Artist and Musician Prins Póló Passes Away, Aged 45

Prins Pólo

Icelandic musician Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson, better known as Prins Póló, has passed away at the age of 45. Svavar was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2018.

“With death itself on your back”

“Rest in peace, genius and friend,” music critic Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen wrote in remembrance of musician Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson (better known as Prins Póló) who passed away yesterday at the age of 45 after a four-year battle with cancer. He continued:

“Your contribution to Icelandic art is immeasurable, and your name will live forever, just watch. Your fertile ideas, your inclination to buck trends, to just DO, never to overthink things, to be constantly doing – with death itself on your back in the end … Icelandic art – and Icelandic music in particular – has been greatly impoverished.”

Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson founded the alternative rock band Skakkamanage in the mid-2000s. The band would go on to release three albums: Lab of Love in 2006, All Over The Face in 2008, and Sounds of Merrymaking in 2014. Svavar Pétur was also a part of the bands Rúnk and Múldýrið.

Svavar began releasing albums under the name Prins Póló in 2010 (Prinspóló initially) with his debut album Jukk. The single Niðrá Strönd enjoyed great popularity and was, among other things, featured in an episode of This American Life in 2013. Prins Póló released París Norðursins, a single from the eponymous album in 2014, which became something of an anthem.

Iceland Review’s Jelena Ćirić interviewed Svavar Pétur last year. Speaking to Jelena, Svavar tried to shed light on the personal tensions that governed his art: “There’s an imp on my right shoulder that’s always saying: ‘Be wise, do something practical.’ Then there’s one on my left shoulder that just goes ‘bleeehhh!’ Then they talk to each other and somehow it works out.”

Svavar had three children with his wife Berglind Häsler.

Southern Peninsula’s High Cancer Rate Under Investigation

Reykjanesbær

The Icelandic Cancer Society has begun investigating whether chlorine-releasing compounds used at the former Naval Station in Keflavík may explain a high incidence of cancer in the southern peninsula, RÚV reports. The Society will also investigate the role of lifestyle-related risk factors.

Nowhere in the country …

Last year, a bipartisan resolution was presented at Parliament empowering the Minister of Health to commission the Icelandic Cancer Society to investigate the high incidence of cancer in Iceland’s southern peninsula.

Clamours for such an investigation had been heard throughout the years – given that nowhere in the country is the incidence of cancer higher than in the southern peninsula: between 2009 and 2018, the incidence was 595 for every 100,000 male residents and 483 for every 100,000 female residents (compared to 539 for men and 478 for women in the capital region).

Results expected at the end of the year

This week, the Icelandic Cancer Society announced that it had begun its investigation, focusing primarily on whether chlorine-releasing compounds employed at the former Naval Station in Keflavík could explain the high incidence of cancer in the region. Other risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol use and obesity, will also be reviewed.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Laufey Tryggvadóttir, Director of the Icelandic Cancer Registry at the Icelandic Cancer Society, stated that the authorities possessed “good data” on pollution at the former Naval Station in Keflavík.

“Chlorine-releasing compounds, cleaning materials, used to clean American fighter jets, for example, leaked into water holes in the southern peninsula. The use of these materials was discontinued in 1991. Other variables will also be explored,” Laufey stated, referring to what degree lifestyle-related risk factors, smoking, alcohol use, and maybe obesity, could account for high cancer rates.

The research will be conducted in collaboration with municipal authorities in the southern peninsula, and the aim is to complete the investigation by the end of the year. “We expect to be able to determine how many cases were caused by pollution from the former Naval Station,” Laufey stated.

Thousands Diagnosed in Icelandic Blood Cancer Study

doctor nurse hospital health

More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed with pre-stage myeloma in an Icelandic study involving blood screening, Vísir reports. Nearly 60 entered drug treatment as a result, which has been effective. The European Research Council has decided to support the research program with a grant of €2 million [ISK 285 million; $2.2 million], enabling the study to continue.

Myeloma is an incurable type of blood cancer that develops from bone marrow cells. Patients’ outlook is generally better when it is diagnosed early. In the autumn of 2016, a national campaign was launched in Iceland to screen for the disease; a collaboration between the University of Iceland, the National University Hospital, and the Icelandic Cancer Society. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of screening for pre-stage myeloma, to investigate the causes and consequences of the disease, and to improve the lives of those diagnosed with myeloma and search for a possible cure.

More than 75,000 samples have been screened in the study, diagnosing more than 3,600 people with pre-stage myeloma, and almost 300 with advanced myeloma. Those with advanced myeloma have been invited to participate in drug trials with the aim of preventing the progression of the disease.

Effective drug treatment of precursors

Sigurður Yngvi Kristinsson, professor of blood diseases at the University of Iceland’s School of Medicine and a specialist at the National University Hospital, is the recipient of the European Research Council grant. “This is a great recognition for me and the whole research team and the good work that we have been doing lately, and, of course, it enables us to continue researching myeloma and its precursors,” he stated.

“By searching carefully, we find people who are on the verge of developing myeloma,” Sigurður Yngvi explained. “They have what is called smouldering myeloma and are at great risk of that developing into myeloma. And we have been able to intervene before they get myeloma and give them drug treatment, and have nearly 60 people in drug treatment now and some have completed two years of drug treatment with great success, and that is perhaps the biggest milestone.”

Foreign Party Will Review Cancer Society Procedures Following Misdiagnosis

Krabbameinsfélagið

The Directorate of Health intends to hire an organisation from outside of Iceland to re-evaluate cervical samples taken by the Icelandic Cancer Society and examine whether screening procedures at the institution are satisfactory. Six thousand samples taken by the Cancer Society are being re-evaluated and cell changes have been found in more than 50 women that were not initially detected due to a staff member’s mistake.

The re-examination of the 6,000 samples began in July after it was revealed that a serious mistake had been made while examining a cervical sample in 2018. Cellular changes indicating cancer should have been detected in the sample. The woman in question now has incurable cervical cancer. Of the 50 samples that have been since found with cellular changes, none have cancer.

Are the bales of hay in the Icelandic countryside colour coded?

Q: I wanted to ask about the bales of hay in the Icelandic countryside. We noticed that the bale wraps came in a few different colours. Are they colour coded or is this just the colours they come in?   Thanks,   Kim and Gord Tilly, Tyrone, Ontario, Canada

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A: According to an article on the qualities of hay bale wrapping on landbunadur.is, the website of the Icelandic Agricultural Information Service, plastic wrapping in three different colors has usually been used in Iceland: white, black and light green. Producers say that exactly the same materials are used in making these different colors.

Which color is best suited has been up for discussion and experimentation by farmers. The advantage of the white wrapping is that it reflects sunlight more efficiently than the other colors and therefore heat fluctuations have less of an impact on the hay.

In the case of darker colors, sunlight is said to cause the different layers of wrapping to melt together, creating a solid cover which decreases oxygen penetration of the hay bales.

Which color is used is up to each farmer.

The public has sometimes described bales of hay as being visual pollution—I remember a discussion in Norway to that regard—reasoning that the white wrappings, which are most commonly used, stand out in the landscape too much.

The black and especially light green wrappings don’t pose as much of a contrast to green pastures but then again, in the snow-covered winter landscape the white wrappings are hardly visible at all while the other colors stand out.

The campaign ‘Bleikar og bláar heyrúllur’ has sold blue and pink hay bale wrapping in the last couple of years to raise money for charity. Blue hay bale wrapping sales go towards awareness for bladder cancer in males while proceeds from the pink ones raise awareness for female breast cancer.