Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

‘Mobility shoes’ take a load off for knee osteoarthritis sufferers

In memory of my mother-in-law who had severe osteoarthritis…

From the 8 October 2013 EurekAlert

(CHICAGO) – The results of a new study by bone and joint experts at Rush University Medical Center suggest that patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who wear flat, flexible footwear, which allows natural foot mobility and provide sufficient support for the foot, had significant reduction in knee loading—the force placed upon the joint during daily activities.

Findings from the study were published in an issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

The research led by Dr. Najia Shakoor, a rheumatologist at Rush, shows that long term use of the such footwear, called “mobility shoes,” helped OA patients adapt their gait or how they walk, which improved knee loading, even when the mobility shoes were no longer worn.

In previous studies, Shakoor and colleagues from Rush found that walking barefoot as well as with ‘mobility shoes,’ which are designed to mimic barefoot mechanics, was linked to reduced knee loading compared to when walking with regular footwear worn by participants. However, the authors thought the long-term effects of the specialized footwear need further studying.

“There is much interest in biomechanical interventions, such as orthotic inserts, knee braces, and footwear that aim to improve pain and delay OA progression by decreasing impact on joints,” said Shakoor, the principal investigator of the study who is also an associate professor in the department of internal medicine at Rush. “In the present study, we expand understanding of our earlier research by evaluating the impact of the mobility footwear on gait after six months of use.”

More than 27 million Americans over the age of 25 have some form of OA, which causes painful swelling and stiffness in the hand, foot, knee or hip joints. According to existing research, doctor-diagnosed arthritis will swell to 67 million U.S. adults by 2030. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 16% of adults 45 years of age and older are burdened with symptomatic knee OA.

The Rush team recruited 16 participants with knee OA, obtaining a baseline gait with participants walking in their own shoes, mobility shoes and barefoot. Participants wore the mobility shoes for six hours each day for six days per week and patient gait was evaluated at 6, 12 and 24 weeks in all conditions.

Findings suggest that by 24 weeks, participants wearing mobility footwear saw an 18 percent reduction in knee adduction moment (KAM), which is the load on the inner or medial aspect of the knee when walking compared to baseline knee loading in their own footwear. This is where most people develop knee OA.

No significant difference in KAM was found between walking with mobility shoes and barefoot. Compared to baseline, analyses indicate an 11 percent and 10 percent reduction in KAM for OA patients walking in their own shoes and barefoot, respectively, suggesting the mobility shoes may have “re-trained” participant’s gait.

“Patients with OA who use flat, flexible footwear may experience a significant reduction in knee loading with continued use,” said Shakoor. “Our investigation provides evidence that footwear choice may be an important consideration in managing knee OA.

 

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The Rush research team involved in the study includes Roy H. Lidtke, Markus A. Wimmer, Rachel A. Mikolaitis, Kharma C. Foucher, Laura E. Thorp, Louis F. Fogg and Joel A. Block.

Please note: Based on the study results, a patented shoe design called X-Sole Relief Technology in Flex-OA has been developed by Dr. Comfort. The shoe has been available on the market since January 2013.

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Allergics Beware: Herbal Products May Contain Surprise Ingredients Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/12/food-allergics-beware-herbal-products-may-contain-surprise-ingredients/#ixzz2hge0IfdB

From the 12 October 2013 article at Time- Health and Family

New research for the University of Guelph shows that the majority of herbal products on the market contain ingredients that are not listed on their labels.

The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, used DNA barcoding technology to assess the components of 44 herbal products from 12 companies. They found that 60% of the products contained plant species that were not listed on the label, and 20% used fillers like rice, soybeans, and wheat which were also not divulged on the bottles.

For instance, products sold as St. John’s wort supplement, which is sometimes used to treat depression, contained Senna alexandrina, which is a plant that spurs laxative symptoms. Other products contained Parthenium hysterophorus (feverfew), which is known to cause swelling and mouth numbness. One ginkgo product contained Juglans nigra (black walnut), which should not be consumed by people with nut allergies — but this warning was not noted on the label.

“It’s common practice in natural products to use fillers such as these, which are mixed with active ingredients. But a consumer has a right to see all of the plant species used in producing a natural product on the list of ingredients,” lead author Steven Newmaster, an integrative biology professor at the Guelph-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario said in a statement.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/12/food-allergics-beware-herbal-products-may-contain-surprise-ingredients/#ixzz2hgeN2Srs

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Gloves and Gowns Don’t Stop Spread of All Infections in Hospitals

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Ba...

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteria (Photo credit: NIAID)

 

From the 5 October 2013 post at Time- Health & Family

 

Bacterial infections can imperil the fragile patients at hospitals‘ intensive care units. And a new study reveals an unlikely spreader: the health care workers who treat them. The standard sterile hospital garb typically thought to prevent infections isn’t helping.

 

Physical barriers are the most effective way to block invisible intruders like the bacteria responsible for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) infections, which are among the most common hospital-acquired pathogens. Such strains, which are resistant to most antibiotic treatments, contribute to more than $4 billion in health care costs for treating the skin lesions, respiratory symptoms and sepsis that the bacteria cause.

It’s hardly been clear that requiring all health care workers to put on gowns and gloves before visiting each patient, then discarding and re-robing before visiting the next patient, would help to reduce the spread of such infections in ICUs. The Centers for Disease Control currently recommends that workers suit up with gowns and gloves before caring for patients with known MRSA or VRE infections, but researchers led by Dr. Anthony Harris at the University of Maryland School of Medicine wanted to see how effective universal gowning and gloving would be in lowering the number of new cases of disease in ICUs.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/05/gloves-and-gowns-dont-stop-spread-of-all-infections-in-hospitals/#ixzz2hgctzzKb

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Partial Reblog] What Should NOT Be in Your Medicine Cabinet

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 5.57.07 AM

From the 4 October 2013 post at Straight, No Chaser by Dr. Sterling

Ever notice that people run straight to the medicine cabinet to do harm to themselves or others? I want you to know the harder the effort is to obtain items to hurt oneself, the less likely one is to follow through on the notion. On another related note, here’s a quick not-so-fun-but-interesting fact. One of the differences between America and say, certain European countries is the oversized influence of corporations in the States. Why am I talking about that on a medical blog? Read on. If you can’t tell where I’m going with this, you’ll get it pretty quickly.

Here’s my top five items I want you to take out your medicine cabinets and lock up.

1. Any jumbo sized container of any medication. Think about two of the most common over the counter (OTC) medications used for suicide attempts: acetaminophen (Tylenol) and salicylate (aspirin). One thing they have in common is you can buy what amounts to a tub-full of it at your local superstore in the United States. They should call these things ‘suicide quantities’, because often those in the midst of a suicide attempt will grab and swallow whatever is convenient. Many different medications will hurt you if you take enough; Tylenol and aspirin certainly fit that bill. Observing that (and additional considerations after the deaths due to the lacing of Tylenol with cyanide back in 1983), the Brits decided to not only pass a law limiting quantities, but certain medications that are high-frequency and high-risk for suicide use are now mandatorily dispensed in those annoying containers that you have to pop through the plastic container. Needless to say, observed suicide rates by medication rates plummeted as a result. Wonder why that hasn’t been implemented in the good ol’ USA?

2. Have teens in your house? Lock up the Robitussin and NyQuil.

Read the entire article here

October 12, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Food prices and public health

From the 10 September post at Groping Towards Bethelem - Economics and Culture in Bite-Size Pieces

The University of Otago announced the results of some research in which I’ve been involved.  The relevant blog post is here. What I really like about the post is the moderate tone:

In the first paper from the SPEND Project, we found that across 20-odd food groups, low-income people and Māori tended to change their consumption of foods more in response to price changes, using New Zealand data.  This is entirely consistent with economic theory – and data about price impacts for other consumer goods such as tobacco.

This suggests – but does not prove for reasons we outline below – that taxes on ‘unhealthy’ foods like those high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar; and subsidies on ‘good’ foods like fruit and vegetables should not only improve diets across the board, but more so among socially disadvantaged groups with worse diets and health to start with.

But the proof is in the pudding, which in this case is the health and economic modelling to see what effect taxes and subsidies will actually have on disease rates.  And due to data limitations our modelling is still only half-baked, no matter which research group’s findings you look at.

The post goes on from there and explains more about the different bits of research.

Of course, there are all the problems with implementing such tax/subsidy programmes, and the philosophical issues with ‘nudges’ and individual welfare. But importantly, we now have better estimates of prices elasticities in order to make better calculations about gains and losses.

 

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] All work and no play… Could too much sitting at work be affecting your health?

From the 11 October 2013 post at Cardiac Exercise Research Group  - The K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine’s blog about exercise and cardiac health

There remains little doubt that lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle represent key health problems in today’s modern society. A quick search on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) website and you’ll find that physical inactivity ranks 4th in the global leading risk factors for mortality, with many countries around the world demonstrating a trend for women to be less active than men. While health organisations around the world are making a concerted effort to encourage the general public to incorporate exercise into their leisure and free time, this may not be the only period of our day that is dominated by sedentary behavior. Work forms one of the largest segments of sedentary time for employed individuals, and current trends have shifted parts of the working population into less active, ‘sitting’ jobs.

But what does this mean for our long-term health? One study, published last month in PLoS ONE, aimed to answer this question by assessing the impact of occupational sitting on the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality from a large number of British men and women. Stamatakis and colleagues gathered data from identical health surveys conducted in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2004. Subjects (5380 women, 5788 men) were classified based on whether the majority of time in their job was spent walking, standing or sitting. Subjects were further categorized on levels of physical activity during free time, alcohol intake, smoking, socioeconomic status, and whether they had cardiovascular disease or cancer at the time of the survey. The mortality rate (number of deaths) was then monitored over a 13 year follow-up period.

Tired businessman sleeping on chair in office with his legs on tThe major findings reported by this study were that standing/walking occupations carried a lower risk of mortality from either all-causes or cancer, in women but not men. When the researchers further compared groups based on free-time physical activity levels, they found that in both men and women, high levels of free-time physical activity coupled with a standing/walking occupation was associated with a lower risk of cancer and all-cause mortality versus low free-time activity coupled with sitting occupation. At first glance, it could be easy to take the results at face value, but there are limitations to the study design which the authors themselves highlight: Much of the data is self-reported, which may introduce bias, especially when it comes to levels of physical activity during free-time. In addition, there was no information available on how long individuals had been in their current jobs, nor was there any data for people switching jobs during the 13 year follow-up, which may have eventually placed them into a different category. The findings are also surprising given that a similar study published earlier in the year, found that even moderate free-time exercise was enough to reduce the risk of both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality, regardless of levels of physical activity in work.

The issue still seems unresolved, and it has also been discussed here on the blog earlier. Current exercise recommendations from the Norwegian Directorate of Health suggest daily physical activity levels should be at least 30 min, a total 3.5 hours per week, which has been shown in a number of studies to confer significant benefits to health and an overall decrease in mortality rates. However, a busy lifestyle, coupled with raising a family may make this target difficult to reach during our leisure time, making activity levels at work a significant factor in overall health. Everything is better than nothing, and maintaining a physically active lifestyle outside of work hours will contribute significantly to achieve the health benefits of exercise. However, if you’re still worried and have been sat at your desk for the last few hours, when you reach the end of this sentence, why not stand up and take a walk?

Allen Kelly, post doc at CERG.

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Why is your waist circumference an important indicator of your health?

From the 30 September 2013 post at Nutrition and Beyone - It’s all about a healthy lifestyle!

How can one simple measurement reveal so much about your health? Let’s start by examining what is behind the waist circumference. This measurement is an easy and non-invasive tool that can estimate visceral fat, aka abdominal fat.

