Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Infographic: Health and Transportation

[Reblog] From the Robert Woods Foundation site

Better Transportation Options=Healthier Lives

Transportation and Health_small

The NewPublicHealth National Prevention Strategy series is underway, including interviews with Cabinet Secretaries and their National Prevention Council designees, exploring the impact of transportation, education and more on health. “Better Transportation Options = Healthier Lives” tells a visual story on the role of transportation in the health of our communities.

Some highlights:

  • Public transit users walk an average of 19 minutes getting to and from public transportation.
  • Countries with lower rates of obesity tend to have higher rates of commuters who walk or bike to work.
  • The risk of obesity increases 6% with every additional mile spent in the car, and decreases 5% with every kilometer walked.
  • Lengthy commutes cost $100 billion each year in excess fuel costs and lost productivity.
  • More than 30,000 people died in car wrecks in 2010.
  • Strong seatbelt and child safety laws resulted in a 25% decrease in car accident deaths since 2005.

Also check out our previous infographic exploring the connection betweeneducation and health.


>>For more on transportation and health: Read our interview with Ray LaHood, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.


More Transportation Options=Healthier Lives

Tags: Public healthTransportationTransportation policyPublic Health ,TransportationNational Prevention Strategy



October 31, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

More than Good Vibes: Researchers Propose the Science Behind Mindfulness


Mindfulness (Photo credit: Cathdew)


From the 29 October 2012  Brigham and Women’s Hospital press release


BOSTON, MA—Achieving mindfulness through meditation has helped people maintain a healthy mind by quelling negative emotions and thoughts, such as desire, anger and anxiety, and encouraging more positive dispositions such as compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Those who have reaped the benefits of mindfulness know that it works. But how exactly does it work?

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have proposed a new model that shifts how we think about mindfulness.  Rather than describing mindfulness as a single dimension of cognition, the researchers demonstrate that mindfulness actually involves a broad framework of complex mechanisms in the brain.

In essence, they have laid out the science behind mindfulness.

This new model of mindfulness is published in the October 25, 2012 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The model was recently presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama in a private meeting, entitled “Mind and Life XXIV: Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience.”

The researchers identified several cognitive functions that are active in the brain during mindfulness practice. These cognitive functions help a person develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) which make up the transformative framework for the mindfulness process.

The S-ART framework explains the underlying neurobiological mechanisms by which mindfulness can facilitate self-awareness; reduce biases and negative thoughts; enhance the ability to regulate one’s behavior; and increase positive, pro-social relationships with oneself and others-all-in-all creating a sustainable healthy mind.

The researchers highlight six neuropsychological processes that are active mechanisms in the brain during mindfulness and which support S-ART. These processes include 1) intention and motivation, 2) attention regulation, 3) emotion regulation, 4) extinction and reconsolidation, 5) pro-social behavior, and 6) non-attachment and de-centering.

In other words, these processes begin with an intention and motivation to want to attain mindfulness, followed by an awareness of one’s bad habits. Once these are set, a person can begin taming him or herself to be less emotionally reactive and to recover faster from upsetting emotions.

“Through continued practice, the person can develop a psychological distance from any negative thoughts and can inhibit natural impulses that constantly fuel bad habits,” said David Vago, PhD, BWH Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, and lead study author.

Vago also states that continued practice can also increase empathy and eliminate our attachments to things we like and aversions to things we don’t like.

“The result of practice is a new You with a new multidimensional skill set for reducing biases in one’s internal and external experience and sustaining a healthy mind,” said Vago.

The S-ART framework and neurobiological model proposed by the researchers differs from current popular descriptions of mindfulness as a way of paying attention, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. With the help of functional MRI, Vago and his team are currently testing the model in humans.

This research was supported by the Mind and Life Institute, Impact Foundation, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (5-R21AT002209-02).



October 31, 2012 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Health Care is a Civil Right

Health care systems

Health care systems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I rarely overtly “get political” at my  blog.
However, this seems to go beyond politics to what living in a functional democracy or republic is all about.

From the 31 October 2012 article at Medical News Today


I want to clear up a misunderstanding often voiced in the healthcare blog universe: namely, whether health care is a right or a service. Our answer to this question will affect how we approach healthcare reform in the next Congress, so let me say plainly: health care is a civil right.

Civil rights are what we call those claims necessary to secure free and equal citizenship, secondary to basic rights. For example, we don’t have a right to vote for any natural reason; we have the right to vote because society is ordered in a way that makes voting both possible and essential to our free and full participation in society. Voting is a civil right.


Health care is a civil right because society is ordered in such a way as to make it both possible and essential to the free and full participation of the sick, injured and disabled — i.e. ‘patients’ — in society. I’m a patient, and I can tell you: lack of health care makes it impossible for me to participate freely and fully in society. Among the reasons …

  • I can’t choose my work. Because health care is tied to employment, and not all jobs have benefits, I can’t do things that might be socially useful or personally satisfying but lack benefits. I can never start a business, for example, because I wouldn’t have health insurance.
  • I can’t buy the things I need. Patients are denied the free purchase of goods and services by restrictions on the healthcare market: FDA regulations, prescription requirements, doctor licensing, insurance rules. These restrictions help make health care safer and more effective, but they also sharply curb supply of medical goods and increase their price, which is paid disproportionately by patients.
  • I can’t participate fully in the political process. I rarely volunteer in my community — dealing with my healthcare takes up most of my free time. I can’t give money to causes or candidates I support, because I don’t have any to spare. Moreover, a sick person is less likely to risk losing employer-provided insurance by organizing a union, whistle-blowing against fraud, or reporting discrimination in the workplace.

None of these exclusions is intrinsic to illness, but due instead to the structure of our society. And each reason is more compelling to the extent illness and injury are produced by pollution, toxic products, and other societal causes. A patient’s basic right to justice requires us to respond to the likelihood that we — as a society — had something to do with their illness.

One of the counter-claims made against this line of reasoning is that nobody is entitled to claim a health provider’s labor as a right. But there are many other professions which are subject to civil rights claims: teachers, firefighters, lawyers, to name a few. Moreover, physicians and other providers are able to do their job effectively in large part due to public investment in research and technology.

Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act did not go far enough to guarantee patients right to health care. Access to insurance is not the same as access to care, as any patient will tell you. The ACA was a small step in the right direction, but we still need legislation recognizing patients’ right to health care. Whatever the outcome of the election, health care must be acknowledged as a civil right.

Duncan Cross blogs from the perspective of a chronic patient at his self-titled site, Duncan Cross.




October 31, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deficiency Symptoms and Signs – A Referenced Resource for Professionals and the Public

This morning I came across this nutrition deficiency guide while doing a (somewhat) focused Web search on a Quora question about nutritional deficiencies.
The table (rather longish) lists signs/symptoms along with possible nutritional deficiencies and other possible causes.

According to the terms and use, I am not allowed to copy/paste the table, or provide a direct link to this very informative table.
(This is a commercial site, but ad free).

Here’s how to get to the table

This site has, well, to me, an overabundance of unbiased, reliable nutrition from a medical doctor.

Dr. Stewart is medical practitioner in 1976 from Guy’s Hospital London and became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1979.  He was a founding member of the British Society for Nutritional Medicine.


October 31, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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