‘Toumai,’ walked on two legs more than 6 million years ago and is humanity’s oldest known ancestor

French paleontologist Michel Brunet first discovered remains of a Sahelanthropus in northern Chad’s Djurab Desert in 2001.

Brunet, a researcher with the University of Poitiers in France, nicknamed the specimen ‘Toumai’ and, in a 2002 Nature report, maintained it was bipedal.

His main proof was that the base of its skull would have connected to an upright spine. 

Using radiometric dating, his team determined Toumai was between 6.8 and 7.2 million years old, and lived at some point during the Miocene era.  

Brunet maintains the base of Tumai's skull shows it would have rested on an erect spine. But doubts about whether Sahelanthropus was bipedal have only grown with the release of a new report suggesting the creature's femur shows it walked on all fours, like an ape

Brunet maintains the base of Tumai's skull shows it would have rested on an erect spine. But doubts about whether Sahelanthropus was bipedal have only grown with the release of a new report suggesting the creature's femur shows it walked on all fours, like an ape

Brunet maintains the base of Tumai’s skull shows it would have rested on an erect spine. But doubts about whether Sahelanthropus was bipedal have only grown with the release of a new report suggesting the creature’s femur shows it walked on all fours, like an ape

That makes Toumai more than twice as old as humanity’s oldest known ancestor, ‘Lucy,’ discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and dating to about 3.2 million years ago. 

A left femur and two forearm bones were also discovered, but for some reason Brunet never published anything on them and few other researchers had access to the bones.

In 2004, Aude Bergeret-Medina, a researcher at Poitiers, identified an unlabeled bone as a femur — most likely, she theorized, from a primate.

Eventually she and her mentor, palaeoanthropologist Roberto Macchiarelli, came to believe they had stumbled across Toumai’s thigh bone.

Aude Bergeret-Medina, a researcher at Poitiers, identified an unlabeled bone as Tumai's femur. The thigh bone isn't straight but curved, which Bergeret-Medina said is more typical of an ape

Aude Bergeret-Medina, a researcher at Poitiers, identified an unlabeled bone as Tumai's femur. The thigh bone isn't straight but curved, which Bergeret-Medina said is more typical of an ape

Aude Bergeret-Medina, a researcher at Poitiers, identified an unlabeled bone as Tumai’s femur. The thigh bone isn’t straight but curved, which Bergeret-Medina said is more typical of an ape

But after Bergeret-Medina took measurements and photographs, the bone vanished and neither scientist saw it again.

When Brunet’s team failed to publish anything about the femur, she and Macchiarelli used her notes and prepared their own report.

They attempted to present their findings at a conference held by the Anthropological Society of Paris, but were rejected.

Their hypothesis that Toumai didn’t stand erect was finally published in the December 2020 edition of the Journal of Human Evolution.

Photos of the femur were examined by Bergeret-Medina and her mentor, Roberto Macchiarelli. Macchiarelli claims Brunet blocked access to the actual femur because it would discredit the theory Toumai walked on two legs

Photos of the femur were examined by Bergeret-Medina and her mentor, Roberto Macchiarelli. Macchiarelli claims Brunet blocked access to the actual femur because it would discredit the theory Toumai walked on two legs

Photos of the femur were examined by Bergeret-Medina and her mentor, Roberto Macchiarelli. Macchiarelli claims Brunet blocked access to the actual femur because it would discredit the theory Toumai walked on two legs

According to the report, the femur isn’t straight but curved, which is more typical of an ape.

Others have doubted Toumai is a human forebearer before.

Shortly after Brunet’s initial findings were published, Milford Wolpoff, a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, called them into question.

‘Toumai may be a common ancestor of apes and humans but it is not on the line directly leading to humans,’ Wolpoff wrote in a letter to Nature. ‘We think Toumai is an ape and we think it’s probably a female because of its canine teeth.’

The teeth were small, he said, but they could still easily belong to a female gorilla or a chimp.

