Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] The effects of radio frequency radiation upon the brain: Dr Leif Salford, neurosurgeon

From the 12 January 2015 item at Stop Smart Meters Australia

Dr. Leif Salford is a neurosurgeon at Lund University Hospital (Sweden), and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery. Since 1988 he has led a team of researchers that have exposed thousands of laboratory rats to microwave radiation from various sources. Since the late 1990s they have used mobile telephones as the source of this radiation.

The results have been consistent and alarming: not only does radiation from a mobile phones damage the blood-brain barrier, but it does so at even when the exposure level is reduced a thousandfold.

This is presentation by Dr. Leif Salford on the effects of radio frequency radiation (RF) upon the brain.  The statistics are jolting, to say the least: YouTube Link

See also: http://www.cellphonetaskforce.org/?page_id=579

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] WEARABLE HEALTH TECH ALONE NOT ENOUGH TO GET TANGIBLE RESULTS

From the 12 January 2015 item at Public Health View

Wearable devices targeted at healthy living are alone not enough to drive tangible changes in an individual’s health, experts say, although sales of these devices are expected to soar in the coming years.

Courtesy: Garmin

Companies like Apple and Google sell watches and cellphones that can track health-related statistics, and others like Fitbit and Garmin make wristbands and even necklaces geared towards recording health-related statistics. This, in turn, is expected to translate into improved health behavior and hence better health outcomes.

But it is not that simple, say experts.

“The gap between recording information and changing behavior is substantial, and while these devices are increasing in popularity, little evidence suggests that they are bridging the gap,” experts wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
….

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Regulation of Clinical Tests: In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) Devices, Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs), and Genetic Tests

From the summary of the December 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service

In vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices are used in the analysis of human samples, such as blood or
tissue, to provide information in making health care decisions. Examples of IVDs include (1)
pregnancy test kits or blood glucose tests for home use; (2) laboratory tests for infectious disease,such as HIV or hepatitis, and routine blood tests, such as cholesterol and anemia; and (3) tests forvarious genetic diseases or conditions. More recently, a specific type of diagnostic test—called acompanion diagnostic—has been developed that may be used to select the best therapy, at the right dose, at the correct time for a particular patient; this is often referred to as personalized or precision medicine.


In June 2010, FDA announced its decision to exercise its authority over all LDTs. A provision in
the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 stipulates that the agency
“may not issue any draft or final guidance on the regulation” of LDTs without, “at least 60 days
prior to such issuance,” first notifying Congress “of the anticipated details of such action.” On
July 31, 2014, in fulfillment of this statutory requirement, the FDA officially notified the Senate
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Energy and
Commerce that it will issue draft guidance on the regulation of LDTs, and included the
anticipated details of that regulatory framework. On October 3, 2014, the FDA formally issued
these documents as draft guidance in the Federal Register, giving 120 days for comment.
The draft guidance identifies groups of LDTs that will be (1) exempt from regulation entirely; (2)
only required to meet notification and adverse event reporting requirements; and (3) required to
meet notification, adverse event reporting, applicable premarket review, and other regulatory
requirements. FDA will use the information obtained through the notification requirement to
classify LDTs, based on risk, using a public process involving advisory panels and public
comment. Once classification has taken place, the FDA will enforce premarket review
requirements, prioritizing the highest-risk tests. The agency anticipates the entire process of
bringing all LDTs into compliance will take nine years to complete.

From the summary of the December 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service

In vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices are used in the analysis of human samples, such as blood or
tissue, to provide information in making health care decisions. Examples of IVDs include (1)
pregnancy test kits or blood glucose tests for home use; (2) laboratory tests for infectious disease,such as HIV or hepatitis, and routine blood tests, such as cholesterol and anemia; and (3) tests forvarious genetic diseases or conditions. More recently, a specific type of diagnostic test—called acompanion diagnostic—has been developed that may be used to select the best therapy, at the right dose, at the correct time for a particular patient; this is often referred to as personalized or precision medicine.


