Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News release] Why Americans can’t buy some of the best sunscreens

From the 27 May 2015 American Chemical Society news release

With summer nearly here, U.S. consumers might think they have an abundance of sunscreen products to choose from. But across the Atlantic, Europeans will be slathering on formulations that manufacturers say provide better protection against the sun’s damaging rays — and skin cancer — than what’s available stateside, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Marc S. Reisch, a senior correspondent at C&EN, reports that sunscreens on the U.S. market do protect users from some ultraviolet-A and -B rays. But there are eight sunscreen molecules approved for use in Europe that could boost the effectiveness of products in the U.S. and also give manufacturers more flexibility in making their lotions. Some have been in line for FDA approval since 2002.

Why the hold-up? In Europe, sunscreen molecules are considered cosmetic ingredients. In the U.S., they are subject to the same scrutiny as over-the-counter drugs, which go through a more rigorous review process than cosmetics. More than 10 years ago, the FDA introduced a streamlined process to speed up the review of sunscreens from overseas to bring them to the U.S. market. But the products’ makers are still waiting for approval, and some have given up.

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , | Leave a comment

[News release] Researchers tie unexpected brain structures to creativity — and to stifling it

From the 28 May 2015 Stanford Medicine news release

A new study is the first to directly implicate the cerebellum in the creative process. As for the brain’s higher-level executive-control centers? Not so much.

Investigators at Stanford University have found a surprising link between creative problem-solving and heightened activity in the cerebellum, a structure located in the back of the brain and more typically thought of as the body’s movement-coordination center.

In designing the study, the researchers drew inspiration from the game Pictionary.
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The cerebellum, traditionally viewed as the brain’s practice-makes-perfect, movement-control center, hasn’t been previously recognized as critical to creativity. The new study, a collaboration between the School of Medicine and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, commonly known as the d.school, is the first to find direct evidence that this brain region is involved in the creative process.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] How we make emotional decisions

From the 28 May 2015 MIT news item

Neuroscientists identify a brain circuit that controls decisions that induce high anxiety.

Some decisions arouse far more anxiety than others. Among the most anxiety-provoking are those that involve options with both positive and negative elements, such choosing to take a higher-paying job in a city far from family and friends, versus choosing to stay put with less pay.

MIT researchers have now identified a neural circuit that appears to underlie decision-making in this type of situation, which is known as approach-avoidance conflict. The findings could help researchers to discover new ways to treat psychiatric disorders that feature impaired decision-making, such as depression, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.


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The new study grew out of an effort to figure out the role of striosomes — clusters of cells distributed through the the striatum, a large brain region involved in coordinating movement and emotion and implicated in some human disorders. Graybiel discovered striosomes many years ago, but their function had remained mysterious, in part because they are so small and deep within the brain that it is difficult to image them with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

 

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Social Progress Index: A holistic measure of progres

From the May 28, 2015 Full Text Report

The Social Progress Index: A holistic measure of progress
Source: Deloitte

On 9 April, the 2015 Social Progress Index launched – it measures the social and environmental outcomes for 133 countries, covering 94% of the world’s population.

As a complement to economic measures such as GDP, the Social Progress Index provides a more holistic measure of country performance and helps to drive real and sustainable growth that is important for business and vital for building a prosperous society.

How did your country do?

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Most Distinctive Cause of Death in Each State

From the 27 May 2015 post at You Think You Know

The CDC recently released an interesting map depicting the most “distinctive” cause of death in each state from 2001 through 2010.  These causes of death are not the most common – that would be cancer or heart disease in every state – but rather unusual causes of death that are disproportionately common in each state.

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Because these aren’t the most common cause of death, in some states just a few dozen people are dying of each condition.  For example, the number of deaths range “from 15,000 deaths from HIV in Florida to 679 deaths from tuberculosis in Texas to 22 deaths from syphilis in Louisiana.”

Maps like this one can be helpful in elucidating unique health conditions or social issues in each state.  We all know that as a country we are overweight; pointing out the number one killer (heart disease) on a map on seeks to reinforce what is already known.  The “distinctive cause” of death points to other issues – like people in coal-mining states being disproportionately likely to die from pneumoconiosis (black lung).

For the physicians out there – the authors of the study noted the importance of categorizing causes of death accurately on death certificates. “It would not take many systematic miscodes involving an unusual cause of death for it to appear on this type of map,” they write.

You can also visit this article on Slate about fun with maps that go viral, which clearly shows how manipulating data can give you some interesting results.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Health Statistics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shouldn’t Docs And Cops Work Together When It Comes To Guns?

Still believe physicians and other health care professionals should legally be able to ask if there are guns in the household. The presence of guns in a household does factor into increased accidents and injuries. Also, patients can refuse to answer the question if they so desire.

Mike The Gun Guy™

Down in Brazos, Texas, two ER doctors made local headlines by donating a pair of Mossberg shotguns to the local County Constable office.  The guns were donated in memory of Constable Brian Bachmann, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, who was killed while attempting to serve an eviction notice onan enraged individual, the latter after shooting Bachmann then shot and killed a civilian, and wounded two other police officers before being killed himself.

What caught my eye about this story was the fact that it highlighted the relationship between law enforcement and medicine when we think about violence perpetrated with guns.  After all, if we use a phrase like ‘gun violence’ to cover every incident in which someone suffers an injury from a gun, then three-quarters of all violence involving guns also happen to be crimes. In 2013, hospitals treated roughly 60,000 people who were victims of shootings and treated 135,000…

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May 29, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[News release] Website educates cancer patients about the costs of care

From the 28 May 2015 ScienceLife news release

ancer, all by itself, is bad enough. Although cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy, has become much gentler than it was a decade ago, most interventions still carry significant risks and side effects.

Recently, many physicians have focused on a different sort of hazard that they call “financial toxicity.” Along with the distress of a cancer diagnosis and the discomforts of treatment, patients increasingly have to deal with the cost, anxiety and loss of confidence inspired by large, unpredictable expenses, often compounded by decreased ability to work.

A team led by Jonas de Souza, MD, a head-and-neck cancer specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine, has developed the first patient-oriented website devoted to helping cancer patients understand and cope with financial toxicity (FT). Their goal is to increase awareness of this side effect prior to and during medical treatment so patients know what to expect and can better understand how costs impact them and their families.

Aging population to send cancer cases soaring: report (Metro 27 May 2015)
Estimating the global burden of cancer in 2013; 14.9 million new cases worldwide (May EurekAlert)

May 29, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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