Back in 1980/81 I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa.
Cancer was basically unheard of. Children were dying at high rates of preventable diseases/conditions as malaria and diarrhea. Most diseases were infectious and/or related to environmental conditions as malaria, dengue fever, and cholera.
Always thought that cancer was not prevalent because the diet was healthy. Everything I ate was what we call “organic”.
Now the tide not only is turning, it has turned.
Just one note, the term “developing country” is a misnomer. All countries are developing!
The globe is facing a “tidal wave” of cancer, and restrictions on alcohol and sugar need to be considered, say World Health Organization scientists.
It predicts the number of cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.
The WHO said there was now a “real need” to focus on cancer prevention by tackling smoking, obesity and drinking.
The World Cancer Research Fund said there was an “alarming” level of naivety about diet’s role in cancer.
Fourteen million people a year are diagnosed with cancer, but that is predicted to increase to 19 million by 2025, 22 million by 2030 and 24 million by 2035.
The developing world will bear the brunt of the extra cases.
Dr Chris Wild, the director of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, told the BBC: “The global cancer burden is increasing and quite markedly, due predominately to the ageing of the populations and population growth.
“If we look at the cost of treatment of cancers, it is spiralling out of control, even for the high-income countries. Prevention is absolutely critical and it’s been somewhat neglected.”
A third of people said cancer was mainly due to family history, but the charity said no more than 10% of cancers were down to inherited genes.
The WHO’s World Cancer Report 2014 said the major sources of preventable cancer included:
- Obesity and inactivity
- Radiation, both from the sun and medical scans
- Air pollution and other environmental factors
- Delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding
[Report] Adult illicit drug users are far more likely to seriously consider suicide | Full Text Reports…
From the 16 January SAMSHA news release ( US Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)
Adults using illicit drugs are far more likely to seriously consider suicide than the general adult population according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report finds that 3.9 percent of the nation’s adult population aged 18 or older had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year, but that the rate among adult illicit drug users was 9.4 percent.
According to SAMHSA’s report, the percentage of adults who had serious thoughts of suicide varied by the type of illicit substance used. For example, while 9.6 percent of adults who had used marijuana in the past year had serious thoughts of suicide during that period, the level was 20.9 percent for adults who had used sedatives non-medically in the past year.
“Suicide takes a devastating toll on individuals, families and communities across our nation,” said Dr. Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. “We must reach out to all segments of our community to provide them with the support and treatment they need so that we can help prevent more needless deaths and shattered lives.”
Those in crisis or who know someone they believe may be at immediate risk of attempting suicide are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, funded by SAMHSA, provides immediate free and confidential, round-the-clock crisis counseling to anyone in need throughout the country, every day of the year.
This report, “1 in 11 Past Year Illicit Drug Users Had Serious Thoughts of Suicide,” is based on the findings of SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report. The NSDUH report is based on a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Because of its statistical power, it is a primary source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and mental health issues affecting the nation.
The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA web site at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/spot129-suicide-thoughts-drug-use-2014.pdf
For more information about SAMHSA visit: http://www.samhsa.gov/.
Originally posted on Psychology Benefits Society:
By Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD (Assoc. Exec. Director, APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office)
According to the US Census, almost 47 million Americans lacked insurance in 2012. Moreover, a 2012 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 15 million of these individuals went without health insurance for three years, with about 10 million uninsured for their entire life. Over 40% of the uninsured interviewed identified cost as the reason they lacked insurance.
Originally posted on news@JAMA:
“Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men; the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking outweighs all other factors; and the risk of developing lung cancer increases with the duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked per day, and diminishes by discontinuing smoking.”
This statement from the 1964 landmark surgeon general’s report on smoking—the first public announcement of the negative health consequences of smoking—changed the world’s perception of a centuries-old habit. Now, 50 years later, the new information gained from new research continues to be staggering.
The 2014 surgeon general’s report on “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress”, released last Friday, presented some notable new conclusions since the last report in 2012, including new evidence that
Originally posted on Vancouver Sun:
Organic growers say that growing fruits and vegetables guaranteed free of pesticides and chemical residues is a “pipe dream.”
Nearly 80 per cent of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables and 50 per cent of organic produce bought at Canadian grocery stores tested positive for pesticide residues, in testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The idea of toxin-free food in the modern world is a fantasy, said Rebecca Kneen, co-president of the Certified Organic Associations of B.C. “We aren’t farming in a bubble.”
From the 8 January 2014 ScienceDaily article
Seniors want greater access to home- and community-based long-term care services. Medicaid policymakers have been happy to oblige with new programs to help people move out of expensive nursing homes and into cheaper community or home care. It seems like a “win-win” to fulfill seniors’ wishes while also saving Medicaid programs money, but a new study of such transitions in seven states finds that the practice resulted in a 40 percent greater risk of “potentially preventable” hospitalizations among seniors dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.
“We are trying to move people into the community and I think that is a really great goal, but we aren’t necessarily providing the medical support services that are needed in the community,” said Andrea Wysocki, a postdoctoral scholar in the Brown University School of Public Health and lead author of the study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. “One of the policy issues is how do we care for not only the long-term care needs when we move someone into home- and community-based settings but also how do we support their medical needs as well?”
Wysocki said her finding of a higher potentially preventable hospitalization risk for seniors who transitioned to community- or home-based care suggests that some medical needs are not as well addressed in community settings as they are in nursing homes. More vigilant and effective treatment for chronic, already-diagnosed ailments such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease could prevent some of the hospitalizations that occur.
There are two likely reasons why care in home and community settings is not as effective in preventing hospitalizations, Wysocki said.
[One]Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care by trained nurses and doctors, but workers with much less medical training provide community- and home-care services.
[Two] In addition, while Medicaid pays for long-term care, Medicare pays for medical care, meaning that Medicaid programs do not have a built-in financial incentive to prevent hospitalizations. Home- and community-based care is less expensive for Medicaid regardless of the medical outcome.
• Most American families want two children. To achieve this, the average woman spends about five years pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant, and three decades—more than three-quarters of her reproductive life—trying to avoid an unintended pregnancy.
• Most individuals and couples want to plan the timing and spacing of their childbearing and to avoid unintended pregnancies, for a range of social and economic reasons. In addition, unintended pregnancy has a public health impact: Births resulting from unintended or closely spaced pregnancies are associated with adverse maternal and child health outcomes, such as delayed prenatal care, premature birth and negative physical and mental health effects for children. [2,3,4]
• For these reasons, reducing the unintended pregnancy rate is a national public health goal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 campaign aims to reduce unintended pregnancy by 10%, from 49% of pregnancies to 44% of pregnancies, over the next 10 years.
• In 2008, there were 54 unintended pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15–44. In other words, about 5% of reproductive-age women have an unintended pregnancy each year.
• By age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and three in 10 will have had an abortion..
• The U.S. unintended pregnancy rate is significantly higher than the rate in many other developed countries.
Incidence of Unintended Pregnancy (State)
• At least 37% of pregnancies in every U.S. state are unintended. In 31 states and the District of Columbia, more than half of pregnancies are unintended (see map).
• Rates of unintended pregnancy are generally highest in the South and Southwest, and in states with large urban populations.
• States with the highest unintended pregnancy rates in 2008 were Delaware (70 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), California (66), Mississippi (66), Louisiana (63), Florida (62), New York (62), Hawaii (61), Georgia (60) and New Jersey (60).
• The lowest unintended pregnancy rates in 2008 were found in New Hampshire (31 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), Wisconsin (35), Maine (36), and Vermont (37). 
From the 22 November post at HealthNewsReview.blog
You probably saw, read, or heard about news of an observational study in the New England Journal of Medicine pointing to a statistical association between nut consumption and lower death rate. Larry Husten did a good job explaining the study on Forbes.com.
The NEJM itself posted a YouTube video that had journal editor Jeffrey Drazen’s voice over an animated explanation. I hadn’t seen such NEJM videos before. Take a look. Drazen ends: “I would be nuts to think that eating nuts alone would add years to my life.”
I wish I had that kind of budget. Frankly, I wish I had any budget.
