Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Academics ‘guest authoring’ ghostwritten medical journal articles should be charged with fraud, legal experts argue

From the 3 August 2011 Medical News Today article

ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2011) — Two University of Toronto Faculty of Law professors argue that academics who ‘lend’ their names, and receive substantial credit, as guest authors of medical and scientific articles ghostwritten by industry writers, should be charged with professional and academic misconduct and fraud, even if they contain factually correct information.

In an article published in PLoS Medicine, Professors Simon Stern and Trudo Lemmens argue “Guest authorship is a disturbing violation of academic integrity standards, which form the basis of scientific reliability.” In addition, “The false respectability afforded to claims of safety and effectiveness through the use of academic investigators risks undermining the integrity of biomedical research and patient care.”

In “Legal Remedies for Medical Ghostwriting: Imposing Fraud Liability on Guest Authors of Ghostwritten Articles,” Stern and Lemmens argue that since medical journals, academic institutions, and professional disciplinary bodies have not succeeded in enforcing effective sanctions, a more successful deterrence would be through the imposition of legal liability on the guest authors, “and may give rise to claims that could be pursued in a class action based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).”…

Read the entire news article
Journal Reference:
Simon Stern, Trudo Lemmens. Legal Remedies for Medical Ghostwriting: Imposing Fraud Liability on Guest Authors of Ghostwritten Articles. PLoS Medicine, 2011; 8 (8): e1001070 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001070

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists Identify What Makes Us Feel ‘Bad’ When We’re Sick, How to Treat It

From the 3 August 2011 Science Daily article

ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2011) — A signaling system in the brain previously shown to regulate sleep is also responsible for inducing lethargy during illness, according to research conducted at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

This research is particularly meaningful because it implies that a new class of drugs developed to treat sleep disorders can reverse the inactivity and exhaustion brought on by acute illness. Although the sleep drugs were initially designed to treat narcolepsy, they have the potential to restore energy and motivation in patients with acute and chronic disease, the researchers report. Their findings are published in the The Journal of Neuroscience.

“We all know what it means to feel ‘bad’ when we’re acutely ill. In particular, patients with chronic diseases experience a compromise in motivated behaviors. They don’t feel like getting up and doing anything. Yet the brain mechanisms behind this common experience have remained obscure,” said Daniel L. Marks, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator and associate professor of pediatrics in the Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital….


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August 8, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

The achievement culture problem in our country

From the 8 August 2011 posting by CLAIRE MCCARTHY, MD at

My friend Nancy went for physical therapy for her back pain the other day, and was really surprised by what she saw there: the place was full of kids.

“Yeah, it’s like this now,” said the therapist when Nancy asked about it. “It’s the sports.”

It’s not that kids are getting clumsier or having more accidents. The injuries that are sending kids to physical therapy are overuse injuries. Kids these days are specializing in a sport as early as elementary school, and spending many more hours a week in practice than we ever did as kids—and we’re seeing the consequences.

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August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Habits Can Add 15 Years to Your Life

From the 3 August 2011 Medical News Today article

Women with a healthy lifestyle such as a Mediterranean diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, are more likely to live 15 years longer than their less healthy counterparts, while for men, the effect of such healthy habits appears to be less, nearly 8.5 years, according to a study from Maastricht University in the Netherlands that was published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition…

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  • Four ways to add 15 years to your life (
  • Longevity More Linked To Genes Than Lifestyle, Research RevealsIndividuals who live past 95 years of age have similar lifestyles to the rest of the population regarding smoking, drinking, diet and exercise, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University revealed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. As far as longevity is concerned, it really does seem that nature matters more than nurture, the authors explained. Dr. Nir Barzilai and team interviewed 477 people aged at least 95 years, they were all Ashkenazi Jews and lived independently. 75% of them were female…

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

More Being Prescribed Psychiatric Medications With No Diagnosis

From the 4 August Medical News Today article

59.5% of antidepressant prescriptions were made with no diagnosis in 1996, in 2007 the figure rose to 72.7%, researchers reported in Health Affairs. Antidepressant drugs are today the third most commonly prescribed class of drugs in the USA.

Nearly 8.9% of the American population had at least one antidepressant prescription during any given month during the period 2005-2008.

A good proportion of this growth in antidepressant prescription has been by non-specialist providers whose patients were not diagnosed by a psychiatrist.

