Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Children Are Being Poisoned by Marijuana and E-Liquid*

Originally posted on :

*Though Not as Many as the Number of Children Poisoned by Cosmetics, Household Cleaning Products and Painkillers.

In the past couple years we’ve seen a growth of e-cig and cannabis edible usage and a corresponding increase in corporate media scare stories warning us of the dangerous epidemics sweeping the country: children accidentally ingesting cannabis edibles and nicotine liquid. Though such incidents are a real concern that the public needs to be aware of and take steps to prevent, actual statistics show that the problem is not as alarming as it’s often made out to be when examined in relation to other products that harm children when ingested.

With the advent of legal recreational cannabis in Colorado, data from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center (RMPDC) is often cited by news media for stories about the dangers of marijuana edibles. In 2014 the RMPDC received 151 calls about marijuana exposure…

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August 5, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Florida’s Penchant For Eating Armadillos Has Triggered A Leprosy Outbreak [Reblog]

My Peace Corps Liberia site (1980/81) was 10 miles away from a “leper colony” at a Methodist Mission.
Most of the residents were men with their families. Many made a living wood carving. How they did that with many of their finger extremities was incredible.  Bought quite a few carvings before I left, 2 or 3 commissioned.  Was never afraid of getting leprosy, was told during our Peace Corps training it took 17 years or so of very close contact.

Woodcarver (with leprosy) with finished carving


madonna  Madonna – commissioned for about $25, (“market rate”)


Women with baby pounding rice (dehulling); hair pic (yiddi-fa); Madonna

From the 23 July 2015  UPPROX post  


If you’re a nerd like me, you’re fully aware that only two animals can contract leprosy: Armadillos and humans. This is an excellent reason to stay away from armadillos, but Floridians apparently never got that memo.

Why, you might ask, are Floridians handling armadillos? Well, you know the old joke about how armadillos exist to give Texans something to eat on the half-shell?Nobody explained that was a joke to Florida’s population. We’re not kidding: Shooting and eating armadillos is, for some reason, common enough in Florida tobecome a public health problem.

Just to underline how bizarre and dumb this is, leprosy is incredibly hard to get. Ninety-five percent of humanity is naturally immune to it, thanks to dormant versions of the virus being effectively everywhere, and you can only get it through prolonged contact with somebody who has it. Even then, it’s an exceptionally slow virus; you can have it for decades before you show any symptoms. Similarly, armadillos are very shy and hard to trap, so it’s not like they’re up in our business.

The good news is that leprosy is currently very treatable with multi-drug therapy techniques. Now, the shame of gunning down an ugly-cute animal and eating it, there’s no treatment for that except shame. Work on exporting shame to Florida is ongoing, and we hope to have the first treatments soon.


Read the entire post here

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Things Every Woman Should Know About Yeast Infections [Reblog]

From the 25 July 2015 Time blog by Jennifer So

The symptoms can mimic other problems

One study found that as few as 11% of women who have never had a yeast infection could identify the symptoms, while other research has found that only one-third of women who thought they had a yeast infection actually did. Why the confusion?

The signs are similar to other down-there problems. If you have a yeast infection, you might notice burning, itching, pain during sex, and a thick white odorless discharge.

But if it smells fishy, it may instead be bacterial vaginosis (BV), and if you have only burning and pain during urination, that suggests a urinary tract infection. Bottom line: It can be difficult to figure out.

First-timer? Go to the doctor if you think you have one


Read the entire post here

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

A digital nightmare: When fitness bands become student-tracking devices [News release]

From the 25 May 2015 University of Queensland news release

A “nightmarish” vision of a future in which technology makes physical education more boring, judgmental and narrow is driving a new study by a University of Queensland academic.

Associate Professor Michael Gard from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences has begun a three-year research project on the digitisation of school health and physical education.

The project stems from the assumption that developments in digital technology present exciting educational opportunities but carry a new set of philosophical, educational and ethical questions and dilemmas.

“Will we leverage the power of digital technology to expand students’ minds and open up choices about how to live, or will we use it to monitor students’ behaviour and tell them how to live?” Dr Gard said.

“For example, much of the health-related technology that we are seeing involves asking children to count the calories they consume or expend when they are exercising. Is this this what we want students to be doing at school?

“There is a lot of money to be made from digitising school health and physical education and, make no mistake, companies are already vigorously marketing all kinds of health and fitness technologies to schools.

“Then you have the whole ‘big data’ concern about how your child’s records are used.”


“Then think of a perfect storm, where performance pay for health and physical education teachers is linked to children losing weight, and you introduce some very tricky ethical situations. Once again, some American states are moving in this direction.”

The study will also investigate how schools use digital technology to measure students, such as their BMI (body mass index), and what becomes of the data once collected.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices [reblog, resource]

From the 2 June 2015 post by Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S. at CHIMEconsumerhealth

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 7.47.23 AM

“Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the “Time to Talk Campaign,” managed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Like any health-related decision, your decision about whether to use complementary health practices is central to your health and safety. Yet, information you find on the Web is not always specific to your illness or based on scientific evidence.

The NIH monthly consumer-friendly series, “Time to Talk Tips,” discusses specific health topics, together with the scientific evidence related to those topics. The series is designed to encourage you and your medical doctors or other healthcare providers to talk about any complementary practice that you are considering.

Examples of “Time to Talk Tips”

Each month, the series highlights a health topic. For example, topics include “Natural Products for the Flu and Colds,” and “What Consumers Need to Know about the Use of Dietary Supplements.”

The series includes simple tips, such as, taking vitamin C regularly does not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold, but may improve some cold symptoms, and some dietary supplements may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications or other dietary supplements.

Read the entire post here

July 21, 2015 Posted by | health care, Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Many health impacts of aging are due to inactivity—not getting old [Reblog]

Many health impacts of aging are due to inactivity—not getting old.

From the 2 June 2015 post at The Longevity Network


This past winter I taught a course titled “Physical Activity and Aging.” It was a fun course, and really drove home an issue that I’ve known for a while, but hadn’t previously given a lot of thought: the impact of aging is identical to the detraining that happens in response to reduced physical activity and/or increased sedentary behaviour.

Aging is associated with reduced fitness, weaker bones, reduced insulin sensitivity, reduced muscle strength, and reduced balance. Lack of  is also associated with all of those things. This isn’t a coincidence – many (probably most) of the health impacts of aging are not really due to aging at all.

You see, there are 2 types of aging. Eugeric aging, which you can think of as “true” aging. The stuff you simply cannot avoid as you get older (e.g. hearing loss, or reduced eyesight).

– See more at:

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

California, Oregon To Allow Hormonal Contraceptives Without A Doctor’s Prescription [Reblog]

California, Oregon To Allow Hormonal Contraceptives Without A Doctor’s Prescription

From a July 2015 Kaiser Health News post

California and Oregon will allow hormonal contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

California and Oregon will be the first states in the nation to allow women to get birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives directly from their pharmacists – without a doctor’s prescription.

As California officials were busy finalizing regulations on a state  law passed in 2013, Oregon’s governor Kate Brown signed a similar bill into law last week.

The two measures were hailed by women’s health advocates. They noted that men have long had an easier time getting birth control, simply purchasing condoms over the counter.

“We support efforts like these that remove barriers to women gaining access to birth control and other reproductive health care,” said Kathy Kneer, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California,  in a written statement.

Read the entire post here 

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Study finds online hookup sites increase HIV rates in sometimes-surprising ways

Study finds online hookup sites increase HIV rates in sometimes-surprising ways.

From the 29 May 2015 University of Maryland news release

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The introduction of Craigslist led to an increase in HIV-infection cases of 13.5 percent in Florida over a four-year period, according to a new study conducted at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith of Business. The estimated medical costs for those patients will amount to $710 million over the course of their lives.

Online hookup sites have made it easier for people to have casual sex—and also easier to transmit sexually transmitted diseases.  The new study measured the magnitude of the effect of one platform on HIV-infection rates in one state, and offered a detailed look at the varying effects on subpopulations by race, gender and socio-economic status. Looking at the period 2002 to 2006, it found that Craigslist led to an additional 1,149 Floridians contracting HIV.

The study “underscores the need for broader communication and dissemination of the risks posed by the type of online matching platforms studied here,” noted Ritu Agarwal, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and founding director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS), and Brad N. Greenwood, a 2013 Smith Ph.D. and assistant professor at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

The study also found that the new HIV cases came disproportionately from one racial-ethnic group, African Americans, who accounted for some 63 percent of the new cases. “That is a bit of paradox,” says Agarwal, “because research suggests that the African American community is one which uses the Internet the least, even though the gap is narrowing.”

Greenwood described African Americans as suffering the effects of a “double digital divide.” He said, “Not only have studies shown there is lower utilization of the Internet for welfare-enhancing activities, but now there’s evidence of utilization for negative activities as well.”

There was also an increase in new HIV cases among Latinos and Caucasians—although only intermittently statistically significant and not statistically different from each other. The lack of difference between Latinos and Caucasians was notable, as Latinos have a higher baseline rate of HIV infection. One explanation could be that fewer Latinos may have sought treatment. Or Florida’s Latino community, which is especially large and well-off, may not be reflective of national trends.

Another counterintuitive result was that more cases came from non-Medicaid patients, the wealthier patients, than from the population covered by the government program.  That was the case even though the base rate of HIV infection is higher among lower-income citizens. “It could be the case that higher-income people face a higher social penalty for engaging in casual, quasi-anonymous sex, and that the freedom of internet anonymity changes their behavior more than it does for the less wealthy,” Agarwal suggested. “Or it could be a byproduct of substantially better internet access.” (Together with the finding for African Americans, that would suggest that degree of internet access affects different sub-populations in different ways).

HIV-prevention efforts tend to focus on the highest-risk populations, such as the economically disadvantaged, but public-health officials should be aware than online platforms may be “changing the game,” says Agarwal.

Perhaps most surprising of all, given the relatively high rates of infection among bi- and homosexual men, there was not a statistically significant difference in HIV-infection-rate increases across men and women.

It could be the case that homosexual men with HIV who used Craigslist were more likely to practice safe sex than infected heterosexuals, the authors speculated. Or matching platforms may lead to more homosexual activity by men who do not identify publically as homosexuals, who then spread the virus to their female partners. The question demands more research, the authors said.

Agarwal and Greenwood were careful to note that they weren’t making a statement about the overall value of Craigslist. Nevertheless, the study offers a reminder of the downside of connectivity. “While there is a general belief that connectivity is good on average, unfortunately ‘on average’ means that some people are going to benefit more and others are going to lose more,” Agarwal says.  “We need to better understand both the beneficial as well as the punitive effects of the Internet on individual and public health.”