Excessive fat accumulated in the abdomen is characterized as visceral obesity. So, what is visceral obesity? Why is it not desired? Well, starting with the term “obesity”, it is a form of malnutrition which is characterized by an excess of body fat and “visceral” refers to the abdominal area. Increased abdominal fat is associated with increased risk for insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus type 2, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancers, sleep apnea, and the metabolic syndrome. As we can see, abdominal obesity is associated with higher risks of non-communicable diseases and other conditions. So, since abdominal obesity poses a significant number of risks on your health, why not act upon it? Why not be in charge and try to reduce your waist circumference?

Further, the waist circumference has not only been shown to be strongly correlated with risk of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases, but it has also been integrated in the diagnostic criteria of the metabolic syndrome. Here is a quick definition of the metabolic syndrome; it’s a cluster of risk factors that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), for a person to have the metabolic syndrome, they must have central obesity, which is defined as a waist circumference equal or higher than 94 cm for males and 80 cm for females, coupled with any two of the following four factors: raised triglycerides, reduced HDL-cholesterol, raised blood pressure, and/or raised fasting plasma glucose.

You can measure your waist circumference after you exhale by using a measuring tape and by placing it horizontally above your hip bone.

waist circumference

In order to decrease your waist circumference to below the values mentioned above, it is recommended to lose weight, to improve the quality and watch the quantity of food you consume, and to be more physically active.

In other words, it is best to adopt a healthy lifestyle!

It is important to note that a precise measurement of visceral fat is challenging in clinical practice and that the waist circumference, which has different ethnicity specific values, is not the only measurement that should be taken into consideration. Other measurements and factors combined with the waist circumference are needed to have a complete description of your cardiometabolic risk.

Joana Abou-Rizk

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

[Repost] Tailgating Food Safety Questions and Answers

English: Tailgating

English: Tailgating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From a fact sheet at the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

 

Keeping food safe at a tailgate gathering requires the same safe food handling practices as picnicking outdoors because a refrigerator and running water are probably not available. Include lots of clean utensils for preparing and serving the safely cooked food. In addition to a grill and fuel for cooking food, pack a food thermometer to be sure the meat and poultry reach a high enough temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.

Q. Several of us are planning a tailgate party. How can we handle the foods safely? 

A. Keeping food at a safe temperature between home, a store or restaurant, and the tailgate location helps prevent foodborne illness. Follow these tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure that your food stays safe.

  • Carry cold perishable food like raw hamburger patties, sausages, and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice.
  • Place an appliance thermometer in the cooler so you can check to be sure the food stays at 40 °F or below.
  • When packing the cooler for an outing, be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food.
  • Perishable cooked food such as luncheon meat, cooked meat, chicken, and potato or pasta salads must be kept refrigerator cold, too.
  • If bringing hot take-out food, eat it within 2 hours of purchase (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).
  • To keep food like soup, chili, and stew hot, use an insulated container. Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. If you keep the insulated container closed, the food should stay hot (140 °F or above) for several hours.
  • If you can’t keep hot food hot during the drive to your tailgate, plan ahead and chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler. Reheat the food to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • In addition to a grill and fuel for cooking food, pack a food thermometer so you can check and make sure the meat and poultry reach a high enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present.
  • Include lots of clean utensils for preparing and serving the safely cooked food.
  • Bring water for cleaning if none will be available at the site. Pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.

 

 

 

Read the entire fact sheet here

 

Listen to a podcast of the fact sheet here

 

 

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

E-Cigarettes May Equal Nicotine Patches for Smoking Cessation

Just one study. However, interesting….

 

From the 9 September 2013 article at Health Day

By Robert Preidt

Monday, September 9, 2013

HealthDay news imageSATURDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) — Electronic cigarettes and nicotine patches are equally effective at helping smokers quit, according to findings from what’s thought to be the first clinical trial to compare the two methods.

However, e-cigarettes were more effective in reducing cigarette use among smokers who didn’t quit.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. They turn these substances into vapor that is inhaled by the user.

The new study included 657 smokers who used either e-cigarettes, fake e-cigarettes (they didn’t contain any nicotine) or nicotine patches for 13 weeks. At the end of the six-month study, about 6 percent of the participants had successfully quit.

Rates of those who successfully quit were 7.3 percent in the e-cigarette group, 5.8 percent in the nicotine patch group and 4.1 percent in the fake e-cigarette group.

These differences were not statistically significant, according to study leader Chris Bullen, director of the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues….

Read the entire article here

Related MedlinePlus Page –>Quitting Smoking

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

[Journal Article] The Emergent Discipline of Health Web Science -with related links and articles

Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web - Opportun...

Larger image –>http://www.flickr.com/photos/40726922@N07/4702688723

Came across this article through an online professional health community.  It describes how the Internet is changing approaches to healthcare issues.  Current evidence shows Web sites can empower professional and lay alike through informational Web pages, social media, health record annotations and linkages for exploration and analysis. However, these applications can be built on to better serve the health care related needs of all.  The Web can be better” engineered for health research, clinical research, and clinical practice. In addition, it is desirable to support consumers who utilize the Web for gathering information about health and well-being and to elucidate approaches to providing social support to both patients and caregivers. Finally, there is the motivation to improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of health care.” The paper goes on to outline channelling further efforts in these areas.

  • Social networks
  • Patient Engagement Through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing
  • Sensors, Smart Technology and Expert Patients
  • “Big Data”, Semantic, and Other Integration Technologies
  • Rapid, Automated, Contextualized Knowledge Discovery and Application

From the full text of the article

Abstract

The transformative power of the Internet on all aspects of daily life, including health care, has been widely recognized both in the scientific literature and in public discourse. Viewed through the various lenses of diverse academic disciplines, these transformations reveal opportunities realized, the promise of future advances, and even potential problems created by the penetration of the World Wide Web for both individuals and for society at large. Discussions about the clinical and health research implications of the widespread adoption of information technologies, including the Internet, have been subsumed under the disciplinary label of Medicine 2.0. More recently, however, multi-disciplinary research has emerged that is focused on the achievement and promise of the Web itself, as it relates to healthcare issues. In this paper, we explore and interrogate the contributions of the burgeoning field of Web Science in relation to health maintenance, health care, and health policy. From this, we introduce Health Web Science as a subdiscipline of Web Science, distinct from but overlapping with Medicine 2.0. This paper builds on the presentations and subsequent interdisciplinary dialogue that developed among Web-oriented investigators present at the 2012 Medicine 2.0 Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

Read the entire article here

Related links

The Health WebScience Lab is a multi-disciplinary research initiative between Moray College UHI, NHS Grampian, HIE OpenFinder and Sitekit Solutions Ltd based in the Highlands of Scotland committed to improving health locally, nationally and internationally.

This initiative will lead, connect and collaborate on research in the emerging discipline of WebScience and Healthcare to create communities which take responsibility for their own wellbeing and self-care. This will be achieved through the application of information and other communication technologies via the internet across a whole range of functions that affect health care thereby stimulating novel research between health care professionals, the community at large and industry.

studies ” the effects of the interaction of healthcare with the web, and of the web with healthcare” and how one can be effectively harnessed to change the other

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Consumer Health, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Web 2.0 Assignments | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Why Are Grocery and Retail Workers Important to Public Health?

From the 29th August 2013 article at Sound Progress by 

14462025_mCold and flu season is just around the corner.  So what do grocery and retail workers have to do with public health? In a nutshell, they handle your food and if they don’t have adequate sick days from their employers, you may be more likely to get sick.

That is why, paid sick leave for grocery and retail workers is so important.

In addition to the common colds and flus that are passed along when an ill cashier touches every item that goes into a customer’s grocery bag, serious illnesses are spread as a result of people working while sick.

A lack of paid sick leave can also harm child health and school performance.

No caregiver wants to be in the position of choosing between staying home to care for a sick child and going to work so they can pay the bills. However, without adequate paid sick leave, many families must decide between caring for a sick child at home and losing needed pay or risking their jobs.

  • One in five workers in a recent survey we conducted of grocery and supercenter workers live with at least one child and do not have any other adults in their households.
  • In Washington, the majority of preschoolers and school-age children live in homes where all parents are employed.

Adequate paid sick days mean fewer children going to school sick. When parents can stay at home with their kids, recovery times are shorter and germs stay home too—ensuring healthier schools, families and communities. For more information read our policy brief on Paid Sick Days on our website.  Also see our article on the results of our examination of paid sick leave for grocery and retail workers.

So be sure to cover your cough with your elbow, AND ask your local supermarket if they offer paid sick days to their employees!

 

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] New IRS website provides health care law information for just about everyone

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 5.13.11 AM

From the 28 August 2013 post at Mountjoy Chilton Medley

Many provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 have recently gone into effect, and some significant provisions will do so in 2014 and 2015. To help individuals and families, employers (both large and small), and other organizations learn more about how they’ll be affected, the IRS has launched a new website: IRS.gov/aca. The site offers information on the tax benefits and responsibilities for various groups, such as:

  • Individuals and families — new additional Medicare taxes, changes to the itemized medical expense deduction and open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace
  • Employers — determining whether you’re a large or small employer, shared responsibility payments for large employers, and the small business health care tax credit
  • Other organizations — tax provisions for insurers, certain other business types and tax-exempt and government organizations

Related Resources

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reposting] 1 in 4 has alarmingly few intestinal bacteria

From the 27 August 2013 EurkAlert

All people have trillions of bacteria living in their intestines. If you place them on a scale, they weigh around 1.5 kg. Previously, a major part of these ‘blind passengers’ were unknown, as they are difficult or impossible to grow in laboratories. But over the past five years, an EU-funded research team, MetaHIT, coordinated by Professor S. Dusko Ehrlich at the INRA Research Centre of Jouy-en-Josas, France and with experts from Europe and China have used advanced DNA analysis and bioinformatics methods to map human intestinal bacteria.

-The genetic analysis of intestinal bacteria from 292 Danes shows that about a quarter of us have up to 40% less gut bacteria genes and correspondingly fewer bacteria than average. Not only has this quarter fewer intestinal bacteria, but they also have reduced bacterial diversity and they harbour more bacteria causing a low-grade inflammation of the body. This is a representative study sample, and the study results can therefore be generalised to people in the Western world, says Oluf Pedersen, Professor and Scientific Director at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

Oluf Pedersen and Professor Torben Hansen have headed the Danish part of the MetaHIT project, and the findings are reported in the highly recognised scientific journal Nature.

The gut is like a rainforest

Oluf Pedersen compares the human gut and its bacteria with a tropical rainforest. He explains that we need as much diversity as possible, and – as is the case with the natural tropical rainforests – decreasing diversity is a cause for concern. It appears that the richer and more diverse the composition of our intestinal bacteria, the stronger our health. The bacteria produce vital vitamins, mature and strengthen our immune system and communicate with the many nerve cells and hormone-producing cells in the intestinal system. And, not least, the bacteria produce a wealth of bioactive substances which penetrate into the bloodstream and affect our biology in countless ways.

-Our study shows that people having few and less diverse intestinal bacteria are more obese than the rest. They have a preponderance of bacteria which exhibit the potential to cause mild inflammation in the digestive tract and in the entire body, which is reflected in blood samples that reveal a state of chronic inflammation, which we know from other studies to affect metabolism and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, says Oluf Pedersen.

-And we also see that if you belong to the group with less intestinal bacteria and have already developed obesity, you will also gain more weight over a number of years. We don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg, but one thing is certain: it is a vicious circle that poses a health threat, says the researcher.

Take care of your intestinal bacteria

The researchers thus still cannot explain why some people have fewer intestinal bacteria, but the researchers are focusing their attention at dietary components, genetic variation in the human host, exposure to antimicrobial agents during early childhood and the chemistry we encounter daily in the form of preservatives and disinfectants.