In June 2010, FDA announced its decision to exercise its authority over all LDTs. A provision in
the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 stipulates that the agency
“may not issue any draft or final guidance on the regulation” of LDTs without, “at least 60 days
prior to such issuance,” first notifying Congress “of the anticipated details of such action.” On
July 31, 2014, in fulfillment of this statutory requirement, the FDA officially notified the Senate
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Energy and
Commerce that it will issue draft guidance on the regulation of LDTs, and included the
anticipated details of that regulatory framework. On October 3, 2014, the FDA formally issued
these documents as draft guidance in the Federal Register, giving 120 days for comment.
The draft guidance identifies groups of LDTs that will be (1) exempt from regulation entirely; (2)
only required to meet notification and adverse event reporting requirements; and (3) required to
meet notification, adverse event reporting, applicable premarket review, and other regulatory
requirements. FDA will use the information obtained through the notification requirement to
classify LDTs, based on risk, using a public process involving advisory panels and public
comment. Once classification has taken place, the FDA will enforce premarket review
requirements, prioritizing the highest-risk tests. The agency anticipates the entire process of
bringing all LDTs into compliance will take nine years to complete.

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reposting] SCIENCE MATTERS: THE POWER OF VITAMINS

From the  article at Prospect – Journal of International Affairs at USCD 

Vitamins have become a booming industry in recent years. Businesses like The Vitamin Shoppe and Nature Made have made millions by isolating specific vitamins and minerals necessary for metabolic activity. However, recent studies have shown that an excess of certain vitamins may not only be unnecessary, but also harmful. In 2014, Nature published a piece which summarized the debate among scientists and health professionals regarding the use of vitamins in society, and several studies have shown that vitamins have no significant health benefit in terms of fighting cardiovascular disease or cancer.

….

According to David Agus, physician and best-selling author of “The End of Illness”, Americans spend $28 billion per year in dietary supplements, including both vitamins and herbals. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have gone so far as to propose that the US cease producing vitamin supplements, because most of the money and the resources go to waste.

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

The Emerging Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases

Full Text Reports...

The Emerging Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The gravest health threats facing low- and middle-income countries are not the plagues, parasites, and blights that dominate the news cycle and international relief efforts. They are the everyday diseases the international community understands and could address, but fails to take action against.

Once thought to be challenges for affluent countries alone, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have emerged as the leading cause of death and disability in developing countries. In 2013, these diseases killed eight million people before their sixtieth birthdays in these countries. The chronic nature of NCDs means patients are sick and suffer longer and require more medical care. The resulting economic costs are high and escalating. Unless urgent action is taken, this emerging crisis will worsen in low- and middle-income countries and become harder to address.

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January 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

#Drug scene ever more complex and dangerous

Safe In Warwickshire

The latest annual report by charity Drugscope has warned that drug use has become increasingly diverse, with people using a mix of illegal drugs and legal drugs (especially pregabalin and gabapentin).

They also raise concerns about the increased purity of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, leading to an increase in drug related deaths, with purity levels as much as tripling in some areas over the last 12 months.

Injecting Drug Paraphernalia

Read the full article and summary here:

http://www.drugscope.org.uk/Documents/PDF/Publications/DownAStonyRoadDrugTrendsSurvey2014.pdf

http://www.drugscope.org.uk/Media/Press+office/pressreleases/Street-Drug-Trends-2014

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/11346306/New-warning-over-abuse-of-prescription-drugs.html

If you’re worried about your or somebody else’s drug use there is a range of free and confidential treatment and recovery services available across Warwickshire:

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January 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Preventable Death

ibijugoles

public health

A new study released in Health Affairs found that out of nineteen industrialized nations, the U.S. ranked dead last in preventable deaths. Here is the Abstract:

We compared trends in deaths considered amenable to health care before age seventy-five between 1997–98 and 2002–03 in the United States and in eighteen other industrialized countries. Such deaths account, on average, for 23 percent of total mortality under age seventy-five among males and 32 percent among females. The decline in amenable mortality in all countries averaged 16 percent over this period. The United States was an outlier, with a decline of only 4 percent. If the United States could reduce amenable mortality to the average rate achieved in the three top-performing countries, there would have been 101,000 fewer deaths per year by the end of the study period.

While the reasons for the U.S. performance are many, IMO one of the primary factors…

View original post 884 more words

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Atlantic article] The Cold-Medicine Racket

From the 19 December 2014 Atlantic article by 

There are now hundreds of flashy “cold and flu” products, but still only a handful of simple, cheap ingredients. Here’s one new way to cut through the noise.

One in four people, when buying an over-the-counter medicine to treat a headache, will go for a brand name product. Unless that person is a pharmacist. In that case, according to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research, they’ll almost certainly buy a generic version. The pharmacists know, and trust, that the drugs are identical.