Wolpoff also pointed to scars on the skull left by neck muscles, claiming they suggest Toumai walked on all fours with his head horizontal to his spine.

A rendering of what Sahelanthropus tchadensis may have looked like when it was alive

A rendering of what Sahelanthropus tchadensis may have looked like when it was alive

A rendering of what Sahelanthropus tchadensis may have looked like when it was alive 

Geographer Alain Beauvilain, who helped excavate Toumai, has even raised questions about where and when the bones were found — suggesting they were disturbed by locals at some point in the past.

In September, paleontologist Franck Guy, a co-author on the original Sahelanthropus paper, issued a separate study doubling down on the bipedal theory.

He argued the femur has a hard ridge near the top, which would support an upright body.

But his report was posted on a preprint server, meaning it hasn’t been peer reviewed yet.

Brunet still holds that his Sahelanthropus is a missing link in humanity’s family tree.

‘Toumai’s skull is, in essence, a hominid skull,’ he told China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency in 2019. It has a ‘very small’ canine tooth, like a human. ‘Just the canine can prove that it is not a great ape.’

Macchiarelli claims Brunet and his colleagues have blocked access to the femur, and had his presentation blackballed, because it would discredit their theory that Toumai walked on two feet.

But Brunet insist’s ‘there is no controversy.’

‘No one can say scientifically that that femur belongs to Toumai.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Video game players are NOT typically obese, but are healthier than the general public, study reveals

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video game players are not typically obese but are healthier than the general public study reveals

Esports players might be viewed as individuals who sit around, eat junk food and guzzle down sugary drinks, but a new study finds these gamers are just the opposite.

A team from Queensland University of Technology uncovered uncovered players are up to 21 percent more likely to have a healthier body weight than the average person.

The survey also reveals that esport gamers smoke and drink less than the general public and are significantly more active as a result of certain video games.

Although a majority are in tip top shape, the study did find that 4.03 percent of esports players are more likely to be morbidly obese than the general public.

A team from Queensland University of Technology uncovered uncovered players are up to 21 percent more likely to have a healthier body weight than the average person. The team surveyed 1,400 gamers from 65 countries

A team from Queensland University of Technology uncovered uncovered players are up to 21 percent more likely to have a healthier body weight than the average person. The team surveyed 1,400 gamers from 65 countries

A team from Queensland University of Technology uncovered uncovered players are up to 21 percent more likely to have a healthier body weight than the average person. The team surveyed 1,400 gamers from 65 countries

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) conducted the study by surveying 1,400 gamers from 65 countries in, what they say is, the first study to investigate the BMI (Body Mass Index) status of a global sample of esports players.

QUT esports researcher Michael Trotter said: ‘The findings challenge the stereotype of the morbidly obese gamer.’

‘When you think of esports, there are often concerns raised regarding sedentary behavior and poor health as a result, and the study revealed some interesting and mixed results.’

Trotter and his team collected the surveys and found players were between nine and 21 percent more likely to have a healthier body weight than the general public.

Experts found elite esports athletes spend more than an hour per day engaging in physical exercise as a strategy to enhance gameplay and manage stress

Experts found elite esports athletes spend more than an hour per day engaging in physical exercise as a strategy to enhance gameplay and manage stress

Experts found elite esports athletes spend more than an hour per day engaging in physical exercise as a strategy to enhance gameplay and manage stress

Many work with personal trainers to make sure they stay in shape for their gaming competitions

Many work with personal trainers to make sure they stay in shape for their gaming competitions

Many work with personal trainers to make sure they stay in shape for their gaming competitions 

‘As part of their training regime, elite esports athletes spend more than an hour per day engaging in physical exercise as a strategy to enhance gameplay and manage stress,’ he said.

‘Only top-level players surveyed met physical activity guidelines, with the best players exercising on average four days a week.’

Along with having a healthier body weight, the study found a majority of gamers do not smoke and drink less than the general public as well.

