Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Health Data Tools and Statistics on PHPartners.org | Health Information Literacy – for health and well being

From the Blog…Health Data Tools and Statistics on PHPartners.org | Health Information Literacy – for health and well being.

   The following was posted on the BHIC Blog; Sep 11, 2011 10:26 PM by Cheryl Rowan

The Health Data Tools and Statistics page (http://phpartners.org/health_stats.html) on the PHPartners website  (http://phpartners.org) website has been reorganized to make public health data and statistics easier to find and use.

The page has been reorganized so that links to County and Local Health Data now appear at the top of the page. In addition, several new categories have been added.

The Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce (PHPartners) is a collaboration of U.S. government agencies, public health organizations, and health science libraries.

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, statistics | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Be Fooled By Health Fraud Scams

Dont Be Fooled By Health Fraud Scams

 

From the FDA site (click here to read entire article)

Red Flags for Fraud:

  • CURE ALL! For unrelated diseases
  • QUICK FIX! Within days
  • ANCIENT REMEDY! Or a secret formula
  • REVOLUTIONARY! Or new science
  • AMAZING RESULTS! Difficult to verify
  • MY TUMOR SHRUNK! Unproven testimonials
  • ACT NOW! Limited availability
  • LOSE WEIGHT! No diet or exercise
  • MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE!

Visit FDA’s Health Fraud Scams Website!

 

 

The science of public health was still in its infancy in the 19th and early 20th centuries when early incarnations of the modern Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tried to protect consumers from “snake oil salesmen” and other shifty characters who swindled the sick and gullible.

Back then the agency was known as the Division, and later the Bureau of Chemistry. Its agents pursued the traveling con men who sold tonics and elixirs—such as “miracle oil” supposedly made from snakes—with promises to cure whatever ails you. Labels did not list ingredients and unsuspecting buyers only found out through bitter experience that they were at best ineffective and at worse deadly.

FDA is still on the case—more than a century later.

The agency has created a new Internet resource to help consumers recognize and protect themselves from the 21st century versions of these bogus health products.

FDA’s Health Fraud Scams website (www.fda.gov/healthfraud) pulls together videos and articles on how to avoid fraudulent schemes, and offers information about products that have been seized, recalled or are the subject of warnings from the agency.

The site also provides links to government resources on health fraud involving FDA-regulated products, such as drugs, dietary supplements, tobacco products, alternative medicines, medical devices, and cosmetics.

Gary Coody, R.Ph., national health fraud coordinator at FDA, calls the site “one-stop shopping” for people who want to learn how to recognize and avoid health fraud scams. Anyone can search the site to see if FDA has taken an action against a product or company. However, just because a product is not listed does not mean that it is legally marketed or safe to use……..

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Aligning Forces for Quality – Initiative to Improve Health Care in Targeted Communities

Health care systems

Image via Wikipedia

From the Cornflower announcement (Nov 2011)

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide models for national reform.

AF4Q asks the people who get care, give care and pay for care to work together toward common, fundamental objectives to lead to better care. The Foundation has made an unprecedented commitment to improve health care in 16 geographically, demographically, and economically diverse communities that together cover 12.5 percent of the U.S. population.

The 16 Alliances in Aligning Forces for Quality serve demographically, economically, and geographically diverse communities. From the sparsely populated Humboldt County to the whole state of Maine, Alliances are multi-stakeholder coalitions focused on lifting the quality of health care in their region.

There are six of these alliances in the GMR:

Cincinnati, OH: http://www.forces4quality.org/alliance/cincinnati-ohio#facebook
Cincinnati Aligning Forces for Quality (Cincinnati AF4Q) is led by the Health Collaborative. Established in 1992, the Health Collaborative is a diverse coalition of health care stakeholders representing the hospital, physician, employer, insurer, government, education and consumer sectors. Its mission is to stimulate significant and measurable improvement in the health status of the people in Greater Cincinnati through collaborative leadership.