Follow us on Twitter:
- Go Nuts! Consumption of Nuts Linked to Mortality Benefit (forbes.com)
- Living Longer with Nuts (healthbistro.lifescript.com)
- Going nuts! (norleenagullettmd.com)
From the 25 November 2013 posting at HealthCetera – CHMP’s Blog
[Center for Health Media & Policy at Hunter College (CHMP): advancing public conversations about health & health policy]
Older adults face many important decisions about their health and financial well-being. Whether it’s making retirement savings last longer or authorizing a health proxy, the ability to make good choices has consequences for a senior’s quality of life, aging in place, and end of life care. According to a new study from Rush University, presented yesterday at the Gerontological Society of America Conference in New Orleans, Internet use is associated with better health and financial decision-making among older adults.
“The Internet has become the primary corridor for finding information and assisting in decision-making on finances and healthcare,” said Bryan James, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago and lead author of the study. “The Internet is becoming what we call ‘proto-normative,’ meaning you have to have some ability or savvy to function online these days.”
Recent research from Pew’s Internet and American Life Project show that slightly more than half (53%) of all seniors are now online. However, James said there remains a significant portion of older adults who use the Internet infrequently, or not at all. This may have important implications for quality of life and independence, including the ability to age at home.
James pointed to the digital divide between older and younger people. In addition to the general anxiety expressed by older adults express about computers and the Internet, there are also certain parts of the aging process that may may pose obstacles to Internet use, such as cognitive decline, as well as decline in hearing, vision, and motor skills.
Evaluating Health Information (from Health Resources for All, edited by Janice Flahiff)
Anyone can publish information on the Internet. So it is up to the searcher to decide if the information found through search engines (as Google) is reliable or not. Search engines find Web sites but do not evaluate them for content. Sponsored links may or may not contain good information.
A few universities and government agencies have published great guides on evaluating information.
Here are a few
The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
…And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency focusing on health misinformation, fraud, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.
“statistics show that the likelihood of accidentally being shot and killed in a home with guns is much higher than in one without, or with the guns locked”
“people may claim they need assault rifles in case the government comes after them; if the government does come after them, however, it will use weapons that will overwhelm anything that a private citizen would own.”
From the 30 October 2013 blog item at charlettelobueno
The recent outbreak of mass shootings, including one that occurred on October 21 at a junior high school in Sparks, Nevada, has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun ownership and Americans’ right to bear arms. How can incidents such as the recent one in Nevada, and the shooting that happened last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., be prevented in a country where the right to own a gun is constitutionally guaranteed?
The first step is addressing gun safety from a public health standpoint, using a multi-pronged approach, similar to that used to reduce the number of car accident fatalities, said Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Such an approach involves making guns safer and educating gun owners and establishing strict licensing standards and conducting thorough background checks. Public awareness campaigns about gun safety and more careful consideration of how gun violence is portrayed in popular media such as video games, movies and TV are also necessary.
A multifaceted approach is required because neither guns nor humans exist in a vacuum. A relationship exists between a human and a gun, much the way it exists between a human and a car, said Don Ihde, distinguished professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University. Ihde explained that humans plus technology, and the range of interactions that can occur between them, determine what patterns of behavior will occur.
The article continues under the headings of Safer Guns, Educating Owners, and Raising Awareness
Here is an audio clip from her interview with Dr David Hemenway:
- [Reblog] If Gun Violence is a Health Epidemic, Can We Quarantine It Like a Virus? (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- A gun issue upon which we can all agree (napavalleyregister.com)
- Poll: Americans buy guns for safety (rinf.com)
- Gun Safety Instructor Shoots Student In Ohio (huffingtonpost.com)
- Gun-Safety Bills Getting Attention at Statehouse (publicnewsservice.org)
[FDA Press Release] Why Are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick? – FDA asking consumers to report illnesses
If you have a dog or cat that became ill after eating jerky pet treats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to hear from you or your veterinarian.
The agency has repeatedly issued alerts to consumers about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets have died.
To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.
To gather even more information, FDA is reaching out to licensed veterinarians and pet owners across the country. “This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” says CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”
In a letter addressing U.S. licensed veterinarians, FDA lists what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the treats. In some cases, veterinarians will be asked to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from their patients for further analysis. FDA will request written permission from pet owners and will cover the costs, including shipping, of any tests it requests.
Meanwhile, a consumer fact sheet will accompany the letter to veterinarians so they can alert consumers to the problem and remind them that treats are not essential to a balanced diet. The fact sheet also explains to consumers how they can help FDA’s investigation by reporting potential jerky pet treat-related illnesses online or by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for their state.
Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit, some pets have exhibited decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination.
Severe cases have involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. About 60 percent of cases involved gastrointestinal illness, and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary systems.
The remaining cases reported various symptoms, such as collapse, convulsions or skin issues.
Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China. Manufacturers of pet foods are not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.
A number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January 2013 after a New York State lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. While the levels of these drugs were very low and it’s unlikely that they caused the illnesses, FDA noted a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses after the products were removed from the market. FDA believes that the number of reports may have declined simply because fewer jerky treats were available.
Meanwhile, the agency urges pet owners to be cautious about providing jerky treats. If you do provide them and your pet becomes sick, stop the treats immediately, consider seeing your veterinarian, and save any remaining treats and the packaging for possible testing.
More than 1,200 jerky pet treat samples have been tested since 2011 for a variety of chemical and microbiological contaminants, from antibiotics to metals, pesticides and Salmonella. DNA testing has also been conducted, along with tests for nutritional composition.
In addition to continuing to test jerky pet treat samples within FDA labs, the agency is working with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), an FDA-coordinated network of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the U.S. and Canada. (A summary of the tests is available on Vet-LIRN’s webpage.)
Inspections of the facilities in China that manufacture jerky products associated with some of the highest numbers of pet illness reports did not identify the cause of illness. However, they did identify additional paths of investigation, such as the supply chain of some ingredients in the treats. Although FDA inspectors have found no evidence identifying the cause of the spate of illnesses, they did find that one firm used falsified receiving documents for glycerin, a jerky ingredient. Chinese authorities informed FDA that they had seized products at the firm and suspended its exports.
To identify the root cause of this problem, FDA is meeting regularly with regulators in China to share findings. The agency also plans to host Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility to increase scientific cooperation.
FDA has also reached out to U.S. pet food firms seeking further collaboration on scientific issues and data sharing, and has contracted with diagnostic labs.
“Our fervent hope as animal lovers,” says Dunham, “is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses.”
This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Oct. 22, 2013
Related Consumer Updates
- Hundreds Of Dogs Dead From Eating Jerky Treats; FDA Isn’t Exactly Sure Why (huffingtonpost.com)
- Help Us Find Out Why Jerky Treats Are Making Pets Sick (scienceblog.com)
- Jerky treat mystery: Nearly 600 pets dead; still no source, FDA says (nbcnews.com)
[Reblog] Canadian journalist: every cancer cure claim needs scrutiny (with related critical thinking resources)
Carly Weeks of The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto, writes, “Why every claim of an exciting new cancer cure needs close examination.” She begins:
“The Internet loves a good conspiracy.
Have you heard the one about scientists finding a cure for cancer, but it being blocked from the public because Big Pharma can’t make a cent off it?
Those sensational accusations appear on multiple websites and YouTube videos that purport to expose the “truth” about how a cheap and safe drug that has been around for decades is actually an expert cancer-cell killer. They claim that because the drug, called dichloroacetic acid or dichloroacetate (DCA), is a widely available chemical compound and can’t be patented, drug companies aren’t interested in pursuing it as a cancer treatment. Some conspiracy theorists take it a step further, saying that health organizations and cancer charities are in on the plot to keep this miracle drug out of sight because they have ties to drug firms and want to keep money flowing their way.
It reads like the plot of a cheesy gift-shop thriller.
However, the idea that DCA may be used to eradicate cancer cells originated in respected medical journals, not the bowels of the Internet. Subsequent media attention painted a glowing picture of DCA as a cancer treatment, which led to a frenzy among patients and family members desperately hoping for a cure.
