[Report] Most Consumers Encounter Challenges Using New Types of High Tech Devices, Accenture Survey Finds | Full Text Reports…
From the press release
NEW YORK; Jan. 5, 2015 – Most consumers experience challenges using several new types of smart high tech devices, according to a new report from Accenture titled Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World.
Overall, 83 percent report various problems when they use new device types such as wearable fitness monitors, smart watches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home connected surveillance cameras and security systems, and wearable health products.
The biggest challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are “too complicated to use” (21 percent), “set-up did not proceed properly” (19 percent), and “did not work as advertised” (19 percent).
“For these new connected device categories, high tech companies need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their product development approaches to focus on the entire customer experience,” said Sami Luukkonen, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High Tech group. “They should make fundamental strategic changes that no longer focus on product feature differentiation but rather holistic, digital experience differentiation.”
- How to Choose A Better Health App (by LEXANDER V. PROKHOROV, MD, PHD at KevinMD.com on August 8, 2011) contains advice in the following areas
- Set realistic expectations
- Avoid apps that promise too much
- Research the developers
- Choose apps that use techniques you’ve heard of
- See what other users say
- Test apps before committing
Sources of Trusted, Reviewed and Evaluated Apps
iMedical Apps -Mobile medical app reviews, commentary by medical professionals
Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites – from the US National Library of Medicine
Mobile Resources Selected by the MSKCC Library for Patients and Families from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center LibraryInformation For Patients from the University of Michigan LibraryGuide-Health Sciences Mobile Device Resources – Resources by Subject
Scroll down in the right column of this guide until you get to Information for Patients
Looking to promote prevention of a particular disease or condition this coming year? Or bring awareness to a population need?
Consider tying in your program with a US based national observance.
This guide is also great for the curious!
Each site has a related Web site (usually the sponsoring organization) and contact information.
[Reblog] How the discussion on dying has changed over 40 years: A conversation with Nancy Berlinger | Association of Health Care Journalists
From the 18 February 2015 post
If you want a refresher on how far society has come on dealing with end-of-life care issues — and what issues are still to be resolved — then this retrospective article in the Feb 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine from experts at The Hastings Center is a great place to begin. It reviews the history of the end-of-life care movement in the U.S., takes a look at the integration of palliative care into health care delivery, discusses the still controversial “death with dignity” laws and ethical issues like removal of feeding and hydration tubes.
I recently spoke with co-author Nancy Berlinger, Ph.D., a research scholar at Hastings, about how the conversation on death and dying has changed over four decades.
Q: Why did you and your colleagues develop this retrospective for publication in a medical journal?
NB: It stemmed from a recent revision of The Hastings Center Guidelines [for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life].
We see lots of ads from hospitals advertising their standards of excellence and their programs. None of them ever advertise their end of life care.
it’s clear that financial incentives are very misaligned with what people need, what they want, what would be medically appropriate. This is a very complex issue – it can’t be undone by a patient, or by an individual doctor or nurse. This has to be the focus of very high-level attention.
Q: What should journalists be focusing on?
NB: Even if they don’t cover the deep medical end of things, they can still ask questions in the context of health and wellness, such as:
- How much power does a sick person have?
- How much power does a really stressed out family have?
- How much power does a doctor, seeing X number of patients, really have?
- And, what still do we want to try to help these people to do? To understand we’re all connected in these efforts.
From the 22 August 2012 post at KevinMD.com
t’s easy for those with health problems to complain about what we don’t want to hear others say to us, but I thought it might be helpful to let others know what we wish they would say to us.
“You look so good, but how are you really feeling?”
It’s hard for us to respond to comments like, “You look so good” (or the always dreaded, “But you don’t look sick”) because we know that you’re just trying to be nice. If we respond truthfully with, “Thanks, but I feel awful,” you might be embarrassed or think we’re being ungrateful. It would be such a relief to be asked a question that goes to the heart of the matter: “How are you really feeling?”
“I’m going to the grocery store, can I pick anything up for you?”
[Press release] More women now using compounded hormones without understanding the risks — ScienceDaily
From the 28 February 2015 press release
From 28% to 68% of women using hormones at menopause take compounded, so-called “bioidentical” hormones, but women don’t understand the risks of these unapproved, untested treatments, shows an analysis of two large surveys, which was published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society.
Prescriptions of compounded hormones aren’t systematically tracked the way those for FDA-approved drugs are, so the analysts used two large internet surveys of middle-aged and older US women to gauge how commonly they use approved hormone therapy and compounded hormone therapy at menopause. Nearly 3,000 women completed the Harris Interactive Inc and Rose Research LLC surveys, and the researchers used their feedback and US Census data to estimate national use.
They calculated that each year 57 to 75 million prescriptions for all menopausal hormone therapies are filled. Thirty-six million prescriptions are written for FDA-approved hormone therapy, so the remaining 28 to 39 million prescriptions are likely for compounded hormones.
But it seems that women who take them don’t know what they’re getting into. One survey asked women “Do you believe that bioidentical hormone therapies compounded at a specialty pharmacy are FDA-approved?” Only 14% correctly answered “no.” Most–76%–weren’t sure, and 10% incorrectly answered “yes
From the 17 February 2015 post
That’s right…it really happened.
At the conclusion of a recent doctor visit, he gave me his cell phone number saying, “Call me anytime if you need anything or have questions.”
In disbelief, I wondered if this was a generational thing – and whether physicians in their late thirties had now ‘gone digital’.
My only other data point was our family pediatrician, who is also in her late thirties. Our experience with her dates back nearly seven years when my wife and I were expecting twins. A few pediatricians we met with mentioned their willingness to correspond with patients’ families via email as a convenience to parents. The pediatrician we ultimately selected wasn’t connected with patients outside of the office at that time, but now will exchange emails.