A French research team reports a study in the same issue of Nature showing that by maintaining a low-fat diet for just six weeks, a group of overweight individuals with fewer and less diverse intestinal bacteria may, to some extent, increase the growth of intestinal bacteria, both in terms of actual numbers and diversity.

-This indicates that you can repair some of the damage to your gut bacteria simply by changing your dietary habits. Our intestinal bacteria are actually to be considered an organ just like our heart and brain, and the presence of health-promoting bacteria must therefore be cared for in the best way possible. Over the next years, we will be gathering more knowledge of how best to do this,” says Oluf Pedersen, whose research team is studying, among other things, the impact of dietary gluten on gut bacteria composition and gut function.

Towards innovative early diagnostics and treatment options

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are not just a result of unfortunate combinations of intestinal bacteria or lack of health-promoting intestinal bacteria, Oluf Pedersen emphasises. There are likely many causal factors at play. But the MetaHit researchers’ contribution opens a new universe in which we begin to understand how gut bacteria in direct contact with the surrounding environment have a decisive impact on our health and risk of disease.

-At present we cannot do anything about our own DNA, individual variation in which also plays a crucial role in susceptibility for lifestyle diseases. But thanks to the new gut microbiota research, we now can start exploring interactions between host genetics and the gut bacteria- related environment which we may be able to change. That is why it is so exciting for us scientist within this research field– the possibilities are huge, says Oluf Pedersen.

-The long-term dream is to map and characterize any naturally occurring gut bacteria that produce appetite-inhibiting bioactive substances and in this way learn to exploit the body’s own medicine to prevent the obesity epidemic and type 2 diabetes, says Oluf Pedersen.

 

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

[Reposting] A Major Cause of Age-Related Memory Loss Identified: Potentially Reversible

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 28 August 2013 article at Science Daily

 

A team of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers, led by Nobel laureate Eric R. Kandel, MD, has found that deficiency of a protein called RbAp48 in the hippocampus is a significant contributor to age-related memory loss and that this form of memory loss is reversible. The study, conducted in postmortem human brain cells and in mice, also offers the strongest causal evidence that age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease are distinct conditions.

…….

“The fact that we were able to reverse age-related memory loss in mice is very encouraging,” said Dr. Kandel. “Of course, it’s possible that other changes in the DG contribute to this form of memory loss. But at the very least, it shows that this protein is a major factor, and it speaks to the fact that age-related memory loss is due to a functional change in neurons of some sort. Unlike with Alzheimer’s, there is no significant loss of neurons.”

Finally, the study data suggest that RbAp48 protein mediates its effects, at least in part, through the PKA-CREB1-CBP pathway, which the team had found in earlier studies to be important for age-related memory loss in the mouse. According to the researchers, RbAp48 and the PKA-CREB1-CBP pathway are valid targets for therapeutic intervention. Agents that enhance this pathway have already been shown to improve age-related hippocampal dysfunction in rodents.

“Whether these compounds will work in humans is not known,” said Dr. Small. “But the broader point is that to develop effective interventions, you first have to find the right target. Now we have a good target, and with the mouse we’ve developed, we have a way to screen therapies that might be effective, be they pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, or physical and cognitive exercises.”

“There’s been a lot of handwringing over the failures of drug trials based on findings from mouse models of Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Small said. “But this is different. Alzheimer’s does not occur naturally in the mouse. Here, we’ve caused age-related memory loss in the mouse, and we’ve shown it to be relevant to human aging.”

 

 

 

Read the entire article

 

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry | , , , | Leave a comment

Substance use by adolescents on an average day is alarming

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I am all for decriminalizing illegal drug use. However, I am very concerned about substance abuse, especially among folks whose brains are still developing (and this goes on until age 25 or so).

From the abstract of the report at Full Text Reports

On an average day, 881,684 teenagers aged 12 to 17 smoked cigarettes, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).   The report also says that on average day 646,707 adolescents smoked marijuana and 457,672 drank alcohol.
To provide some perspective, the number of adolescents using marijuana on an average day could almost fill the Indianapolis Speedway (seating capacity 250,000 seats) two and a half times.
“This data about adolescents sheds new light on how deeply substance use pervades the lives of many young people and their families,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “While other studies indicate that significant progress has been made in lowering the levels of some forms of substance use among adolescents in the past decade, this report shows that far too many young people are still at risk.”
The report, which highlights the substance abuse behavior and addiction treatment activities that occur among adolescents on an average day, draws on a variety of SAMHSA data sets.
The report also sheds light on how many adolescents aged 12 to 17 used illegal substances for the first time.  On an average day:
  • 7,639 drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,594 used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 4,000 adolescents used marijuana for the first time;
  • 3,701 smoked cigarettes for the first time; and
  • 2,151 misused prescription pain relievers for the first time.

Using data from SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), the report also analyzes how many adolescents aged 12 to 17 were receiving treatment for a substance abuse problem during an average day.  These numbers included:

  • Over 71,000 in outpatient treatment,
  • More than 9,302 in non-hospital residential treatment, and
  • Over 1,258 in hospital inpatient treatment.

In terms of hospital emergency department visits involving adolescents aged 12 to 17, on an average day marijuana is involved in 165 visits, alcohol is involved in 187 visits and misuse of prescription or nonprescription pain relievers is implicated in 74 visits.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service that people – including adolescents and their family members — can contact when facing substance abuse and mental health issues. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information in print on substance abuse and mental health issues. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the online treatment locators at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

The complete report contains many other facts about the scope and nature of adolescent substance abuse, treatment and treatment admissions patterns and is available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2K13/CBHSQ128/sr128-typical-day-adolescents-2013.pdf. It was drawn from analyses of SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Treatment Episode Data Set, and National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, and Drug Abuse Warning Network.

 

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Statistics, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We face an epidemic of excessive busyness

 

From the 11 August 2013 KevinMD.com article

 

In the past few years, I’ve observed an epidemic of sorts: patient after patient suffering from the same condition. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, bowel disturbances, back pain, and weight gain. There are no blood tests or x-rays diagnostic of this condition, and yet it’s easy to recognize. The condition is excessive busyness. It’s one with which, as a fellow sufferer, I empathize especially.

Being excessively busy has become so much a part of our culture that we’ve developed an extended vocabulary for it, like Eskimos and snow: tapped out, laid flat, on overload, crazy busy, fried. The other day, while discussing an interesting potential project with me, a colleague asked if I “had the bandwidth” to take it on.

The pervasiveness of busyness is such that we may not even notice it anymore. A patient of mine wanted to be tested for anemia–why else could she be so tired? It didn’t occur to her that working full time, going to school, and caring for a severely disabled child might have something to do with her exhaustion.

….

For the poor, as this recent editorial by science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff points out, stress has a particularly pernicious effect on health. Velasquez-Manoff points out that it’s not busyness itself, but lack of control and resources to deal with stress that busyness engenders that makes poor people less healthy than rich people. He writes:

It’s not necessarily the strain of a chief executive facing a lengthy to-do list, or a well-to-do parent’s agonizing over a child’s prospects of acceptance to an elite school. Unlike those of lower rank, both the C.E.O. and the anxious parent have resources with which to address the problem. By definition, the poor have far fewer.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , | 1 Comment

LSD and Other Psychedelics Not Linked With Mental Health Problems, Analysis Suggests

Well, I still don’t feel inclined to try any…despite my FB profile.

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Could psychedelics be healthy for you?

The researchers found that lifetime use of psilocybin or mescaline and past year use of LSD were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress. Lifetime use of LSD was also significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medicine prescription.

The design of the study makes it impossible to determine exactly why the researchers found what they found.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others,” they wrote.

Nevertheless, “recent clinical trials have also failed to find any evidence of any lasting harmful effects of psychedelics,” the researchers said, which supports the robustness of the PLOS ONE findings.

In fact, says Krebs, “many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics.”

From the 19th August 2013 article at ScienceDaily

The use of LSD, magic mushrooms, or peyote does not increase a person’s risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 130,000 randomly chosen people, including 22,000 people who had used psychedelics at least once.

“After adjusting for other risk factors, lifetime use of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline or peyote, or past year use of LSD was not associated with a higher rate of mental health problems or receiving mental health treatment,” says Johansen.

Could psychedelics be healthy for you?

The researchers found that lifetime use of psilocybin or mescaline and past year use of LSD were associated with lower rates of serious psychological distress. Lifetime use of LSD was also significantly associated with a lower rate of outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric medicine prescription.

The design of the study makes it impossible to determine exactly why the researchers found what they found.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others,” they wrote.

Nevertheless, “recent clinical trials have also failed to find any evidence of any lasting harmful effects of psychedelics,” the researchers said, which supports the robustness of the PLOS ONE findings.

In fact, says Krebs, “many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics.”

……….

Read the entire article here

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

Water Exercises

IF you’re only swimming laps when you’re in the water, then you’re missing out on a fun strength-training workout.

Water offers 12 times as much resistance as air, so it’s easy to do a total body workout quickly with the help of just a kickboard.

Sara Haley, a Santa Monica, California-based celebrity trainer who has developed workouts for “Cirque du Soleil” and created the DVD Sweat Unlimited(amazon.com), has put together this water workout, which provides cardio and toning. You may repeat the entire sequence two to three times.

Lunge and swoosh

Muscles targeted: Chest, glutes and legs

Warm up with this move. Stand in shallow water with your feet together, holding a kickboard at your chest. Since this is a warm-up, keep light resistance, with only about a third of the kickboard in the water.

Step out to the right in a plie squat (hips rotated out). As you squat, swoosh the kickboard (or just your arms if you don’t have a kickboard) in a big half circle to the right. Repeat to your left.

Continue alternating right and left – four on each side.

Working out in a pool provides resistance with less stress on joints. Sara Haley demonstrates a

The ‘jog and kick’.

Jog and kick

Muscles targeted: Quads, hamstrings, back, triceps and core

With straight arms, hold the long sides of the kickboard above your head. Alternate lifting your knees to your chest eight times. Then, push the kickboard down into the water to chest level so one side is facing you.

To keep the kickboard under the water with straight arms, you’ll need to squeeze your shoulder blades together, engaging your triceps and back. As you hold the kickboard, alternate kicking your bottom, doing hamstring curls eight times.

Repeat the entire exercise eight times, trying to increase your speed. It should be difficult to breathe by the time you’re done.

Push and lift

Muscles targeted: Chest, core, legs and glutes

Begin with your feet together, holding your kickboard against your chest. Step one foot forward into a lunge position, pushing the kickboard forward so your arms are straight.

The deeper the kickboard is, the harder this exercise will be.

Hinge at the hips and lift your back leg up as if you are trying to kick your foot out of the water. Point your foot and pulse your back leg up so that your foot flutter kicks out of the water six times.

Lower your leg, step back together, bringing your kickboard back to your chest and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating right and left for a total of eight times.

Cowboy knees

Muscles targeted: Obliques

Hold the kickboard behind your head to help open your chest. Turning out from your hips, lift your right leg up. As your knee lifts, your upper body should also lift up and over toward your knee so your knee and elbow come closer together.

Repeat 10 times on the right side and then 10 times on the left. Finish by alternating right and left at a quick pace 10 times.

Bye-bye saddlebags

Muscles targeted: Outer thighs and glutes

Hold your kickboard on your left side for support. Your left forearm rests on the board and your right arm crosses in front of your body so your right hand can also rest gently on the board. The kickboard will help support your balance.

Let your left leg turn out (your knee may bend slightly – this will be your supporting leg). Lift your right heel up to the side to hip level. Lift and lower 10 times. On your last rep, keep your leg lifted and pulse it up 10 times. Repeat on the other side.