The true picture, however, is far less clear.”
That’s the hook. Now please read the rest of her analysis. But note how she describes media coverage through the years that referred to the drug as “a potentially life-saving treatment” that “astounded” researchers….and “a miracle drug” (including in her own newspaper). She concludes:
“Every week, dozens of press releases cross the news wires, alerting editors and readers to a new “breakthrough” or “landmark discovery” that may forever change the way a disease is treated.
What is often missing from those announcements is that those discoveries may just as likely change nothing. True breakthroughs are rare and the development of important new treatments takes years – decades, even – of rigorous research and study. Overzealous reporting of preliminary findings may generate positive publicity for researchers and institutions, but it does patients no favours.”
Earlier this week I wrote about a fresh New York Times story that referred to a line of cancer research as ““amazing…game-changer…watershed moment.”
Canadians Weeks, her colleague Andre Picard at the same newspaper and rising star Julia Belluz (now on a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT) seem to scrutinize evidence in media messages and even criticize news coverage more often than any of their U.S. colleagues in mainstream news organizations. And I applaud them for their efforts. Wish we saw more of it down here in the land of guns and Obamacare.
- The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.
The tips include
- Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
- Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
- Check to see how current the information is.
- Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?
The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
- General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
- Getting Information from the Web
- Talking with your Health Care Provider
- Consumer’s Guide to Taking Charge of Health Information (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis)
- How to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet (US National Cancer Institute)9iiu9
- Quackwatch (a private corporation operated by Stephen Barrett, MD)
How to Read a Research Paper
Medical research results are increasingly available to all of us. However, caution is urged in interpreting results. For example, be very careful to not confuse causation with association.
Just because two factors occur together does not mean one causes the other. For example, eating fish may result in lower cholesterol levels. But it may just mean one is eating less read meat. Another example is recent news item about insulin use and cancer. Some say insulin use can cause cancer, while others insist insulin users are predisposed to cancers.)
The MedlinePlus Topic Page Understanding Medical Research has links to tutorials, overviews, and more
A sampling of links
So what is the one thing that I see over and over and over again in the management of emergency room psychiatric patients that makes me fear for our survival as a country and even as a species?
Is it the severity of psychotic illness? The rampant drug and alcohol use that starts now when kids are pre-adolescent? Is it the broken families that are producing another generation of children who have one parent or no parents and are raised by distant relatives? Is it financial poverty? Is it reliance on government assistance?
Well, I could write about any of these and make a case for all of them, but that’s not what keeps hitting me right between the eyes most days that I sit in my chair and talk to people via the Polycom screen.
Lack of education.
One of my standard questions when taking a medical history is, “How far did you go in school?” I ask everyone this question because it is so very important in understanding someone’s frame of reference and their ability to assess a problem and deal with it realistically, be it a kidney stone or an episode of depression. I get answers to this question that are all over the map. I have seen teens who have graduated college already. I see old women who never graduated high school but raised entire families on their own. I see proud aging men who ply their trades, hard workers with calloused hands who had formal schooling up to the third grade and no further. I have seen professionals with decades of formal training and multiple degrees who are as psychotic as they can be, completely out of touch with reality due to drug use or mental illness.
- High school is getting tougher, and the GED is catching up (kansascity.com)
- CBE’s top official surprised by depth of high school cuts despite giving order: Emails (metronews.ca)
Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates
hmm… could you envision these maps in a tourist guide book??
There is overwhelming evidence for regional variation across the United States on a range of key political, economic, social, and health indicators. However, a substantial body of research suggests that activities in each of these domains are typically influenced by psychological variables, raising the possibility that psychological forces might be the mediating or causal factors responsible for regional variation in the key indicators. Thus, the present article examined whether configurations of psychological variables, in this case personality traits, can usefully be used to segment the country. Do regions emerge that can be defined in terms of their characteristic personality profiles? How are those regions distributed geographically? And are they associated with particular patterns of key political, economic, social, and health indicators? Results from cluster analyses of 5 independent samples totaling over 1.5 million individuals identified 3 robust psychological profiles: Friendly & Conventional, Relaxed & Creative, and Temperamental & Uninhibited. The psychological profiles were found to cluster geographically and displayed unique patterns of associations with key geographical indicators. The findings demonstrate the value of a geographical perspective in unpacking the connections between microlevel processes and consequential macrolevel outcomes.
- U.S. Regions Exhibit Distinct Personalities, Research Reveals (sciencedaily.com)
- US Regions Linked to Different Personalities (counselheal.com)
- US regions exhibit distinct personalities, research reveals (psypost.org)
- Most Neurotic & Creative States Revealed in US Personality Map (livescience.com)
- Study: Different Regions Of The U.S. Exhibit Distinct Personality Traits (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- War is not inevitable; psychology research should promote peace (sciencedaily.com)
Many postings here make use of visuals. And of course, some visuals are better than others.
At times, I thought about just what made a good visual, but much like art, thought it was in the eye of the beholder.
So, when I came across this article, just had to post!
No conclusions yet, but some interesting hypotheses that go against the grain.
(Via Science 360 News Service - a Web site of the National Science Foundation – a US Govt Agency
which was on hiatus during the government shutdown)
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS AT HARVARD AND COGNITIVE SCIENTISTS AT MIT TEAM UP TO SETTLE A DEBATE OVER “CHART JUNK”
Which of these visualizations will you remember later? (Images courtesy of Michelle Borkin, Harvard SEAS.)
Cambridge, Mass. – October 16, 2013 – It’s easy to spot a “bad” data visualization—one packed with too much text, excessive ornamentation, gaudy colors, and clip art. Design guru Edward Tufte derided such decorations as redundant at best, useless at worst, labeling them “chart junk.” Yet a debate still rages among visualization experts: Can these reviled extra elements serve a purpose?
Taking a scientific approach to design, researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are offering a new take on that debate. The same design elements that attract so much criticism, they report, can also make a visualization more memorable.
Detailed results were presented this week at the IEEE Information Visualization (InfoVis) conference in Atlanta, hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
For lead author Michelle Borkin, a doctoral student at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), memorability has a particular importance:
“I spend a lot of my time reading these scientific papers, so I have to wonder, when I walk away from my desk, what am I going to remember? Which of the figures and visualizations in these publications are going to stick with me?”
But it’s more than grad-school anxiety. Working at the interface of computer science and psychology, Borkin specializes in the visual representation of data, looking for the best ways to communicate and interpret complex information. The applications of her work have ranged from astronomy to medical diagnostics and may already help save lives.
Her adviser, Hanspeter Pfister, An Wang Professor of Computer Science at Harvard SEAS, was intrigued by the chart junk debate, which has flared up on design blogs and at visualization conferences year after year.
Together, they turned to Aude Oliva, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and a cognitive psychologist by training. Oliva’s lab has been studying visual memory for about six years now. Her team has found that in photographs, faces and human-centric scenes are typically easy to remember;landscapes are not.
“All of us are sensitive to the same kinds of images, and we forget the same kind as well,” Oliva says. “We like to believe our memories are unique, that they’re like the soul of a person, but in certain situations it’s as if we have the same algorithm in our heads that is going to be sensitive to a particular type of image. So when you find a result like this in photographs, you want to know: is it generalizable to many types of materials—words, sound, images, graphs?”
“Speaking with [Pfister] and his group, it became very exciting, the idea that we could study what makes a visualization memorable or not,” Oliva recalls. “If it turned out to be the same for everyone, we thought this would be a win-win result.”
For Oliva’s group, it would provide more evidence of cognitive similarities in the brain’s visual processing, from person to person. For Pfister’s group, it could suggest that certain design principles make visualizations inherently more memorable than others.
With Harvard students Azalea A. Vo ’13 and Shashank Sunkavalli SM ’13, as well as MIT graduate students Zoya Bylinskii and Phillip Isola, the team designed a large-scale study—in the form of an online game—to rigorously measure the memorability of a wide variety of visualizations. They collected more than 5,000 charts and graphics from scientific papers, design blogs, newspapers, and government reports and manually categorized them by a wide range of attributes. Serving them up in brief glimpses—just one second each—to participants via Amazon Mechanical Turk, the researchers tested the influence of features like color, density, and content themes on users’ ability to recognize which ones they had seen before.