From the 26 February 2015 article at Covering Health
Health insurers are taking incremental steps to release information on what they pay to health care providers. Each month, they reveal just a bit more.
This week, Aetna, Assurant Health, Humana and UnitedHealthcare released state and local cost information through the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) on a consumer site called Guroo.com. The data show the costs for about 70 common health conditions and services and are based on claims from more than 40 million insured individuals, HCCI announced.
No other organization has made these data available, HCCI said. In that way, this release is significant. Or, as the Guroo site says of the data: “The biggest collection of cost information is now at your fingertips, so you know what care really costs.”
Well, not exactly. The data show what insurers paid. Or, as Jason Millman pointed out in The Washington Post, “The site doesn’t break down what a consumer pays for services versus what the insurer pays.”
The release of cost-transparency data seems to be gaining some momentum. Last month, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services published what it said was “the most current price information” from hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. In so doing, North Carolina joined Maine and Massachusetts as the only states that publish price data on the web, according to last year’s Report Card on State Transparency Laws from the Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute.
Within days of the publication of the state data, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina published data on what it pays hospitals and physicians. In an earlier blog post we covered those events in North Carolina.
For anyone looking for in depth vetted resources.
From the 23 February 2015 post at Covering Health (Association of Health Care Journalists)
he fracking controversy has been high profile in recent years, and tempers are short on all sides of the subject. Some groups see natural gas and the process used to extract it – hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” – as a boon to energy production in the U.S., while others see it as a pernicious threat to people and the environment.
As shown in this New York Times interactive infographic, fracking (sometimes called “unconventional gas drilling”) is a complicated process. It involves high-pressure injection of fluids into natural gas reserves that lie thousands of feet underground, trapped in layers of shale. In addition, there’s a landslide of conflicting information and anecdotal evidence.
So, as a reporter, how do you sift through the various interests and pull out a story that is relevant to your community?
Researchers affiliated with several organizations, including Simon Fraser University, have realized a major scientific achievement that will advance understanding of how the information in our cells is used and processed.
Steven Jones and Marco Marra, SFU Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry professor and adjunct professor, respectively, were among dozens of scientists on the pioneering project. Both SFU alumni, they are also with theCanada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre and BC Cancer Agency.
The scientists are globally celebrating their completion of 20 manuscripts that describe their generation and analysis of reference epigenome maps.
Epigenomes are chemical modifications of DNA and proteins that control the structure and activity of our genome. Ultimately, they cause our genome to stay healthy or develop diseases because they code for cellular properties that distinguish one cell type from another.
The journal Nature has issued a special publication to showcase the researchers’ collection, which contains molecular mark-up language for translating the epigenomes of 111 distinct human cell and tissue types.
“The DNA that makes up a human genome is essentially the same in every cell,” explains Jones, a co-author on the manuscript that integrates all 111 epigenomes into a single comparative analysis.
The project, called the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap Epigenomics Mapping Consortium, provides a core set of data, methodology and infrastructure for studying the epigenome’s role in human health and disease. The original goal was to map 25 normal reference epigenomes, but new technology allowed the team to produce 111 highly detailed maps on how the epigenome varies and operates in different settings.
by Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
PULLMAN, Wash. – Gender and personality matter in how people cope with physical and mental illness, according to a paper by a Washington State University scientist and colleagues at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Men are less affected by a single-symptom illness than women, but are more affected when more than one symptom is present. The number of symptoms doesn’t change how women are affected, according to Robert Rosenman, WSU professor in the Department of Economic Sciences.
Rosenman worked with Dusanee Kesavayuth and Vasileios Zikos, both at UTCC in Bangkok, Thailand, on the study.
“Women are more impacted by illness than men, unless more than one symptom is present,” said Rosenman. “Then men are more impacted than women. And perhaps more importantly, personality affects how women handle becoming sick, while men of all types react the same.”
“Alu” sequences are small repetitive elements representing about 10% of our genome. Because of their ability to move around the genome, these “jumping genes” are considered as real motors of evolution. However, they were considered for a long time as “junk” DNA, because, although they are transcribed into RNA, they encode no proteins and do not seem to participate actively in the cell’s functions. Now, the group of Katharina Strub, professor at the Faculty of Science of the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, has uncovered two key functions of Alu RNAs in human cells, which are the subject of two different articles published in Nucleic Acids Research. Alu RNA can bind to specific proteins forming a complex called Alu RNP. On the one hand, this complex allows the cells to adapt to stress caused for example by chemical poisoning or viral infection. On the other hand, the same complex plays a role in protein synthesis by regulating the number of active ribosomes, suggesting that it could be part of the innate system of cellular defense against certain viruses.
One person’s journey through an unhealthy health care system. Definitely not patient centered. Have had similar insurance problems, mostly because of errors in the insurance company erring in my personal identifiers.
Let me start this story by telling you the end: I am just fine. For those of you who like me, there is nothing to worry about and all is well. For those of you who don’t like me, sorry to disappoint you, but you’re stuck with me for a while.
I’m telling you these things—news to make you happy or disappointed, depending on your point of view about me—because this story is about my recent trip to the hospital, an unexpected journey that I wasn’t sure I was going to talk about publicly.
And from one of the comments…
You sound true and authentic to me too. I am embarrassed as to how often we do screw up. The only excuse I think is that we have so much internal and external regulation that we become nervous nellies, unable to relax and enjoy what we are doing. You should go to a Pharmacy and Therapeutics meeting in a hospital and listen to the barrage of complaints from everyone to everyone. Wrong dose, wrong timing, wrong drug, wrong patient. I have walked out of these meetings because of the hostility. We would all do better if we could start some little village clinic in the Congo, without the interminable watching from a thousand eyes.