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

Mobile app educates teens on risky sexual behavior

Mobile app educates teens on risky sexual behavior.

From the 1 June 2015 Carnegie Mellon news release

By Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

mobile app image

Teenagers, parents, educators and clinicians will have a new tool to help adolescents make more informed decisions about their sexual behavior. “Seventeen Days,” a mobile app based on the interactive movie of the same name, will be available at no cost on iPhone, iPad and Android devices beginning June 4.

“Our goal is to create and make readily available a tool that will help teenagers make better decisions for themselves,” said Julie Downs, associate research professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University who studies how social influences affect decision making and how people can make better decisions by understanding these influences. “For the most part, adolescents don’t want to get pregnant. They definitely don’t want to contract a disease. By building on our research about what goes into their decisions, we have crafted an application that will help them avoid these negative outcomes.”

Seventeen Days — in both the video and mobile app form — are results from a five-year, $7.4 million grantfrom the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to update Downs’ earlier interactive video, “What Could You Do?” which was shown to increase abstinence among teenage girls. Preliminary research indicates that giving young women access to the Seventeen Days film leads to better knowledge about the risks associated with different sexual behaviors and a stronger sense that they can carry out safer behaviors themselves.

In addition to CMU, the mobile app was developed with researchers at West Virginia University, the University of Pittsburgh and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The goal of creating the mobile app is to get the interactive tool into as many hands as possible.

“We know that teenagers are having sex, and addressing this is a very important part of their healthcare needs,” said Pamela Murray, M.D., M.P.H., professor of pediatrics at the WVU School of Medicine and section chief for WVU Healthcare’s Adolescent Medicine. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted teen pregnancy as a winnable public health battle. In the same way that we’ve reduced infectious diseases with immunization, we can reduce teen pregnancy rates and unwanted pregnancies with better communication.”

The mobile app’s release coincides with the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) annual conference. Beginning June 4, download the Seventeen Days mobile app.

This project and film were made possible by Grant Number TP1AH00040 from the Office of Adolescent Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Related Links:

Watch the 30-second trailer.

Visit the Seventeen Days website.

Follow Seventeen Days on Twitter.


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

[Magazine article]The Atlantic: Health: Family

The Atlantic: Health: Family

For readers fascinated by the intricacies and ins and outs of domestic life in 21st century America, the Atlantic has gathered together its articles on family in a handy, easily accessible – and free – webpage. The articles run from serious investigations of How Nurses Can Help Low-Income Mothers and Kids to entertaining ones exploring The Psychological Reason ‘Billie Jean’ Kills at Weddings. Along the way, readers may explore the pros and cons of apps that help parents track their baby’s napping cycles, why it is that pretending to understand what a baby says can help it learn, and the research-confirmed importance of making deliberate choices in love relationships.[CNH]


 From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2015.

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Psychology, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School) | , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Millions of women and children get improved health services

From the 10 March 2015 EurekAlert!

Massive health program: $34 billion spent on women and children since 2010; New goal: End preventable deaths of women and young children

An ambitious 2010 initiative to improve the health of women and children around the world has turned into the fastest growing global public health partnership in history, attracting $60 billion in resources. Some $34 billion, nearly 60 percent of the total, has already been disbursed.

The Every Woman Every Child movement has now gathered more than 400 commitments by more than 300 partners around the world, ranging from governments and foundations to business, civil society and low-income countries themselves.

The movement stems from the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health.

Every Woman Every Child has set off a major wave in attention to improving essential health care for millions of poor women and children. Major gains in the past five years include greater professional maternity care, family planning, prenatal and postnatal care, childhood vaccinations, oral rehydration therapy and improving access to drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The result of such increased care is that maternal and child death rates have fallen in every one of the Global Strategy’s 49-targeted countries in the latest four years.

“The synergy between education and health is evident. Education and health are, quite simply, the drivers of change and development. Education empowers women and girls to live healthier lives and as a result, fewer children are dying. The evidence is clear, better education leads to better health outcomes.

“One of the most important lessons we have learned through the Millennium Development Goals is that to make progress we need an integrated and multifaceted approach,” says Kathy Calvin, president of the UN Foundation. “Effective partnerships are not just about financing; they also tap into partner expertise, innovation, and resources to deliver results. Every Woman Every Child has shown that when each sector contributes its unique strengths and capacities, we can save lives.”

Keys to progress

Significant improvements in key health indicators mainly in 49-targeted countries during its five-year history of Every Women Every Child include:

  • 870,000 new health care workers.
  • 193 percent increase in prevention of mother-to-child HIV treatment.
  • 49 percent increase in oral rehydration therapy for treating infant diarrhea.
  • 44 percent increase in exclusive breastfeeding.
  • 25 percent rise in post-natal care for women.
  • 25 percent rise in skilled birth attendance.

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items, Public Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The FDA and Me (or How to Explain Your Test is Not a Game)

From the 6 March 2015 post at The Health Care Blog (Association of Health Care Journalists)

So you have a great idea for an app. Not so fast: it took two years and over half a million dollars to get ours cleared for marketing by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Our app, DANA uses a mobile phone to records peoples’ reaction time during game-like tests. It also provides questionnaires that help clinicians evaluate brain health. Commissioned from AnthroTronix by the Department of Defense, the app will help diagnose concussion, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For something so important, a serious investment of time and money for clearance may not sound extravagant, but few small companies can afford a two-year go-to-market delay, not to mention the significant investment and heartache that goes with it. And although the FDA has tried to facilitate regulation by providing guides like the Mobile Medical Applications Guidance Document and the Mobile Medical Applications website, the regulatory process remains confusing.

Here are five simple lessons from our own experience that will help other entrepreneurs to do the right thing and engage with the FDA:

Innovators are afraid of the FDA

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

[Report] 2012 National Health Interview Survey

February 22, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the press release at ScienceNewsDaily

Date:January 30, 2015
Source:Boston University Medical Center
Summary:Mobile devices are everywhere and children are using them more frequently at young ages. The impact these mobile devices are having on the development and behavior of children is still relatively unknown. Researchers review the many types of interactive media available today and raise important questions regarding their use as educational tools, as well as their potential detrimental role in stunting the development of important tools for self-regulation.

…Early research suggests that interactive media, such as electronic books and learn-to-read applications can be useful in teaching vocabulary and reading comprehension, but only in children preschool-age or older. The potential educational benefits for children under two is questioned, as research on interactive media in this age group is scant, and it is well-known that infants and toddlers learn best through hands-on and face-to-face experiences.

This commentary notes that while mobile device use by children can provide an educational benefit, the use of these devices to distract children during mundane tasks may be detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child. The researchers ask “If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?”

“It has been well-studied that increased television time decreases a child’s development of language and social skills. Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction,” explained corresponding author Jenny Radesky, MD, clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a former fellow in pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.

The authors question whether heavy device use during young childhood could interfere with development of empathy, social and problem solving skills that are typically obtained by exploring, unstructured play and interacting with peers


Related article from the BMC Innovations Newsletter, September 2014 (Excerpt)

Hold the Phone

…there may be some serious drawbacks to never unplugging.

Kids and smartphones

Dr. Radesky, a clinical instructor in pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a fellow in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at BMC, set out to better understand how all the new devices at our fingertips affect both parents’ and children’s behavior. What she found may make us look at our digital attachment in a new light, especially as we consider the potential impact on our relationship with our kids and their development.

…babies with trouble self-regulating also tended to have higher levels of exposure to media devices.

…. infants and toddlers whom parents characterized as most fussy also had the most media exposure, even after accounting for other factors such as socio-demographics and home environment. The study noted early childhood is a crucial time for forming lifelong media habits and suggested the benefit of managing children’s media exposure for both amount and content.

Dr. Radesky… recommends, if possible, having another adult come over to help soothe the baby for a bit instead of turning to a media device “babysitter” so the parent can have a moment to his or herself.

And instead of all-out bans, Dr. Radesky suggests establishing a “no-device rule” at certain times of the day or in particular places in the home.

…Although there are no current guidelines, Dr. Radesky has funding from the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop guidelines for how pediatricians can talk to families about mobile media use.

– See more at:

January 31, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Drugs in dirt: Scientists appeal for help

From the 20 January 2015 BBC article

US scientists are asking the public to join them in their quest to mine the Earth’s soil for compounds that could be turned into vital new drugs.

Spurred on by the recent discovery of a potential new antibiotic in soil, the Rockefeller University team want to check dirt from every country in the world.

They have already begun analysing samples from beaches, forests and deserts across five continents.

But they need help getting samples.

Which is where we all come in.

Citizen science

On their Drugs From Dirt website, they say: “The world is a big place and we can’t get get to all of the various corners of it.

“We would like some assistance in sampling soil from around the world. If this sounds interesting to you – sign up.”

They want to hear from people from all countries and are particularly keen to receive samples from unique, unexplored environments such as caves, islands, and hot springs.

Such places, they say, could house the holy grail – compounds produced by soil bacteria that are entirely new to science.

Researcher Dr Sean Brady told the BBC: “We are not after hundreds of thousands of samples. What we really want is a couple of thousand from some really unique places that could contain some really interesting stuff. So it’s not really your garden soil we are after, although that will have plenty of bacteria in it too.”

He said they would also be interested to hear from schools and colleges that might want to get involved in the project.

From the 185 samples they have tested so far there are some promising results, the researchers say in the journal eLife.

analysing samples in the lab

Biosynthetic dark matter

Dr Brady and colleagues have found compounds that might yield better derivatives of existing drugs.

In a hot spring sample from New Mexico, they found compounds similar to those that produce epoxamicin – a natural molecule used as the starting point for a number of cancer drugs.

In samples from Brazil, they found genes that might offer up new versions of another important cancer drug called bleomycin.

And in soils from the American southwest, they hope to find compounds similar to the drug rifamycin that could help with treatment-resistant tuberculosis.


January 27, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Reducing work-family conflicts in the workplace helps people to sleep better | EurekAlert! Science News

Reducing work-family conflicts in the workplace helps people to sleep better | EurekAlert! Science News.

From the 26 January 2015 press release

New York, NY, January 26, 2015 — A multi-institution team of sleep researchers recently found that workers who participated in an intervention aimed at reducing conflict between work and familial responsibilities slept an hour more each week and reported greater sleep sufficiency than those who did not participate in the intervention. Their study is published inSleep Health, Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

“Increasing family-supportive supervision and employee control over work time benefited the sleep of hundreds of employees, and even greater effects may be possible if sleep is overtly addressed in workplace interventions,” explained lead author Ryan Olson, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University. “The Work, Family, and Health Network Study intervention was designed to reduce work-family conflict. It did not directly address sleep, yet sleep benefits were observed.”