Upper-body blast

Muscles targeted: Back, biceps and triceps

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold your kickboard like a plate. Slowly push the kickboard straight down into the water, and then curl it back up toward your chest.

Repeat the sequence eight times. Count to four as you lower and lift it again.

Abs tuck and twist

Muscles targeted: Abs and obliques

You don’t need your kickboard for this one. Start with your feet together and your elbows bent so your hands are up at your chest. Soften your knees and then jump, bringing your knees to your chest.

As your knees come up, push your hands into the water. Repeat eight times.

Then, repeat the entire exercise but angle your knees to your right, keeping your torso to the front so you can work your left oblique, repeating eight times. Do the same to the left.

Finally, tuck to the front, angle to the right, tuck to the front, angle to the left and repeat four times. – Chicago Tribune/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

August 26, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | 1 Comment

[Reblog]Trouble Sleeping? Go Camping

800px-Camping_at_Merlin_Meadows_-_Flickr_-_Graham_Grinner_Lewis

From the 2 August 2013 article at Scientific American

Artificial light sources can negatively affect circadian rhythms, scientists say

By Joel N. Shurkin and Inside Science News Service

This story was originally published byInside Science News Service.

Throughout most of human history, humans went to bed shortly after the sun went down and woke up in the morning as it rose. There were candles and later oil lamps, but the light was not very bright so people still went to bed early.

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder found that if you live by the sun’s schedule, you are more likely to go to bed at least an hour earlier, wake up an hour earlier, and be less groggy, because your internal clock and external reality are more in sync. The sun adjusts your clock to what may be its natural state, undoing the influence of light bulbs.

The work is published in the current issue of the journal Current Biology.

The disconnect between the outside environment and sleep is one reason why even native Alaskans have problems sleeping in the almost endless days of the Arctic summers, and get depressed during the long nights of winters.

The subjects in the Colorado study lived more normal lives.

Read the entire article here

August 6, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog]The rich really are different: Their bodies contain unique chemical pollutants

Disparity of rich and poor in Rio de Janeiro

Disparity of rich and poor in Rio de Janeiro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 5 August 2013 article at Quartz by Christopher Mims

“Tell me what kinds of toxins are in your body, and I’ll tell you how much you’re worth,” could be the new motto of doctors everywhere. In a finding that surprised even the researchers conducting the study, it turns out that both rich and poor Americans are walking toxic waste dumps for chemicals like mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and bisphenol A, which could be a cause of infertility. And while a buildup of environmental toxins in the body afflicts rich and poor alike, the type of toxin varies by wealth.

America’s rich are harboring chemicals associated with what are normally considered healthy lifestyles

People who can afford sushi and other sources of aquatic lean protein appear to be paying the price with a buildup of heavy metals in their bodies, found Jessica Tyrrell and colleagues from the University of Exeter. Using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Tyrrell et al. found that compared to poorer people, the rich had higher levels of mercury, arsenic, caesium and thallium, all of which tend to accumulate in fish and shellfish.

The rich also had higher levels of benzophenone-3, aka oxybenzone, the active ingredient in most sunscreens, which is under investigation by the EU and, argue some experts, may actually encourage skin cancer.

America’s poor have toxins associated with exposure to plastics and cigarette smoke

Higher rates of cigarette smoking among those of lower means seem to be associated with higher levels of lead and cadmium. Poor people in America also had higher levels of Bisphenol-A, a substance used to line cans and other food containers, and which is banned in the EU, Malaysia, South Africa, China and, in the US, in baby bottles.

Previous research has established that rich Americans are more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables and less likely to eat “energy-dense” fast food and snacks, but this work establishes that in some ways, in moving up the economic ladder Americans are simply trading one set of environmental toxins for another.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Some Libraries Resist Assisting ObamaCare – Some Librarians Express Concerns

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 Reblogged from 21st Century Library Blog:

While I’ve been busy with other things, I let this issue raised at ALA slip past unnoticed. Issues in library world don’t go unnoticed for very long, especially when they deal with government intrusion. Apparently, during ALA 2013 Conference a video was played in which there was a White House appeal to public librarians to help Americans understand the new Affordable Healthcare Act insurance system that goes into effect whenever – maybe.

Read more… 1,597 more words

I am hoping that the federal government can do a bit more to provide resources for librarians about ACA.

Back in my public library days, it wasn’t easy working with patrons when the topic was against my views!

However, I always tried to address people’s information needs without bias and as completely as possible with factual information.

“ObamaCare” questions are in the same arena.  While librarians cannot advise or fill out forms, they can at least lead folks to factual information. However, this would work best if the federal government would do everything possible to lighten the load for libraries.  This would include providing readable materials for consumers, as well as “pathways” for librarians.

Also, libraries can welcome trained volunteers and organizations to give in-depth information to folks. Many already do this around tax time with IRS trained volunteers.

Here in Toledo, folks from legal aid organizations “set up shop” in public libraries to assist folks. Representatives from the Ohio Benefit Bank do likewise. These volunteers screen people for government assistance programs as SNAP and the Medicare Savings Program.

It sure would be great if government employees and/or trained volunteers could do likewise for “ObamaCare”.  Areas could include the health exchange marketplace, Medicaid expansion, free preventative care, and more.

And with articles as this, there is a real need for information professionals, including librarians!

Ohio insurance department claims Obamacare premium rates to rise 41 percent (Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 1, 2013)

Ohio insurance regulators Thursday released rates for health insurance to be sold on the new state marketplace and said premiums for individuals will rise an average of 41 percent compared with 2013 rates.
That average brought immediate condemnation from critics of the Affordable Care Act, with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a southwest Ohio Republican, calling it “irrefutable evidence” that the law known as Obamacare is driving up costs and hurting the economy……..

Related articles

“…only 11 percent of respondents presented with a traditional insurance plan incorporating all four of these elements were able to compute the cost of a four-day hospital stay when given the information that should have enabled them to do so…

“”The ACA deals with the problem of consumer misunderstanding by requiring insurance companies to publish standardized and simplified information about insurance plans, including what consumers would pay for four basic services,” noted lead author Loewenstein. “However, presenting simplified information about something that is inherently complex introduces a risk of ‘smoothing over’ real complexities. A better approach, in my view, would be to require insurance companies to offer truly simplified insurance products that consumers are capable of understanding.”

August 2, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Originally posted on Medication Health News:

Are you up-to-date on your immunizations? August is National Immunization Awareness month, a public health campaign sponsored by the CDC to recognized the importance of vaccination and to bring awareness to vaccinations that are not meeting national goals. Vaccines are the best prevention for some serious often life-threatening illnesses. This campaign is targeting a different group each week during the month of August: students starting college, students k-12, adults 26+, and pregnant women and newborns. The CDC is providing educational materials to healthcare providers so that they can encourage their patients to get immunized. Accessibility to vaccines has improved now that many pharmacists can deliver adult vaccinations. Howis your pharmacy taking advantage of this campaign toimprove vaccination rates in adults?

For more information click here CDC

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August 2, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Healthcare Information For All

Janice Flahiff:

This is one noble cause!  However, I think that education should go hand in hand with this.
It is one thing to have access to healthcare information. Another thing to understand and be able to use information.

Still, I am hoping that telecoms get on board, and give back to their communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted on Soumyadeep B:

exclusive HIFA 2015 – the global NGO aiming to make a world where no one is dying due to lack of knowledge has come up with a a smart goal to achieve it.

It wants that  “By 2015, at least one telecoms provider, in at least one country, will endorse the vision of Healthcare Information For All, and will provide free access to essential healthcare knowledge in the local language, pre loaded on all new mobile phones they may sell and freely downloadable to all those who already have a mobile phone.”

The idea called as the mHIFA smart goal is specifically “concerned with the health information needs of citizens, parents and children, in recognition of the huge (and largely unrealized) potential of mobile phones to meet basic healthcare information needs of citizens, parents and children. ”

It builds up on the concept that in in low and middle income countries the top…

View original 84 more words

July 31, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Childhood economic status affects substance use among young adults

A NIDA educational pamphlet.

A NIDA educational pamphlet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 29 July 2013 EurekAlert

 

DURHAM, N.C. – Children who grow up in poverty are more likely than wealthier children to smoke cigarettes, but they are less likely to binge drink and are no more prone to use marijuana, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

The researchers also found that economic strains in early life – including family worries about paying bills or needing to sell possessions for cash – independently erode a child’s self-control, regardless of strong parenting in adolescence. Lack of self-control often leads to substance use.

The findings, appearing July 30, 2013, in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, debunk common assumptions about who abuses substances, and provide a basis for better approaches to prevent young people from falling into drug and alcohol addiction.

“Poverty during childhood not only appears to affect child development, but can have lasting effects on the types of health choices made during adolescence and early adulthood, especially as it relates to cigarette smoking,” said senior author Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., MPH, MS, associate professor in Community and Family Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. “Economic strains may shape an individual’s capacity for self-control by diminishing opportunities for self-regulation, or affecting important brain structures.”

Fuemmeler and colleagues at Duke set out to examine the direct effect of childhood economic strains on smoking, binge drinking, and marijuana use in young adults. They also sought to determine how financial difficulties impact self-control, and how positive parenting might mitigate the tendency to use drugs and alcohol.

The group analyzed data from 1,285 children and caregivers included in a representative sample of U.S. families studied from 1986-2009. Economic status was measured by annual family income, plus a survey with questions about economic problems such as difficulty paying bills or postponing medical care. Additional information was gathered to gauge childhood self-control and parental interactions.

Among the study participants who were transitioning to adulthood, young people who lived in poverty as children were far more likely to become regular cigarette smokers than children who grew up in wealthier households. The impoverished children also scored low on self-control measures.

“Poor self-control may be a product of limited learning resources and opportunities for developing appropriate behaviors,” Fuemmeler said.

Binge drinking, however, was much more common among the wealthier young people. And surprisingly, those who had good self-control as children were more likely to engage in heavy episodic drinking as young adults.

Neither wealth nor poverty appeared to influence marijuana use, although positive parenting did reduce the use of this drug. Parents who were nurturing and accepting, in fact, diminished the likelihood of young people using any of the substances.

The researchers also found no correlation between economic hardship and poor parenting – a contradiction to some other studies.

“We suspected we’d find a relationship between parenting and economic problems – the idea that economic strains may cause parents to have less capacity to deal with their children, but that relationship wasn’t there,” Fuemmeler said. “That means it’s not necessarily poverty that affects the parenting strategy, but poverty that affects the children’s self-control.”

Fuemmeler said the findings are important given the increase in U.S. children living in poverty. The U.S. Census Bureau reported 22 percent of children lived in poverty in 2010, compared to 18 percent in 2000.

“Continued work is needed to better understand how economic strains may influence the development of self-control, as well as to identify other potential mediators between economic strains and substance use outcomes,” Fuemmeler said.

 

###

In addition to Fuemmeler, study authors include Chien-Ti Lee, Joseph McClernon, Scott H. Kollins and Kevin Prybol.

The National Institutes of Health (RO1 DA030487), the National Cancer Institute (K07CA124905) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (K24DA023464) funded the study.

 

 

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook medical advice isn’t what’s best for your child

From the 29 July 2013 KevinMD.com article

 | SOCIAL MEDIA | JULY 29, 2013

It happens about once a week. As I scroll through Facebook and peruse the latest happenings, I notice that someone (usually a mom of small children, like me) has posed a question to their Facebook friends about some type of health dilemma.

“Little Sally is cutting teeth, and she’s miserable. What can I give her to make her feel better?”

“Johnny has such a bad cough, and he can barely breathe. Anyone used Vick’s Vaporub on a baby before?”