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August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Pets Good For Human Health? The Truth Is “Nobody Really Knows”

From the 3 August 2011 Medical News Today article

How often do you read about a study that says a pet is good for your health? Most of us would say fairly often. Apparently, only those that demonstrate health benefits hit the headlines, while others that either have no evidence or reveal some unpleasant data are ignored, researcher Howard Herzog revealed in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science. Professor Herzog, from Western Carolina University Psychology Department, says that prior studies on the impact pets might have on longevity and health have produced a mishmash of conflicting results…

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August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Can Eggs Be A Healthy Breakfast Choice?

From the 4 August 2011 Medical News Today article

Eggs, one of the most commonly consumed breakfast foods in the United States, have long been a subject of controversy. Are they healthy or are they a high-cholesterol trap? The answer depends on what the hen eats, says a Tel Aviv University researcher.

Dr. Niva Shapira of Tel Aviv University’s School of Health Professions says that all eggs are not created equal. Her research indicates that when hens are fed with a diet low in omega-6 fatty acids from a young age – feed high in wheat, barley, and milo and lower in soy, maize and sunflower, safflower, and maize oils – they produce eggs that may cause less oxidative damage to human health. That’s a major part of what determines the physiological impact of the end product on your table.

Her findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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August 8, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Healthy Restaurant Eating: Is The Tide Turning In Fast Foods?

From the 6 August Medical News Today article

Eating out, and the amount we spend on it, especially on fast foods, has been rising steadily for decades, and parallels the increase in daily calorie intake that is contributing to the growing obesity crisis. But is that about to change? Official figures, which take years to emerge, don’t appear to show it, but some more recent findings suggest the tide could be starting to turn, although for surprising reasons…

More Tips for Healthy Eating Out

Here are some more tips, based on information from the University of Wisconsin, on how to be kind to your waistline and your health when eating out, without spoiling the fun and enjoyment of good food.

  1. Do your research first: find out who is offering healthy, low fat meals.
  2. Eat something, like a piece of fruit, or drink a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon, about half an hour before, so you are not starving when you order, which can affect your choices.
  3. If you can’t control your portions, avoid restaurants that offer buffet or “all you can eat” menus.
  4. Eat half the entrée and ask them to wrap the rest for you to take home.
  5. Order one meal with two plates, one for you, one for your dining partner.
  6. Have an appetizer as a main course.
  7. Don’t eat everything: skip the bits you like less.
  8. Prefer spinach, watercress, dark green leaf salads (they are more nutritious) to those where the only leaf is pale iceberg lettuce.
  9. Avoid thick sauces made with butter or cream: ask the waiter if you are not sure. Go for stock-based sauce, or cooked in own juices instead.
  10. Instead of french fries, have baked potato, a side salad, or some steamed vegetables.
  11. Skip the mayonnaise and rich sauces in sandwiches and ask for extra tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mustard instead.
  12. Eat less at another meal in the day – but don’t skip meals, as this can lead to binge eating.
  13. Watch the alcohol and sweetened drinks: they are also rich in calories.
  14. Look for low fat, grilled, flame-cooked, broiled and steamed main dishes instead of battered, tempura, breaded, fried foods.
  15. Choose hard rolls, plain bread sticks, french bread or wholemeal buns and avoid dishes made with pastries, croissants and biscuits.
  16. Choose soups that are broth-based rather than cream or milk-based.
  17. Have extra vegetable toppings on your pizza instead of meat and extra cheese.

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August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Getting Along With Co-Workers Can Significantly Increase Your Lifespan

From the 8 August 2011 Medical News Today article

Companies like Google and are famous for their “work hard, play hard” attitudes and friendly work environments, but are their employees healthier too? According to a Tel Aviv University researcher, a positive relationship with your co-workers has long-term health benefits. Dr. Sharon Toker of the Department of Organizational Behavior at TAU’s Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration says that employees who believe that they have the personal support of their peers at work are more likely to live a longer life…

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August 8, 2011 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

US Faces Growing Health Threats From Climate Change

Changes in climate and precipitation have fostered the spread of mosquitoes that can spread dengue fever in many areas of the United States, according to a new analysis. (Image: James Gathany/CDC)

From the 3 August 2011 News at JAMA article (Journal of the American Medical Association)


The United States faces growing health threats from infectious disease, extreme weather, and air pollution as a result of climate change, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published online today. Such effects are likely to be most pronounced in the Southeastern states, according to these findings.

The analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Climatic Data Center found that because of climate change, about half of the states are at risk of dengue fever outbreaks. Dengue fever viruses, which are transmitted by certain species of mosquitos, can cause infections with symptoms that may include high fever, headache, rash, pain, vomiting, and achy muscles and joints. In some cases, infection may result in dengue hemorrhagic fever, which also involves the development of blood spots under the skin and potentially fatal shock.