The invention focused on the U.S. employees of an information technology firm. Groups of randomly selected managers and employees participated in a three-month, social and organizational change process that included interactive sessions with facilitated discussions, role-playing, and games. Managers were also trained in family supportive supervision and self-monitored how they applied the training on the job. Data were collected through qualitative interviews 12 months after the intervention was introduced and by actigraphy, the measurement of individuals’ sleeping and waking patterns using a monitor attached to participants’ wrists. Actigraphy measures of sleep quality and quantity were taken at the beginning of the intervention, to establish baseline measures for participants, and 12 months after the intervention. Each of the 474 participants’ activity recordings were evaluated by two scorers, who identified periods of sleep relative to each participant’s waking activities.

“I applaud the methodological rigor of Olson and colleagues’ approach to assessing the Work, Family, and Health Network Study’s effect on the sleep duration and quality of a real world population,” commented Dr. Lauren Hale, Editor-in-Chief of Sleep Health. “This study demonstrates that interventions unrelated to sleep can improve sleep in the population. Furthermore, these findings serve as a reminder that there are opportunities to deploy innovative interventions to improve sleep.”

The authors had hypothesized that both sleep duration and insomnia would be improved in the study’s twelfth month; secondarily, they hypothesized that any improvement in sleep quality and duration would be mediated by employees’ enhanced control over their work time and reduced work-family conflict assessed at the sixth month after baseline. Researchers created a statistical mediation model that accounted for the multiple temporal aspects of actigraphic sleep data and participant characteristics.

“Here we showed that an intervention focused on changing the workplace culture could increase the measured amount of sleep employees obtain, as well as their perception that their sleep was more sufficient,” noted lead investigator Orfeu M. Buxton, PhD, Pennsylvania State University (with secondary appointments at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital). “Work can be a calling and inspirational, as well as a paycheck, but work should not be detrimental to health. It is possible to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of work by reducing work-family conflict, and improving sleep.”

Digicorp workplace

Digicorp workplace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized, Health News Items, Medical and Health Research News, Psychology, Psychiatry | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Patients dismissing ‘trivial’ symptoms could delay cancer diagnosis

One of our neighbors died 5 years ago. She hid her symptoms from her family. Wondering if she would be alive today if she would have been proactive.

[Press release] Patients dismissing ‘trivial’ symptoms could delay cancer diagnosis

26 January 2015, Cancer Research UK

People who dismiss their symptoms as trivial or worry about wasting the doctor’s time may decide against going to their GP with red-flag cancer warning symptoms, according to a Cancer Research UK study* published in the British Journal of General Practice (link is external)today.

 “Many of the people we interviewed had red flag symptoms but felt that these were trivial and didn’t need medical attention, particularly if they were painless or intermittent.” – Dr Katriina Whitaker

Others might decide not to get possible cancer symptoms checked out because they fear a cancer diagnosis, they adopt a stiff upper lip, they lack confidence in the healthcare system, or they think their problem is down to ageing.

Researchers in London and Hull** looked at how people who experience possible cancer symptoms decide whether or not to seek medical help. They sent out a health survey that was completed by more than 1,700 people, aged 50 and over, from three London GP practices.

The survey specifically did not mention cancer, but incorporated a list of 17 symptoms including 10 cancer ‘alarm’ warning signs, such as persistent cough or hoarseness, unexplained lump, persistent change in bowel or bladder habits, and a sore that does not heal.***

More than 900 people reported having at least one alarm symptom during the past three months. Researchers carried out in-depth interviews with almost 50 of them, almost half (45 per cent) of whom had not seen their GP about their symptoms. ****

One woman with persistent abdominal pain did not go for a recommended test. She said: “At times I thought it was bad … but when it kind of fades away, you know, it doesn’t seem worth pursuing really.”  A man, who experienced a persistent change in bladder habits, said: “You’ve just got to get on with it. And if you go to the doctor too much, it’s seen as a sign of weakness or that you are not strong enough to manage things on your own.”

Dr Katriina Whitaker, a senior research fellow at University College London during the study, said: “Many of the people we interviewed had red flag symptoms but felt that these were trivial and didn’t need medical attention, particularly if they were painless or intermittent.

“Others felt that they shouldn’t make a fuss or waste valuable NHS resources. The stiff-upper-lip stoicism of some who decided not to go to their doctor was alarming because they put up with often debilitating symptoms. Some people made the decision to get symptoms checked out after seeing a cancer awareness campaign or being encouraged to do so by family or friends – this seemed to almost legitimise their symptoms as important.”

Reasons people gave for deciding to seek help included symptoms not going away, instinct that something was not right, and awareness or fear that they might have cancer. A man with an unexplained throat lump said: “But always at the back of your mind you’ve always got the fear of cancer …….. well it’s best to check just in case.”  However, fear also made some people decide not to check out symptoms, or if symptoms did persist some people began to think they were normal for them.

Some people waited for another reason to visit their GP and mentioned the cancer alarm symptom then. Others said they would rather use an emergency route, such as going straight to A and E, than wait to see a specialist after being referred by their GP.

Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK’s GP expert, said: “The advice we give is: if in doubt, check it out – this would not be wasting your GP’s time. Often your symptoms won’t be caused by cancer, but if they are, the quicker the diagnosis, the better the outcome. Seeking prompt advice from your GP about symptoms, either on the phone or during an appointment, could be a life-saver, whatever your age. And the good news is that more than half of all patients diagnosed with cancer now survive for more than 10 years.”

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items, health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release]Friends know how long you’ll live, study finds

Friends know how long you’ll live, study finds [University of Washington at St. Louis]

Peer estimates of your personality can predict longevity – January 20, 2015

By Gerry Everding

Young lovers walking down the aisle may dream of long and healthy lives together, but close friends in the wedding party may have a better sense of whether those wishes will come true, suggests new research on personality and longevity from Washington University in St. Louis.“You expect your friends to be inclined to see you in a positive manner, but they also are keen observers of the personality traits that could send you to an early grave,” said Joshua Jackson, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences.


Published Jan. 12 in an advance online issue of the journal Psychological Science, the study demonstrates that your personality at an early age (20s) can predict how long you will live across 75 years and that close friends are usually better than you at recognizing these traits.Male participants seen by their friends as more open and conscientious ended up living longer. Female participants whose friends rated them as high on emotional stability and agreeableness also enjoyed longer lifespans, the study found.

“Our study shows that people are able to observe and rate a friend’s personality accurately enough to predict early mortality decades down the road,” Jackson said. “It suggests that people are able to see important characteristics related to health even when their friends were, for the most part, healthy and many years from death.”

It’s no secret that a person’s personality traits can have an impact on health. Traits such as depression and anger have been linked to an increased risk of various diseases and health concerns, including an early death.

Men who are conscientious are more likely to eat right, stick with an exercise routine and avoid risks, such as driving without a seat belt. Women who are emotionally stable may be better at fighting off anger, anxiety and depression, Jackson suggests.

While other studies have shown that a person’s view of his or her own personality can be helpful in gauging mortality risk, there has been little research on whether a close friend’s personality assessment might also predict the odds of a long life.

To explore this question, Jackson and colleagues analyzed data from a longitudinal study that in the 1930s began following a group of young people in their mid-20s, most of whom were engaged to be married.

The longitudinal study included extensive data on participant personality traits, both self-reported and as reported by close friends, including bridesmaids and groomsmen in the study participants’ wedding parties.

Using information from previous follow-up studies and searches of death certificates, Jackson and colleagues were able to document dates of death for all but a few study participants. Peer ratings of personality were stronger predictors of mortality risk than were self-ratings of personality.

“There are two potential reasons for the superiority of peer ratings over self ratings,” Jackson said.

“First, friends may see something that you miss; they may have some insight that you do not. Second, because people have multiple friends, we are able to average the idiosyncrasies of any one friend to obtain a more reliable assessment of personality. With self reports, people may be biased or miss certain aspects of themselves and we are not able to counteract that because there is only one you, only one self-report.”

The study also revealed some gender differences in self-assessment: Men’s self-ratings of personality traits were somewhat useful in predicting their lifespans, whereas the self-reports of women had little predictive value.

Jackson suggests this gender difference in self-reporting may be a function of the era in which the study began, since societal expectations were different then and fewer women worked outside the home.

Young women seen as highly agreeable and emotionally stable may have increased odds for a long and happy life since their personalities were well suited for the role of a supportive and easy-going wife, which would have been the norm in the 1930s. It is likely that fewer gender differences would arise in more modern samples if we were able to wait 75 years to replicate the study, he said.

“This is one of the longest studies in psychology,” Jackson said. “It shows how important personality is in influencing significant life outcomes like health and demonstrates that information from friends and other observers can play a critical role in understanding a person’s health issues. For example, it suggests that family members and even physician ratings could be used to personalize medical treatments or identify who is at risk for certain health ailments.”

The study is co-authored by James J. Connolly, PhD, and Madeleine M. Leveille, PhD, of Connolly Consulting, Waterford, Connecticut; S. Mason Garrison of the Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University; and Seamus L. Connolly of College of Medicine, Touro University, California.

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] MD Anderson and Bayer collaborate to create symptom assessment questionnaires in clinical trials

MD Anderson and Bayer collaborate to create symptom assessment questionnaires in clinical trials 

From the press release

MD Anderson News Release 1/23/2015

When cancer patients take part in a clinical trial to develop new therapies, they and their physicians want to know how they will feel and function during treatment. A new collaboration between Bayer and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will go straight to the patients to learn how certain investigational new drugs affect them. The project will involve the use of questionnaires to assess how a drug may impact a patient’s disease-related symptoms.

“Fit-for-purpose patient-reported-outcome (PRO) measures are an invaluable resource for helping us to better understand how patients are actually being affected by new therapies,” said Charles Cleeland, Ph.D., chair of symptom research at MD Anderson. “This will be especially important in the developmental pathway of new drugs, given that these PRO measures will enhance information about treatment tolerability and potential symptom-reduction benefit earlier in the drug development process.”

Charles Cleeland, Ph.D.

The information will be beneficial in further evaluating the drug if it progresses to later stages of clinical development and is tested in larger numbers of patients. The importance of having data on the symptom burden or benefit conferred by therapy is often not recognized until late in that process.