“Took  Sam for his 4-month checkup today. Dr. says I should wait to start giving him baby food until 6 months, but I feel like he’s ready. Any moms have some advice?”

I’ve seen each of these health concerns voiced on Facebook along with many others. Various friends weigh in with their tidbits of advice or personal experience, and usually the mom will choose from those options and then report back about how that advice worked.

Here’s the problem: all health information isn’t created equal.

And crowdsourcing for medical advice isn’t likely to result in the best outcome for your child.

Although the Facebook community recommended several products for Sally’s mom to try to ease teething pain, they were likely unaware that many of these products are no longer recommended for infants because of serious health risks associated with their use.

While Johnny’s mom’s Facebook friends offered enthusiastic support for rubbing Vick’s VapoRub on his chest, feet, and even putting it under his nose, they didn’t know that this product can be harmful to children under two years of age.

Read the entire article here (which includes great Web sites for child health/medical information)

Related resources

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just under a third of us will reach 65 “healthy”

Janice Flahiff:

 

Write text here…

 

Originally posted on 2020health's Blog:

Guest blog by Matt Hawkins, Policy and Public Affairs Assistant at the International Longevity Centre-UK

Discussion at an International Longevity Centre-UK, (ILC-UK) event held on Monday, Longevity, health and public policy, revealed that only just short of a third of the UK population will reach retirement “healthy”. Gains in life expectancy have outstripped gains in healthy life expectancy, meaning that potentially over two thirds of people in the UK could find that they are living their retirement years in ill-health.

As a think-tank dedicated to addressing the impacts of our ageing society across generations and throughout the life-course, these findings are of particular concern to ILC-UK. If people are reaching older age in ill-health then this is going to significantly decrease their capacity to remain in work and significantly increase their care needs.

Monday’s event sought to identify the obstacles we face in promoting a healthier older population and…

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July 26, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Marijuana Use in Adolescence May Cause Permanent Brain Abnormalities, Mouse Study Suggests

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

While I believe the so called War on Drugs has largely been a failure, I am concerned about young folks indulging in substances that can have permanent health effects.

 

 

 

From the 24 July 2013 article at Science News Daily

 

Regular marijuana use in adolescence, but not adulthood, may permanently impair brain function and cognition, and may increase the risk of developing serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, according to a recent study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Researchers hope that the study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology – a publication of the journal Nature – will help to shed light on the potential long-term effects of marijuana use, particularly as lawmakers in Maryland and elsewhere contemplate legalizing the drug.

“Over the past 20 years, there has been a major controversy about the long-term effects of marijuana, with some evidence that use in adolescence could be damaging,” says the study’s senior author Asaf Keller, Ph.D., Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Previous research has shown that children who started using marijuana before the age of 16 are at greater risk of permanent cognitive deficits, and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. There likely is a genetic susceptibility, and then you add marijuana during adolescence and it becomes the trigger.”

“Adolescence is the critical period during which marijuana use can be damaging,” says the study’s lead author, Sylvina Mullins Raver, a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We wanted to identify the biological underpinnings and determine whether there is a real, permanent health risk to marijuana use.”

……

 

 

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Focus on Active Ingredients – Not Brands

Janice Flahiff:

Easy to do! Sometimes, tho’ it might take a magnifying glass to read the fine print. But well worth the effort.

Originally posted on 2020health's Blog:

Guest blog post by Sandy Getzky, associate editor at ProveMyMeds, a public health and education startup focused on producing helpful resources concerning the treatment of common ailments. 

I work for a startup called: ProveMyMeds. And when I tell people this they usually assume we are some “Big Pharma” subsidiary tasked with proving the effectiveness of certain drugs. Not quite. We exist for the simple purpose of exposing the science of products and looking past brands and marketing. Let me explain with an example:

Which of these four sports drinks would you choose after your workout?

  1. Dihydrogen Monoxide. A research-based beverage containing ingredients scientifically proven to help your body transfer its internal healing nutrients to muscles and systems that need rebuilding.
  2. Aqua Fria. When you’re hot after a workout, Agua Fria cools you down and helps you feel better.
  3. Eau d’Vie. Working out isn’t just about building strength and…

View original 425 more words

July 24, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life expectancy, life disparity

Originally posted on Family Inequality:

This is a serious post about life expectancy and inequality. But first a short rant.

Quick: Life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 Your parents are 85. How much longer are they expected to live? If you were worried about how much time you had left to spend with them, and you asked the helpful site seeyourfolks.com, you would get this:

seeyourfolksThis app, and the Slate piece about it, managed to combined two of my pet peeves: the understandable difficulty with understanding life expectancy, and the inexcusable use of second-person reporting on social science findings, which does more to discredit than to disseminate important research.

The error here (apart from “you”) is the common notion that “life expectancy” is the average age at which people of any current age can expect to die. If we were more rigorous about using the phrase “life expectancy at birth” it would be easier…

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July 24, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

Think before you drink: Erosion of tooth enamel from soda pop is permanent

This is an example of Dental Erosion

This is an example of Dental Erosion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 24 July 2013 article at Medical News Today

 

You may be saving calories by drinking diet soda, but when it comes to enamel erosion of your teeth, it’s no better than regular soda.

In the last 25 years, Kim McFarland, D.D.S., associate professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, has seen an increase in the number of dental patients with erosion of the tooth enamel – the protective layer of the tooth. Once erosion occurs, it can’t be reversed and affects people their whole life.

“I’d see erosion once in a while 25 years ago but I see much more prevalence nowadays,” Dr. McFarland said. “A lot of young people drink massive quantities of soda. It’s no surprise we’re seeing more sensitivity.”

Triggers like hot and cold drinks – and even cold air – reach the tooth’s nerve and cause pain. Depending on the frequency and amount of soda consumed, the erosion process can be extreme.

Dr. McFarland said it’s best not to drink soda at all, but she offers tips for those who continue to drink it.

  • Limit consumption of soda to meal time
  • Don’t drink soda throughout the day
  • Brush your teeth afterwards — toothpaste re-mineralizes or strengthens areas where acid weakened the teeth
  • If tooth brushing is not possible, at least rinse out your mouth with water
  • Chew sugar free gum or better yet, gum containing Xylitol.

 

 

July 24, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

No Link Between Prenatal Mercury Exposure and Autism-Like Behaviors Found

Subject: Quinn, a boy with autism, and the lin...

Subject: Quinn, a boy with autism, and the line of toys he made before falling asleep See more about Quinn at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7kHSOgauhg Date: Circa 2003 Place: Walnut Creek, California Photographer: Andwhatsnext Original digital photograph (cropped and resized) Credit: Copyright (c) 2003 by Nancy J Price (aka Mom) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 23 July 2013 article at Science News Daily

 

The potential impact of exposure to low levels of mercury on the developing brain — specifically by women consuming fish during pregnancy — has long been the source of concern and some have argued that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism. However, a new study that draws upon more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles reports that there is no association between pre-natal mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors.

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

July 24, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘The View’, Jenny McCarthy, and a public health nightmare

Originally posted on You Think You Know:

There’s been a lot in the new recently about the decision to hire Jenny McCarthy to replace Elizabeth Hasselback on “The View”.  I cant say that I’m particularly sad to see Hasselback go, as I was never a fan of her conservative “values” but the hiring of Jenny McCarthy – as has been pointed out by many – amounts to a public health nightmare.

For those of you who don’t know, McCarthy is a staunch believer that vaccines caused her son to have autism.  Furthermore, she is an outspoken advocate for not vaccinating children and both encourages and supports parents who choose not to do so.  McCarthy is a strong supporter of UK physician Andrew Wakefield, who published a study in 1998 showing that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine causes autism.  That very study has been discredited as a fraud, and follow up studies have disproved Wakefield’s claim.  Despite…

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July 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Handle Mold/Mycotoxin Exposure at Home or at Work – Where To Get Help

Janice Flahiff:

I usually don’t reblog articles that endorse commercial products or alternative/complementary medicine (without biomedical evidence).
Still, this post had a lot of good information on testing and one’s rights.

A few years back at a library where I worked, some of the folks at circulation were having breathing difficulties. They believed it was the HVAC system, but did not report it. Now I wish I could have worked with them to report it….
The folks at the circ desk were union, I was not. So they were more protected than I…..

Resources

Originally posted on Mom's Mold Resources:

ahelp
We are getting a lot of inquiries about where to go for testing and treatment after exposure to toxic levels of Mycotoxins from damp and moldy environments.

Unfortunately few doctors are experienced in testing or treating patients that are suffering from Biotoxin Illness and other health issues that arise after living or working for long periods of time inside of a home/office/school with poor indoor air.

My best advise is to try to find an Environmental Medicine Specialist either in the US or abroad.  Surprisingly Spain has a high incidence of people affected by chemicals that require treatment for MSC (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) so there seems to be more Environmental Medicine doctors available there.

In the US I have been able to make contact with several doctors and centers who have treated people I have met along my journey.

Dr Gray in Arizona has been mentioned countless times by people…

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July 20, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, environmental health, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2013 World Drug Report: stability in use of traditional drugs, alarming rise in new psychoactive substances

From the summary at Full Text Reports

 

2013 World Drug Report: stability in use of traditional drugs, alarming rise in new psychoactive substances
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

The 2013 World Drug Report released today in Vienna shows that, while the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine seems to be declining in some parts of the world, prescription drug abuse and new psychoactive substance [NPS]

An arrangement of psychoactive drugs

An arrangement of psychoactive drugs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

abuse is growing. In a special high-level event of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov urged concerted action to prevent the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of these substances.

Marketed as ‘legal highs’ and ‘designer drugs’, NPS are proliferating at an unprecedented rate and posing unforeseen public health challenges. The report shows that the number of NPS reported to UNODC rose from 166 at the end of 2009 to 251 by mid-2012, an increase of more than 50 per cent. For the first time, the number of NPS exceeded the total number of substances under international control (234). Since new harmful substances have been emerging with unfailing regularity on the drug scene, the international drug control system is now challenged by the speed and creativity of the NPS phenomenon.

This is an alarming drug problem – but the drugs are legal. Sold openly, including via the internet, NPS, which have not been tested for safety, can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs. Street names, such as “spice”, “meow-meow” and “bath salts” mislead young people into believing that they are indulging in low-risk fun. Given the almost infinite scope to alter the chemical structure of NPS, new formulations are outpacing efforts to impose international control. While law enforcement lags behind, criminals have been quick to tap into this lucrative market. The adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood.

The global picture for the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine shows some stability. In Europe, heroin use seems to be declining. Meanwhile, the cocaine market seems to be expanding in South America and in the emerging economies in Asia. Use of opiates (heroin and opium), on the other hand, remains stable (around 16 million people, or 0.4 per cent of the population aged 15-64), although a high prevalence of opiate use has been reported from South-West and Central Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and North America.

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, statistics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whole Chickens from Farmers Markets May Have More Pathogenic Bacteria

Chickens

Chickens (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)

 

From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily

 

Raw, whole chickens purchased from farmers markets throughout Pennsylvania contained significantly higher levels of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness compared to those purchased from grocery stores in the region, according to a small-scale study by researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

..

Of 100 whole chickens purchased from farmers markets, 90 percent tested positive for Campylobacter and 28 percent harbored Salmonella.

By comparison, during the same period, 20 percent of raw, whole, organic chickens purchased from grocery stores were found to contain Campylobacterbacteria, and 28 percent tested positive for Salmonella. Just 8 percent of raw, whole, nonorganic, conventionally processed chickens from the grocery stores tested positive for Campylobacter and 52 percent of those contained Salmonella.