Players are 7.8 percent more likely to abstain from drinking daily, and of those players who do drink, only 0.5 percent reported having a drink daily.

Along with having a healthier body weight, the study found a majority of gamers do not smoke and drink less than the general public as well. Players are 7.8 percent more likely to abstain from drinking daily, and of those players who do drink, only 0.5 percent reported having a drink daily

Along with having a healthier body weight, the study found a majority of gamers do not smoke and drink less than the general public as well. Players are 7.8 percent more likely to abstain from drinking daily, and of those players who do drink, only 0.5 percent reported having a drink daily

Along with having a healthier body weight, the study found a majority of gamers do not smoke and drink less than the general public as well. Players are 7.8 percent more likely to abstain from drinking daily, and of those players who do drink, only 0.5 percent reported having a drink daily

And only 3.7 percent of the gamers said they smoked daily, which is compared to the global 18.7 percent.

‘Exercise and physical activity play a role in success in esports and should be a focus for players and organisations training esports players,’ Trotter said.

‘This will mean that in the future, young gamers will have more reason and motivation to be physically active.

‘Grassroots esports pathways, such as growing university and high school esports, are likely to be the best place for young esports players to develop good health habits for gamers.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Environment: Britain’s first plastic-free lidless disposable and compostable cup launches today

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environment britains first plastic free lidless disposable and compostable cup launches today

A plastic-free, disposable takeaway cup that breaks down completely in soil and has a unique folding top to prevent spills — instead of a lid — launched in the UK today.

Regular paper cups typically come with a plastic lid which must be disposed of separately — and harbour a plastic lining which impairs its recycling.

When plastic is thrown away they can take decades to break down — and release tiny particles called microplastics that further pollute the environment.

In contrast, all parts of the ButterflyCup are entirely composed of paper, with plant-derived inks and a water-based dispersion coating that keeps it from leaking.

As such, it can be composted, or recycled with other paper and cardboard waste.

The novel cup will premiere in the UK at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) centres across the UK — but it is already being used in 20 countries.

Designer Tommy McLoughlin — who says he hopes the cup will ‘lift the lid on the eco disaster’ — is in talks with several major coffee chains about making use of the cup. 

It is estimated that some 2.5 billion coffee cups are disposed of in the UK each year — with only 1 in 400 actually ending up being recycled.

Moreover, all the plastic lids from these cups, were they stacked on top of each other, would form a tower tall enough to stretch around the entire globe.

A plastic-free, disposable takeaway cup (pictured) that breaks down completely in soil and has a unique folding top to prevent spills — instead of a lid — launched in the UK today

A plastic-free, disposable takeaway cup (pictured) that breaks down completely in soil and has a unique folding top to prevent spills — instead of a lid — launched in the UK today

A plastic-free, disposable takeaway cup (pictured) that breaks down completely in soil and has a unique folding top to prevent spills — instead of a lid — launched in the UK today

‘It is a travesty that, of the billions of coffee cups the UK uses each year, so few get recycled,’ said ButterflyCup CEO and Founder Tommy McLoughlin.

‘We created ButterflyCup to lift the lid on this eco disaster and help solve it.’

‘We believe it is the world’s most environmentally friendly disposable cup, and we hope more coffee outlets across the UK give their customers the option of using it in the near future,’ he added.

‘We are thrilled to be launching in the UK with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, an organisation whose ethos of protecting the natural world we share.’

The ButterflyCup takes its name from its unusual folding design, which can both completely close the top of the cup, in lieu of a lid, and also serve as a built in spout from which to drink, replacing the need for a straw.

This folding design is patented — as is the paper insert held inside the cup which helps to ensure against splashes, leaks and drips — while the specially treated paper, which can hold cold and hot beverages, comes from a special mill in Finland.

According to the designers, each ButterflyCup costs only around one pence more to manufacture than the typical plastic-coated cup and plastic lid — and three pence less than those lined with so-called Polylactic Acid (PLA), with a lid of the same.

