Professor Vyvyan Howard, who holds the Chair in Bio-Imaging at the University of Ulster, has been elected President of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE). He will hold the post for the next two years.

The ISDE represents 30,000 medical doctors around the world who are interested in the effects of pollution and the environment on health.

Recognised by the World Health Organisation and the UK, ISDE develops and publishes position papers on themes such as the health impacts of nuclear power and air pollutants.

Professor Howard said he was honoured to be chosen as the Society’s President, and would use his time in office to highlight the way our changing environment affects health:

“Our Victorian forefathers recognised that one of the planks of therapy was to change the environment – and that isn’t much talked about these days: treatment by tablet is often preferred rather than a change of environment.

“Today, lots of doctors are realising they’re on the front line: when you have 20% of children in your district with asthma, it’s a stark reminder that the environment we live in is responsible for a lot of our health and ill-health.”

He is especially interested in issues surrounding environmental impacts on what he called the ‘cancer epidemic’ facing the developed world.

“ When I was born, there was a 1 in 4 chance of getting cancer in the UK: today it’s less than 1 in 3, while in the USA for men it’s 1 in 2. These are enormous changes; we believe that environmental pollution has a lot to do with this, particularly through its effect on the foetus and the infant.

“I’m also particularly interested in the fluoridation of water supplies. I’m against it: it’s a ridiculous idea, based on very bad science.

“It’s going to be a very interesting job: it’s an honour to be appointed, and I’m looking forward to working with some really excellent and supportive colleagues.”