“For patients and their physicians, knowing the probable effects of a treatment can help with decisions among treatment options when therapeutic outcomes are similar but symptomatic effects are not,” said Cleeland.

 Related Resources

    • registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world
    • What Information Can I Find on

      Each record presents summary information about a study protocol and includes the following:

      • Disease or condition
      • Intervention (for example, the medical product, behavior, or procedure being studied)
      • Title, description, and design of the study
      • Requirements for participation (eligibility criteria)
      • Locations where the study is being conducted
      • Contact information for the study locations
      • Links to relevant information on other health Web sites, such as NLM’s MedlinePlus® for patient health information and PubMed® for citations and abstracts for scholarly articles in the field of medicine.

      Some records also include information on the results of the study, such as:

      • Description of study participants (the number of participants starting and completing the study and their demographic data)
      • Outcomes of the study
      • Summary of adverse events experienced by study participants
    • More information at

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When free speech conflicts with public health objectives: Yale ISP Conference « Wikimedia blog

When free speech conflicts with public health objectives: Yale ISP Conference « Wikimedia blog.

The Public Health and First Amendment Conference took place at Yale University. Harkness Tower photo by Hilary Richardson, licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0












First Amendment jurisprudence frequently pits societal ideals against free speech. A recent conference at Yale Law Schoolshowed that this is no less the case when commercial free speech protections conflict with public health regulatory objectives.

The conference, Public Health in the Shadow of the First Amendment, was co-sponsored by the Information Society Project, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership, and the Yale Health Law and Policy Society on October 17 and 18, 2014. The event brought together public health advocates, medical professionals and First Amendment scholars to discuss the implications of recent controversial First Amendment case law. The panels highlighted several areas where courts have protected commercial speech in spite of unpopular consequences for public health policy. Hilary Richardson attended the conference on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation legal team, given its interest in free speech law.

This conference was especially relevant to Wikipedia’s coverage of medical or health related topics. Since the content for pages on Wikipedia is entirely user-generated by thousands of volunteer editors, critics may argue that imperfection is inherent in the medical content pages. It is up to our community of editors to strike a balance between maximizing the total sum of freely available knowledge and removing information that could be misleading. If you think this sounds like an impossible task, here is some food for thought: in October alone, the New York Times wrote about how Wikipedia became one of the most trusted sources on the Internet for learning about Ebola, and four Wikipedians published a scholarly article on Dengue fever in a peer-reviewed journal based on a collaboratively edited Wikipedia article. In addition to meticulously curating the Ebola page on Wikipedia, Dr. James Heilman startedWikiProject Medicine in order to improve medical and health content on Wikipedia and “benefit the world by giving the general public and health care professionals a text they can all read, appreciate, and respect, free of charge.” Medical schools like UCSF have forged partnerships with WikiProject Medicine so that top medical students can identify gaps in information and update entries using their own knowledge and credible resources.


Professor Post provided insight into how we theorize the First Amendment and why we understand it to protect commercial speech at all. According to Post, the primary distinction between speech that is covered by the First Amendment and speech that is not comes down to our democratic value of self-governance: speech triggers First Amendment coverage when it participates in the formation of public opinion because we want the government to be responsive to public opinion. Generally, this creates a First Amendment right which is speaker-oriented. However, this changed when the Supreme Court invented the commercial speech doctrine. In Virginia Pharmacy,[3] the Court gave two rationales: we need efficient distribution of information in order to have efficient markets, and we protect commercial speech because it distributes information which is necessary for citizens to participate in public opinion formation. Post argued that in this sense, Virginia Pharmacy created a First Amendment right of the receiver to hear information rather than speak it. In the context of commercial speech, the Supreme Court conceives of the public as people capable of processing information. This suggests that it is up to the people to decide what information they need.

Professor Volokh echoed Post and Bambauer in his agreement that First Amendment protections are about protecting a free market, so that it is better for people to have more information when making decisions. Volokh stressed that the logic behind the commercial speech doctrine is that even though we may think that patients and doctors may make bad decisions, it is possible that government regulators might as well: “the First Amendment directs us to be especially skeptical of regulations that seek to keep people in the dark for what the government perceives to be their own good.”

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items, Public Health | , , , , , , | 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.



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] How long can Ebola live? No one really knows — ScienceDaily

How long can Ebola live? No one really knows

December 10, 2014

How Long Can Ebola Live?

Pitt researcher publishes article showing that the literature is lacking, receives NSF grant to conduct further study

Cara Masset


Cell: 412-316-7508

PITTSBURGH—The Ebola virus travels from person to person through direct contact with infected body fluids. But how long can the virus survive on glass surfaces or countertops? How long can it live in wastewater when liquid wastes from a patient end up in the sewage system? In an article published Dec. 9 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, Kyle Bibby of the University of Pittsburgh reviews the latest research to find answers to these questions.

HeKyle BibbyKyle Bibby and his co-investigators didn’t find many answers.

“The World Health Organization has been saying you can put (human waste) in pit latrines or ordinary sanitary sewers and that the virus then dies,” says Bibby, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “But the literature lacks evidence that it does. They may be right, but the evidence isn’t there.”

Bibby and colleagues from Pitt and Drexel University explain that knowing how long the deadly pathogen survives on surfaces, in water, or in liquid droplets is critical to developing effective disinfection practices to prevent the spread of the disease. Currently, the World Health Organization guidelines recommend to hospitals and health clinics that liquid wastes from patients be flushed down the toilet or disposed of in a latrine. However, Ebola research labs that use patients’ liquid waste are supposed to disinfect the waste before it enters the sewage system. Bibby’s team set out to determine what research can and can’t tell us about these practices.

The researchers scoured scientific papers for data on how long the virus can live in the environment. They found a dearth of published studies on the matter. That means no one knows for sure whether the virus can survive on a surface and cause infection or how long it remains active in water, wastewater, or sludge. The team concluded that Ebola’s persistence outside the body needs more careful investigation.

To that end, Bibby recently won a $110,000 National Science Foundation grant to explore the issue. His team will identify surrogate viruses that are physiologically similar to Ebola and study their survival rates in water and wastewater. The findings of this study will inform water treatment and waste-handling procedures in a timely manner while research on the Ebola virus is still being conducted.

December 12, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] MyFitnessPal Works If You Use It | The Health Care Blog

MyFitnessPal Works If You Use It | The Health Care Blog. (November 24, 2014)

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.33.22 AMYou may have seen some news regarding a study MyFitnessPalrecently did with UCLA.

I wanted to take a minute to address this study, since we participated in it directly. We are excited that we got to work with some very smart people to answer a question we also wanted to know the answer to. We jumped at the opportunity to find out—is having your physician introduce you to the app and help you sign up enough to kickstart a health journey?

What we learned is that just introducing people to MyFitnessPal wasn’t enough. People have to be ready and willing to do the hard work.

The app itself does work—if you use it. Our own data and the data from the study show that the more you log on, the more you use the app, the more success you will see. Users that logged in the most lost the most weight. In fact, we already know that 88% of users who log for 7 days lose weight.

We make tools designed to make it as clear and simple as possible for you to see the path to achieving your fitness goals. We are not, however, making a magic bullet—because there is no magic bullet. Ultimately, you’re the one who has to do the work.

And my, how much work you guys have done.

You have:

  • lost over 180 million pounds
  • logged over 14.5 billion foods
  • burned 364 billion calories
  • supported each other with over 82 million status likes in the last year alone
  • and much more!

The first thing I say when people talk to me about MyFitnessPal is that user success is our true North. We are relentlessly focused on user success. We believe that if you are succeeding at reaching your goals then we will succeed as a company. We’re going to keep working to make our app even more accessible, simple to use, and motivating so we can help even more people succeed.

Of course, it’s our job to make the app as engaging and easy to use as possible. It’s not exactly where we want to be, yet. But we’ll keep working hard to get there. To that end, we’ve made lots of updates since this study was done. From a product perspective, in the last year and a half we’ve:

  • streamlined the logging experience
  • made logging streaks more visible
  • added more ways to get push notifications and reminders
  • added insights to help you get more out of logging
  • made a recipe tool that allows you to quickly log recipes from anywhere across the web

As long as you keep working on your goals, we’re going to work on better ways to help you get there.

Thanks for everything you do, making the MyFitnessPal community so amazing, and helping us toward our vision of making an even healthier world.

Mike Lee is the Founder and CEO of MyFitnessPal

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Tech Innovations in Healthcare | HealthWorks Collective

Tech Innovations in Healthcare | HealthWorks Collective.

From the 6 November 2014 post

As technology continually expands with each passing year so do the industries it affects. This year the world has been witness to everything from wearable technology like Fitbit Google Glass to 3D printing, both of which are prime examples of tech and healthcare melding.

The healthcare industry has been no stranger to advancements in technology. These medical marvels are changing the way people are impacted and thereby changing the face of the healthcare industry.

1. Mobile Apps

2. Telehealth

google glass3. Google Glass

4. 3D Printing

5. Optogenetics


6. Digestible Sensors



November 25, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Op-Ed: Have we learned anything about global disease epidemics?

Op-Ed: Have we learned anything about global disease epidemics?

From the post By Karen Graham   Oct 19, 2014 in Health at Digital Journal


The headlines in the opening to this story are not taken from today’s newspapers. They were published in the Chicago Tribune 96 years ago. From 1918 to 1919, the world was in the throes of the greatest plague in recorded history. It was called the Spanish Flu, named for the country where people thought it had originated..

The headlines we are seeing today over fear of the spread of the Ebola virus are very real. Many of the events that have already taken place — such as the cruise ship being banned from entering Belize — adds to our fears, although the restrictions were probably unnecessary. We are a country that is totally unprepared for an epidemic of national proportions, yet this is not the first time wehave been tested.

The headlines in the opening to this story are not taken from today’s newspapers. They were published in the Chicago Tribune 96 years ago. From 1918 to 1919, the world was in the throes of the greatest plague in recorded history. It was called the Spanish Flu, named for the country where people thought it had originated……

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC – Future – Should we diagnose rare diseases with smartphones?

English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: resear...

English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: researcher is working with the Ebola virus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BBC – Future – Should we diagnose rare diseases with smartphones?.

From the 17 October 2014 BBC article

s fear of the Ebola virus escalates, Eric Topol thinks that we’re missing an important weapon. And you just need to reach into your pocket to find it. “Most communicable diseases can be diagnosed with a smartphone,” he says. “Rather than putting people into quarantine for three weeks – how about seeing if they harbour it in their blood?” A quicker response could also help prevent mistakes, such as the patient in Dallas who was sent home from hospital with a high fever, only to later die from the infection.