Toronto scientists uncovered how viral remnants helped shape control of our genes.
If genes were lights on a string of DNA, the genome would appear as an endless flicker, as thousands of genes come on and off at any given time. Tim Hughes, a Professor at the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre, is set on figuring out the rules behind this tightly orchestrated light-show, because when it fails, disease can occur.
Genes are switched on or off by proteins called transcription factors. These proteins bind to precise sites on the DNA that serve as guideposts, telling transcription factors that their target genes are nearby.
In their latest paper, published in Nature Biotechnology, Hughes and his team did the first systematic study of the largest group of human transcription factors, called C2H2-ZF.
Despite their important roles in development and disease, these proteins have been largely unexplored because they posed a formidable challenge for researchers.
C2H2-ZF transcription factors count over 700 proteins — around three per cent of all human genes! To make matters more complicated, most human C2H2-ZF proteins are very different from those in other organisms, like those in mice. This means that scientists could not apply insights gained from animal studies to human C2H2-ZFs.
Hughes’ team found something remarkable: the reason C2H2-ZFs are so abundant and diverse — which makes them difficult to study — is that many of them evolved to defend our ancestral genome from damage caused by the notorious “selfish DNA.”
International health experts head to Saudi Arabia to help determine why MERS cases are soaring again
Infectious disease watchers are again wondering what is going on in Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning of February the Saudis have reported 52 cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome—better known as MERS; 40 have come to light in the past week or so alone. Since the disease first hit the world’s radar in September 2012 only two months have racked up more cases than this one has. They were April and May 2014, when Saudi Arabia had rampantMERS outbreaks in several hospitals.*
An expert delegation from the United Nation’s human and animal health agencies began a three-day mission to the Arabian Peninsula’s geographically largest country Wednesday, trying to get to the bottom of why MERS cases are soaring.
This is the time of year in which the number of MERS cases has climbed in the past, although not enough time has elapsed to make clear whether that pattern will continue. In the past two springs large hospital outbreaks in Saudi Arabia have certainly created the appearance of a high season for MERS transmission, which some scientists believe exists and is linked to the birth and weaning of young camels. The animals are known to be susceptible to the virus and can transmit it to people.
According to the daily updates posted online by the Saudi health ministry, most of the recent cases—unlike during past surges—did not report contact with camels or with other people infected with MERS—either in the community or in a hospital setting. “It seems quite a few are not health care associated,” says Koopmans…
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey provides the most comprehensive information on the use of complementary health approaches in the United States.
Click on any practice or product below
So true “To actually address why parents opt out of vaccinations, Science must ask itself difficult and uncomfortable questions about why such a large and fundamental trust-gap exists, and what we plan to do about it.”
Originally posted on #HOPEJAHRENSURECANWRITE:
Recently, a millennial came to my office and asked me if she should get vaccinated, even though her mom had never wanted her to. I didn’t tell her what to do. Instead, I told her why I vaccinate my own son. Here’s what I said.
How I Learned to Trust The Needle
When my son was a couple of months old, I took him to the third of his many well-baby appointments. On that day, our pediatrician approached me tentatively. “This is the appropriate time for his vaccinations,” she informed me in a cautious, even tone.
“Load him up!” I screamed, “Give him a double!” My baby son looked up at us and blinked, unperturbed by the hysterics to which he had become accustomed in utero. I signed some papers, and the doctor vaccinated him against an assortment of maladies. More than a decade has passed since then, and today I…
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From an aging population to the growing threat of pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases as well as the rapid growth of obesity and other chronic illnesses, the most persistent and costly challenges to American health and well-being fall increasingly on the public health system and on public health professionals at all levels. Unlike health care, which often intervenes when an individual is already sick with a costly disease, the focus of public health is prevention rather than treatment of diseases. Public health professionals, working with state and local health departments, laboratories, and other public health organizations, play a vital and increasingly central role in protecting a population’s health. Yet the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health observers have repeatedly identified deficiencies in public health infrastructure and workforce.
Regional interstate planning, preparing for mass vaccination and the distribution of medical supplies, and development of adequate surge capacity are incomplete or insufficient. The Government Accountability Office concluded in 2004 that “no State is fully prepared to respond to a major public health threat,” an assessment that the CDC reiterated in 2008.
One might look at Figure 1 and think, where are the lines for public health expenditures on federal, state, and local levels? They’re there, almost completely parallel to the x-axis. Federal public health spending underperformed a number of other U.S. health sector expenditure categories overall. As a percentage of all U.S. health expenditures, federal public health spending was lower in 2008 than it was in 1966. To make matters worse, the Fiscal Year 2015 request proposes a $51 million decrease for the immunization program due to an expectation of increased insurance coverage for immunization services in 2015. This is yet another cut to public health spending that will undoubtedly affect population health.
Program operations, which contribute to disease surveillance, public awareness and provider education, took a $14 million cut.
While proponents of the ACA said the majority of the proposed fiscal 2016 cuts again will go toward vaccine purchasing and won’t affect immunization infrastructure funds, this cannot be the whole picture. The families and children currently using these programs will be in jeopardy because insurance coverage alone is not enough to ensure high vaccination rates.
From the 21 February 2015 item by Teagan Kuruna (the MPH formerly known as Teagan Keating)
…While at Boston City Hospital, [Dr.] Rich saw a steady stream of young Black men come through the emergency room with stabbing and gunshot wounds. He also began to realize that everyone, including the other medical staff, saw these men as perpetrators rather than victims. The general consensus was that these men had done something to get themselves injured instead of what was obvious to Rich: these young Black men were truly victims.