The results meshed well with Oliva’s previous results, but added several new insights.
“A visualization will be instantly and overwhelmingly more memorable if it incorporates an image of a human-recognizable object—if it includes a photograph, people, cartoons, logos—any component that is not just an abstract data visualization,” says Pfister. “We learned that any time you have a graphic with one of those components, that’s the most dominant thing that affects the memorability.”
Visualizations that were visually dense proved memorable, as did those that used many colors. Other results were more surprising.
“You’d think the types of charts you’d remember best are the ones you learned in school—the bar charts, pie charts, scatter plots, and so on,” Borkin says. “But it was the opposite.”
Unusual types of charts, like tree diagrams, network diagrams, and grid matrices, were actually more memorable.
“If you think about those types of diagrams—for example, tree diagrams that show relationships between species, or diagrams that explain a molecular chemical process—every one of them is going to be a little different, but the branching structures feel very natural to us,” explains Borkin. “That combination of the familiar and the unique seems to influence the memorability.”
The best type of chart to use will always depend on the data, but for designers who are required to work within a certain style—for example, to achieve a recognizable consistency within a magazine—the results may be reassuring.
“A graph can be simple or complex, and they both can be memorable,” explains Oliva. “You can make something familiar either by keeping it simple or by having a little story around it. It’s not really that you should choose to use one color or many, or to include additional ornaments or not. If you need to keep it simple because it’s the style your boss likes or the style of your publication, you can still find a way to make it memorable.”
At this stage, however, the team hesitates to issue any sweeping design guidelines for an obvious reason: memorability isn’t the only thing that matters. Visualizations must also be accurate, easy to comprehend, aesthetically pleasing, and appropriate to the context.
“A memorable visualization is not necessarily a good visualization,” Borkin cautions. “As a community we need to keep asking these types of questions: What makes a visualization engaging? What makes it comprehensible?”
As for the chart junk, she says diplomatically, “I think it’s going to be an ongoing debate.”
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF, grant 1016862), Google, and Xerox, as well as graduate research fellowships from the Department of Defense and the NSF.
- What makes a data visualization memorable? (esciencenews.com)
- What makes a data visualization memorable? (phys.org)
- Featured Blog: Junk Charts (everything.typepad.com)
- Graphics Chips Help Process Big Data Sets in Milliseconds (oddonion.com)
- The Importance of Spatial Thinking Now (blogs.hbr.org)
- History of Glyphs and Shape Attributes (richardbrath.wordpress.com)
- Visualizing Data (nmu2013aiga.wordpress.com)
- Mental Visualization And How It Can Help Improve Your Memory (addtabzmemory.wordpress.com)
- What makes a data visualization memorable? (sciencedaily.com)
Remembering that the television was only on for about an hour weekday evening (after homework was done!), and Saturday mornings for cartoons. Also Sunday evenings. Still generally stick to this after all these years. Even without homework.
No angel, could be on the Internet less!!
Study links crowding, noise, lack of routine to worse outcomes
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kindergarten-age children have poorer health if their home life is marked by disorder, noise and a lack of routine and they have a mother who has a chaotic work life, new research suggests.
The results show the importance of order and routine in helping preschoolers stay healthy and develop to the best of their potential, said Claire Kamp Dush, lead author of the study and assistant professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.
“Children need to have order in their lives,” Kamp Dush said. “When their life is chaotic and not predictable, it can lead to poorer health.”
Kamp Dush said that the study involved mostly low-income families, and the results showed mothers who were more impoverished reported significantly higher levels of chaos.
“I don’t think that the findings would be different in a middle-class sample – chaos is bad for children from any background,” she said.
“But most middle-class families can avoid the same level of chaos that we saw in the most impoverished families. We’re not talking about the chaos of your kids being overinvolved in activities and the parents having to run them from one place to another. This harmful chaos is much more fundamental.”
Kamp Dush conducted the study with Kammi Schmeer, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State, and Miles Taylor, assistant professor of sociology at Florida State University. Their results appear online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
Data came from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study, and included 3,288 mothers who were interviewed at their homes by a trained interviewer when their child was 3 and again when he or she was 5 years old. Most of the parents were unmarried and low-income.
The researchers used several measures of household chaos: crowding (more than one person per room), TV background noise (TV was on more than 5 hours a day), lack of regular bedtime for the child, and a home rated as noisy, unclean and cluttered by the interviewer.
The study also included a measure of the mother’s work chaos, which included stress caused by the work schedule, difficulty dealing with child care problems during working hours, lack of flexibility to handle family needs and a constantly changing work schedule.
The children’s health was rated by their mother at ages 3 and 5 as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.
Results showed that higher levels of household chaos and mothers’ work chaos when their children were age 3 were linked to lower ratings of child health at age 5, even after taking into account initial child health and other factors that may have had an impact.
In addition, the researchers were also able to use a statistical technique to determine if the causality may have been reversed: in other words, if poor child health might lead to more household chaos. “It would be easy to see how having a sick child may make your household more chaotic, but that’s not what we found. We did clearly see, however, that a chaotic household at age 3 was linked to poorer health at age 5,” Kamp Dush said.
The most common source of household chaos was television noise, with more than 60 percent of mothers reporting the television was on more than five hours a day. Between 15 and 20 percent of households reported crowding, noise, and unclean and cluttered rooms.
About a third of the mothers had inflexible work schedules and 11 percent worked multiple jobs.
How does household chaos lead to sicker children? Kamp Dush noted that chaos has been linked to stress, and stress has been shown to lead to poorer health. Women with inflexible work schedules may not be able to take their children to the doctor when needed. And a dirty house may increase exposure to toxins and germs.
Kamp Dush emphasized that the findings shouldn’t be used to suggest that the parents are at fault for the chaos in their households.
“We’re not blaming the victims here – there is a larger system involved,” she said.
“These mothers can’t help it that their jobs don’t give them the flexibility to deal with sick kids. They can’t afford a larger house or apartment to deal with overcrowding. With their work schedules, they often don’t have time to keep a clean home and they don’t have the money to spend on organizational systems or cleaning services used by middle-class families to keep their homes in order.”
What these mothers and fathers need most is jobs that allow them to maintain regular schedules and have the flexibility to deal with sick children, Kamp Dush said. Having to maintain two jobs is also detrimental to keeping households free of chaos.
Kamp Dush received support for this study from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Originally posted on Million Ideas:
I’ve always struggled with the winter blues. I live in Oregon, and I love it here, but our constant rain and early darkness are a huge drag. The good news is that I’m not alone. Millions of people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and while some cases are really severe (and require some medical attention), many of us can beat the blues by getting active, healthy, and creative.
Since winter affects all of us differently, I wanted to provide some ideas to kick your winter blues right in the chops! While I’m guessing you won’t try all 60 (it would be incredibly impressive if you did), try a few of these out and see if they get you out of your winter rut. Good luck, and happy winter!
Mumps outbreak may be tied to popular Belmar bar, health official says (with links to related informational Web sites)
Before and after being infected with Mumps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Good precautionary note. Wherever you are, please do not share your germs! And for heaven’s sakes, keep your distance from those sneezing/coughing.
Related Web pages
Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared. In addition, the virus may spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.
Most mumps transmission likely occurs before the salivary glands begin to swell and within the 5 days after the swelling begins. Therefore, CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.
If you have mumps, there are several things you can do to help prevent spreading the virus to others:
- Minimize close contact with other people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
- Stay home from work or school for 5 days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live in your house.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands too.
- Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
- Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.
“People with flu [JF note...and any respiratory disease] can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.”
“Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.”
- Mumps Outbreak Tied to N.J. Bar (abcnews.go.com)
- Measles In Texas, Mumps In New Jersey – What Is Going On? (blackchristiannews.com)
Originally posted on MJ Everson Financial:
In the next couple of months, you will be hearing a lot about health insurance. Most aspects of the Affordable Care Act become effective in 2014 but whether they will impact you depends on your unique circumstances. All too often, many consumers receive advice from individuals or companies with biased points of view or who may simply be unaware of the facts.