It’s a provocative claim, but Topol is not shy about calling for a revolution in the way we deal with Ebola – or any other health issue for that matter. A professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in California, his last book heralded “the creative destruction of medicine” through new technology. Smartphones are already helping to do away with many of the least pleasant aspects of sickness – including the long hospital visits and agonising wait for treatment. An easier way to diagnose Ebola is just one example of these sweeping changes.

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Do no harm: Pediatrician calls for safely cutting back on tests, treatments

From the October 2014 press release

SAN DIEGO – When parents take a sick or injured child to the doctor or emergency room, they often expect tests to be done and treatments given. So if the physician sends them on their way with the reassurance that their child will get better in a few days, they might ask: “Shouldn’t you do a CT scan?” or “Can you prescribe an antibiotic?”

What families — and even doctors — may not understand is that many medical interventions done “just to be safe” not only are unnecessary and costly but they also can harm patients, said Alan R. Schroeder, MD, FAAP, who will present a plenary session at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition. Titled “Safely Doing Less: A Solution to the Epidemic of Overuse in Healthcare,” the session will be held from 11:30-11:50 a.m. PDT Monday, Oct. 13 in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center.

Dr. Schroeder, chief of pediatric inpatient services and medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif., will discuss some of the reasons why doctors provide unnecessary care (i.e., barriers to safely doing less), including pressure from parents and a fear of missing something.

“We all have cases where we’re haunted by something bad happening to a patient. Those tend to be cases where we missed something,” he said. “We tend to react by doing more and overtreating similar patients.”

He also will give examples of where overuse commonly occurs in pediatrics, such as performing a CT scan on a child with a minor head injury, and the negative consequences.

“You may find a tiny bleed or a tiny skull fracture, and once you’ve found that you’re compelled to act on it. And generally acting on it means at a minimum admitting the child to an intensive care unit for observation even if the child looks perfectly fine,” Dr. Schroeder said. “The term for that is overdiagnosis. You detect an abnormality that will never cause harm.”

Finally, he will suggest ways to minimize overtesting and overtreatment, highlighting the Choosing Wisely campaign. More than 60 medical societies including the AAP have joined the initiative and have identified more than 250 tests and procedures that are considered overused or inappropriate in their fields.

“I’ve devoted much of my research to identify areas in inpatient pediatrics where we can safely do less — which therapies that we are doing now are unnecessary or overkill,” Dr. Schroeder said.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Infection Report 5: What you really should be worried about | The Pediatric Insider

Infection Report 5: What you really should be worried about | The Pediatric Insider.

From the 10 October 2014 posting by Roy Benaroch, MD

This week’s posts have all been about infections, new and old—infections newly found, and infections sneaking back. On the one hand, the media is agog with news of Ebola and the mysterious paralysis virus; on the other hand, threats that are far more likely to kill us are being largely ignored.

One infection is on the verge of sneaking back, which is a shame. We had it beaten, and now we’re allowing it to gain a foothold. We’ve got a great way to eradicate measles, but fear and misinformation have led to pro-disease, anti-vaccine sentiment, especially among those white, elite, and wealthy. As we’ve seen, we’re all in this together—so those anti-vaccine enclaves are going to affect all of us.

Measles, itself, is just about the most contagious disease out there.


English: This is the skin of a patient after 3...

English: This is the skin of a patient after 3 days of measles infection; treated at the New York – Presbyterian Hospital. Prior to widespread immunization, measles was common in childhood, with more than 90% of infants and children infected by age 12. Recently, fewer than 1,000 measles cases have been reported annually since 1993. 日本語: 麻疹患者の発疹. 中文: 感染了痲疹的皮膚. Українська: Як кір поражає шкіру. עברית: פריחה על עורו של חולה חצבת. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Canada paying more than double for common generic drugs, study says | Metro

Canada paying more than double for common generic drugs, study says | Metro.

From the 14 October article

Canada is paying more than double for six commonly used generic drugs compared with other developed countries because of a “highly unusual” purchasing plan, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Researchers found that through a mix of negotiations with drug companies and calls for tender, countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Germany are paying less than Canada for generic medications that treat everything from high blood pressure to depression. It’s all thanks to a model the author of the study, Amir Attaran, calls “a uniquely Canadian stupidity.”

The model implemented by the provinces and territories (except for Quebec) in April 2013 simply sets the price for the six generic drugs at 18 per cent of the price of the brand-name versions. At the time, the premiers, under the auspices of the Council of the Federation, said the six drugs represented 20 per cent of publicly funded spending on generic drugs and that the new spending plan was expected to save up to $100 million.

“The Canadian approach of setting a single price ceiling for multiple medicines is highly unusual,” says the study. “All other countries studied here have preferred competition or negotiation to varying extents.”


October 16, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Untested Stimulant Drug Found in 12 Weight Loss Supplements | Medication Health News

Untested Stimulant Drug Found in 12 Weight Loss Supplements | Medication Health News.

From the 10 October 2014 article

n a new study, 12 out of 14 supplements marketed for weight loss were found to contain a stimulant that has not been studied for human use. This chemical, known as DMBA (1,3-dimethylbutylamine) is pharmacologically similar to DMAA, which was banned by the FDA in 2012 due to multiple adverse effects, including death. Furthermore, DMBA containing products may have synonymous names printed on the label, such as AMP Citrate and 4-amino-2-methylpentane citrate. Some brands are even trying to market this product as an herbal product derived from tea. Given this recent finding, it is important to steer our patients away from using these weight loss and athletic enhancement supplements until further investigation takes place. Are there any specific supplements that you would feel comfortable recommending for weight loss? How do you promote a healthy diet and lifestyle to your patients?


For additional information, go to LiveScience.

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] BreastCancerAction says Stop the Distraction; rethinking awareness

Breast CancerAction says Stop the Distraction; rethinking awareness.

From the 3 October 2014 post at HealthNewsReview

As the Green Bay Packers were walloping the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football last night, the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch Day” campaign for breast cancer – which “is focused on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 and older” – was on display at the stadium.  Banners similar to this one appeared in the stadium. Some players wore pink gloves or other pink paraphernalia.  It was the first game of October, the first of many more pink pigskin promotions to come throughout this month.

But the Breast Cancer Action group, well known for its “Think Before You Pink” campaign, calls the NFL campaign “a distraction.”  The group names the NFL as part of “a six-point take-down of pink ribbon cause marketing and the broader culture of “pink” which expands BCAction’s long-standing commitment to addressing exploitation, corporate profiteering and hypocrisy in breast cancer fundraising. The six points, according to Breast Cancer Action, are:


October 15, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 things that are bigger threats to your health than Ebola (with images)

5 things that are bigger threats to your health than Ebola (with images) · APHA · Storify.

Excerpt from an August 2014 post by the American Public Health Association

Ebola, the serious, often fatal disease spread by interaction with the blood or fluids of a symptomatic infected person, has been making headlines across the country. And for good reason: this is the largest Ebola outbreak in history. The public is asking questions and wondering if they’re at risk.

But the truth is, unless you live in West Africa, where the latest Ebola outbreak has been focused, or if you are a health worker whoworks with Ebola patients, you’re probably safe

1. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
2. Severe weather


Read the entire post here

Ebola virus and the dread factor
       August 25 2014 item from Musings of an Academic Family Physician (and department chair) about this (dysfunctional) healthcare world and how to fix it

August 26, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Slideshare on health reporting] Lessons from 1,889 story reviews

Lessons from 1,889 story reviews.

Forty-five slides on how to evaluate medical/health news articles.

By  Publisher, at on Apr 01, 2014


Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 4.59.20 AM

 Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 5.03.43 AM


Enhanced by Zemanta

May 10, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dalai Lama: On Science and Emotional Health


Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dala...

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama, is the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Photographed during his visit in Cologno Monzese MI, Italy, on december 8th, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dalai Lama: On Science and Emotional Health.


The Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and exiled spiritual leader of Buddhism in Tibet, discussed his admiration for scientists and made some interesting remarks about emotional health during a recent speech at the National Institutes of Health.

The Dalai Lama was effusive in his praise for scientists. He said (and we quote): ‘I deeply admire my scientific friends’ (end of quote). The Dalai Lama pinpointed the open minded of scientists and what he described as a healthy skepticism about evidence and hyperbole. He also emphasized the capacity of scientists from around the world to work together and ignore differences in geography, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and social class.

The Dalai Lama noted these traits set scientists apart and provided an international, professional role model.

However, the Dalai Lama also said he found some scientists were unhappy despite their gifts and intelligence. He briefly discussed the lack of inner peace among scientists with a sense of humor rather than admonishment. The Dalai Lama’s infectious laugh and self-deprecating humor delighted many NIH staff members who packed an auditorium to hear him.

The Dalia Lama’s discussion about emotional inner peace led to broader remarks about the impact of maternal affection in the life long health of children. The Dalai Lama explained he was pleased that scientific evidence seemed consistent with his personal, long-standing observation of the vital role of maternal love and sincerity in the development of a child’s brain and emotional health.

Similarly, the Dalai Lama noted that he had long observed a perceived link between maternal affection, attention, and sincerity for their children and the development of life long compassion for others. He encouraged behavioral and other scientists to further assess the extent of this relationship.

The Dalai Lama also was moved by a series of drawings from young patients at NIH’s Children’s Inn and underscored his appreciation for the artists. Similarly, he praised a project he saw at NIH’s Clinical Center that seeks to restore the ability to walk for young persons with Cerebral Palsy.

In response to a question from NIH Director Francis Collins M.D., the Dalai Lama confessed he sometimes gets frustrated and irritated – and even occasionally loses his temper. For example, he explained he became angry once during an interview when a New York Times columnist asked him four times to describe his probable legacy. Although the Dalai Lama noted he believed he answered the question the first time, the story revealed even renowned spiritual leaders sometimes can get cross. It also deftly reminded the audience there always is room for improvement in how we manage our lives and work.

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] British hospital to become first in Europe to use Skype for consultations

From the 21 March 2014 Daily Telegraph article


A hospital in Staffordshire is set to become the first in Europe where doctors consult with their patients via Skype

A hospital is set to become the first in Europe to tackle waiting times by getting overworked doctors to consult with their patients via Skype.

Managers at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire claim using the online video calling service could reduce outpatient appointments by up to 35 per cent.

They argue that using Skype will help free up consultants’ time and car parking spaces – while also helping patients who are unable to take time off work.

If approved, they would become the first UK hospital to use Skype to consult with patients.

