Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Critics detect hype in “Bra Detects Breast Cancer” news

From the 19 October 2012 article at

We asked two people at the National Breast Cancer Coalition to react to the announcement.  Annette Bar-Cohen wrote us:

“The discovery of breast changes earlier and earlier in the process needs to go along with our ability to translate that into knowledge that will actually be lifesaving.  Otherwise we will see an increase in incidence, an additional rise in overdiagnosis and overtreatment, and perhaps no reduction in mortality – no additional lives saved. So a recognition of the role of this technology in the early detection field would be good.”

Laura Nikolaides of NBCC responded:

“I am intrigued by the idea – we are always interested in any new ideas = but have found this reporting (note: she was specifically referring to the Boston Globe and CBS pieces) incredibly frustrating.  More questions are raised than are answered.  The details provided aren’t even consistent.  One report implies that a woman would wear the bra over time, on an ongoing basis, the other report claims it would be a one time thing.  Neither report says that in fact, a woman would need to have several sensors or patches applied to her breast and that the bra itself is the monitor (found this on the parent company website).  Another confusion is the temperature issue – a business report on the company says the technology is actually monitoring 9600 data points of cell metabolism that are then converted to temperature changes.

I was very interested to see the data on the clinical trials, but couldn’t get to it.  I was able to get to the parent company website, which said the trials were conducted at Ohio State, but couldn’t get any more info.   So, bottom line, is that as someone who is very interested in any new ideas on detecting early changes in the breast, I found the reporting on this new idea stunning for the lack of details on what the technology actually is, what it does, how it works, how it was validated, etc.”

Finally, I turned to one of our smart story reviewers on, Mandy Stahre, PhD, a young survivor of breast cancer having been diagnosed at age 31.  She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD training and has served as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.  She also wrote about the Boston and CBS stories:

“A new bra may be able to detect breast cancer six years before a tumor can be detected by imaging.  Sounds too good to be true.  After further reading we are presented with what sounds like impressive statistics referring to clinical trials with results in the 90% range for sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy. Never mind that details regarding what was actually detected seemed to be omitted.

Click here to read the entire article

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Oklahoma Looks for Ways to Keep Mentally Ill Ex-offenders Out of Prison

English: Oklahoma State Penitentiary

English: Oklahoma State Penitentiary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


From the 23 October 2012 article at Stateline Daily


Central to that program is ensuring that participants leave custody already signed up for Social Security Disability and Medicaid, which immediately provides them with some income and health care and – crucial for them – psychiatric medication and counseling.

By comparison, unless they are disabled in some way, typical inmates leaving prison in Oklahoma do not qualify for either Social Security or Medicaid benefits. Usually, they are given a lift to the bus station, a ticket to anywhere they want to go in the state, $50, and sometimes a handshake.

Lowering Recidivism

If the measure of success is keeping mentally ill ex-offenders out of prison, the Oklahoma Collaborative Mental Health Re-Entry Program has been a success. The recidivism rate over a three-year span for those participating in the program is 25.2 percent, compared to the 42.3 percent rate for a comparable prison population before the program started in 2007. On the basis of those results, the program earned an innovation award this year from the Council of State Governments.

Law enforcement is positive about the program as well. “Anything that keeps them on their medication and in treatment is a positive step,” says Phil Cotten, acting director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.

Not the least of those extolling the program are its beneficiaries, some of whom have no doubt about the boomerang route their post-prison life would have followed without the re-entry experiment…


Criminalizing Mental Illness

Like every other state, Oklahoma has seen a correlation between the emptying of its psychiatric hospitals in the sixties and seventies and its ever-increasing prison population. According to Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections, half of its prisoners have a history of or currently exhibit some form of mental illness (resulting in a threefold increase in the number of prisoners receiving psychotropic drugs between 1998 and 2006). Some call it the criminalization of mental illness. In a different time, many of the symptomatic mentally ill ended up in psychiatric wards; today they go to prison, a situation that Robert Powitsky, the chief mental officer of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, calls a “travesty.”

“The new front-line mental health workers are law enforcement officers and the new psychiatric hospitals are the prisons and the jails,” says Powitzky, who has spent most of his four-decade long career as a psychologist in prison systems. “It’s wrong, it’s just plain wrong.”…


October 23, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dentists suggest alternative to candy…..Trick or Treat!

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.



October 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School) | , , | Leave a comment

Many Grandparent Caregivers Unaware of Newer Safety Guidelines

Child held in a car seat by a five point harness

Child held in a car seat by a five point harness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


From the 21 October 2012 article at Science News Daily


The number of grandparent caregivers continues to grow, and while these older adults may be experienced in caring for young children, many are unaware of more recent safety and other recommendations — including those related to appropriate child sleep position, crib safety, car seat and walker use, according to research presented Oct. 21 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

According to the 2011 American Community Survey, an estimated 2.87 million grandparents are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren — a nearly 20 percent increase since the year 2000. In the study, “Grandparent Caregiver Knowledge of Anticipatory Guidance Topics,” researchers attended regularly scheduled Grandparent/Kinship Care support groups. Forty-nine participants completed a 15-question survey that addressed common pediatric safety and anticipatory guidance topics for children of all ages.

When asked, “What is the best position for a baby to sleep in?” 33 percent of respondents chose “on the stomach;” 23 percent, “on the side;” and 43.8 percent, “the back.” The AAP recommends that infants be placed to sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When asked about correct car seat positioning, 24.5 percent responded that a 22 pound, 9 month-old child should be facing forward, and yet the AAP recommends that children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2….



October 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment


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