Because of his compassionate streak, Rich began interviewing these men to learn more about their lives and what led to them returning to the ER over and over. He learned that the injuries that brought them to him were often due events outside their control–a robbery, a few wrong words to the wrong person, a simple accident that escalated to violence. After talking with them as they received treatment, Rich realized that the men were suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Even worse, their injuries were stitched up and they were sent right back out to the same environment that brought them to the ER.
Rich wrote a book about these experiences called Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young Black Men.
From the 20 February 2015 post by Joseph Burns at Covering Health (Association of Health Care Journalist)
At a conference last year, Michael Laposata, M.D., Ph.D., one of the nation’s best known pathologists, explained how clinical laboratories could deliver more value to patients, physicians, and health insurers. To do so, pathologists and laboratory scientists need to provide more detailed explanations about lab test results because even physicians who order genetic and molecular tests are often confused about the results, said Laposata, chairman of the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
When he explains test results to ordering physicians, he frequently refers to an “allele” which is one of two or more versions of a gene, he said. When he does, physicians sometimes ask, “What’s an allele?”
His anecdote is telling following President Obama’s announcement last month that he recommended spending $215 million on the precision medicine initiative. The announcement was correctly hailed as an important and needed investment in medical technology. “Precision medicine” is described by the National Institutes of Health as “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.”
Given that there is and will continue to be a lot of hype about precision and personalized medicine, we may want to check our expectations, because the hurdles are daunting, as Tabitha M. Powledge wrote for the Genetic Literacy Project. “The plan embodies a wonderfully human let’s-climb-Everest-because-it’s-there aspiration. But you also have to wonder about the practicality of such a sweeping program,” she explained.
There is not much good, proven, scientific, medical uses for what we’re talking about as personalized or precision medicine,” Greely said. “And yet, we … sell and we hype as if there is much more.”
“Here’s the problem: because personalized medicine is in the realm of OMG-that’s-too-complicated science, the usual watchdogs don’t see it. Plus the big academic medical centers love the grants that it generates.”
Even health insurers are struggling to understand the full implications of genetic and molecular testing…
Thinking what a boon this will be for underserved areas, both here in the US and low GNP countries. Thinking of how countries went from virtually no telephone service to cell phones for most, bypassing costly infrastructure. 3D printing will foster another leap for humankind.
Originally posted on ScienceRoll:
Kaiba Gionfriddo was born prematurely in 2011. After 8 months his lung development caused concerns, although he was sent home with his parents as his breathing was normal. Six weeks later, Kaiba stopped breathing and turned blue. He was diagnosed with tracheobronchomalacia, a long Latin word that means his windpipe was so weak that it collapsed. He had a tracheostomy and was put on a ventilator––the conventional treatment. Still, Kaiba would stop breathing almost daily. His heart would stop, too. His caregivers 3D printed a bioresorbable device that instantly helped Kaiba breathe. This case is considered a prime example of how customized 3D printing is transforming healthcare as we know it.
Since then this area has been skyrocketing. The list of objects that have been successfully printed demonstrates the potential this technology holds for the near future.
Tissues with blood vessels: Researchers at Harvard University were the first to…
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[Press release] Brace Yourself: Study Finds People Can Use Different Strategies to Prepare for Stress
A pilot study from North Carolina State University finds that people are not consistent in how they prepare mentally to deal with arguments and other stressors, with each individual displaying a variety of coping behaviors. In addition, the study found that the coping strategies people used could affect them the following day.
The findings stem from a pilot study of older adults, which is the first to track the day-to-day coping behaviors people use in advance of stressful events.
“This finding tells us, for the first time, that these behaviors are dynamic,” says Dr. Shevaun Neupert, lead author of a paper describing the study and an associate professor of psychology at NC State. “This highlights a whole new area for researching the psychology of daily health and well-being.
“And these are behaviors that can be taught,” Neupert adds. “The more we understand what’s really going on, the better we’ll be able to help people deal effectively with the stressors that come up in their lives.”
“The findings tell us that one person may use multiple coping mechanisms over time – something that’s pretty exciting since we didn’t know this before,” Neupert says. “But we also learned that what you do on Monday really makes a difference for how you feel on Tuesday.”
Some anticipatory coping behaviors, particularly outcome fantasy and stagnant deliberation, were associated with people being in worse moods and reporting more physical health problems the following day. Stagnant deliberation is when someone tries, unsuccessfully, to solve a problem. Outcome fantasy is when someone wishes that problem would effectively solve itself.
However, stagnant deliberation was also associated with one positive outcome. Namely, stagnant deliberation the day before an argument was correlated with fewer memory failures after the argument.
The researchers also looked at plan rehearsal and problem analysis as anticipatory coping strategies. Plan rehearsal involves mentally envisioning the steps needed to solve the potential problem, and problem analysis is actively thinking about the source and meaning of a future problem. The researchers found that the use of these strategies changed from day to day, but the changes in these strategies were not related to well-being the next day. They were also not related to the way that people responded to arguments the next day.
“This was a pilot study, so we don’t want to get carried away,” Neupert says. “But these findings are very intriguing. They raise a lot of questions, and we’re hoping to follow up with a much larger study.”
(another table on accident risks at the above link)
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly 600,000 fatalities in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Influenza and pneumonia ranked ninth in 2010, accounting for some 50,000 fatalities. However, pandemic influenza viruses have the potential to be far more deadly. An estimated 675,000 Americans died during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, the deadliest and most infectious known influenza strain to date.