The proposals, by Staffordshire’s biggest hospital, also include doctors treating patients via email consultations……..

“The key issue for doctors will be to recognise when this mode of consultation is not sufficient to properly assess the patient and address the problem, and to arrange a face-to-face consultation instead.”



Skype (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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March 21, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items, health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC – Future – What happens to prosthetics and implants after you die?

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I am acutely aware of global health disparities.  For example, for every American who receives a prosthetic or implant….I often wonder how many folks worldwide do without…

BBC – Future – What happens to prosthetics and implants after you die?.


Millions of prosthetics, breast implants, and pacemakers now exist – so what happens to all these augmentations when their owners die or no longer need them? Frank Swain investigates.

Under the watchful eye of the prison guards at Metro Davidson County Detention Facility, half a dozen inmates in blue overalls are wrestling with prosthetic legs. They strip each one down into a collection of screws, bolts, connectors, feet and other components. The prison workshop is home to a collaboration with Standing With Hope, a US charity based in Nashville, Tennessee that recycles unwanted prosthetic limbs for the developing world. The disassembled legs will be shipped to Ghana, where locally trained clinicians will rebuild them to fit patients there.

These legs will get a second life, but other types of prosthetics and implants usually face a different destiny. What to do with augmented human parts when they are no longer needed – often due to the owner’s death – is an increasingly common issue. Modern medicine offers a litany of replacement parts, from whole limbs to metal hips, shoulders and joints. Then there are pacemakers and internal cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), as well as more common augmentations like dentures and silicone breast implants. What happens to these augmentations when someone dies?

Once removed, implants are typically discarded – both the European Union and the US, among others, have rules that forbid the reuse of implanted medical devices. However, there is a growing trend to recover them for use in the developing world.

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Majority of Americans have their heart health facts wrong

From the 6 February 2014 ScienceDaily article

Despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., about three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans do not fear dying from it, according to a recent survey.

Despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., about three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans do not fear dying from it, according to a recent survey from Cleveland Clinic.

Conducted as part of its “Love Your Heart” consumer education campaign in celebration of Heart Month, the survey found that Americans are largely misinformed about heart disease prevention and symptoms, and almost a third (32 percent) of them are not taking any proactive steps to prevent it. Even among those Americans with a family history of the disease (39 percent), who are at a significantly higher risk, 26 percent do not take any preventative steps to protect their heart health, according to the survey.

Perhaps even more concerning is that the majority (70 percent) of Americans are unaware of all the symptoms of heart disease, even though two out of three (64 percent) have or know someone who has the disease. Only 30 percent of Americans correctly identified unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and jaw pain as all being signs of heart disease — just a few of the symptoms that can manifest.

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 4.43.42 AM

Related Slide show at the Cleveland Clinic Web site

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in this country, so it’s disappointing to see that so many Americans are unaware of the severity of not taking action to prevent heart disease, or how exactly to do so,” said Steven Nissen, M.D., Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “This is a disease that can largely be prevented and managed, but you have to be educated about how to do so and then incorporate prevention into your lifestyle.”

Many Americans believe the myth that fish oil can prevent heart disease.

Vitamins are viewed — mistakenly — as a key to heart disease prevention.

There is a lack of awareness about secret sodium sources.

Americans believe there is a heart disease gene.


There is no single way to prevent heart disease, given that every person is different,” Dr. Nissen added.
“Yet there are five things everyone should learn when it comes to their heart health because they can make an enormous difference and greatly improve your risk:

eat right,
exercise regularly,
know your cholesterol,blood pressure, and body mass index numbers,
do not use tobacco,
and know your family history.
Taking these steps can help lead to a healthier heart and a longer, more vibrant life.”

Read the entire article here

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February 8, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Are you big pharma’s new target market?

From the 3 February 2014 EurekAlert

Taking a cue from Apple and Coca-Cola, pharmaceutical firms are humanizing their brands

This news release is available in French.

Montreal, February 4, 2014 — By 2018, it is estimated that the global pharmaceutical market will be worth more than $1.3 trillion USD. To corner their share of profits, established drug companies have to fight fierce competition from generic products, adhere to stringent government regulations and sway a consumer base that is better informed than ever before.

New research from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business shows that Big Pharma has begun these efforts by embracing “brand personality,” a marketing strategy traditionally employed by consumer-focused companies like Apple, Coca-Cola and Harley-Davidson.

By imbuing their brands with human characteristics, pharmaceutical companies can boost sales by developing direct relationships with their consumers. The result: patients are more likely to ask their physician to prescribe specific brand-name medication.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 8.35.25 AM

“Brand personalities can transform products from being merely functional to having emotional value in the eyes of the consumer,” says marketing professor Lea Katsanis, a co-author of the study that recently appeared in the Journal of Consumer Marketing.

“Pharmaceutical companies give their brands personality traits by relying on physical attributes, practical functions, user imagery and usage contexts. As a result, brand names like Viagra, Lipitor and Prozac become shorthand for the drugs themselves.”

To carry out the study, Katsanis and co-author Erica Leonard, a recent graduate of Concordia’s Master of Science in Marketing program, used an online survey to poll a total of 483 U.S. respondents. They rated 15 well-known prescription medications based on 22 different personality traits, such as dependability, optimism, anxiousness and elegance. The study included blockbuster drugs from Big Pharma companies such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline.

The results show that prescription drug brand personality, as perceived by consumers, has two distinct dimensions: competence and innovativeness. Consumers typically applied terms such as dependable, reliable, responsible, successful, stable, practical and solution-oriented” to branded drugs, thus showing a preference for overall competence. Words like unique, innovative and original related to the “innovativeness” of the drug in question.

“Our findings can help marketers better understand how competing brands are positioned and act accordingly to ensure their products remain distinctive. One way of achieving this could be to appropriately focus more on either the competence or innovativeness dimensions,” says Katsanis.

“From a consumer perspective, prescription drug brand personality may make health-related issues more approachable and less intimidating, facilitating physician-patient interactions by making patients more familiar with the medications used to treat what ails them.”


Related links:



Media contact:

Cléa Desjardins
Senior advisor, media relations
University Communications Services
Concordia University
Phone: 514-848-2424, ext. 5068

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February 5, 2014 Posted by | health care, Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Saying No to “Know Your Numbers” campaigns – Health News Watchdog blog

Saying No to “Know Your Numbers” campaigns – Health News Watchdog blog.

Saying No to “Know Your Numbers” campaigns

Posted by Gary Schwitzer in Health care journalismRisk communication


“Know Your Numbers” campaigns can serve a useful purpose.

But they can also be guilty of non-evidence-based fear-mongering.  They can fuel obsessions with numbers that fully-informed people might just as soon not know anything about. There can be harm living our lives worrying about numbers, test results – making ourselves sick when we are, in fact, healthy.

Here’s a screenshot of just a tiny part of a Google search result of “Know Your Numbers” campaigns.  The list goes on and on and on.

The most recent that I saw was in the January 2014 edition of Prevention magazine.  It’s entitled, “Know Your Numbers: The 5 Health Stats You Should Know.”

While we acknowledge the prestige of the Cleveland Clinic and its chief wellness officer, we point out that there is a lot of debate in medical science circles about what is laid out in this Preventionmagazine piece. For example:

“There is strong evidence to support treating hypertensive persons aged 60 years or older to a BP goal of less than 150/90 mm Hg and hypertensive persons 30 through 59 years of age to a diastolic goal of less than 90 mm Hg; however, there is insufficient evidence in hypertensive persons younger than 60 years for a systolic goal, or in those younger than 30 years for a diastolic goal, so the panel recommends a BP of less than 140/90 mm Hg for those groups based on expert opinion”

So if 140/90 is where this group starts thinking about treatment, and if even the American Heart Association says normal is “less than 120/80,” what we have with an announcement that 115/75 is “ideal” is mission creep, medicalizing normal blood pressure, or disease-mongering. Where does this “ideal” come from?  It may only be a few points of difference, but with a few points, thousands of Americans suddenly become “less than ideal”…or, as we often call them, patients. One minute they’re healthy.  And then – voila – with a prestigious organization’s spokesman proclaiming a new “ideal” – they’re sick, abnormal, patients.

  • Cholesterol.  Hmmm.  Let’s see what the Cleveland Clinic website says about LDL and HDL. The Clinic’s own website says the LDL goal value should be less than 130 for people who don’t have heart or blood vessel disease or high risk.  And since a Prevention magazine article reaches a broad audience, that’s the crowd we’re talking about. And the Clinic website says HDL goal value should be greater than 45.  So the Prevention magazine targets of LDL under 100 and HDL over 50 are again mission creep, medicalizing normal blood tests, or disease-mongering.  Please note:  we could (but won’t herein) write volumes about much broader questions about being obsessed over LDL or HDL numbers, which are surrogate markers that don’t tell people everything they need to know.
  • This is the one that bugs me the most.  The article lists C-reactive protein as one of the “5 health stats you should know.”  What you should know is that the US Preventive Services Task Force does not share in that endorsement.  The USPSTF states that “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of using the (the test) to screen asymptomatic men and women with no history of coronary heart disease (CHD) to prevent CHD events.” Even a brief look at other guidelines by other groups shows that the promotion of this test as a “stat you should know” is not as simple and uncomplicated as the Prevention magazine article makes it out to be.

Please note that almost exactly 2 years ago we wrote, “Cleveland Clinic’s Top 5 Tests for 2012 clash with many guidelines.” C-reactive protein was on that list as well.

And you may be interested in some of my past articles about “Know Your Numbers” campaigns:


Laurence Alter posted on January 13, 2014 at 10:00 am

Dear Gary & Staff:

1. “Live by the numbers; die by the numbers”
2. “The facts speak for themselves”

Live by the first expression or idiom; die by the second one.

Fine physicians give subtlety and nuance behind “the numbers.”

Laurence Alter


Gary Schwitzer posted on January 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm


Thanks for your note, but for the umpteenth time, there is no staff.

There wasn’t even any staff when we had funding. So there certainly isn’t any staff in the unfunded era.

Whereas I once had help from as many as almost 40 different part-time contributors, they were not staff, just very limited part-time contributors.

It’s just me, flying solo these days.


Gwyneth Olwyn posted on January 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Dear Gary By Himself:

1. Live by the numbers, die anyway.
2. Unequivocally one death per person.

There is no subtlety or nuance to be had for fine physicians in an era of standard of care and fear of litigation from failing to screen aggressively for potential disease.