Cleveland, OH: http://www.forces4quality.org/alliance/cleveland-ohio#facebook
Cleveland Aligning Forces for Quality (Cleveland AF4Q) is led by Better Health Greater Cleveland, an alliance of  providers, patients, purchasers, and health plans.   Established in 2007, the mission of the nonprofit collaborative is to improve the health and value of health care provided to people with chronic medical conditions in Northeast Ohio. Through its growing number of clinical partners, Better Health reaches more than 70% of the chronically ill in Cuyahoga County.

Detroit, MI: http://www.forces4quality.org/alliance/detroit-mich#facebook
The Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative in Detroit is led by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC), a multi-stakeholder regional health coalition that has served the residents of seven counties in southeastern Michigan for more than 60 years.  Members of this nonprofit community organization represent the region’s major purchasers (corporations and labor organizations), health systems and health plans, insurers, government, universities, physician groups, consumer and community opinion leaders, as well as other health care organizations and associations.  As the region’s foremost health care coalition, GDAHC provides a forum for multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnerships to develop, facilitate, and execute promising solutions aimed at improving cost, quality, and access to care.

Minnesota: http://www.forces4quality.org/alliance/minnesota#facebook
MN Community Measurement leads the AF4Q initiative in Minnesota, guided by a broad stakeholder group forming the AF4Q Leadership Team. Organizations represented on the Leadership Team include: the American Cancer Society, Buyers Health Care Action Group, Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, Minnesota AARP, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, Stratis Health, plus health plans, consumers, and physician and nursing leadership.

West Michigan: http://www.forces4quality.org/alliance/west-michigan#facebook
The Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative in West Michigan is led by The Alliance for Health (the Alliance), a 60-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership corporation operating as a regional health improvement collaborative. The Alliance represents those who receive care, give care and pay for care, including providers, citizens, employers, community organizations, government, organized labor, academic institutions and health plans. Its mission is encouraging optimal health for all through high quality health care services at the lowest cost.

Wisconsin: http://www.forces4quality.org/alliance/wisconsin#facebook
The Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative in Wisconsin is led by the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ). Established in 2002, WCHQ is a voluntary consortium of organizations learning and working together to dramatically improve the health and increase the value of healthcare for the people of Wisconsin. The mission of WCHQ is to publicly report and bring meaning to performance measurement information that improves the quality and affordability of healthcare, in turn improving the health of individuals and communities.

November 18, 2011 Posted by | health care, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

As probiotics use grows for gut health, VSL#3 has designations for specific GI issues

 

diagram of a human digestive system

Image via Wikipedia

From the 17 November 2011 Eureka News Alert

VSL#3, classified as medical food, is designated for the dietary management of UC, ileal pouch and IBS

GAITHERSBERG, MD, Nov. 18 – As clinical studies continue to validate the use of probiotics to help promote general gastrointestinal health, a growing U.S. market1 for probiotics indicates that the U.S. healthcare community and consumers alike are recognizing the value of these beneficial microorganisms. However, because most probiotics are classified as dietary supplements, directing patients to the best probiotic for their individual needs can be challenging. And, as the category matures, one probiotic preparation — VSL#3 — stands apart and ahead because it is not a supplement; it has been classified as a refrigerated medical food designated for the dietary management of three major gastrointestinal conditions: Ulcerative Colitis, Ileal Pouch and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host.” But research also shows that probiotics are not “one size fits all.”

“As the amount of research in the field of probiotics increases, clinical evidence continues to indicate that not all probiotics are the same; probiotic activity is strain-specific and unique, and some strains can have antagonistic or synergistic activities when mixed together,” said Marc Tewey, vice president, commercial operations, at Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, Inc., manufacturer of VSL#3. “VSL#3 is formulated with a precise mix of eight proprietary strains of live bacteria, and the result is a probiotic medical food so potent, it must be used under medical supervision and must be shipped and sold as a refrigerated product.”

What are medical foods?