DEATH RATES FROM MAJOR CAUSES IN THE UNITED STATES, 2010-2011
Health Statistics Resources (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
A Concordia study has unveiled the massive potential of a natural chemicalLithocholic acid, a bile acid produced in the liver, is particularly effective in killing cancer cells.
Montreal, February 17, 2015 — Where can you find the next important weapon in the fight against cancer? Just do a little navel-gazing. New research from Concordia confirms that a tool for keeping the most common forms of cancer at bay could be in your gut.
In a report published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vladimir Titorenko, a professor of biology at Concordia, and his colleagues show that lithocholic acid, a bile acid produced in the liver, is particularly effective in killing cancer cells.
For the study, the research team tested thousands of chemicals found in the body with the help of a robot and discovered more than 20 that could delay the aging process, something inevitably linked to cancer.
Most effective was lithocholic acid. When entering a cancer cell, the acid goes to “energy factories” called mitochondria and then sends molecular signals that lead to the cells’ demise.
Originally posted on Lady Diction :
In the winter of 1986 when I was just sixteen years old, I viewed Nine 1/2 Weeks (Directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke) at a local movie theater. I was on a date with a boy I only liked platonically, which I’d have to explain later in the car, and was fascinated by the power dynamics and BDSM in the movie. The film, based on Elizabeth McNeill’s non-fiction book, Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair, explores the brief sexual relationship between characters Elizabeth and John. I still vividly recall images from the movie: Kim’s bowler hat, the refrigerator and milk scene, the watch scene, and Kim Basinger crawling across the floor for money.
Were these healthy images for a sixteen year old girl to see? Perhaps not. At the time, I thought the relationship was romantic and cried when the couple…
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Originally posted on TIME:
Do you really know what’s in your cheese?
New evidence may cast some doubt on the purity of your favorite foods. Interpol, the international criminal police organization, announced that it seized thousands of tons of fake food in a joint operation with Europol over the past two months—including seemingly benign mainstays like mozzarella, eggs, bottled mineral water, strawberries, cooking oil and dried fruit—in 47 countries.
Adulterations cut across all kinds of categories. In Italy, 31 tons of seafood were labeled as “fresh” but had actually been previously frozen, then doused with a chemical containing citric acid and hydrogen peroxide to hide that it was rotting. At an Italian cheese factory, officers found expired dairy and chemicals used to make old cheese seem fresh. They also found that mozzarella was being smoked in the back of a van with burning trash as a heat source.
Egyptian authorities seized 35 tons of…
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Too much medical research may be unnecessary, unethical, unscientific, and wasteful, warns new international research network
As a health science librarian at a university, it is very rewarding to work on literature searches so folks can move forward without re-doing research.
Originally posted on Soumyadeep B:
Researchers, research funders, regulators, sponsors and publishers of research fail to use earlier research when preparing to start, fund or publish the results of new studies. To embark on research without systematically reviewing evidence of what is already known, particularly when the research involves people or animals, is unethical, unscientific, and wasteful.
To address this problem a group of Norwegian and Danish researchers have initiated an international network, the ‘Evidence-Based Research Network’ (EBRNetwork). The EBRNetwork brings together initial partners from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and USA was established in Bergen, Norway in December 2014. It also has members from low and middle income nations like India, South Africa and Brazil.
At the ‘Bergen meeting’ partners agreed the aim of the EBRNetwork is to reduce waste in research by promoting:
No new studies without prior systematic review of existing evidence
Efficient production, updating and dissemination of systematic…
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Originally posted on POSTNORM:
9:14 p.m. Pst By Alexis Footman
Tuberculosis, South Africa’s number one killer claims the lives of thousands of people every year. 80 percent of the country’s young adult population is infected with TB and many of these people don’t have access to medical care.
Recently, drug-resistant strains of TB have started to emerge causing concerns for a global epidemic and the possibility of lacking effective treatment. Health experts say these strains were introduced in the poor communities of South Africa where the living conditions are prime for spreading infectious bacteria.
At the root of the growing TB issue, there is an even more troubling problem sweeping through South Africa’s population. The majority of those infected with TB in this country, are also HIV positive. With an already weak immune system from HIV, for those co-infected with both illnesses the prognosis is gloomy.
South Africa has the largest number of people…
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“The Secret Knowledge, Just Ignorance By Another Name”: The Real Facts Behind The Facts “They” Want You To Believe
Originally posted on mykeystrokes.com:
I call it the Secret Knowledge.
Meaning that body of information not everyone has, that body known only to those few people who had the good sense to go off the beaten path and seek it. It is information you’ll never see in your “newspapers” or “network news” or any other place overly concerned with verifiable “facts” and reliable “sources.” It will not come to you through a university “study,” peer-reviewed “article,” renowned “expert,” government “agency” or any other such traditional bastion of authority.
No, the Secret Knowledge is the truth behind the truth, the real facts behind the facts “they” want you to believe. It unveils the conspiracies beneath the facade suckers mistake for real life. Not incidentally, the Secret Knowledge will always confirm your worst fears.
I don’t know when the mania for Secret Knowledge began. Maybe it was when King and the Kennedys were killed and some…
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Originally posted on O.N.E.—One Nation’s Echo:
Health financing is the cornerstone of strategy development based on both in terms of raising resources and of ways to manage resources. It is critical to emphasize the need for greater evaluation of the distributional impact of policies and programs. Socioeconomic status could affect public health financing such as people with insurance or money, creating higher expenditures. On the other hand, medically underserved, uninsured and underinsured create greater expenses because they enter the health system at the advanced stages of diseases and in weakened conditions (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). In addition to socioeconomic status, other social determinants that affects both average and distribution of health includes physical environment, lifestyle or behavior, working conditions, social network, family, demographics, political, legal, institutional and cultural factors. Since funding is considered as a scarce resource, it is paramount to allocate resources based on the identified gaps in care. The significance of socioeconomic data in…
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Originally posted on The Vermont Political Observer.:
Listening to Jim Harrison on VPR’s Vermont Edition last Friday led me to one inescapable conclusion: as a public debater, he makes a mighty fine bagman.