PLA is a bioplastic made from a mix of corn starch with some plastic added.

Regular paper cups typically come with a plastic lid which must be disposed of separately — and harbour a plastic lining which impairs their recycling. When plastic is thrown away it can take decades to break down — and release microplastics that further pollute the environment

Regular paper cups typically come with a plastic lid which must be disposed of separately — and harbour a plastic lining which impairs their recycling. When plastic is thrown away it can take decades to break down — and release microplastics that further pollute the environment

Regular paper cups typically come with a plastic lid which must be disposed of separately — and harbour a plastic lining which impairs their recycling. When plastic is thrown away it can take decades to break down — and release microplastics that further pollute the environment

In contrast, all parts of the ButterflyCup (pictured) are entirely composed of paper, with plant-derived inks and a water-based dispersion coating that keeps it from leaking. As such, it can be composted, or recycled with other paper and cardboard waste

In contrast, all parts of the ButterflyCup (pictured) are entirely composed of paper, with plant-derived inks and a water-based dispersion coating that keeps it from leaking. As such, it can be composted, or recycled with other paper and cardboard waste

In contrast, all parts of the ButterflyCup (pictured) are entirely composed of paper, with plant-derived inks and a water-based dispersion coating that keeps it from leaking. As such, it can be composted, or recycled with other paper and cardboard waste

ButterflyCup comes five years after TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall highlighted the difficulties inherent in recycling regular takeaway cups in the BBC documentary ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’.

 ‘Only by changing to a cup that is properly recyclable in the public waste disposal system… can [major coffee chains] justify the bold environmental claims they are making. This is a solvable problem, so let’s see them solve it,’ he said.

‘The sorry truth is, next to none of them are recycled — and the even sorrier fact is that no-one’s taking responsibility for that, least of all the big coffee retailers who have created this takeout trash mountain,’ the chef added. 

The ButterflyCup takes its name from its unusual folding design, which can both completely close the top of the cup, in lieu of a lid, and also serve as a built in spout from which to drink, replacing the need for a straw, as pictured

The ButterflyCup takes its name from its unusual folding design, which can both completely close the top of the cup, in lieu of a lid, and also serve as a built in spout from which to drink, replacing the need for a straw, as pictured

The ButterflyCup takes its name from its unusual folding design, which can both completely close the top of the cup, in lieu of a lid, and also serve as a built in spout from which to drink, replacing the need for a straw, as pictured

‘We are delighted to be using ButterflyCup across all our wetland sites. We have had brilliant feedback from staff and visitors when we trialled it at one of our centres,’ said WWT sustainability head Lucy Smith.

‘We offer a discount for refilling reusable cups but where this is not possible, a fully recyclable and compostable cup provides a great option.’

‘ButtlerflyCups could even be reused for seed planting and then put straight in the soil where they will fully break down.’

‘The product offers a simple but brilliant solution to part of the plastic waste crisis.’

The novel cup will premiere in the UK at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) centres across the UK — but it is already being used in 20 countries. Designer Tommy McLoughlin — who says he hopes the cup will 'lift the lid on the eco disaster' — is in talks with several major coffee chains

The novel cup will premiere in the UK at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) centres across the UK — but it is already being used in 20 countries. Designer Tommy McLoughlin — who says he hopes the cup will 'lift the lid on the eco disaster' — is in talks with several major coffee chains

The novel cup will premiere in the UK at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) centres across the UK — but it is already being used in 20 countries. Designer Tommy McLoughlin — who says he hopes the cup will ‘lift the lid on the eco disaster’ — is in talks with several major coffee chains

WHAT COMMITMENTS ARE BIG NAME BRANCHES MAKING TO CUT DOWN ON SINGLE-USE PLASTIC?

Costa Coffee has promised to recycle as many cups as it puts into the market by 2020 and also offers customers a 25p discount on hot beverages if they bring their own reusable cup.