Debunking some common myths
Originally posted on Ideas:
With the birth rate at its lowest in recorded history, some are afraid that the United States is heading toward a demographic crisis in which too few children will lead to too few workers to build – and pay for – a prosperous future. This view has been popularized most recently by Jonathan Last, the author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting. Last paints a picture of fiscal threats – from the growing burden of retirees – and cultural consequences such as the decline of innovation and waning political will to fund schools and invest in children. But these fears are unwarranted. Other indicators show that we do not face a population crisis, and I believe that we have the resources to adapt to the upcoming demographic shift.
To start, our birth rate might be dropping, but our fertility rate—that is, how many children the average woman is expected to bear in her lifetime— is still higher than it was through most of the 1970s and 1980s. The recent decline came after a two-decade period in which fertility rose more than 10 percent. For all the concern about childlessness now, the percentage of 50-year-old women who never bore a child today is actually lower than it was half a century ago (although those who did have children then tended to have more).
Robotic surgery systems are spreading so quickly across the US and across the globe that trying to keep up with the news could become a fulltime beat. Here are just a few nuggets in an attempt to catch up on things you may have missed.
The Reading (PA) Eagle reports, “Fans test surgical robot at baseball game.” Excerpts:
“Fans at FirstEnergy Stadium got the chance to try Reading Hospital’s da Vinci surgical robot before the Fightin Phils game Thursday night. … The hospital has three da Vinci robots, which are used for minimally invasive surgeries, including heart, thoracic, bariatric, urologic, gynecologic, cancer and other procedures.”
We’d seen robotic surgery promotions in shopping malls before, but the ballpark setting was a new one to us. Maybe Reading readers should also read or watch stories like the next three we profile.
- HealthDay last month reported, “New, pricey prostate cancer treatments may be overused: study.” Excerpt:
“The use of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and robotic prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer patients at low risk of dying from the disease increased from 32 percent in 2004 to 44 percent in 2009, researchers found in reviewing Medicare patient data. …
“The implementation of these technologies occurred in populations at a time when there was an increase in awareness that some prostate cancers might not warrant treatment,” said study co-author Dr. Brent Hollenbeck, an associate professor of urology and director of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Division of Health Services Research at the University of Michigan….
What’s more, new technologies like IMRT, robotic prostatectomy and proton beam therapy have not been shown to be any more effective in treating prostate cancer or avoiding side effects than established procedures like traditional external beam radiation treatment (EBRT) and open radical prostatectomy. …
Aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing and incentives associated with fee-for-service payment may promote the use of these advanced treatment technologies,” the study authors wrote.”
- Last month NBC News reported – including in an 11-minute Rock Center segment – “Robotic surgery is high tech ‘tour de force’ – but is it safe?” In it, Dr. Marty Makary, a Johns Hopkins surgeon, said:
“The story of the robot is really the story of American medicine: expensive technology, poor evaluation, and little communication with patients about the research and the data about robotic surgery.”
- On CNBC, Herb Greenberg has devoted much attention to “The da Vinci Debate.”
And now a brief glimpse of some recent journal articles:
- A Viewpoint article in JAMA Surgery, “Robotic Thyroidectomy: Do It Well or Don’t Do It.“ Excerpt:
“Overall, robotic thyroid surgery is unlikely to show improved outcomes with typical metrics. It is unlikely to be cost-effective because it involves more equipment and, even in the best of hands, more operating room time. Length of stay is unlikely to be effected because most thyroid surgery patients are in the hospital for less than 24 hours. Robotic thyroid surgery is not minimally invasive; therefore, is there really any expectation of a decreased level of pain during the postoperative period? The implementation of the routine use of robotic technology will depend ultimately on what it means for the patient—the real stakeholder. Comparative efficacy studies have partially addressed the end points of robotic thyroid surgery by focusing only on the risk of complication or oncologic value when compared with conventional or endoscopic surgery, but what about other patient-centered end points? Are the patients happy and satisfied, and are they more satisfied than someone who underwent conventional thyroid surgery? At the end of the day, it will come down to how a third-party payer or health care provider system weighs patient-centered outcomes and whether such surgery would be covered and provided, or whether it would be considered purely cosmetic in nature.
In summation, once you strip away all the blinking blue and green lights, the hundreds of moving parts, and the beeps and occasional error messages, robotic thyroid surgery can be just as elegant, effective, and safe as conventional surgery. It can be efficient. However, to get to this point, the surgeon needs to be committed to this type of surgery and not merely regard it as a hobby or a sideline. It needs to be the focus of a truly dedicated thyroid surgeon who has excellent outcomes with both the standard and robotic approach. Emil Theodor Kocher was not the first surgeon to win the Nobel Prize for nothing. After a century of experience, the new high-profile version of his thyroidectomy may be good, but it is not better than the tried and true.”
- A journal article, “Robotic surgery in the Netherlands: lack of high-quality proof of efficacy.” Excerpt:
“Given the high costs and small scientific evidence, the introduction of robotic surgery has been irresponsibly quick.- Better scientific research of robotic surgery is needed before this technology can be broadly applied in clinical practice.”
“Surgeons must try to avoid marketing operations behind some of the indications of companies producing robotic instrumentation. Otherwise, the first robotic surgery centers will be seen as “a real taste of Hollywood.” …
Robotic surgical procedures’ economic aspect should be analyzed and we have to reconsider whether our countries (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia) are at such an economic level that they are able to compete with more economically developed countries such as Germany. I believe that they are not . Certainly, only a few robotic surgical centers need to be built in each of our countries. They should carry out scientific research, should be supported by other than state funds, and should cooperate with each other so that the whole system does not become just “a taste of Hollywood” for a particular surgeon or center.”
In summary, when thinking about robotic surgery, you could sing “Take Me Out To The BallGame,” but remember the closing lyrics:
“Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.”
ADDENDUM ON JULY 19: See our next-day post, “FDA warns robotic surgery maker, which complains of ‘negative press’ ”
Related articles (on all sides!!!)
- Fewer complications, shorter recovery are benefits of robotic surgery, but price is an issue (medcitynews.com)
- Robot use in surgery debated (triblive.com)
- Intuitive, One of the Nation’s Largest Robot Surgery Companies, Is Having a Difficult Year (motherboard.vice.com)
- Robotic surgery is high-tech ‘tour de force’ – but is it safe? (rockcenter.nbcnews.com)
- Doubting The Robots: Momentum Slows For Surgical Droids (blogs.wsj.com)
- Schuylkill Health unveils $1.6 million robotic surgery system (republicanherald.com)
- Robotic Surgery on the Rise (wgnradio.com)
- Transoral Robotic Surgery for Oropharyngeal CancerLong-term Quality of Life and Functional Outcomes. (zedie.wordpress.com)
- Robotic surgery advances local patient care (cinewsnow.com)
Includes areas as nutrition, healthcare, health communication, and health/medical resources
Originally posted on SurroundHealth Blog:
With tons of health blogs out there today, it can be overwhelming trying to find solid ones to follow that are a good fit for your topic of interest. At SurroundHealth, we look for bloggers that align with our goals of sharing resources and best practices in areas such as: health education/communication, professional development and health careers, health and education technology, and current health events.
While this isn’t a FULL list of the blogs we follow, we thought it would be nice to share with our members and readers some of our favorite (in no specific order) health blogs out there!
Our ‘favorites’ blog roll:
Originally posted on news@JAMA:
A recently identified tick-borne illness has been detected in 2 patients in the northeastern United States, according to case reports published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine as the US tick season begins to ramp up.
In 1995, when Japanese researchers identified the pathogen that causes this illness, a new species of Borrelia bacteria called Borrelia miyamotoi, their work marked a new approach to identifying a novel infectious disease, according to an editorial published alongside the study. Most new diseases are identified after a person becomes ill, but these researchers sought to identify potential disease-causing agents in a known vector of other human pathogens, a tick of the Ixodes genus that transmits a related Borrelia bacterium that causes Lyme disease in Japan and elsewhere. The discovery subsequently led to the identification of B miyamotoi in ticks in Eurasia and North America. By 2011, human cases of illness associated with B miyamotoi infection had been documented in Russia.