Therefore a person needs to know ahead of getting his or her numbers checked whether he or she is ready to inadvertently become a patient based on numbers and that the treatments to change those numbers may have little to no evidence to support them.


shaun nerbas posted on January 20, 2014 at 3:01 pm

It seems that the patient must look out for themselves, ask questions, and not just accept the standard script of medical people. I had an MI 4 years ago (stent placed in the LAD which was nearly 100% blocked ) , but in the 2.5 months before that I saw 4 different doctors who told me nothing was wrong. I had normal LDL and total cholesterol,but I did have low HDL, which I had recently raised up to a ” nearly normal ” value using niacin. I walked for 1.5 hours a day, but in that 2.5 month period before the MI, while walking, I started to get increasing shortness of breath, indigestion, and a pain in my upper back, between the shoulder blades. My doctor gave me Nexium . My doctor didn’t think it was my heart. He based that on having two relatives of his with heart disease, my normal ECG, and my normal cholesterol numbers. I saw other doctors, as my shortness of breath got worse, but again, they didn’t think it was my heart. Then one day I got the symptoms while eating lunch. I went to the local hospital,who after being in communication with a larger specialized hospital, sent me to that larger center, which put the stent in. I eventually learned that over 62% of MIs happen to people with ” normal cholesterol ” . How is it possible that the cholesterol numbers used by lay doctors are so useless for diagnosis ? Does heart disease have multiple causes or do we just not have a good understanding of how do diagnose and track it ? I almost never see this inadequacy discussed by the experts ! Subsequent to my MI I became a vegan to improve my diet to remove saturated fat, which along with a grandmother who had a heart problem, were, in my mind, the reasons for my heart disease. My cardiologist acted as if I was misguided with the vegan approach, which he felt was a path almost nobody could follow.. ….. just take the statins. Maybe Cardiology is a very lucrative occupation that keeps us coming back…..see you next time ! Sorry for being so cynical, but that’s how I feel.

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January 24, 2014 Posted by | health care, Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Should You Know About E-Cigarettes?

Electronic Cigarette Model

Electronic Cigarette Model (Photo credit: planetc1)

On a personal note, my husband is very sensitive to e-cigarette vapors.
He finds he has to leave any room where they are being “smoked”.


From the 23 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

 E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular and widely available as the use of regular cigarettes drops. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that e-cigarette use by children doubled from 2011 and 2012. The health effects of e-cigarettes have not been effectively studied and the ingredients have little or no regulation. Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center experts are available to discuss what people should know before trying e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, often called e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that provide inhaled doses of a vaporized solution of either propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin along with liquid nicotine. An atomizer heats the solution into a vapor that can be inhaled. The process, referred to as “vaping,” creates a vapor cloud that resembles cigarette smoke. Some liquids contain flavoring, making them more appealing to users.

“As of right now, there is no long-term safety data showing the impact of repeated inhalation of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin on lung tissue,” cautions Jon Ebbert, M.D., associate director at Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center. “There is some short-term data suggesting that e-cigarettes may cause airway irritation, but until we have long-term safety data, we are not recommending e-cigarettes for use among cigarette smokers to help people stop smoking.”

So, what is known about electronic cigarettes?

*Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes.

*The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has questioned the safety of these products.

*FDA analysis of two popular brands found variable amounts of nicotine and traces of toxic chemicals, including known cancer-causing substances (carcinogens).

*The FDA has issued a warning about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes, but is not yet regulating their use or standards of manufacture.

“It’s an amazing thing to watch a new product like that just kind of appear. There’s no quality control,” says Richard Hurt, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center. “Many of them are manufactured in China under no control conditions, so the story is yet to be completely told.”

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript Caregiver Assistance & Better Communication: 09/30/2013

From the 30 September 2013 transcript by Robert Logan, Director of the US National Library of Medicine

Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and

Regards to all our listeners!

I’m Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Here is what’s new this week in MedlinePlus.listen

The extent of caregivers’ assistance to patients — and suggested strategies for physicians to assist caregivers — are detailed in an interesting commentary recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The commentary’s author (who is a professor at Harvard Medical School) explains about 42 million Americans are caregivers and they assist patients for an average of 20 hours a week. Muriel Gillick M.D. reports the majority of caregivers are middle-aged women caring for aging parents.

Dr. Gillick notes caregivers often assist patients with daily living activities, such as shopping, cooking, bathing, and dressing. However, Dr. Gillick writes (and we quote) “Nearly half of all caregivers report responsibility for complex medical tasks that often are the province of a professional nurse or trained technician’ (end of quote).

Dr. Gillick finds caregivers report they are responsible for clinical activities including: diet adherence, wound care, treating pressure ulcers, providing medications and intravenous fluids, as well as operating medical equipment.

Dr. Gillick notes the recipients of caregiving are likely to be seniors in the last stages of their life. In the year before death, Dr. Gillick explains only 17 percent of Americans are without a disability while about 22 percent have a persistent severe disability. She reports the largest groups of caregiver-dependent adults include seniors who are frail or have advanced dementia. Dr. Gillick notes about 28 percent of Americans are frail and 14 percent have advanced dementia in their last year of life.

Dr. Gillick adds patients who are frail or have dementia often cannot participate in the management of their care, which necessitates a caregiver’s involvement. Dr. Gillick writes (and we quote): ‘If (end of life) medical care is to be patient centered, reflecting the values (patients) no longer have the cognitive capacity to articulate, clinicians must rely on surrogates to guide them. Yet, few programs caring for patients with dementia (or frailty) regularly incorporate caregivers in every phase of care’ (end of quote).

To improve assistance to caregivers, Dr. Gillick suggests physicians need to better explain a patient’s underlying health condition as well as work with caregivers to prioritize a patient’s health care goals.

Dr. Gillick adds caregivers should be encouraged to provide input about a patient’s surroundings as well as more fully participate in health care planning in a partnership with attending physicians.

Dr. Gillick notes caregivers are especially helpful in creating a continuity of patient care within different settings. She writes (and we quote): ‘In the complex US health care system, in which patients are cared for in the home, the physician’s office, the hospital, and the skilled nursing facility, the most carefully thought-out plan of care will prove useless unless its details can be transmitted across sites’ (end of quote).

Dr. Gillick concludes physicians as well as health care organizations need to provide more educational support to help caregivers.

Meanwhile,’s caregivers health topic page provides comprehensive information about caregiving’s medical and emotional challenges. For example, a helpful website from the American Academy of Family Physicians (available in the ‘start here’ section) helps caregivers maintain their health and wellness.

A similar website that addresses overcoming caregiver burnout (from the American Heart Association) can be found in the ‘coping’ section of’s caregivers health topic page.

In addition, there are special sections loaded with tips to provide caregiving to seniors as well as women and children within’s caregivers health topic page.’s caregivers health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. You can sign up to receive updates about caregiving as they become available on

To find’s caregivers health topic page, type ‘caregiver’ in the search box on’s home page. Then, click on ‘caregivers (National Library of Medicine).’ additionally features health topic pages on Alzheimer’s caregivers, child care, and home care services.

It is helpful to see JAMA address some caregiving issues. Let’s hope other medical journals will help educate caregivers and encourage more physician-caregiver communication.

Before I go, this reminder… is authoritative. It’s free. We do not accept advertising …and is written to help you.

To find, just type in ‘’ in any web browser, such as Firefox, Safari, Netscape, Chrome or Explorer. To find Mobile, just type ‘Mobile MedlinePlus’ in the same web browsers.

We encourage you to use MedlinePlus and please recommend it to your friends. MedlinePlus is available in English and Spanish. Some medical information is available in 43 other languages.

Your comments about this or any of our podcasts are always welcome. We welcome suggestions about future topics too!

Please email Dr. Lindberg anytime at:

That’s NLMDirector (one word)

A written transcript of recent podcasts is available by typing ‘Director’s comments’ in the search box on’s home page.

The National Library of Medicine is one of 27 institutes and centers within the National Institutes of Health. The National Institutes of Health is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A disclaimer — the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider.

It was nice to be with you. I look forward to meeting you here next week.



Read entire transcript here


October 21, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog-commentary on medical journalism] This is nuts: news coverage stating that great Dads have smaller testicles

Remember…just because two factors occur together,  it doesn’t mean one necessarily causes the other!
Here, just because an involved father has smaller testicles, it does not necessarily mean that smaller
testicles enable one to be a better father!

Thinking that desires to get quick fixes or quick answers often get in the way of the necessity to take time and analyze reports objectively!

OK, I am bragging. But I have a whole Web page (with links) on how to evaluate health/medical information.


[Reblog from 10 September 2013 article at HealthNewsReview by Gary Schwitzer]

This is the kind of news coverage about a study that results in science and journalism about science losing credibility.  To get warmed up, check some of the headlines:

  • Great dads have smaller testicles, study suggests – CBC
  • Study: Choose Dads With Smaller ‘Nads – TIME
  • Study:  You may be a terrible dad because you have enormous testicles –

Or see countless other silly headlines in a simple web search that will come up with probably more than 100 news stories.

It’s all based on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Testicular volume is inversely correlated with nurturing-related brain activity in human fathers.

It doesn’t appear that Emory University, home of the authors, distorted the findings.  This Emory story states:

“Men with smaller testes than others are more likely to be involved in hands-on care of their toddlers, finds a new study by anthropologists at Emory University. …

Smaller testicular volumes also correlate with more nurturing-related brain activity in fathers as they are looking at photos of their own children, the study shows.
Our data suggest that the biology of human males reflects a trade-off between investments in mating and parenting effort,” says Emory anthropologist James Rilling, whose lab conducted the research.

The goal of the research is to determine why some fathers invest more energy in parenting than others. “It’s an important question,” Rilling says, “because previous studies have shown that children with more involved fathers have better social, psychological and educational outcomes.”  …

The study included 70 biological fathers who had a child between the ages of 1 and 2, and who were living with the child and its biological mother.

The mothers and fathers were interviewed separately about the father’s involvement in hands-on childcare, including tasks such as changing diapers, feeding and bathing a child, staying home to care for a sick child or taking the child to doctor visits.

The men’s testosterone levels were measured, and they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity as they viewed photos of their own child with happy, sad and neutral expressions, and similar photos of an unknown child and an unknown adult. Then, structural MRI was used to measure testicular volume.

The findings showed that both testosterone levels and testes size were inversely correlated with the amount of direct paternal caregiving reported by the parents in the study.”

The Emory blog post listed some of the study’s limitations:

“Although statistically significant, the correlation between testes size and caregiving was not perfect.