Overall, the chickens purchased at the farmers markets carried higher bacterial loads than the birds purchased at grocery stores.

..

“We are not doing the research to scare consumers or put people out of business; we’re here to improve public health,” she said. “We can train farmers and vendors to produce a safer product that won’t make people sick. This approach also has the potential to help consumers feel more confident about buying their locally grown and processed products.”

Bacteria that cause foodborne illness, such as Campylobacterand Salmonella, are destroyed by proper cooking of poultry products; however, they also can cause cross-contamination if they come in contact with other foods through contaminated cutting boards, sinks, countertops or utensils.

….

 

Related Resource

 

 

 

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

Eww! Only 5 Percent Wash Hands Correctly

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

Eww! Only 5 Percent Wash Hands Correctly

Source: Journal of Environmental Health (via Michigan State University)

Remember Mom’s advice about washing your hands thoroughly after using the restroom?

Apparently not.

A new study by Michigan State University researchers found that only 5 percent of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections.

What’s more, 33 percent didn’t use soap and 10 percent didn’t wash their hands at all. Men were particularly bad at washing their hands correctly.

The study, based on observations of 3,749 people in public restrooms, appears in the Journal of Environmental Health.

“These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate,” said Carl Borchgrevink, associate professor of hospitality business and lead investigator on the study.

Hand washing is the single most effective thing one can…

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

Logo of the United States National Center for ...

Logo of the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine , part of the National Institutes of Health. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 From the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

 

Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches

Introduction

People with cancer want to do everything they can to combat the disease, manage its symptoms, and cope with the side effects of treatment. Many turn to complementary health approaches, including natural products, such as herbs (botanicals) and other dietary supplements, and mind and body practices, such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga.

This fact sheet was produced through a collaboration between the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It provides an introductory overview of complementary health approaches that have been studied for cancer prevention, treatment of the disease, or symptom management, including what the science says about their effectiveness and any concerns that have been raised about their safety.

 

Key Facts

  • Symptom management. A substantial amount of scientific evidence suggests that some complementary health approaches may help to manage some symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment. For other complementary approaches, the evidence is more limited.
  • Disease treatment. At present, there is no convincing evidence that any complementary health approach is effective in curing cancer or causing it to go into remission.
  • Cancer prevention. A 2012 study indicated that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement may slightly reduce the risk of cancer in older men. No other complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful in preventing cancer.

 

Keep in Mind

  • Unproven products or practices should not be used to replace or delay conventional medical treatment for cancer.
  • Some complementary approaches can interfere with standard cancer treatments or have special risks for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Before using any complementary health approach, people who have been diagnosed with cancer should talk with their health care providers to make sure that all aspects of their care work together.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

 

About Cancer

Cancer is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and the lymph system. Although cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, improvements in screening, detection, treatment, and care have increased the number of cancer survivors, and experts expect the number of survivors to continue to increase in the coming years. Detailed information on cancer is available from NCI at www.cancer.gov.

 

About Complementary Health Approaches

Complementary health approaches are a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products whose origins come from outside of mainstream medicine. They include such products and practices as herbal supplements, other dietary supplements, meditation, spinal manipulation, and acupuncture.

The same careful scientific evaluation that is used to assess conventional therapies should be used to evaluate complementary approaches. Some complementary approaches are beginning to find a place in cancer treatment—not as cures, but as additions to treatment plans that may help patients cope with disease symptoms and side effects of treatment and improve their quality of life.

 

Use of Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer

Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer use complementary health approaches.

  • According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, 65 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary approaches, as compared to 53 percent of other respondents. Those who had been diagnosed with cancer were more likely than others to have used complementary approaches for general wellness, immune enhancement, and pain management.
  • Other surveys have also found that use of complementary health approaches is common among people who have been diagnosed with cancer, although estimates of use vary widely. Some data indicate that the likelihood of using complementary approaches varies with the type of cancer and with factors such as sex, age, and ethnicity. The results of surveys from 18 countries show that use of complementary approaches by people who had been diagnosed with cancer was more common in North America than in Australia/New Zealand or Europe and that use had increased since the 1970s and especially since 2000.
  • Surveys have also shown that many people with cancer do not tell their health care providers about their use of complementary health approaches. In the NHIS, survey respondents who had been diagnosed with cancer told their health care providers about 15 percent of their herb use and 23 percent of their total use of complementary approaches. In other studies, between 32 and 69 percent of cancer patients and survivors who used dietary supplements or other complementary approaches reported that they discussed these approaches with their physicians. The differences in the reported percentages may reflect differences in the definitions of complementary approaches used in the studies, as well as differences in the communication practices of different groups of patients.

 

Safety

  • Delaying conventional cancer treatment can decrease the chances of remission or cure. Do not use unproven products or practices to postpone or replace conventional medical treatment for cancer.
  • Some complementary health approaches may interfere with cancer treatments or be unsafe for cancer patients. For example, the herb St. John’s wort, which is sometimes used for depression, can make some cancer drugs less effective.
  • Other complementary approaches may be harmful if used inappropriately. For example, to make massage therapy safe for people with cancer, it may be necessary to avoid massaging places on the body that are directly affected by the disease or its treatment (for example, areas where the skin is sensitive following radiation therapy).
  • People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult the health care providers who are treating them for cancer before using any complementary health approach for any purpose—whether or not it is cancer-related.

 

What the Science Says

No complementary health product or practice has been proven to cure cancer. Some complementary approaches may help people manage cancer symptoms or treatment side effects and improve their quality of life.

Incorporating Complementary Health Approaches Into Cancer Care

In 2009, the Society for Integrative Oncology issued evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for health care providers to consider when incorporating complementary health approaches in the care of cancer patients. The guidelines point out that, when used in addition to conventional therapies, some of these approaches help to control symptoms and enhance patients’ well-being. The guidelines warn, however, that unproven methods should not be used in place of conventional treatment because delayed treatment of cancer reduces the likelihood of a remission or cure.

A comprehensive summary of research on complementary health approaches for cancer is beyond the scope of this fact sheet. The following sections provide an overview of the research status of some commonly used complementary approaches, highlighting results from a few reviews and studies focusing on preventing and treating the disease, as well as managing cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

Talking With Your Health Care Providers About Complementary Approaches and Cancer

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has resources that can help you talk with your health care providers about complementary approaches and cancer.

  • NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a workbook to help cancer patients and their health care providers talk about and keep track of complementary approaches that patients are using. You can download it here: cam.cancer.gov/talking_about_cam.html?cid=ARcam_camnews.
  • NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign has tips to help both patients and health care providers discuss complementary health approaches.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

Some complementary health approaches, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and yoga, may help people manage cancer symptoms or the side effects of treatment. However, some approaches may interfere with conventional cancer treatment or have other risks.People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult their health care providers before using any complementary health approach.

  • There is substantial evidence that acupuncture can help to manage treatment-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. There is not enough evidence to judge whether acupuncture is effective in relieving cancer pain or other symptoms such as treatment-related hot flashes. Complications from acupuncture are rare, as long as the acupuncturist uses sterile needles and proper procedures. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the body’s immune system, so it is especially important for acupuncturists to follow strict clean-needle procedures when treating cancer patients.
  • Recent studies suggest that the herb ginger may help to control nausea related to cancer chemotherapy when used in addition to conventional anti-nausea medication.
  • Studies suggest that massage therapy may help to relieve symptoms experienced by people with cancer, such as pain, nausea, anxiety, and depression. However, investigators have been unable to reach definite conclusions about the effects of massage therapy because of the limited amount of rigorous research in this field. People with cancer should consult their health care providers before having massage therapy to find out if any special precautions are needed. The massage therapist should not use deep or intense pressure without the health care providers’ approval and may need to avoid certain sites, such as areas directly over a tumor or those where the skin is sensitive following radiation therapy.
  • There is evidence that mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation training, can help cancer patients relieve anxiety, stress, fatigue, and general mood and sleep disturbances, thus improving their quality of life. Most participants in mindfulness studies have been patients with early-stage cancer, primarily breast cancer, so the evidence favoring mindfulness training is strongest for this group of patients.
  • Preliminary evidence indicates that yoga may help to improve anxiety, depression, distress, and stress in people with cancer. It also may help to lessen fatigue in breast cancer patients and survivors. However, only a small number of yoga studies in cancer patients have been completed, and some of the research has not been of the highest quality. Because yoga involves physical activities, it is important for people with cancer to talk with their health care providers in advance to find out whether any aspects of yoga might be unsafe for them.
  • Various studies suggest possible benefits of hypnosis, relaxation therapies, and biofeedback to help patients manage cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
  • A 2008 review of the research literature on herbal supplements and cancer concluded that although several herbs have shown promise for managing side effects and symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain, fatigue, and insomnia, the scientific evidence is limited, and many clinical trials have not been well designed. Use of herbs for managing symptoms also raises concerns about potential negative interactions with conventional cancer treatments.

Coping With Cancer

People who have cancer, or who have been treated for cancer, may have physical or emotional difficulties as a result of the disease or its treatment. Many conventional approaches can help people cope with these problems. For example, counseling may help people who are distressed about being diagnosed with cancer, medicines can control nausea related to chemotherapy, and exercise may help decrease treatment-related fatigue. Some people find that complementary approaches also help them cope with cancer and improve their quality of life. In addition, using complementary approaches can help people feel they are playing an active part in their own care. If you have cancer or if you have been treated for cancer, be sure to tell your health care providers about all approaches—both conventional and complementary—that you are using. Your health care providers need this information so they can make sure that all aspects of your care work well together. Additional information on coping with cancer is available from NCI at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Treatment

This section discusses complementary health approaches to directly treat cancer (that is, to try to cure the disease or cause a remission).

No complementary approach has been shown to cure cancer or cause it to go into remission. Some products or practices that have been advocated for cancer treatment may interfere with conventional cancer treatments or have other risks. People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult their health care providers before using any complementary health approach.

  • Studies on whether herbal supplements or substances derived from them might be of value in cancer treatment are in their early stages, and scientific evidence is limited. Herbal supplements may have side effects, and some may interact in harmful ways with drugs, including drugs used in cancer treatment.
  • The effects of taking vitamin and mineral supplements, including antioxidant supplements,during cancer treatment are uncertain. NCI advises cancer patients to talk to their health care providers before taking any supplements.
  • A 2010 NCCAM-supported trial of a standardized shark cartilage extract, taken in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, showed no benefit in patients with advanced lung cancer. An earlier, smaller study in patients with advanced breast or colorectal cancers also showed no benefit from the addition of shark cartilage to conventional treatment.
  • A 2011 systematic review of research on laetrile found no evidence that it is effective as a cancer treatment. Laetrile can be toxic, especially if taken orally, because it contains cyanide.

Beware of Cancer Treatment Frauds

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have warned the public to be aware of fraudulent cancer treatments. Cancer treatment frauds are not new, but in recent years it has become easier for the people who market them to reach the public using the Internet.

Some fraudulent cancer treatments are harmful by themselves, and others can be indirectly harmful because people may delay seeking medical care while they try them, or because the fraudulent product interferes with the effectiveness of proven cancer treatments.

The people who sell fraudulent cancer treatments often market them with claims such as “scientific breakthrough,” “miraculous cure,” “secret ingredient,” “ancient remedy,” “treats all forms of cancer,” or “shrinks malignant tumors.” The advertisements may include personal stories from people who have taken the product, but such stories—whether or not they’re real—aren’t reliable evidence that a product is effective. Also, a money-back guarantee is not proof that a product works.