Harrison, for those with a bliss-inducing level of ignorance about Statehouse matters, is one of the most effective lobbyists in Montpelier. Harrison heads the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, and his current bête noire is the proposed two-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
Harrison appeared on VPR with the chief pro-tax lobbyist, Anthony Iarrapino of the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont. Harrison’s presentation was pretty much all over the place: he’d shift from one prehashed talking point to another with not even an attempt at segue, he pulled trusty (and rusty)…
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For nearly two decades, Big Pharma commercials have falsely told Americans that mental illness is associated with a chemical brain imbalance, but the truth is that depression and suicidality are associated with poverty, unemployment, and mass incarceration. And the truth is that American society has now become so especially oppressive for young people that an embarrassingly large number of American teenagers and young adults are depressed and suicidal.
In November of 2014, the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a press release titled “Nearly One in Five Adult Americans Experienced Mental Illness in 2013.” This brief press release provides a snapshot of the number of Americans who are suicidal, depressed, and mentally ill, and it bemoans how many Americans are not in treatment. However, excluded from SAMHSA’s press release—yet included in the lengthy results of SAMHSA’s national survey—are economic, age, gender, and other demographic correlates of serious mental illness, depression, and suicidality (serious suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts). It is these demographic correlates that have political implications.
These lengthy results, for example, include extensive evidence that involvement in the criminal justice system (such as being on parole or probation) is highly correlated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness. Yet Americans are not told that preventing unnecessary involvement with the criminal justice system—for example, marijuana legalization and drug use decriminalization—could well prove to be a more powerful antidote to suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness than medical treatment.
Also, the survey results provide extensive evidence that unemployment and poverty are highly associated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness. While correlation is not the equivalent of causation, it makes more sense to be further examining variables that actually are associated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness rather than focusing on variables such as chemical imbalances which are not even correlates (seeAlterNet January 2015). These results beg questions such as: Does unemployment and poverty cause depression, or does depression make it more likely for unemployment and poverty, or are both true?
These results make clear that suicidality, depression, and mental illness are highly correlated with involvement in the criminal justice system, unemployment, and poverty, and occur in greater frequency among young people, women, and Native Americans.
Shouldn’t researchers be examining American societal and cultural variables that are making so many of us depressed and suicidal? At the very least, don’t we as a society want to know what exactly is making physically healthier teenagers and young adults more depressed than senior citizens?
Originally posted on JeffreySterlingMD.com:
Thoughts from a crowded Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia
Over my career, I’ve been fortunate to have studied and assisted healthcare systems all over the world. This past week, Sterling Medical Advice had the pleasure, privilege and outright honor of being invited to spend a week in Indonesia with the U.S. Department of Commerce on a healthcare mission in what will be a recurring role. By way of introduction (in case you weren’t aware), Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world (right after the U.S.) with a population of approximately 252 million people. It is approximately the same size as the United States, and it is a democracy and a member of the G-20 (with the 17th largest world economy).
More relevantly, Indonesia is in the midst of becoming the largest country in the world to implement a system of universal healthcare for its citizens. That’s right:…
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Worried about what to worry about? Accidents should move higher up your list.
Worldwide, road injuries kill more people than AIDS. Falls kill nearly three times as many people as braincancer. Drowning claims more lives than mothers dying in childbirth. Both fire and poisonings have many times more fatal victims than natural disasters. In 2013, the combined death toll from all unintentional injuries was 3.5 million people. Only heart disease and stroke were greater killers.
These findings, published late last year in the British medical journal The Lancet, are from the “Global Burden of Disease” study, an international collaboration led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which tracks the annual toll of 240 causes of death for men and women in 20 age groups across 188 countries. The study isn’t mere morbid fascination. Look beneath the top-level results and you also see huge variations among countries that are economic peers. This is actually encouraging news: It means that some countries have figured out a much better way to curb accidental deaths — and that other countries might be able to follow suit.
American scientists believe they face a challenging environment and the vast majority of them support the idea that participation in policy debates and engagement with citizens and journalists is necessary to further their work and careers.
A survey of 3,748 American-based scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) finds that 87% agree with the statement “Scientists should take an active role in public policy debates about issues related to science and technology.”Just 13% of these scientists back the opposite statement: “Scientists should focus on establishing sound scientific facts and stay out of public policy debates.”
This widely held view among scientists about active engagement combines with scientists’ perspectives on the relationship between science and society today in several ways:
- Most scientists see an interested public: 71% of AAAS scientists believe the public has either some or a lot of interest in their specialty area.
- Many scientists see debates over scientific research findings in the media:53% of AAAS scientists say there is a lot or some debate in the news about their field.
- A sizable share of scientists believe careers can be advanced by media coverage of their work and social media use: 43% of AAAS scientists say it is important or very important for scientists in their specialty to get coverage of their work in news media, up from 37% who said that in a 2009 survey. Some 22% described it as either “very important” (4%) or “important” (18%) for career advancement in their discipline to promote their findings on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Still, a majority of AAAS scientists say it is not too or not at all important for career advancement to have their research covered in the news (56%), and 77% say it is not too or not at all important for career advancement to promote their findings on social media.
- At the same time, most scientists believe that science news coverage can pose problems for science: 79% of scientists believe it is a major problem for science that news reports don’t distinguish between well-founded and not well-founded scientific findings. Further, 52% of scientists say that simplification of scientific findings is a major problem for science in general.
