Short items

Gulf War syndrome chemical 

A review of Gulf War syndrome studies has reinforced the theory that chemical exposure caused the disorder. The review blames acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, used in pesticides around military facilities and in anti-nerve gas pills. But other researchers say the exact cause of the syndrome will likely never be definitively solved. 
Los Angeles Times, 11 March 2008 

Chemistry is hard 

A UK government report has found that not all A-level and GCSE high school subjects are equally difficult - and that chemistry is the hardest of the sciences. While media studies, often derided as a soft option, is easier than English, the report finds that psychology is just as hard as biology. 
The Guardian, 22 February 2008 

HRT cancer risk confusion 

A follow-up study into the effects of post-menopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy has shown that the heart problems associated with the pills fade after women stop taking them. However, the study also revealed the surprise finding that women who stopped taking the oestrogen-progestin pills were slightly more likely to develop cancer. 
New York Times, 5 March 2008 

Depressed pets on Prozac 

An increasing number of British pets are being prescribed Prozac to treat depression, according to BBC TV vet Romain Pizzi. Parrots are particularly likely to suffer from the condition, and symptoms can include self-harm. Dogs and cats can also be affected, so it’s just as well that in 2007, Eli Lilly launched a beef-flavoured chewable Prozac tablet for dogs. 
The Telegraph, 26 February 2008 

Whisky cleans polluted land 

Aberdeen University scientists have discovered that a by-product of the whisky production process can decontaminate polluted land and groundwater. The team claim the (unnamed) by-product is the first material that can remove metal contaminants at the same time as degrading organic pollutants such as insecticides. 
The Scotsman, 5 March 2008