A key question raised by the study findings is the direction of casualty (sic: I’m sure they meant causality). “We’re assuming that testes size drives how involved the fathers are,” Rilling says, “but it could also be that when men become more involved as caregivers, their testes shrink. Environmental influences can change biology. We know, for instance, that testosterone levels go down when men become involved fathers.”

Another important question is whether childhood environment can affect testes size. “Some research has shown that boys who experience childhood stress shift their life strategies,” Rilling says. “Or perhaps fatherless boys react to the absence of their father by adopting a strategy emphasizing mating effort at the expense of parenting effort.”

While it could have been stated more clearly, that excerpt nails the huge leap from the assumptions of the study to any proof of cause-and-effect. It discussed correlation – not cause.  In other words, it’s nuts to have news headlines like the ones I listed above.

There are countless ways to poke holes in the fMRI analysis of 70 men, but I’ll leave that to the experts.

The clamor for cutesy cleverness outpaced real scrutiny in most of the stories we’ve seen.

  • A Discover blog:  “So while it certainly takes balls to be a father, bigger is not necessarily better.”
  • “It was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which goes by the acronym PNAS (Yes, that’s chuckle-worthy in this context, so go ahead and laugh). …When I learned of this study, I immediately feared what could happen if it gets taken out of context.  Dystopian future headline: “Deadbeat Dads Blame it on Large Family Jewels!” Dystopian future advice mothers give to daughters before marriage: “But will he be a good father? Weigh the wedding tackle!”
  • “Perhaps it’s time to stop obsessing over penis size, and start to think more about those underloved lads underneath. A new study has suggested that testicle size plays a role in whether or not a guy is an involved dad, but this is one time less is more: the smaller the family jewels, the better the family man.” quoted one of the study authors succinctly:  “Rilling says the study is not about “good” or “bad” dads.”

So again, where did all of those headlines come from?

And didn’t we have a possibly pending war, the unfolding Affordable Care Act, even another Anthony Weiner story to cover today instead of all the attention given this?


ADDENDUM:  This is even more nuts.  Each day I work really hard but may reach only relatively small numbers of people with articles that I think are important to try to improve the public dialogue about health care.  Today my traffic is through the roof, and it’s all because I had testicles or nuts in my headline.  And that, at least temporarily, put me in a prominent position on Google Search.  Nuts.


Rob F posted on September 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

Great coverage of this crazy non-story Gary. We also looked into this on Behind the Headlines. It’s fascinating to see how a “sexy” angle can hype and distort some fairly humdrum research.


Gary Schwitzer posted on September 16, 2013 at 11:09 am

Thanks, Rob. Here’s the link to the Behind the Headlines analysis:




September 30, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items, Finding Aids/Directories, Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

The Samsung SmartWatch to Replace Medical Pagers?

Those of you of a certain age, remember this? (If not, or if you want to get all the details…here’s a good summary)
Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 4.19.31 AM

From the 5 September 2013 post at Science Roll

The new Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch was just presented and based on its features it has the potential to replace medical pagers while smartphones could not make this step.

The new Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch was just presented and based on its features it has the potential to replace medical pagers while smartphones could not make this step.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 4.14.43 AM

  • Obviously, it works like a watch.
  • It can record videos.
  • Play music.
  • Has a pedometer
  • Make phone calls
  • Has its own applications
  • Weather, taking notes, sending messages and many more.

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

BioEd Online- Science Resources from Baylor College of Medicine

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 2.29.28 PM

Not just for teachers!

From the About Page

Welcome to BioEd Online, the online educational resource for educators, students, and parents. BioEd Online utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you instant access to reliable, cutting-edge information and educational tools for biology and related subjects. Our goal is to provide useful, accurate, and current information and materials that build upon and enhance the skills and knowledge of science educators. Developed under the guidance of our expert Editorial Board, BioEd Online offers the following high-quality resources.

  • Streaming Video Presentations – View timely presentations given by thought leaders on education in biology and related subjects, classroom management, science standards, and other issues in education. Presentation topics include content reviews for prospective biology teachers, content updates for experienced teachers, research lab technique demonstrations, inquiry science, and assessment. In addition, BioEd Online offers helpful presentations for teachers in training as they prepare for the classroom experience.
  • Slide Library – Customize exciting and relevant lesson plans and activities from hundreds of searchable slides developed by our Editorial Board and contributors. The slide library is updated regularly. Each slide is complete with talking points and references and can be downloaded into your own PowerPoint program for personal educational use.
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July 19, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Librarian Resources, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

Prisoners Doing Yoga May See Psychological Benefits


yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)


From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily


Yoga can improve mood and mental wellbeing among prisoners, an Oxford University study suggests, and may also have an effect on impulsive behaviour.

The researchers found that prisoners after a ten-week yoga course reported improved mood, reduced stress and were better at a task related to behaviour control than those who continued in their normal prison routine.

‘We found that the group that did the yoga course showed an improvement in positive mood, a decrease in stress and greater accuracy in a computer test of impulsivity and attention,’ say Dr Amy Bilderbeck and Dr Miguel Farias, who led the study at the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at Oxford University. ‘The suggestion is that yoga is helpful for these prisoners.’

Dr Bilderbeck adds: ‘This was only a preliminary study, but nothing has been done like this before. Offering yoga sessions in prisons is cheap, much cheaper than other mental health interventions. If yoga has any effect on addressing mental health problems in prisons, it could save significant amounts of public money.’

If yoga is associated with improving behaviour control, as suggested by the results of the computer test, there may be implications for managing aggression, antisocial or problem behaviour in prisons and on return to society, the researchers note — though this is not measured in this initial study.

Dr Bilderbeck, who practices yoga herself, cautions: ‘We’re not saying that organising a weekly yoga session in a prison is going to suddenly turn prisons into calm and serene places, stop all aggression and reduce reoffending rates. We’re not saying that yoga will replace standard treatment of mental health conditions in prison. But what we do see are indications that this relatively cheap, simple option might have multiple benefits for prisoners’ wellbeing and possibly aid in managing the burden of mental health problems in prisons.’

Sam Settle, director of the Prison Phoenix Trust, says: ‘Almost half of adult prisoners return to prison within a year, having created more victims of crime, so finding ways to offset the damaging effects of prison life is essential for us as a society. This research confirms what prisoners have been consistently telling the Prison Phoenix Trust for 25 years: yoga and meditation help them feel better, make better decisions and develop the capacity to think before acting — all essential in leading positive, crime-free lives once back in the community.’



July 18, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncovering a healthier remedy for chronic pain – possible opiod replacement

Uncovering a healthier remedy for chronic pain.

From the Science Daily report (July 17, 2013)

Physicians and patients who are wary of addiction to pain medication and opioids may soon have a healthier and more natural alternative.A Duke University study revealed that a derivative of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a main ingredient of over-the-counter fish oil supplements, can sooth and prevent neuropathic pain caused by injuries to the sensory system. The results appear online in the Annals of Neurology….

Their findings revealed that NPD1=PD1 not only alleviated the pain, but also reduced nerve swelling following the injuries. Its analgesic effect stems from the compound’s ability to inhibit the production of cytokines and chemokines, which are small signaling molecules that attract inflammatory macrophages to the nerve cells. By preventing cytokine and chemokine production, the compound protected nerve cells from further damage. NPD1=PD1 also reduced neuron firing so the injured animals felt less pain.Ji believes that the new discovery has clinical potential. “Chronic pain resulting from major medical procedures such as amputation, chest and breast surgery is a serious problem,” he said. Current treatment options for neuropathic pain include gabapentin and various opioids, which may lead to addiction and destruction of the sensory nerves.


July 18, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Disease and death in America: A poor bill of health | The Economist

Originally posted on THE POLICY THINKSHOP "Think Together":

Health insurance coverage to help you fix decades of high cholesterol will probably not save your life.  This is the problem that America faces as it is found to be sick because of health behaviors it does not want to change.  We have the freedom to act very unhealthy and to get sick.  How much will increasing insurance coverage really improve our health?

“THE Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, faces an immediate problem. The deadline for its insurance expansion is January 1st, but each week brings some new obstacle. Even if Obamacare overcomes these, a long-term challenge will remain: the law may not improve Americans’ health. And that health is dismal, as illuminated in vivid new detail on July 10th.

Christopher Murray and his colleagues at the University of Washington have new research on which ailments plague Americans, and why. Dr Murray is due to present his findings at the…

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

High school years hard on adolescent health, with spikes in drinking, smoking and drug use: Canada study

Originally posted on National Post | Life:

High school may improve young people’s minds, but it does the opposite for their bodies.

A new study out of the University of Waterloo shows Canadian students in Grade 12 are in worse health than their younger high school peers.

[np_storybar title=”Alcohol ads targeting underage girls need to be reined in: Canadian Medical Association” link=””]
A medical journal is raising concerns about alcohol advertising, saying young girls are being influenced by the ads.

The editorial in this week’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal says health warnings should be embedded in alcohol ads, so that young girls understand the risks of drinking.

The author, Dr. Ken Flegel, says parents should also model responsible alcohol consumption for their children.

The editorial says studies from the United States show that alcohol advertising aimed at young women is being viewed more commonly by young girls.

The studies also show that increased exposure…

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July 14, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yoga not too religious for school: U.S. judge

July 14, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

NIMH · Mental Disorders as Brain Disorders: Thomas Insel at TEDxCaltech

Am wondering if murder, planning to murder, and domestic violence are brain disorders…
If so, or even probably so, this is a real wake up call for prison reform…


NIMH · Mental Disorders as Brain Disorders: Thomas Insel at TEDxCaltech.

From the 23 April 2013 item at the National Institute of Mental Health

A rethink is needed in terms of how we view mental illness, stated National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel, M.D., in a recent TEDx talkat the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.

Deaths from medical causes such as leukemia and heart disease have decreased over the past 30 years. The same cannot be said of the suicide rate, which has remained the same. A vast majority of suicides—90 percent—are related to mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.

Insel believes part of the problem is that mental illness is referred to either as a mental or behavioral disorder. “We need to think of these as brain disorders,” he said, adding that for these brain disorders, behavior is the last thing to change.

Insel walked the audience through recent advances in neuroscience, including the Human Connectome, which indicates that mental illness may be more of a neuronal connection or circuit disorder. The earlier these circuits are identified, he said, the earlier preventive treatments could be used to save the lives of people with mental illnesses.

“If we waited for the ‘heart attack,’ we would be sacrificing 1.1 million lives every year in this country,” he said. “That is precisely what we do today when we decide that everyone with one of these brain disorders, brain circuit disorders, has a behavior disorder. We wait until the behavior emerges. That’s not early detection, that’s not early prevention.”

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment


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