Over the past decade, there have been many encouraging findings suggesting that mindfulness training can improve a broad range of mental and physical health problems. Yet, exactly how mindfulness positively impacts health is not clear.
Carnegie Mellon University’s J. David Creswell — whose cutting-edge work has shown how mindfulness meditation reduces loneliness in older adults and alleviates stress — and his graduate student Emily K. Lindsay have developed a model suggesting that mindfulness influences health via stress reduction pathways. Their work, published in “Current Directions in Psychological Science,” describes the biological pathways linking mindfulness training with reduced stress and stress-related disease outcomes.
“…. many app developers have little or no formal medical training and do not involve clinicians in the development process and may therefore be unaware of patient safety issues raised by inappropriate app content or functioning.”
Without the insights of seasoned real-world doctors and nurses, apps could end up with the same safety issues that are plaguing electronic health records, many of which were also developed with little regard to physician or nurse input.
In other words, just because it’s a “health” app doesn’t mean its necessarily so.
Among other issues, this is definitely a mental health concern. As quoted above, Serious mental illness affects men and women in jail at rates four to six times higher in the general population.
Bill Branson (Photographer)
A predictable irony of the never-ending Affordable Care Act (ACA) debate is that the one provision that the Republicans should be attacking — free “checkups” for everyone — is one of the few provisions they aren’t attacking. Why should they attack them? Simple — checkups, on balance, are worthless. Why provide a 100 percent subsidy for a worthless good? Where is the GOP when you need it?
How worthless are checkups? Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel — one of the architects of the ACA and its “free” checkup centerpiece — recently recommended not getting them. As if “free” is not cheap enough, the ACA also pushes ubiquitous corporate wellness programs, which often pay employees to get checkups — or fine them if they don’t. This policy establishes a de facto negative price for millions of workers, making checkups the only worthless service on earth that one could get paid to utilize.
Those economics of a “negative price” trump Dr. Emanuel’s advice, and have made preventive care the fastest-growing component of employer health spending. Though hard statistics on checkups themselves are elusive, Dr. Emanuel estimates about 45-millon adult checkups are conducted each year, the equivalent of roughly 8 percent of America’s PCPs doing nothing but checkups, a curious use of their time when experts say the country could soon face a shortage of PCPs.
Shortage or not, subsidies and incentives might make economic sense if checkups improved health. However, when generally healthy adults go to the doctor for no reason, just the opposite is true: the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) supports Dr. Emanuel assertion that annual checkups for asymptomatic adults are at best worthless, saying that additional checkups are “not associated with lower rates of mortality” but “may be associated with more diagnoses and more drug treatment.”
The solution to this orgy of overscreening and overdoctoring is remarkably simple: remove the ACA provision that makes annual checkups automatically immune from deductibles and copays; if they are going to be free at all, it should only be every few years. The proposal could still allow employers to override this provision — and even to attach money (incentives and penalties) to checkups — if they are willing to summarize the above-cited clinical findings for their employees.
If the only way they can continue the subsidy is by summarizing the literature, corporate human resources departments would predictably and immediately curtail this expensive corporate medical campaign. That would free up PCP time to work with patients who actually need medical care, while reducing counterproductive and costly healthcare utilization by those who do not.
Using Twitter can help physicians be better prepared to answer questions from their patients, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.
The study, presented today at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), finds more and more health care professionals are embracing social media. This challenges common opinion that physicians are reluctant to jump on the social media bandwagon.
“Many people go online for health information, but little research has been done on who is participating in these discussions or what is being shared,” says Julie Robillard, lead author and neurology professor at UBC’s National Core for Neuroethics and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.
Robillard and fourth-year psychology student Emanuel Cabral spent six months monitoring conversations surrounding stem cell research related to spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease on Twitter. They found roughly 25 per cent of the tweets about spinal cord injury and 15 per cent of the tweets about Parkinson’s disease were from health care professionals.
The study found the majority of tweets were about research findings, particularly the ones perceived as medical breakthroughs. The most shared content were links to research reports……
From the 11 February 2015 Penn State press release
JAMA Paper Among the First to Compare Smartphone App vs. Wearable Device Accuracy
PHILADELPHIA — Although wearable devices have received significant attention for their ability to track an individual’s physical activity, most smartphone applications are just as accurate, according to a new research letter in JAMA. The study tested 10 of the top-selling smartphone apps and devices in the United States by having 14 participants walk on a treadmill for 500 and 1,500 steps, each twice (for a total of 56 trials), and then recording their step counts. Led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, this study is a follow-up to a recent JAMA viewpoint suggesting that there’s little evidence that wearable devices alone can change behavior and improve health for those that need it mos
“Since step counts are such an important part of how these devices and apps measure physical activity, including calculating distance or calories burned, their accuracy is key,” said senior author Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS, assistant professor of Medicine and Health Care Management at Penn and an attending physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. “Compared to the one to two percent of adults in the U.S. that own a wearable device, more than 65 percent of adults carry a smartphone. Our findings suggest that smartphone apps could prove to be a more widely accessible and affordable way of tracking health behaviors.”
Antibiotics significantly kill intestinal epithelium, the site of nutrient absorption, a part of our immune system and a place where other biological functions maintain human health.
From the 10 February 2015 Oregon State University press release
Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that antibiotics have an impact on the microorganisms that live in an animal’s gut that’s more broad and complex than previously known.
The findings help to better explain some of the damage these medications can do, and set the stage for new ways to study and offset those impacts.
The work was published online in the journal Gut, in research supported by Oregon State University, the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon and the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers have known for some time that antibiotics can have unwanted side effects, especially in disrupting the natural and beneficial microbiota of the gastrointestinal system. But the new study helps explain in much more detail why that is happening, and also suggests that powerful, long-term antibiotic use can have even more far-reaching effects.
