Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Who’s stressed in the US? Carnegie Mellon researchers study adult stress levels from 1983-2009

Distributions of Psychological Stress in the United States from 1983, 2006 & 2009: Sex

Caption: Until now, comparing stress levels in individuals across the United States over time was not possible due to a lack of historical data that tracks stress using accepted comparable measures. New research from Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts used telephone survey data from 1983 that polled 2,387 US residents over the age of 18 and online surveys from 2006 and 2009 that polled 2,000 American adults each. All three surveys used the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), a measure created by Cohen to assess the degree to which situations in life are perceived as stressful. In all three surveys, women reported more stress than men.

Results show women report more stress, stress decreases with age, and the recent economic downturn mostly affected white, middle-aged men with college educations and full-time jobs

From the 11 June 2012 EurekAlert

Until now, comparing stress levels in individuals across the United States over time was not possible due to a lack of historical data that tracks stress using accepted comparable measures.

New research from Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts used telephone survey data from 1983 that polled 2,387 U.S. residents over the age of 18 and online surveys from 2006 and 2009 that polled 2,000 American adults each….

..

the results show that women, individuals with lower income and those with less education reported more stress in all three surveys. They also show that as Americans age, they experience less stress and that retirees consistently report low levels of stress, indicating that retirement is not experienced as an adverse event.

“We know that stress contributes to poorer health practices, increased risk for disease, accelerated disease progression and increased mortality,” said Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology within CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences who is a leading expert on the relationship between stress and disease. “Differences in stress between demographics may be important markers of populations under increased risk for physical and psychological disorders.”..

..

“It’s hard to say if people are more stressed now than before because the first survey was conducted by phone and the last two were done online,” Cohen said. “But, it’s clear that stress is still very much present in Americans’ lives, putting them at greater risk for many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders.”

June 12, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

Nature or nurture? It may depend on where you live

From the 12 June 2012 EurekAlert

The extent to which our development is affected by nature or nurture – our genetic make-up or our environment – may differ depending on where we live, according to research funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

In a study published today in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from the Twins Early Development Study at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry studied data from over 6,700 families relating to 45 childhood characteristics, from IQ and hyperactivity through to height and weight. They found that genetic and environmental contributions to these characteristics vary geographically in the United Kingdom, and published their results online as a series of nature-nurture maps.

Our development, health and behaviour are determined by complex interactions between our genetic make-up and the environment in which we live. For example, we may carry genes that increase our risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but if we eat a healthy diet and get sufficient exercise, we may not develop the disease. Similarly, someone may carry genes that reduce his or her risk of developing lung cancer, but heavy smoking may still lead to the disease….

June 12, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , , | Leave a comment

Sick from Your Stomach: Bacterial Changes May Trigger Diseases Like Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Fingers

Rheumatoid Arthritis Fingers (Photo credit: david__jones)

From the 11 June 2012 ScienceDaily article

The billions of bugs in our guts have a newfound role: regulating the immune system and related autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to researchers at Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Larger-than-normal populations of specific gut bacteria may trigger the development of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and possibly fuel disease progression in people genetically predisposed to this crippling and confounding condition, say the researchers, who are participating in the Mayo Illinois Alliance for Technology Based Healthcare.

The study is published in the April 2012 issue of PLoS ONE.

“A lot of people suspected that gut flora played a role in rheumatoid arthritis, but no one had been able to prove it because they couldn’t say which came first — the bacteria or the genes,” says senior author Veena Taneja, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic immunologist. “Using genomic sequencing technologies, we have been able to show the gut microbiome may be used as a biomarker for predisposition.”…

 

…Researchers found that hormones and changes related to aging may further modulate the gut immune system and exacerbate inflammatory conditions in genetically susceptible individuals…

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“The gut is the largest immune organ in the body,” says co-author Bryan White, Ph.D., director of the University of Illinois’ Microbiome Program in the Division of Biomedical Sciences and a member of the Institute for Genomic Biology. “Because it’s presented with multiple insults daily through the introduction of new bacteria, food sources and foreign antigens, the gut is continually teasing out what’s good and bad.”

The gut has several ways to do this, including the mucosal barrier that prevents organisms — even commensal or “good” bacteria — from crossing the lumen of the gut into the human body. However, when commensal bacteria breach this barrier, they can trigger autoimmune responses. The body recognizes them as out of place, and in some way this triggers the body to attack itself, he says….

June 12, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is summertime bringing new wave of ads for artificial knees?

Knee replacement

Knee replacement (Photo credit: Mundoo)

By  Gary Schwitzer in health care marketingMedical devices at HealthNewsReview.org (6 June 2012)

After giving two examples of recent direct marketing advertising (to potential patients) for knee replacements he proceeds…

More than year ago I wrote about hip joint TV ads.  At that time, Naomi Freundlich wrote:

Together, hip and knee replacement surgeries already represent the largest hospital expense for Medicare. And, according to an article in Time magazine, the money spent on these two procedures is expected to reach $65.2 billion by 2015.

There is no doubt that part of Medicare reform will involve looking at ways to reduce this cost. One approach is to move the choice of device away from vague “physician preference” and toward evidence-based criteria…

he American Joint Replacement Registry was created recently, and just this January began a pilot project collecting hip and knee replacement information from 16 representative hospitals. In a statement, the organization (made up of surgeons, executives from the device industry, payers and patient representatives) said that its “long-term goal is to capture data from 90 percent of U.S. hospitals where hip and knee arthroplasty procedures are performed, which amounts to between 5,000 and 6,000 different hospitals, in the next 5 years.”

In the end, marketing devices directly to consumers is antithetical to these other measures that are designed to promote evidence-based treatments. …

Unless insurers—both public and private—start using evidence-based decision making to set coverage for new hip implant devices, the number of younger patients undergoing more expensive procedures will likely rise—sometimes for the wrong reasons.

June 12, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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