According to the FDA, medical foods are:

  • Specially formulated and processed products for the partial or exclusive feeding of a patient by means of oral intake or parenteral tube feeding
  • For dietary management of patients with special medically determined nutrient requirements that cannot be achieved by diet alone
  • Designed to provide nutritional support specifically modified for the management of the unique nutrient needs
  • Only for use under medical supervision
  • Only for a patient receiving active medical care on a recurring basis for the use of the medical food

The VSL#3 line of products contain between 112.5 billion and 900 billion live, colony-forming units (CFU), the large numbers of which make them the most potent brand of probiotics available and require the product to be refrigerated. VSL#3 utilizes a synergistic combination of diverse strains of bacteria including: Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacteria longum, Bifidobacteria infantis, Bifidobacteria breve, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus. Clinical studies using VSL#3 and published in notable journals, such as Gut, Gastroenterology and the American Journal of Gastroenterology have indicated that it colonizes the GI tract with beneficial bacteria, and in doing so, forms an intestinal barrier, which may help protect the GI tract and promote the absorption of nutrients.

“One of the main goals of physicians whose patients are living with these chronic diseases is to lengthen the periods between symptom ‘flares’ as much as possible,” said Tewey. “Studies show that incorporating the use of this type of dietary therapy alongside traditional drug therapies can be an effective step in achieving that goal for many who suffer from these debilitating conditions.”

VSL#3 is one of the few probiotic preparations supported by Level 1 (double-blind, placebo-controlled) scientific data, and has been the subject of a collection of more than 80 studies that have demonstrated its efficacy, specifically in the dietary management of IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Ileal Pouch. It is the only probiotic recognized as an effective tool in the dietary management of pouchitis by the American College of Gastroenterology2 and by the Cochrane Review3 for the treatment and prevention of pouchtis after ileal pouch-anal anastamosis for chronic ulcerative colitis.

###

VSL#3 products are available online at www.vsl3.com, as well as behind the pharmacy counter at pharmacies nationwide. They come in three formulations: VSL#3 DS prescription-only packets, VSL#3 OTC packets and VSL#3 OTC capsules. Physicians and pharmacists interested in additional information about the product can call 1-866-634-2765 and consumers may call 1-866-GET-VSL3 or visit www.vsl3.com for more information.

1 Source: “U.S. Digestive Health Enzymes, Prebiotics & Probiotics Market (2010 – 2015)” Markets and Markets, July 4, 2011

2Kornbluth, A, Sachar DB. Ulcerative colitis practice guidelines in adults: American College of Gastroenterology, Practice Parameters Committee.; Practice Parameters Committee of the American College of Gastroenterology. AM J. Gastroenterol. 2010 Mar; 105(3):501-23

3Holubar SD et al., (Review) The Cochrane Library 2010, Issue 6.

 

Educational Resources

 

 

 

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Rehabilitating vacant lots improves urban health and safety


Before and after example of greened vacant lots. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)Rehabilitating vacant lots improves urban health and safety.

ScienceDaily (2011-11-17) — Greening of vacant urban land may affect the health and safety of nearby residents. In a decade-long comparison of vacant lots and improved vacant lots, greening was linked to significant reductions in gun assaults across most of Philadelphia and significant reductions in vandalism in one section of the city. Vacant lot greening was also associated with residents in certain sections of the city reporting significantly less stress and more exercise.

Read the entire article at Rehabilitating vacant lots improves urban health and safety.

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

What Bacteria Don’t Know Can Hurt Them


Bacterial clusters living in the lungs of a cystic fibrosis patient are highly resistant to killing by antibiotics. (Credit: Singh lab)

From the 17 November 2011 Science Daily article

Many infections, even those caused by antibiotic-sensitive bacteria, resist treatment. This paradox has vexedphysicians for decades, and makes some infections impossible to cure.

A key cause of this resistance is that bacteria become starved for nutrients during infection. Starved bacteria resist killing by nearly every type of antibiotic, even ones they have never been exposed to before.