Originally posted on Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution:
Many of us have no idea what “those people” are talking about when they mention endocrine disruptors. Sounds like something foreign and insignificant, or at least it did to me, until something caught my attention a few years ago.
It turns out that the endocrine system is a hugely busy and important system in our bodies, one well worth looking into and trying to understand. When we start to understand how important this system is, we might start to notice how we are (unwittingly) damaging ourselves, or rather, being damaged, because there are so many endocrine disrupting chemicals allowed into our daily lives now.
It is so much easier to stop causing harm (in whatever ways we are able) when we understand what the problems are, and so difficult, if not impossible, when we remain oblivious. In this case, sticking our heads in the sand will not only harm us, it has the potential to also harm our grandchildren and their grandchildren.
Your local library might subscribe to this. Call ahead and ask for a reference librarian!
- New Yorker Article on New Models of Long-term Elder Care (asourparentsage.net)
Originally posted on As Our Parents Age:
If you can locate a copy of The New Yorker May 20, 2013 article The Sense of An Ending by Rebecca Mead, it’s well worth reading because of its focus on new models of providing care to fragile elders with dementia illnesses in nursing homes. The article extensively describes the Beatitudes Campus in Arizona, but it also mentions The Green House Project and the Pioneer Network. The Beatitudes model and The Green House Project share many approaches.
So I was excited during dinner with friends last month when one of the people at the table, a neurologist, mentioned The New Yorker article, saying how excited he was to learn about new models that completely change the way we deliver care to fragile elders, especially those with memory impairments. After he spoke at length about the article — which I had not read yet — I shared information and my blog posts about the new Woodland Park Green Houses in Harrisonburg, VA. Our physician friend seemed really eager to learn a lot more.
Originally posted on Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution:
For those of you who like to keep up on these things, here’s another new report urging more precaution on wireless, GMO’s, nanotechnology, and more. Our current system allows new things to be unleashed on us without proper safety testing and precaution. At 750 (free) pages, it’s a bit longer than a tweet or a fb update, but delving into it could change your life, and give you the resources to help create more urgently required changes around you.
Originally posted on Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution:
Women’s Voices for the Earth recently released a new report, called “Secret Scents“. It highlights the need for ingredient transparency by the companies that create fragranced products, since right now we have almost no way of knowing what is causing the fragrance allergies and other serious health effects people experience when exposed to fragrances. These adverse health effects are increasing, especially in children.
Amazingly, companies are not required by the FDA or EPA to disclose fragrance ingredients, so it is difficult for anyone to pinpoint specific fragrance allergens and sensitizers among the hundreds of ingredients that can make up a scent.
Another report was also just released, this one on endocrine disrupting chemicals. Some fragrance ingredients, like phthalates (see below) are also endocrine disruptors, while others are known carcinogens and/or neurotoxic!
US Government Accountability Office
Since 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made progress implementing its new approach to managing toxic chemicals under its existing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authority; particularly by increasing efforts to obtain chemical toxicity and exposure data and initiating chemical risk assessments..The results of EPA’s data collection activities, in most cases, have yet to be realized, and it may take several years before EPA obtains much of the data it is seeking. Also, EPA has not pursued some opportunities to obtain chemical data that companies submit to foreign governments or to obtain data from chemical processors that prepare chemical substances after their manufacture for distribution in commerce–some of which could help support the agency’s risk assessment activities. Of the 83 chemicals EPA has prioritized for risk assessment, it initiated 7 assessments in 2012 and plans to start 18 additional assessments in 2013 and 2014. However, it may take several years to complete these initial risk assessments and, at the agency’s current pace, over a decade to complete all 83, especially as EPA does not have the toxicity and exposure data needed for 58 of the 83 chemicals prioritized for risk assessment. In addition to its risk assessment activity, EPA has initiated other actions–such as increasing review of certain new uses of chemicals–that may discourage the use of these chemicals, but it is too early to tell whether these actions will reduce chemical risks.
It is unclear whether EPA’s new approach to managing chemicals within its existing TSCA authorities will position the agency to achieve its goal of ensuring the safety of chemicals…EPA has not clearly articulated how it will address challenges associated with obtaining toxicity and exposure data needed for risk assessments and placing limits on or banning chemicals under existing TSCA authorities. In addition, EPA’s strategy does not describe the resources needed to execute its new approach. For example, EPA’s strategy does not identify roles and responsibilities of key staff or offices or identify staffing levels or costs associated with conducting the activities under its new approach. Without a plan that incorporates leading strategic planning practices, EPA cannot be assured that its new approach to managing chemicals, as described in its Existing Chemicals Program Strategy, will provide a framework to effectively guide its effort. Consequently, EPA could be investing valuable resources, time, and effort without being certain that its efforts will bring the agency closer to achieving its goal of ensuring the safety of chemicals
Originally posted on Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution:
We all are!
Three articles that crossed my path today illustrate the challenges we face (trying to stay healthy) while alive. Of course there are more issues, (like fracking, GMOs and processed food) but these three are more than enough to show us that “lifestyle choices” are not enough to keep us healthy.
This article by David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz is a must read!
From the blog item
The gut mucosa is the largest and most dynamic immunological environment of the body. It hosts the body’s largest population of immune cells. It is often the first point of pathogen exposure and many microbes use it as a beachhead into the rest of the body.
The gut immune system therefore needs to be ready to respond to pathogens but at the same time it is constantly exposed to innocuous environmental antigens, food particles and commensal microflora which need to be tolerated.
Misdirected immune responses to harmless antigens are the underlying cause of food allergies and debilitating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. This animation introduces the key cells and molecular players involved in gut immunohomeostasis and disease.
Nature Immunology in collaboration with Arkitek Studios have produced an animation unraveling the complexities of mucosal immunology in health and disease:
T helper cells (click to enlarge the image).
Comments from Twitter:
FoodAllergySupport @FASupport: More fun than Magic School Bus!
- Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia? (scienceroll.com)
- What’s best care – now available to all (bangordailynews.com)
- Data driven Personalized Medicine Metamed when you cannot afford misdiagnosis (nextbigfuture.com)
- Anecdotes are never evidence…unless they’re your own. (skeptoid.com)
- Searching for Evidence Based Information (hslnews.wordpress.com)
- Costs of implementation of evidence-based therapies for stroke in Ireland (handtutorblog.wordpress.com)
Originally posted on ScienceRoll:
I would love to get your feedback on a project I just came across on Wikipedia, the WikiProject Medicine/Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia. The organizer of the project is the same as in Cochrane Students’ Journal Club. Please sign up if you are interested in helping us out.
Wikipedia has been accepted world wide as a source of information by both lay people and experts. Its community driven approach has ensured that the information presented caters to a wide variety of people. An article from 2011 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that a significant number of experts and doctors consult Wikipedia’s medicine related topics.
Medical information is very dynamic and conclusions and recommendations are turned on their heads based on new findings. Taking this into account it is important to ensure that Evidence Based content is a part of any medicine related Wikipedia article. Such content should be authentic and reliable as people may use the same to make decisions that may end up having life changing consequences.
Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:
EHS-Net Restaurant Food Safety Studies: What Have We Learned? – Laura Green Brown discusses the latest Environmental Health Specialists Network findings in restaurant food safety. This article is published in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.
Restaurant Food Cooling Practices – EHS-Net article includes quantitative data on restaurants’ food cooling processes and practices such as whether cooling processes are tested and proven to be safe; temperature monitoring practices; refrigeration cooling practices, and cooling food temperatures.
EHS-Net Water Safety Projects – EHS-Net water safety projects include developing multisite projects with our funded partners. EHS-Net’s current multisite project looks at the seasonality of noncommunity water systems to understand how they provide safe drinking water and about vulnerabilities of those systems. Learn about EHS-Net partners’ individual projects to improve the practice of environmental health.
Sugar can be hidden in a lot of processed food products that make health claims. Yogurt is one of them.