Pret A Manger offers a 50p discount on hot beverages if people bring their own reusable cup. 

A spokesperson said: ‘We doubled our discount for customers who bring in their own reusable cup to 50p in January 2018 and, since then, usage has increased almost 20-fold. 

‘We now serve over 150,000 drinks in reusable cups every week, and since the discount was doubled, Pret customers have saved over six million paper cups.’

Starbucks offers customers a 25p discount on hot beverages if they bring their own reusable cup

Starbucks offers customers a 25p discount on hot beverages if they bring their own reusable cup

Starbucks offers customers a 25p discount on hot beverages if they bring their own reusable cup

Starbucks offers customers a 25p discount on hot beverages if they bring their own reusable cup. 

The chain has announced its London cafes will trial a redesigned cup that will be both recyclable and compostable.

A spokesman said: ‘Our British stores are the first globally to have trialled a 5p charge on takeaway cups.’ He said reusable cup uptake had risen from 1..8% to more than 5% in the past 18 months. 

Along with McDonald’s it has invested £10m in firms hoping to design a sustainable alternative to the disposable cup.

Caffè Nero  says that, along with its competitors, it is ‘working to increase the number of [coffee cup] recycling points’ in the UK. It also encourages the use of reusable cups by offering 2 stamps per coffee on its loyalty card.

Caffè Nero, Starbucks, Greggs, McDonald’s UK and Pret A Manger are also involved in a cup recycling scheme that funds the collection of takeaway cups for recycling.

Cafe Nero encourage the use of reusable cups by offering 2 stamps per coffee on its loyalty card

Cafe Nero encourage the use of reusable cups by offering 2 stamps per coffee on its loyalty card

Cafe Nero encourage the use of reusable cups by offering 2 stamps per coffee on its loyalty card

But are they doing enough?

Research shows that very few disposable coffee cups get recycled.

The mixture of plastic and paper in the lining, which is designed to make them leakproof and retain the heat, causes difficulties.

In 2011 a survey by Which? Suggested eight out of 10 people mistakenly believed coffee cups could be recycled.

They create tens of thousands of tonnes of landfill every year and hundreds of thousands a day are discarded as litter.

Many people mistakenly think they can be recycled

2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year. A minuscule 0.25% are recycled. 

A shocking 25,000 tonnes of waste a year in landfill 

1 in 5 people visit a coffee shop daily. 

 

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Health: Tanning bed use three times a year could increase risk of endometriosis by 30 per cent

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health tanning bed use three times a year could increase risk of endometriosis by 30 per cent

The risk of women developing endometriosis is increased by around 30 per cent by just three sessions a year on a tanning bed, a study has warned.

US Experts found that risk of the painful condition also increased the more women got sunburnt or used sunscreen during their teenage and young adulthood years.

However, the team also found that women living in areas with high levels of UV light — like in the southern US – were less likely to be diagnosed with the disorder.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Celebrities such as singer Dolly Parton and journalist Emma Barnett have previously spoken out about their experiences with the condition.

The risk of women developing endometriosis is increased by around 30 per cent by just three sessions a year on a tanning bed (pictured), a study has warned

The risk of women developing endometriosis is increased by around 30 per cent by just three sessions a year on a tanning bed (pictured), a study has warned

The risk of women developing endometriosis is increased by around 30 per cent by just three sessions a year on a tanning bed (pictured), a study has warned

‘Prior research into the long-term health consequences of endometriosis has suggested that women with endometriosis are at greater risk of melanoma,’ said paper author and epidemiologist Leslie Farland of the University of Arizona.

‘The exact mechanisms underlying the association between endometriosis and melanoma are not known.’

However, she added, ‘several studies have found a greater risk of endometriosis in women who are sensitive to sunlight, don’t tan easily and have red hair, light eyes, freckling or a high number of moles.’