But Bayer aspirin costs $6.29 at CVS, while the same amount of CVS-brand aspirin costs less than a third of that, $1.99. The two products are required by law to be “bioequivalent,” and CVS even has signs imploring shoppers to go for the cheaper option. Yet many people do no such thing. The difference in price between brand names and generics accounts for tens of billions of dollars “wasted” every year by Americans in pharmacies, according to the economics researchers. They also found that more highly educated people are more likely to buy generic medications, concluding that “misinformation explains a sizable share of the brand premium for health products.”

Consumer confusion, or misplaced trust, is compounded by the fact that a drug store is likely to have upwards of 300 cold-and-flu products.

Angelotti, formerly at Google, has now co-created a program that can help people pare down their options. On the Iodine site, you can click on the symptoms you’re experiencing, and that will comb a database of common cold-and-flu products and tell you which ones meet your needs. The results also include product reviews (via Google, with over 100,000 medication reviews so far), dosage forms (liquid or pill), active ingredients, and the names of generic versions at various pharmacies.

[janice’s note…it would still be wise to consult with an expert…as in a licensed pharmacist!]

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the 13 January 2015 post at Mike the Mad Biologist

Last week, the NY Times ran story about how the Harvard University healthcare plan is raising various employee costs in an effort to lower costs–this is partly a response to various Obamacare/ACA policies (boldface mine):

The university is adopting standard features of most employer-sponsored health plans: Employees will now pay deductibles and a share of the costs, known as coinsurance, for hospitalization, surgery and certain advanced diagnostic tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. For a doctor’s office visit, the charge is $20. For most other services, patients will pay 10 percent of the cost until they reach the out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.

Previously, Harvard employees paid a portion of insurance premiums and had low out-of-pocket costs when they received care.

……

Why? If you’re sick and able to pay, you will get the treatment in most cases. It’s worth the money–being able to afford medical treatment is one reason people like having money. Most people just aren’t that cheap when it comes to their health. But if you’re unable to pay, you won’t get treatment–even if you need it. The latter will lower healthcare costs–less fortunate people won’t get treatment–but so would shooting sick people in the head. And if you don’t believe me, those radicals at the Boston Federal Reserve seem to think so as well.

January 20, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The Illogic of Co-Pays and Deductibles

From the 13 January 2015 post at Mike the Mad Biologist

Last week, the NY Times ran story about how the Harvard University healthcare plan is raising various employee costs in an effort to lower costs–this is partly a response to various Obamacare/ACA policies (boldface mine):

The university is adopting standard features of most employer-sponsored health plans: Employees will now pay deductibles and a share of the costs, known as coinsurance, for hospitalization, surgery and certain advanced diagnostic tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. For a doctor’s office visit, the charge is $20. For most other services, patients will pay 10 percent of the cost until they reach the out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.

Previously, Harvard employees paid a portion of insurance premiums and had low out-of-pocket costs when they received care.

……

Why? If you’re sick and able to pay, you will get the treatment in most cases. It’s worth the money–being able to afford medical treatment is one reason people like having money. Most people just aren’t that cheap when it comes to their health. But if you’re unable to pay, you won’t get treatment–even if you need it. The latter will lower healthcare costs–less fortunate people won’t get treatment–but so would shooting sick people in the head. And if you don’t believe me, those radicals at the Boston Federal Reserve seem to think so as well.

January 20, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Journalists’ coverage of prenatal screening uncovers big gaps in what we know about genetic testing

From the 16 January 2015 article at Covering Health

Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by mahalie stackpole via Flickr

Last month, journalists from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting raised serious questions about prenatal genetic screening tests, saying physicians and patients may not fully understand the results of these tests for fetal abnormalities.

In their reporting, the journalists exposed a symptom of what may be a bigger problem: the proliferation of genetic tests without a full understanding about what such testing can and cannot do. Even health insurers have struggled to understand how to pay for new genetic tests.

The stories also pointed out that federal regulators are wrestling with how to classify genetic tests. Many of these tests fall into the category of what pathologists call lab-developed tests or LDTs. These tests are not regulated by the FDA, as the NECIR journalists reported. In October, the FDA proposed regulating these tests as medical devices and clinical laboratories are pushing back, saying such regulations could interfere with the practice of medicine.

We’ll address these issues one at time…..