Scientists now suspect that antibiotic use, and especially overuse, can have unwanted effects on everything from the immune system to glucose metabolism, food absorption, obesity, stress and behavior.
The issues are rising in importance, since 40 percent of all adults and 70 percent of all children take one or more antibiotics every year, not to mention their use in billions of food animals. Although when used properly antibiotics can help treat life-threatening bacterial infections, more than 10 percent of people who receive the medications can suffer from adverse side effects.
“Prior to this most people thought antibiotics only depleted microbiota and diminished several important immune functions that take place in the gut,” Morgun said. “Actually that’s only about one-third of the picture. They also kill intestinal epithelium. Destruction of the intestinal epithelium is important because this is the site of nutrient absorption, part of our immune system and it has other biological functions that play a role in human health.”
The research also found that antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant microbes caused significant changes in mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more epithelial cell death. That antibiotics have special impacts on the mitochondria of cells is both important and interesting, said Morgun, who was a co-leader of this study with Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko, a researcher in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine who has an M.D. from Kharkiv Medical University.
Mitochondria plays a major role in cell signaling, growth and energy production, and for good health they need to function properly.
But the relationship of antibiotics to mitochondria may go back a long way. In evolution, mitochondria descended from bacteria, which were some of the earliest life forms, and different bacteria competed with each other for survival. That an antibiotic would still selectively attack the portion of a cell that most closely resembles bacteria may be a throwback to that ingrained sense of competition and the very evolution of life.
Digestive dysfunction is near the top of the list, with antibiotic use linked to such issues as diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. But new research is also finding links to obesity, food absorption, depression, immune function, sepsis, allergies and asthma.
This research also developed a new bioinformatics approach named “transkingdom network interrogation” to studying microbiota, which could help further speed the study of any alterations of host microbiota interactions and antibiotic impact. This could aid the search for new probiotics to help offset antibiotic effects, and conceivably lead to systems that would diagnose a person’s microbiome, identify deficiencies and then address them in a precise and individual way.
[Press release] Large numbers of teenage girls experience sexual coercion in relationships | EurekAlert! Science News
From the 11 February 2015 from Bristol University
More than four in ten teenage schoolgirls in England* have experienced sexual coercion, new research by University of Bristol academics launched today [11 February] reveals. Most were pressured to have sex or other sexual activity, and in some cases, this included rape. And many of the 13-17-year-olds had also suffered physical attacks, intimidation or emotional abuse from their boyfriends.
The study also found that a high proportion of teenage boys regularly viewed pornography and one in five harboured extremely negative attitudes towards women.
The research in England was undertaken between 2013-2015 by a team of researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Central Lancashire. The study, was also carried out in Norway, Italy, Bulgaria and Cyprus as well as England. It is one of the biggest of its kind ever undertaken in Europe, involving a school-based survey of 4,500 children and 100 interviews with young people
A row has erupted about links between the sugar industry and scientists who advise government on obesity.
Campaigners argue the scientists are so heavily influenced by companies that Dracula is now “in charge of the blood bank”.
The scientists concerned say it is wrong to assume they are biased and critics should “learn proper science”.
Public Health England said it welcomed industry “listening to our best scientists”.
The argument was sparked by a report on the issue in the British Medical Journal.
It claims Prof Susan Jebb – the government’s obesity tsar, a University of Oxford academic and an expert in a recent three-part BBC documentary series on obesity – has attracted more than £1.3m of industry funding.
This includes money from Coca-Cola, Unilever and Cereal Partners.
The article says members of a government advisory panel – the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) – are supported by companies such as PepsiCo, Mars and Nestle.
It also claims that of the 40 scientists affiliated with SACN between 2001 and 2012, just 13 had no connections to the sugar industry.
BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee said the investigation showed there was a “network of relationships between key public health experts and the sugar industry”.
She said “these sorts of links create bias” and “weaken public health efforts to tackle the harmful effects of sugar on the diet”
From the 11 February 2015 article at George Mason University
Sophisticated germ fighters found in alligator blood may help future soldiers in the field fend off infection, according to new research by George Mason University.
The study, published Feb. 11 in the scientific journal PLOS One, is the result of a fundamental research projectsupported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to find bacterial infection-defeating compounds in the blood of the crocodilian family of reptiles, which includes American alligators.
Mason professor Barney Bishop with Fluffy, an American alligator. Photo courtesy of St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.
The project is about to start its fourth year and has received $6 million in funding to date from DTRA. If fully funded over five years, the project will be worth $7.57 million.
Alligators live in bacteria-filled environments and dine on carrion. Yet this ancient reptile rarely falls ill.
“If you look at nature, sometimes we can find pre-selected molecules to study,” says study co-author Monique van Hoek. “I was surprised to find peptides that were as effective as they are in fighting bacteria. I was really impressed.”
Looks like I’m going to cut down on the carbs, increase fruits/vegetables
Originally posted on TIME:
A little fat may not be harmful, while too much of it can be unhealthy, and even fatal. But in the latest review of studies that investigated the link between dietary fat and causes of death, researchers say the guidelines got it all wrong. In fact, recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made.
Reporting in the journalOpenHeart, Zoe Harcombe, a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at University of the West of Scotland, and her colleagues say that the data decisionmakers had in 1977, when the first U.S. guidelines on dietary fat were made, did not provide any support for the idea that eating less fat would translate to fewer cases of heart disease, or that it would save lives.
“The bottom line is that there wasn’t evidence for those guidelines to be introduced,” she says. “One of the…
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