‘These associations may reflect a common genetic background between endometriosis and melanoma or an underlying association between sun exposure and risk of endometriosis.’

In their study, Professor Farland and colleagues studied 116,429 women who joined the US Nurses’ Health Study II in 1989, when they were aged between 25–42 years.

Every two years up until June 2015, each woman provided updated information on their medical history and their exposure to risk factors for several chronic diseases.

They were also asked about how easily they sunburnt, the number of moles on their legs, and the number of severe sunburns they had  between the ages of 15–20.

In 1993, participants also provided information on their use of sunscreen, and in 2005 were asked about their use of tanning beds during their teenage and early adult years, as well as between the ages of 25–35.

The women were also asked whether they had been diagnosed with endometriosis, which is identified by means of by laparoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure to analyse the organs of the abdomen.

Based on the records of the women’s home addresses, the researchers were able to estimate each participant’s annual ambient ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B exposure.

'Several studies have found a greater risk of endometriosis in women who are sensitive to sunlight, don’t tan easily and have red hair, light eyes, freckling or a high number of moles,' noted paper author and epidemiologist Leslie Farland of the University of Arizona

'Several studies have found a greater risk of endometriosis in women who are sensitive to sunlight, don’t tan easily and have red hair, light eyes, freckling or a high number of moles,' noted paper author and epidemiologist Leslie Farland of the University of Arizona

‘Several studies have found a greater risk of endometriosis in women who are sensitive to sunlight, don’t tan easily and have red hair, light eyes, freckling or a high number of moles,’ noted paper author and epidemiologist Leslie Farland of the University of Arizona

In their study, the researchers focussed solely on white women, because of the known racial and ethnic disparities in endometriosis diagnosis and differences in the influence of UVA and UVB light on different races.

Of this cohort of 95,080 women, there were 4,791 cases of endometriosis diagnosed during the period of the data collection.

The team found that — compared to women who never used tanning beds — those who partook six or more times a year when they were teenagers and young adults had a 19 per cent increased risk of endometriosis.

Furthermore, those who reported using them six or more times a year between the ages of 25–35, were found to have a 24 per cent increased risk of the condition.

And those who used tanning beds three or more times a year across both time periods had a 30 per cent higher risk of developing the painful disorder.

Around five women in every 100 might develop endometriosis over the average follow-up period — of nearly 14 years per person — if they had never used tanning beds as teenagers, young adults or between the ages of 25 and 35, the team said.

However, they warned, nearly seven women in 100 would develop the condition if they used tanning beds more than three times a year.

A history of having five or more severe sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 was associated with a 12 percent increase in the risk of endometriosis, as compared to women who were never sunburnt.

Meanwhile, those who used sunscreen all the time had a 10 per cent higher risk of endometriosis compared with those who never applied such. 

Women who lived in the sunniest parts of the country at birth, 15 years and age 30 had a 19, 21 and 10 per cent reduced risk of endometriosis, respectively, when compared to those living in parts of the US with the least annual sunshine.

‘Our findings suggest that avoiding excessive recreational sun exposure and tanning beds may reduce your endometriosis risk,’ said paper author and epidemiologist Stacey Missmer, of the Michigan State University.

The researchers cautioned that the mechanisms between exposure to the sun and tanning beds and risk of endometriosis are not clear.

Furthermore, the observational nature of the study means that it cannot show that these exposures certainly caused the increased risk of endometriosis.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Human Reproduction.

WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?

Endometriosis occurs when cells in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. 

Each month, these cells react in the same way as those in the womb; building up, breaking down and bleeding. Yet, the blood has no way to escape the body.

Symptoms include pain, heavy periods and fatigue, as well as a higher risk of infertility, and bowel and bladder problems.

Its cause is unknown but may be genetic, related to problems with the immune system or exposure to chemicals.

Treatment focuses on pain relief and improving quality of life, which may include surgery or hormone treatment.

Source: Endometriosis UK

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