When I see the yogurt aisle in the supermarket, I am amazed at all the different types available now. This slideshow gives us some guidance on the various types to choose. Here’s where label reading is a necessity. Some people think that yogurt is healthy and most are, but notice the grams of sugar (some can be quite high) and the grams of protein (which often differ considerably).
This is a start on some different choices if you want to choose yogurt as a dairy alternative protein source.
- Love it, Like it, Hate it: Yogurt Shop Finds (wgno.com)
- Get the Skinny: Sugar Shockers (wgno.com)
- Nutrition: 7 Secretly Unhealthy Foods – What to Look For.. (davidvalefitness.wordpress.com)
- The Scoop on Sugar (dietitiandiary.wordpress.com)
- Tips for choosing yogurt! (f00dventures.wordpress.com)
Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:
Sugar can be hidden in a lot of processed food products that make health claims. Yogurt is one of them.
When I see the yogurt aisle in the supermarket, I am amazed at all the different types available now. This slideshow gives us some guidance on the various types to choose. Here’s where label reading is a necessity. Some people think that yogurt is healthy and most are, but notice the grams of sugar (some can be quite high) and the grams of protein (which often differ considerably).
From the 20 March 2013 post at Science Roll
I was very glad to see the new book authored by e-Patient Dave deBronkart, whose thoughts I describe to medical students as a part of the official curriculum at Semmelweis Medical School, just became available.
Medical professionals must let patients help and become equal partners in the treatment! A must-read book!
Concise reasons, tips & methods for making patient engagement effective.
Third book by e-Patient Dave, cancer beater, blogger, internationally known keynote speaker and advocate for patient engagement; co-founder and past co-chair of the Society for Participatory Medicine. Profile:http://www.ePatientDave.com/about-dave
- Let Patients Help: A New Book Authored by e-Patient Dave deBronkart (scienceroll.com)
- Project HealthDesign’s new video series: Conversations with e-PatientDave (projecthealthdesign.typepad.com)
- Part 1: Value of social media in healthcare is already outlined – just not realized (himss.org)
- The Multidimensional Role of Social Media in Healthcare (gumption.typepad.com)
- First Post: A Video About Patients Involvement in Their Own Healthcare (healthitoutlook.wordpress.com)
- The 7 Habits of Highly Patient Centric Providers (forbes.com)
- I’m an e-patient: equipped, enabled, empowered, engaged (worldofdtcmarketing.com)
As an aside, I stopped participating in alumni band during football homecoming.
Just don’t want to be part of this sport which in increasingly unhealthy in the short and long run.
You’ve probably watched the Super Bowl as I have many times, faithfully, elevating the occasion to some kind of macabre family tradition. It is a spectacle of athletic agility, drama, and struggle; the pinnacle of American sporting contests. Despite the heavy onslaught of commercialism, faux halftime culture, and evident violence on the field, we suspend our awareness that this event may not be a magical moment worth our time and validation, even as its winners call out to some magical Disney kingdom.
Here are 7 points to consider:
7. Obesity and cardiovascular disease. Up to 45% of youth participating in football are overweight or obese. The nature of the sport favors, and increasingly demands, a large body size. The physique acquired in adolescence often persists into adulthood.
According to a 2007 study of 653 boys ages 8-14 playing football in Michigan, 20% were overweight and another 25% were obese, as defined by body mass index.Studies have shown that linemen have high early mortality rates, and for all professional players who have played 5 years or more, life expectancy is less than 60.
6) MRSA infections and abscesses. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have suffered from it.
- CTE Continued (Buckeye Surgeon)
CTE is an abbreviation for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (Head Trauma)
Search the blog with CTE for other related postings by this Ohio physician
- Super Bowl XLVII and sex trafficking (multiplyjustice.net)
This is a fascinating read. We can certainly learn from the Cuban model: if nothing else, the importance of making preventative care a priority. But there problems when we attempt to generalize this on a large scale to the US health care system and the population it serves. (A similar issue arises when a comparison between the Swiss system and US system is made, for example).
Originally posted on New Direction Nutrition:
So this post is not exactly delicious, but it is relevant to health and social justice nonetheless. I first watched this video over at the Cheeseslave blog. (See her Top 10 Dangers of Fluoride post to learn about how this toxic substance is harming us and how to avoid it.) It seems like this issue is really coming to a head and hopefully we will see some positive changes soon.
I found it particularly interesting when Dr. Yolanda Whyte says:
“I’m also concerned by research findings showing that dental fluorosis is higher in the black community, even the more severe forms where the teeth can start to erode and develop black and brown stains. This health disparity and environmental injustice will need to be addressed.”
Found this while “surfing” the Institute of Medicine Web page (the primary source for an article in one of my RSS feeds).
I think I share a concern with gun violence with many of you dear readers.There has to be a better way to prevent gun violence than simply arming more folks. For example, a school system to the west of my hometown of Toledo, OH believes arming its janitors will curb violence. (Montpelier schools OKs armed janitors***). My gut reaction? If I had children in the school I would pull them out. Homeschool them if there were no other ways to educate them. And if the teachers were armed? Same reaction.
Meanwhile I’m going to be participating in a [local] Community Committee Against Gun Violence (MoveOn.org). For the past several years I’ve been very concerned about gun violence. Time to start to do something…hopefully not too late.
Yes, this webcast might be viewed as just another talking heads exercise. I am hoping some good will come out of it. If nothing else, keep a conversation alive on how to address prevention of violence through nonviolence.
Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop
- When: January 23, 2013 – January 24, 2013 (8:00 AM Eastern)
- Where: Keck Center (Keck 100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 Map
- Topics: Global Health, Children, Youth and Families, Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Public Health
- Activity: Forum on Global Violence Prevention
- Boards: Board on Global Health, Board on Children, Youth, and Families
[My note...registration is now closed for in-person attendance, they've reached seating capacity]
Evidence shows that violence is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented. Successful violence prevention programs exist around the world, but a comprehensive approach is needed to systematically apply such programs to this problem. As the global community recognizes the connection between violence and failure to achieve health and development goals, such an approach could more effectively inform policies and funding priorities locally, nationally, and globally.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will convene a 2-day workshop to explore the evidentiary basis for violence prevention across the lifespan and around the world. The public workshop will be organized and conducted by an ad hoc committee to examine: 1) What is the need for an evidence-based approach to violence prevention across the world? 2) What are the conceptual and evidentiary bases for establishing what works in violence prevention? 3) What violence prevention interventions have been proven to reduce different types of violence (e.g., child and elder abuse, intimate partner and sexual violence, youth and collective violence, and self-directed violence)? 4) What are common approaches most lacking in evidentiary support? and 5) How can demonstrably effective interventions be adapted, adopted, linked, and scaled up in different cultural contexts around the world?
The committee will develop the workshop agenda, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. Experts will be drawn from the public and private sectors as well as from academic organizations to allow for multi-lateral discussions. Following the conclusion of the workshop, an individually-authored summary of the event will be prepared by a designated rapporteur.
- Comprehensive public health approach urged to curb gun violence in U.S. (mwoods228.wordpress.com)
- Harvard Researchers: Tackle Gun Violence Like Smoking, Car Deaths (wbur.org)
- Biden: Executive action can be taken on guns (politico.com)
- Vice President Biden Meets with Groups to Discuss Violence Prevention (salem-news.com)
- Analyst: No “Single Solution” to Gun Violence (voicerussia.com)
- Comprehensive Public Health Approach Urged to Curb Gun Violence in U.S. (emberbranch.wordpress.com)
- Violence plays role in shorter US life expectancy (newsobserver.com)
- Giffords launches anti-gun violence site (cnn.com)
- Montpelier OKs armed school janitors (toledoblade.com)
*** I did respond to the newspaper article. The response is online. I am expecting some rather strong responses, perhaps about how naive I am (sigh).