At least 28 states already have been colonized by the mosquitoes that can transmit the virus, and an estimated 173.5 million individuals live in these areas. Continued shifts in local climate and precipitation may increase the vulnerability of these areas to the spread of dengue, according to the analysis. But despite this growing concern, only 3 of the states at greatest risk—Florida, Maryland, and Virginia—have a plan in place for dealing with this potential health threat.

Other potential health risks related to climate change documented in the analysis include heat exhaustion and other complications related to extreme heat events, injuries caused by flooding, or exacerbations of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by increased smog, noted Jeremy Hess, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine in Emory University’s schools of Medicine and Public Health in Atlanta, during a press briefing….

….The NRDC has posted maps ***online that allow individuals and public health officials to assess local risks. Additionally, the site provides information on what is included in the preparedness plans of states who have already begun planning for these climate change risks, which can serve as templates for other states or local areas, according to Knowlton.

These health risk maps by the Natural Resources Defense Council include state/county maps in these areas

  • Average number of extreme heat days
  • Areas vulnerable to Dengue Fever
  • Ozone Smog and Allergenic Ragweed

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | 2 Comments

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

National Immunization Awareness Month is the perfect time to promote immunizations and remind family, friends, and coworkers to get caught up on their shots.)

Immunizations (or vaccinations) aren’t just for babies and young kids. We all need shotsto help protect us from serious diseases and illness.

• Children under age 6 get a series of shots to protect against measles, polio,chicken pox, and hepatitis.

All 11- and 12-year-olds need shots to help protect against tetanus, diphtheria,whooping cough, and meningitis.

• Doctors recommend girls also get the HPV vaccine to protect against the mostcommon cause of cervical cancer.Adults:• All adults need a tetanus shot every 10 years.

• Adults age 50 and older need a flu shot every year.

• People age 65 need a one-time pneumonia shot.

• Talk to your doctor or nurse about which shots you and your family need.Get the Word Out

Great places to start

Immunization Reference Information Links

Easy Immunization Recordkeeping and Other Printables for Adults:

Especially for children

(More at, scroll down)

Coloring Pages:

Puzzles and Activities for Children:

Bookmarks and Other Printables for Children:

Pass it on

Share a video

            Send an e-card
Additional Resources

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

New Thinking: Medical Hot Spots (Lowering Medical Costs by Giving Neediest Patients Better Care)

From the 2 August 2011 blog posting at Medical-Lee Speaking

Atul Gawande, associate professor of surgery and public health at Harvard and one of our most prolific contemporary physician-writers, adapts his New Yorker piece [full text of the article The Hotspotters] surveying innovative attempts to lower healthcare costs by better serving those patients with greatest need to a 13 minute PBS FRONTLINE report focused on one such program, the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers in Camden, New Jersey, led by Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, that is having unprecedented success.

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Let Bedbugs Keep You From Traveling This Summer

The Bedbug Registry (interactive map of bedbug infestations)

From the 3 August 2011 posting by A-1 Exterminators

First, decide where you would like to take a trip. When choosing your travel destinations you can pick an area that has had little trouble with bedbug infestations. This may mean avoiding major cities or simply staying at the right hotels. Check the bedbug registry to see the top danger zones for bedbug infestations. You can also type in the name and location of a particular hotel and view bedbug reports before you book your stay.
When you arrive at your hotel room you should check the room to make sure it is bedbug free. This may include looking under the mattress, upholstered furniture, and framed pictures hanging on the wall. This quick check only takes a few minutes and could save you the trouble of dealing with these nasty little pests. We also have some tips to protect yourself against bedbugs so you don’t bring them home with you!

From  Dr. Oz Takes Up Fight Against Bedbugs

Here are a few things you can do to try to keep them out.

  • At the movies, keep your bags on the floor, not on a nearby seat. Bring a small flashlight and inspect your seat. Look in crevices and under armrests.
  • At the mall, check clothing before trying it on or purchasing it. Look under the arms, behind the collar, and inside cuffs and seams. “Remember, you’re not the first person to touch it,” says Dr. Oz. “Someone may have returned the very shirt you’re about to take home, and there’s a good chance it entered their bedroom.”
  • When your return from a high-risk area like a movie theater, flea market, or mall, throw your clothes into a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes. Place shoes in a pillowcase before putting them in the dryer.
  • When traveling, inspect your hotel room and keep luggage on racks as far from beds and sofas as possible. When you return home, wash clothes in hot water or dry on high heat. Before bringing luggage into living areas, vacuum it thoroughly inside and out.
  • Inspect used furniture before bringing it into your home.

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | | Leave a comment


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