What produces starvation-induced antibiotic resistance, and how can it be overcome? In a paper appearing this week in Science, researchers report some surprising answers.

“Bacteria become starved when they exhaust nutrient supplies in the body, or if they live clustered together in groups known as biofilms,” said the lead author of the paper, Dr. Dao Nguyen, an assistant professor of medicine at McGill University.

Biofilms are clusters of bacteria encased in a slimy coating, and can be found both in the natural environment as well as in human tissues where they cause disease. For example, biofilm bacteria grow in the scabs of chronic wounds, and the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis. Bacteria in biofilms tolerate high levels of antibiotics without being killed…

Read article

 

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

The Brain Acts Fast To Reappraise Angry Faces

Angry Penguin

Image via Wikipedia

From the 17 November 2011 Medical News Today article

…They found that, once people had adjusted their attitude toward someone, they weren’t disturbed by that person’s angry face the next time it appeared. On the other hand, when participants were told to just feel the emotions brought on by an angry face, they continued to be upset by that face. In a second study, the researchers recorded electrical brain activity from the scalp and found that reappraising wiped out the signals of the negative emotions people felt when they just looked at the faces.

Psychologists used to think that people had to feel the negative emotion, and then get rid of it; this research suggests that, if people are prepared, it’s actually a much faster and deeper process.

“If you’re trained with reappraisal, and you know your boss is frequently in a bad mood, you can prepare yourself to go into a meeting,” says Blechert, who also works as a therapist. “He can scream and yell and shout but there’ll be nothing.” But this study only looked at still pictures of angry faces; next, Blechert would like to test how people respond to a video of someone yelling at them.

Read this article

Controlling anger before it controls you

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Psychology, Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Syphilis Rises 36% In USA In Four Years

Extragenital syphilitic chancre of the left index finger PHIL 4147 lores

 

[On a personal note, I believe I knew 2 men in Liberia who had STD’s. One developed an eye condition that is usually caused by syphilis, another developed sporadic muscle spasms that are usually associated with syphilis..

Now I think that when I was in Liberia in 1980/81 as a Peace Corps in education, I should have taught a whole week on sexually transmitted diseases…1980 was the year HIV/AIDS was identified as a disease I think]

 

From the 17 November 2011 Medical News Today page

From 2006 to 2010, the number of reportedsyphilis cases in the USA rose 36%. Among young, African-American males the rate rose by 135%, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The authors explained that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are hidden epidemics of huge health and economic consequences in the USA. STDs are called hidden epidemics because a considerable number of infected people are unwilling to come forward openly, and also because of the social and biologic characteristics of these types of diseases.

The authors wrote:

“All Americans have an interest in STD prevention because all communities are impacted by STDs and all individuals directly or indirectly pay for the costs of these diseases.”

The CDC believes that sexually active males with male partners should be screened for STDs once every three months, rather than yearly.

Gonorrhea – reported cases of gonorrhea fell 16% over the four-year period, down to their lowest levels ever. However, over the last year they have risen slightly. In 2010 there were over 300,000 reported cases. According to some CDC surveillance systems, gonorrhea is becoming resistant to the only medication available for this disease.

Chlamydia – the number of reported cases rose 24%, due to an increase in screenings. There were approximately 1.3 million cases reported in 2010. The majority of people in America with Chlamydia are undiagnosed – they don’t know they have it. The CDC recommends that all sexually active young women be screened annually; less than half of them do so.

Syphilis – after a long period of increased rates, the incidence of syphilis dropped 1.6 since 2009. The rate among young, African-American males rose 134% from 2006 to 2010. The rate among African-American MSM (men who have sex with men) rose considerably, the reported added.

Nineteen million new cases of STDs are diagnosed annually in the USA. STDs cost the health-care system $17 billion a year.

Of those in high risk groups, only half are being tested, the authors wrote. A significant number of infected individuals are unaware, because they have no symptoms……

 

Educational Resources

From the MedlinePlus page for Sexually Transmitted Diseases

 

 

Read the article

 

November 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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