“Now I know, more than ever, that I have to get more involved in addressing violence through nonviolent means. For starters, am going to get better prepared for a nonviolent workshop our Pax Christi USA section is sponsoring next month. Also am going to do my best to follow through with a local Community Committee Against Gun Violence (http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?rc=homepage&action_id=302). Guess it’s time to be part of the solution…these two events are steps that are challenging, don’t solve things overnight, but in my heart of hearts…I feel called to participate in actions like these….(am thanking teachers here, esp those at St. Catherine’s(1960-1969) and Central Catholic (1969-1973).”
Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:
The CDC has released a new app for clinicians and other health care professionals that let’s them find the CDC’s current influenza recommendations and influenza activity updates. It’s available for Apple iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. The CDC Influenza App can be downloaded from the Apple App store.
The app lets you:
Originally posted on Science Intelligence and InfoPros:
Open access (OA) publisher BioMed Central has launched a new semantically-enriched search tool, Cases Database, which aims to enhance the discovery, filtering and aggregation of medical case reports from many journals. OA to journal articles published under Creative Commons licences, which permit text mining, enable the literature to be reused as a resource for scientific discovery
More than 11,000 cases from 100 different journals are reportedly available to be freely searched with Cases Database.
Cases Database uses text mining and medical term recognition to filter peer reviewed medical case reports and provide a semantically enriched search experience. The database offers structured search and filtering by condition, symptom, intervention, pathogen, patient demographic and many other data fields, allowing fast identification of relevant case reports to support clinical practice and research. Registered users can save cases, set up e-mail alerts tonew cases matching their search terms, and export their results. Cases Database will be free to access and is expected to be of particular interest to practicing clinicians, researchers, lecturers, drug regulators, patients, students and authors.
HealthStats is the World Bank’s comprehensive database of Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) statistics.
It includes over 250 indicators on topics such as health financing, HIV/AIDS, immunization, malaria and tuberculosis, health workforce and health facilities use, nutrition, reproductive health, population and population projections, cause of death, non-communicable diseases, water and sanitation, with background information on poverty, labor force, economy and education.
Users can access HNP data by country, topic, or indicator, and view the resulting data (and wealth quintiles) in tables, charts or maps that can be easily shared through email, Facebook and Twitter.
The above World Bank web page also includes a population growth rate visualization.
A country’s color changes as the growth rate varies annually from 1961 to 2011.
Options for commentary and a chart URL (no custom colors)
Check out the Data Visualizer for bigger map. The visualizer also includes options to locate individual countries (with rates), and “freeze frames” by year.
- “Africa rising” and the shifting disease burden – Africa is a Country (innerstandingisness.wordpress.com)
- The World Bank’s open data: 7 apps to play with (ted.com)
- World Bank study finds Ghana’s health insurance system heading to bankruptcy in 2013 (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- Biennial forum focuses on development of long term health strategy (kaieteurnewsonline.com)
- The key to better healthcare lies in data (guardian.co.uk)
A University of British Columbia and Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) study has revealed that childhood poverty, stress as an adult, and demographics such as age, sex and ethnicity, all leave an imprint on a person’s genes. And, that this imprint could play a role in our immune response. …
Known as epigenetics, or the study of changes in gene expression, this research examined a process called DNA methylation where a chemical molecule is added to DNA and acts like a dimmer on a light bulb switch, turning genes on or off or setting them somewhere in between. Research has shown that a person’s life experiences play a role in shaping DNA methylation patterns. ..
“We found biological residue of early life poverty,” said Michael Kobor, an associate professor of medical genetics at UBC, whose CMMT lab at the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) led the research. “This was based on clear evidence that environmental influences correlate with epigenetic patterns.” ..
- Genes, Immune System Shaped by Childhood Poverty, Stress (dogmaandgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
- Kobor, CMMT study shows genes and immune system shaped by childhood poverty, stress (aplaceofmind.ubc.ca)
- New Study: Stress Increases Risk of Mental, Physical Illness (baktoedenherbalproducts.wordpress.com)
From the blog of George Namay DDS [posting here does not constitute endorsement of his services]
Worried about the effect of trick-or-treating candy on kids’ teeth, dentists are encouraging parents to offer a sugar-free alternative instead: coupons for the “Plants vs. Zombies” video game. The following column from the West Michigan District Dental Society explains how the “Stop Zombie Mouth” campaign works:
The zombies are here! Just in time for Halloween, the American Dental Association’s “Stop Zombie Mouth” campaign is redefining what a Halloween “treat” can be by offering fun instead of candy.
The ADA is partnering with PopCap Games, makers of the popular “Plants vs. Zombies” video game, for the campaign to raise awareness of oral health while offering a fun alternative to sugary treats.
Now through Halloween, the “Stop Zombie Campaign” will feature PopCap’s family-friendly video game, Plants vs. Zombies, as a tooth-friendly alternative to candy. PopCap will give away millions of copies of the game, more than 1 million free packs of game-inspired trading cards and other themed items with tips to keep teeth healthy.
Over-diagnosis happens when people are diagnosed with diseases or conditions that won’t actually harm them.
Ray Moynihan, a terrific health care journalist who is now pursuing his PhD on overdiagnosis and working as a Senior Research Fellow at Bond University in Australia, kicks off the first of a nine-part series, “Over-diagnosis Epidemic” on TheConversation.edu.au website.
The first part is an introduction, “Preventing over-diagnosis: how to stop harming the healthy.”
“To put it simply, over-diagnosis happens when people are diagnosed with diseases or conditions that won’t actually harm them. It happens because some screening programs can detect “cancers” that will never kill, because sophisticated diagnostic technologies pick up “abnormalities” that will remain benign, and because we are routinely widening the definitions of disease to include people with milder symptoms, and those at very low risk.”
Other colleagues author the subsequent parts in the series:
“…But what we found was that the greatest relative reduction in breast cancer mortality (44%) occurred in the youngest age group. These women (aged 40 to 49 years) are not invited for screening. In contrast, women aged 60 to 69 years, who areinvited to screen, had the smallest relative reduction in mortality (19%).
Given that three times as many women aged 60 to 69 (about 60%) participated in Breastscreen (compared to 20% of women aged 40 to 49 years), our finding is not consistent with screening having a major impact on the reduction in breast cancer mortality since 1991.”…
“…Most studies show that only one in ten cases of mild cognitive impairment progress to dementia each year, and many improve. One study that followed outcomes for ten years concluded – “The majority of subjects with MCI do not progress to dementia at the long term.”…
“..A major concern with such tests is that they’re the beginning of a path toward over-diagnosis, where the potential to develop a disease or being at risk for the disease is strong enough to constitute a label of sickness.
Over-diagnosing includes, but is not limited to, widening disease definitions, early detections of abnormalities that may or may not cause symptoms or death and the use of increasingly sensitive technologies that detect “abnormalities,” the causes and consequences of which are unknown at this time…”
“..The most common reason general practitioners are sued is because of missed diagnoses. Missed diagnoses also invoke a strong sense of professional failure. So how can general practitioners manage in this sea of uncertainty?
One way is to perform more tests. This is also popular with patients, who perceive that tests ensure nothing serious is missed. What is not well understood by patients (and sometimes also by clinicians) is the potential harm from testing.
The most obvious harm is the cost and resources required; we would quickly overwhelm the health system if we performed an MRI on every patient with back pain. A strong system of primary care results in a health-care system that’s both more efficient and less costly because primary-care physicians are skilled at filtering those with severe disease needing further tests, from those with self-limiting illnesses…
The greatest harm from the increased use of testing, however, is not costs, resources or false positives. Rather, it’s the problem of over-diagnosis.
Clinicians and patients both believe that finding a disease earlier in its process means it will be more successfully treated. But there’s increasing evidence that finding disease early or at a milder stage has paradoxical harmful effects, even reducing survival and quality of life.
Wider availability of more sophisticated tests results in “incidentalomas”, incidental findings that would not have otherwise been diagnosed. The detection of thyroid cancers, for instance, has more than doubled in the past 30 years. But most of these diagnoses are incidental findings from imaging…”
- #Preventing #over-diagnosis #good #healthy (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)
- What good is a diagnosis? (wisecounsel.wordpress.com)
- Biopsies may misdiagnose eosinophilic esophagitis (yvonnebergeron.wordpress.com)