If you’re considering using any anticancer product that you’ve seen in an advertisement, talk to your health care provider first. Additional information on cancer-related health frauds is available from the FDA and from the FTC.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Prevention

A large 2012 clinical trial has shown that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement may slightly reduce the risk of cancer in older men. No other complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful in preventing cancer, and some have been linked with increased health risks.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. The results of a study of older men completed in 2012 indicate that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement slightly reduces the risk of cancer. In this study, which was part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (a complex trial that tested several types of supplements), more than 14,000 male U.S. physicians were randomly assigned to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement or a placebo (an identical-appearing product that did not contain vitamins and minerals) for 11 years. Those who took the supplement had 8 percent fewer total cancers than those who took the placebo.

Other studies of vitamins and minerals—most of which evaluated supplements containing only one or a few nutrients—have not found protective effects against cancer. Some of these studies identified possible risks of supplementing with high doses of certain vitamins or related substances. Examples of research results include the following:

  • In another part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (not the part described above), supplementing with relatively high doses of either vitamin E or vitamin C did not reduce the risks of prostate cancer or total cancer in men aged 50 or older. Men taking vitamin E had an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain).
  • A 2010 meta-analysis of 22 clinical trials found no evidence that antioxidant supplements (vitamins A, C, and E; beta-carotene; and selenium) help to prevent cancer.
  • Two large-scale studies found evidence that supplements containing beta-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer among smokers.
  • The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), funded by NCI, NCCAM, and other agencies at NIH, showed that selenium and vitamin E supplements, taken either alone or together, did not prevent prostate cancer. It also showed that vitamin E supplements, taken alone, significantlyincreased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. There was no increase in prostate cancer risk when vitamin E and selenium were taken together. The doses of selenium and vitamin E used in this study were substantially higher than those typically included in multivitamin/mineral supplements.
  • Although substantial evidence suggests that calcium may help protect against colorectal cancer, the evidence of potential benefit from calcium in supplement form is limited and inconsistent. Therefore, NCI does not recommend the use of calcium supplements to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Other Natural Products. A 2009 systematic review of 51 studies with more than 1.6 million participants found “insufficient and conflicting” evidence regarding an association between consuming green tea and cancer prevention. Several other natural products, including Ginkgo biloba, isoflavones, noni, pomegranate, and grape seed extract, have been investigated for possible cancer-preventive effects, but the evidence on these substances is too limited for any conclusions to be reached.

Do You Want To Learn More About Cancer Prevention?

People can reduce their risk of cancer in many ways. They include avoiding exposure to agents that cause cancer (such as cigarette smoke), having tests (such as colonoscopies) that find precancerous conditions early, and, for some people who are at high risk, taking medicines to reduce cancer risk (chemoprevention). Additional information on cancer prevention is available from NCI.

 

NIH Research on Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer

Both NCI and NCCAM fund many laboratory studies and clinical trials related to cancer. Some ongoing studies are investigating:

  • The effects of genetic factors and intakes of calcium and magnesium on the risk of developing precancerous colorectal polyps
  • Mechanisms of action of natural products that may be of value in cancer prevention or treatment, such as bamboo extract, grape seed extract, white tea, red ginseng, and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)
  • The use of acupuncture for difficulty in swallowing after treatment for head and neck cancer
  • Mind and body practices to improve sleep in cancer patients.

Additional information is available from NCI and from NCCAM.

 

If You Have Been Diagnosed With Cancer and Are Considering a Complementary Health Approach

  • Cancer patients need to make informed decisions about using complementary health approaches. NCCAM and NCI have written a brochure that can help: Thinking About Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Guide for People With Cancer.
  • Gather information about the complementary health product or practice that interests you, and then discuss it with your health care providers. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is especially important to talk with your health care providers before you start using any new complementary health approach. If you are already using a complementary approach, tell your health care providers about it, even if your reason for using it has nothing to do with cancer. Some approaches may interfere with standard cancer treatment or may be harmful when used along with standard treatment. Examples of questions to ask include:
    • What is known about the benefits and risks of this product or practice? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
    • What are the potential side effects?
    • Will this approach interfere with conventional treatment?
    • Can you refer me to a practitioner?
  • Do not use any health product or practice that has not been proven safe and effective to replace conventional cancer care or as a reason to postpone seeing your health care provider about any health problem.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, seeNCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.

 

Key References

 

For More Information

NCCAM Clearinghouse

The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on NCCAM and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
1-866-464-3615
Web site:

National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute is the Federal Government’s lead agency for cancer research. The National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine coordinates and enhances the National Cancer Institute’s activities in CAM research.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
Web site:

NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine coordinates and enhances NCI’s activities in complementary and alternative medicine research.

Information on complementary and alternative medicine in cancer treatment:www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cam-cancer-treatment/patient/page3/AllPages

Web site:

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a Web site, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through ClinicalTrials.gov and other resources, and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials are necessary to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.

Acknowledgments

NCCAM thanks Cornelia Ulrich, Ph.D., German Cancer Research Center; Susan Folkman, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco; Jun James Mao, M.D., University of Pennsylvania; Elizabeth Austin, M.S., Robin Baldwin, B.S.N., Barbara McMakin, M.S., and Jeffrey White, M.D., National Cancer Institute; and Carol Pontzer, Ph.D., and John (Jack) Killen, Jr., M.D., NCCAM, for their contributions to the 2013 update of this publication.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.

* Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader.

NCCAM Pub No.:
D453
Date Created:
September 2005
Last Updated:
May 2013
 

 

 

 

July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disease and death in America: A poor bill of health | The Economist

Originally posted on THE POLICY THINKSHOP ___________________ "Think Together":

Health insurance coverage to help you fix decades of high cholesterol will probably not save your life.  This is the problem that America faces as it is found to be sick because of health behaviors it does not want to change.  We have the freedom to act very unhealthy and to get sick.  How much will increasing insurance coverage really improve our health?

“THE Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, faces an immediate problem. The deadline for its insurance expansion is January 1st, but each week brings some new obstacle. Even if Obamacare overcomes these, a long-term challenge will remain: the law may not improve Americans’ health. And that health is dismal, as illuminated in vivid new detail on July 10th.

Christopher Murray and his colleagues at the University of Washington have new research on which ailments plague Americans, and why. Dr Murray is due to present his findings at the…

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Survive a Heat Wave

Originally posted on Health & Family:

It’s July, and it’s hot. But with parts of the country expected to swelter under triple digit temperatures, public health officials say it’s important to heed the heat.

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | | Leave a comment

The U.S. Health Disadvantage – Part 2: Possible Causes and Solutions

Originally posted on :

by Kirsten Hartil 

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.”

Image

Reference: Mokdad AH, Marks JS, Stroup DF, Gerberding JL (March 2004). “Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000″. JAMA 291 (10): 1238–45. DOI:10.1001/jama.291.10.1238. PMID 15010446.

At least according to Article 25 of The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so why does the United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, have some of the poorest health outcomes compared to other high income countries?

My previous blog, adapted from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, described how the U.S. compares in causes of mortality and years of life lost with other high income and OECD countries. Here, as outlined in the report, I…

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July 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Health Statistics, Public Health, statistics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The Chemicals Women Wear with Additional Resources

Reblog

THE CHEMICALS WOMEN WEAR

We think it’s a treat for our skin when we exfoliate, moisturize and polish, but are we actually making ourselves sick? A recent study estimates that the average woman wears 515 chemicals a day — from eye shadow ingredients linked to cancer to perfume ingredients linked to kidney damage.

The average American uses 10 products every day, and chances are, they don’t know what’s in them. Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found extremely high levels of lead in lipstick. In addition, recent research from the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group (EWG) showed that teenage girls are exposing themselves to potentially hormone-altering substances by engaging in that seemingly innocent coming-of-age tradition of applying makeup. Yet, despite the dangers, women need to bathe and groom — and most women like a little extra color on their faces. So what can you do to stay healthy and still look good?

“It’s simple: Read the labels and be a smart shopper,” says Leann Brown of EWG. “Buy from companies that disclose their formulations.” Since producers aren’t required to make their ingredients public, many choose not to. “A company that discloses all ingredients will have lower risk than cosmetics with mystery ingredients,” says Brown. These products are likely to be equally effective — your hair will be just as smooth, your cheeks just as bright — but without the lurking health hazards.

chemical_skincare1




When shopping, there are a few key ingredients to be avoided. However, due to lax regulation, you may find them in products marked “organic” and “all-natural,” so be on the lookout. Here is a list of common toxic ingredients to avoid:


  • FD&C Color Pigments
  • Fragrance
  • Alcohol (Isopropyl)
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Parabens

This research information is for informational and educational purposes only. Please consult a health care professional regarding the applicability of any opinion or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and no statement should be construed as a claim for cure, treatment or prevention of any disease.


Compliments of Kshamica Nimalasuriya MD, MPH

Preventive Medicine & Public Health
http://www.kshamicamd.com

Kshamica Nimalasuriya MD, MPH is a Preventive Medicine Physician involved with merging Media with Health, Open-Source Education, Herbal Medicine, Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness, and Love. She works on many initiatives bridging the global digital divide of health care education.

Related Resources

From the Library guide Cosmetics, Esthetics and Fragrances by Librarian Rhonda Roth

Cosmetics Dictionary (with ratings)

Cosmetics Database
From their About Page
“It’s our mission at Environmental Working Group to use the power of information to protect human health and the environment. EWG’s Skin Deep database gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. We launched Skin Deep in 2004 to create online safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products. Our aim is to fill in where industry and government leave off. Companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish. The U.S. government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. Our staff scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate safety ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market. At about one million page views per month, EWG’s Skin Deep is the world’s largest personal care product safety guide.”

David Suzuki  Icon
Search for “cosmetics from an environmental angle”

It’s Your Health – Cosmetics and Your Health Canadian content
        Government of Canada website. Health Canada’s cosmetic and personal care site regulates manufacturer labelling, distribution and sale of cosmetics.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Cosmetics
           Safety information from the FDA on various cosmetic products provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

July 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tips for a Chemical free summer (part 2)

Originally posted on Dr. Ibby Omole ND:

I would hope that after reading my first blog, some of you would have rushed out to replace your Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen with something that is a little bit better for your health.

Pesticides are a significant source of toxicity. People are exposed to pesticides via food and the environment in particular lawn care. While research is usually focused on massive pesticide exposure, low dose long-term pesticide exposure is difficult to capture. Not to mention the fact that pesticide residue has been linked to everything from hypospadias to decreased intelligence, learning and memory in children. Children are particularly vulnerable because of their immature organs, rapidly dividing and migrating cells, higher metabolic rate and smaller size.

Ways to decrease pesticide exposure.

1. Eat locally and organically. Summer is the perfect season to do this. Farmer’s markets are filled with everything from organic produce to baked goods and plants. Summer is also…

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July 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Privacy Threats When Seeking Online Health Information

From the 8 July 2013 JAMA Internal Medicine article

Patients increasingly use the Internet to access health-related information for which they are not charged.1In turn, websites gather information from those who browse their sites and target advertisements to them. Yet this business model masks a more complicated picture.

A patient who searches on a “free” health-related website for information related to “herpes” should be able to assume that the inquiry is anonymous. If not anonymous, the information knowingly or unknowingly disclosed by the patient should not be divulged to others.

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.37.45 AM

The full text is not available online.
However, it might be available at a local public, academic, or medical library. Call ahead and ask for a reference librarian.

 

July 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog]Monday: What’s Lurking Beneath Your Sofa in Your (Otherwise) Healthy Home | Drexel School of Public Health

The house dust mite, its feces and chitin are ...

The house dust mite, its feces and chitin are common allergens around the home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday: What’s Lurking Beneath Your Sofa in Your (Otherwise) Healthy Home | Drexel School of Public Health.