January 20, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Translate medical jargon on any web page!

From the post by Dr. Bertalan Meskó on December 21, 2014

I just came across a very interesting website Iodine.com where you can install a Google Chrome pluginwhich automatically translates medical jargon into more common expressions on any website. For example, while reading an article it turns words such as epistaxis into nosebleed.

It can also give you crowdsourced data and experience about drugs and drug interactions.

ScreenShot

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Will Robots Replace Doctors?

I like the emphasis…will play a major role… instead of replace. I think that many nuances can only be detected by humans. And not sure computers can be totally programmed for such intangibles as empathy.

From the blog post by Dr. Bertalan Meskó on January 20, 2015

It is quite obvious, based on my previous posts, that I think cognitive computing will play a major role in the future of diagnostics. See these examples:

Now MobileHealthGlobal.com asked me to share my views on this:

In fact, these machines, which are also called cognitive computers, have the advantage of allowing the doctor to focus all of his or her attention on the patient, instead of having to concentrate on finding information. Thus, to combine human and artificial intelligence is key. Meskó defends that “the best potential pair is a human with technology.”

superordinadorwatsonibmeditora191251610

January 20, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Health videos for some frequently asked questions (with additional related resources)

No, this is not from the Mercy hospital system here in Toledo. However, the Health Library at Mercy Health is a good resource for consumer  questions on topics ranging from “what causes wheezing?” to “tracking your blood pressure at home”,  or even something along the lines of  what’s “the difference between a cold and the flu .
Related resources

Consumer/Patient

Health Professional

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , | Leave a comment

Health videos for some frequently asked questions (with additional related resources)

No, this is not from the Mercy hospital system here in Toledo. However, the Health Library at Mercy Health is a good resource for consumer  questions on topics ranging from “what causes wheezing?” to “tracking your blood pressure at home”,  or even something along the lines of  what’s “the difference between a cold and the flu .
Related resources

Consumer/Patient

Health Professional

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (Health Professionals) | , , , , | Leave a comment

Data for Individual Health | Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ)

Data for Individual Health | Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ).

From the press release
Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.30.05 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.31.01 AMScreen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.32.09 AM

 

And that is the way it is

January 20, 2015 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

Exaggeration in health science news releases & what were going to do about it

Exaggeration in health science news releases & what were going to do about it.
Longish article delving into reasons for the exaggerations and what can be done.

Excerpt

 

Earle Holland,  who retired as Assistant VP for Research Communications at Ohio State University, wrote me that he thought the big “take-away” statements from the paper were these:

  • “The blame—if it can be meaningfully apportioned—lies mainly with the increasing culture of university competition and self promotion, interacting with the increasing pressures on journalists to do more with less time.”
  • “If the majority of exaggeration occurs within academic establishments, then the academic community has the opportunity to make an important difference to the quality of biomedical and health related news.”
  • “What we do argue is that appropriate claims are a necessary starting point, that misleading claims can do harm, and that since many such claims originate within universities, the scientific community has the ability to improve this situation.”

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Elsevier Announces the Launch of Atlas: Research for a Better World | Elsevier

Elsevier Announces the Launch of Atlas: Research for a Better World | Elsevier.

Only three articles so far, may be worth returning to in the future. Bonus – all scientific articles referred to will be available for free.

Excerpt from the press release

ublishing about the science behind global issues that affect us all in a format that can be read by all

Oxford, January 5, 2015Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announced the launch of a new virtual journal: Atlas. Published as a virtual journal, Atlas selects already published research on topics that hold high societal relevance or address global issues, and summarizes and presents the science in a lay-friendly, story format to reach an as wide as possible global audience.

Atlas showcases research that can (or already has) significantly impact(ed) people’s lives around the world. Articles published are selected by an external advisory board made up of representatives of some of the world’s most renowned Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), including the United Nations University and Oxfam.  Every month the Board selects a paper from a shortlist of suggested articles published in any of Elsevier’s 1800+ journals. Once selected, the author(s) of the paper are awarded “The Atlas” and work with a team of dedicated Atlas science journalists to summarize the research into an easy-to-digest, lay-friendly story format which will be published online. Additionally, all articles featured on Atlas will include a direct link to the full research paper on ScienceDirect which will be made freely available for all.

– See more at: http://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/elsevier-announces-the-launch-of-atlas-research-for-a-better-world#sthash.fGan6rY2.dpuf

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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