 

By Anneclaire De Roos, MPH, PhD, Associate Professor

When I think about this National Public Health Week’s topic – ‘Healthy Homes’ – what immediately comes to mind are themes like injury, fire safety, lead, radon, mold, and secondhand smoke. Most people’s thoughts about healthy homes probably don’t include dust.  How harmful can dust bunnies be?  Actually, we’ve long known that people with asthma and allergies are sensitive to dust mites.  And now there is ever-increasing documentation of a different type of health hazard from house dust – exposure to a diverse mix of pollutants including metals, pesticides, dioxins, flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and phthalates.

These chemicals adhere to dust particles and blow into your household after being stirred up by traffic, are released from your sofa or appliances as they degrade over time, are deposited from disintegrating home building materials, and are introduced from cigarette smoking or pesticide applications indoors. Some of the pollutants are known to cause adverse health effects, such as lead and dioxins.  Others, including PBDE and phthalates, are not as well understood, although there is emerging evidence that these chemicals cause hormonal changes and may be particularly damaging when exposure happens during pregnancy or childhood.

The trouble arises because people inadvertently swallow small amounts of dust during their normal daily activities like eating, drinking, and breathing.  For example, it’s well known that exposure to organochlorines, such as dioxins, comes from the diet – from fatty foods including fish, meat, and dairy.  However, we are now learning that a major source of our exposure also comes from ingestion of dust, in amounts that rival dietary exposures.  This is an especially important pathway of exposure for small children, who crawl on the floor and explore their environment using hand-to-mouth behavior.  House cats also ingest very high amounts of house dust through self-grooming.  In fact, studies in the US and Europe have found that house cats had 50 times higher blood levels of PBDEs than people.

Aside from not breathing or swallowing, or fruitlessly trying to change the behaviors of your toddler or pet, what can be done to reduce exposure to pollutants from household dust?  The answers are somewhat obvious, but do require vigilance.

1) Avoid introduction of pollutants inside the home where possible, by banning smoking in the home and seeking alternatives to pesticide applications

2) Wipe your feet on a high-quality doormat before entering the home

3) Eliminate wall-to-wall carpeting and shag rugs, which trap dust

4) Vacuum frequently, ideally using a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a dirt finder

5) Wet-mop non-carpeted floor surfaces on a regular basis

6) Wipe down toys and other items your toddler contacts, using a wet cloth

In my review of the literature, I even saw a recommendation to wipe down your cat with a wet cloth on a daily basis (good luck with that!).  Nevertheless, it makes good health sense to follow these recommendations, particularly during pregnancy or with toddlers in the home.  At the very least, you will have a cleaner home to show for it.

 

Related articles

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

The New DARE–Drug Abuse Reliant Education

The New DARE–Drug Abuse Reliant Education.

With the school system failing them, many children are turning to drugs. Heard this one before, right? Well, how about the part where the pusher is your pediatrician, and the fed is subsidizing?

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Terrifying.

A recent NYT article spot lighted increasing psych diagnoses in children for the purpose of acquiring “brain boosting” pharma creations to increase academic performance. The purpose is to make a child more competitive on a college application, and increase funding for a school district as test scores rise. Children are being force-fed drugs instead of given the attention they need or the freedom to be creative and learn discipline on their own as pharmaceutical “solutions” are abused as steroids for the brain. Worse yet, the behavior is sanctioned by those in authority, who are supposed to advocate for their well-being–their parents, doctors and the federal government…

..

Education is a highly competitive arena, whether it’s a student vying for a scholarship or admission to their college of choice, or a district teaching to standardized test scores and praying for funding. The Obama administration’s lauded “Race to the Top” initiative even goes so far as making funding an actual competition–schools submit innovative proposals for education reform in an effort to win federal money.

An anonymous California superintendent pontificated that “diagnosis rates of A.D.H.D. have risen as sharply as school funding has declined.” Poor children are being prescribed stimulants at increasing rates, and Medicare is paying the bill. If we are not directly funding public education in this country, we are indirectly doing so in efforts to respond to the problem….

 

 

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stateline – New York enacts pioneering law linking all seriously ill patients to palliative care.

Stateline – New York enacts pioneering law linking all seriously ill patients to palliative care..

From the 4 March 2013 article

NEW YORK – The palliative care team at Mount Sinai Hospital gathers on a Thursday morning to exchange the latest information on the patients in their ward. It is a raw, unforgiving day outside, but the weather, the news, most everything beyond these walls are concerns that patients on this ward do not have the luxury to worry about. Theirs is a shrunken world measured in degrees of pain, blood pressure, heart rate, and a set of poor options – none of which any healthy person would welcome.

The simplest definition for palliative care is that it is treatment designed to reduce the pain, discomfort and stress associated with a serious disease. But it also entails eliciting from patients and families in dire circumstances their priorities and wishes to make sure the treatment conforms to those desires.

New York State felt so strongly about the importance of palliative care that last year it enacted pioneering legislation to make certain all those with advanced illnesses had access to this sort of treatment. Now other states are considering following New York’s lead.

Around the oval conference table sit two palliative care doctors, three palliative care nurses, a social worker, an art therapist and a chaplain, who, in this case, is a rabbi. Other nurses enter the room one-by-one to give updates on the patients they are tending to.

The unit is much quieter than most acute-care wards, with far less clattering and beeping medical machinery in order to keep the unit as serene as possible. Occupying one of the 13 beds in the unit today is a 28-year old Brooklyn man with liver failure. Death is imminent, one of the doctors, Stephen Berns, says. Days if not hours. Although the man’s pain can be addressed, his elderly grandparents worry that he will die before their parish priest arrives to perform a baptism. The rabbi, Edie Meyerson, tells the group that she has researched the issue and learned that any Christian can perform a baptism, if it should come to that.

A few doors down lies a 77-year old woman, a one-time deputy superintendent in the state’s corrections system. Her breast cancer has metastasized throughout her body and now all her organs are blinking off. Her closest relatives — two cousins and a niece, the latter her health proxy, have asked that she be removed from the ventilator that appears to be all that is keeping her alive. “We know this is not what she would want,” her cousin says later that day. “She would not want to be on all these machines.”

Then there is a 48-year old man from Puerto Rico with an inoperable tumor in his throat. His face is swollen to such an extent that he can’t open his eyes and his lips have ballooned into protuberances. He has found that even with painkillers, the only tolerable position is to sit cross-legged on his bed, leaning forward with his head cushioned on a pile of pillows. The team wants to start him on steroids to reduce the swelling, but the patient is already hinting that he has had enough.

Advanced Life Limiting Conditions

Not Enough Doctors
  • One palliative care doctor for every 1,300 patients with a serious illness in the U.S.
  • One oncologist for every 145 patients with a new cancer diagnosis
  • One cardiologist for every 71 heart attack victims
  • The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Workforce Task Force estimates that there is shortage of as many as 18,000 palliative care doctors in the U.S.
Source: Center to Advance Palliative Care.

The cast of characters on the ward today is not atypical. Statistically, most patients on the ward will die here; a minority will improve enough to enable them to depart, usually to their homes, a nursing home or other health care facility. For all of them, the goal of the staff is to provide care that best accords with their wishes, whether that be an end to life-prolonging efforts, relief from the symptoms that are afflicting them, or some combination of the two.

The New York law passed last year ensures that everyone in the state with “advanced life limiting conditions or illnesses who might benefit from palliative care” not only be informed of these services by their healthcare provider but that the provider facilitate access to that care if they desire it. Violations are subject to fines of up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to a year. (According to the state health department, no one has yet been charged or prosecuted under the law.)

“That was a major step,” says Amber Jones, a consultant on palliative care in New York. “It shone a light on the need patients and families have for information.”

This year, legislatures in several other states are considering their own palliative care legislation at least partly modeled after the New York law. Those states include Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Arkansas and Michigan.

Even as legislation advances, there remains widespread confusion about what palliative care is. “There is a misunderstanding among the public that palliative care means end of life care,” says Jay Horton, director of the Palliative Care Consult Service at the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Mount Sinai. “Many clinicians have the same view.” But the view is not accurate.

Palliative care provides an added layer of support for seriously ill persons and their families.  It is delivered alongside all other disease treatments, in an effort to ease the suffering caused by both the disease and its treatment. Palliative care is always part of the treatment for someone in hospice care, that is, someone with a short prognosis who wants to forego further disease intervention.

But palliative care is also appropriate for many others with serious or chronic illnesses, such as leukemia, lymphoma (which is cured in a significant number of patients), heart failure, emphysema, renal failure, and dementia (with which people can live for years.)  One common misconception about palliative care is that it is mutually exclusive with treatment for the underlying disease, that it only comes into play when all hope of cure is gone. That is not the case. “Just because you are undergoing palliative care doesn’t mean you are giving up on other treatment,” Horton says.

Discussing Options

Practitioners are quick to point out that palliative care, as it is practiced today, entails far more than the relieving of symptoms….

 

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

The Bizarre Dental Trivia Quiz

Originally posted on Million Ideas:

Trivia is awesome, especially when the questions are “a little out there.” Today’s trivia quiz is based on ridiculous dental facts. If you answer all of these correctly,  you’re a dental genius!

1) In what setting was the first commercial toothbrush (similar to what we use today) invented?

toothbrush-537x438a) Laboratory

b) Prison

c) Kitchen

d) Zoo

 

2) What is the number one cause of tooth loss in people under the age of 35?

tooth-loss-300x300a) Periodontal disease

b) Eating a diet high in sugar

c) Gum disease

d) Accidents

 

3) In what year did the first electric toothbrush appear?

vitalitdual34a) 1921

b) 1938

c) 1956

d) 1972

 

4)  Which of these foods or drink have antibacterial qualities that help prevent tooth decay?

approved-food-pica) Green Tea

b) Coffee

c) Broccoli

d) Lemons

 

5) 100 years ago, about how many adults in North America were completely toothless?

false-teetha) 30%

b) 40%

c) 50%

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Alcohol and sunburns: A tragicomedy

Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:

MTSG_W13It’s time to head on over to Mind the Science Gap, the blog written by School of Public Health students.  One of this week’s entries is Alcohol And Sunburns: A Tragicomedy.  As always, read, enjoy, and comment!

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Internet search data and unreported side effects of drugs

Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:

A very interesting use of crowdsourcing for medical research.

Using data drawn from queries entered into Google, Microsoft and Yahoo search engines, scientists at Microsoft, Stanford and Columbia University have for the first time been able to detect evidence of unreported prescription drug side effects before they were found by the Food and Drug Administration’s warning system.

Using automated software tools to examine queries by six million Internet users taken from Web search logs in 2010, the researchers looked for searches relating to an antidepressant, paroxetine, and a cholesterol lowering drug, pravastatin. They were able to find evidence that the combination of the two drugs caused high blood sugar.

The study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association [White, R.W. et al. Web-scale pharmacovigilance: listening to signals from the crowd. J Am Med Inform Assoc doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2012-001482] on Wednesday, is based on data-mining techniques similar to those…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is Hospice Still A Tough Call–Even for People Who Know?

Originally posted on As Our Parents Age:

Check out this fact sheet

Check out this hospice fact sheet.

When a person is approaching the end of life, we can find no easy answers, no solution that fits every person’s or family’s situation, even when they know a lot about the options available to them.

To illustrate this you will want to read For Hospice Pioneer, Still a Tough Call, by Paula Span at the New York Times New Old Age Blog. She describes the end-of-life period for Paul Brenner, age 73, who spend years organizing and leading hospice organizations around the country. Despite all of this experience, it was still challenging for Mr. Brenner and for his family to engage with hospice.

Over and over I hear from friends and acquaintances how a loved one uses hospice for the last several days or perhaps a week at the end of life, and I am sometimes puzzled about how difficult it…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

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