“The researchers found that many of the youngest teen mothers didn’t want to have sex with the fathers, but did anyway because they did not know how or didn’t feel they could say “no.” ”
The above sentence really gave me pause. I always felt I could say no, and did. And was respected for it.
Granted I was raised in a stable home and was told I was going to college at age 5 (OK, exaggerating a bit!). Although the boys in grade school had roles we girls didn’t at Catholic school in the 60’s (altar servers, crossing guards), I never felt inferior to them, deep down. If circumstances were different…wondering how I would have faced challenges in many areas…
If Diane could reverse time, she never would have slammed the door–an act of teen frustration and ongoing family conflict that finally got her kicked out of her mother’s house.
Thus began a cascade of events that, a few years later, led to her pregnancy at age 19.
Diane is one of 108 teenage moms interviewed about their lives and pregnancies in On Becoming a Teen Mom: Life Before Pregnancy (University of California Press, 2015), a new book by Case Western Reserve University sociologists Mary Patrice Erdmans and Timothy Black that focuses on life events resulting in teen motherhood, revealing some realities behind the statistics.
The general perception is that teen pregnancy is a social problem, like drug addiction and crime, and that it is on the rise, said Erdmans, associate professor of sociology.
In fact, the number of births to teen moms has dropped 44 percent between 1991 and 2010, and down another 10 percent in 2012-13 from the previous year (the most recent reporting years) for moms age 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Erdmans and Black, also an associate professor of sociology, along with a team of interviewers, traveled throughout Connecticut over two years, collecting the life stories of first-time mothers, 108 of whom were teen moms. The mothers discussed what it was like in their families, neighborhoods and school while they were growing up. They talked about their relationships, the pregnancy and the decision to have a child.
“We now have a picture of what’s happened in these mothers’ lives before they became pregnant,” Erdmans said, “portrait that differs from general perceptions about teen pregnancy that tend to focus on the consequences of early childbearing.”
The authors address several myths about teen births:
- Teen births are a cause of poverty. They found most teen mothers were living in poverty before they became pregnant.
- Teen mothers will drop out of school. They found many teen mothers had dropped out or disengaged from school long before they became pregnant, while those doing well in school tended to stay and graduate.
One-fourth of the teen mothers from all socio-economic levels told stories of sexual abuse when they were young.
Others spoke of wanting to be accepted by peers, rebelling from extremely strict parents and a lack of knowledge about conception and contraceptives.
The researchers found that many of the youngest teen mothers didn’t want to have sex with the fathers, but did anyway because they did not know how or didn’t feel they could say “no.” They kept and raised their babies, even in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape.
Their stories call attention to preventing pregnancies by improving unsafe neighborhoods, lowering high rates of urban poverty and overcoming systematic gender inequalities that rob women of their ability to say “no” at any point in a relationship, the researchers conclude.
Erdmans points out that many teen pregnancies could be prevented, beyond using birth control and abortions, by having better schools from first grade on.
Many teen moms, especially from inner cities, were unprepared for the academic and social challenges of high school. They reported getting pregnant within two years after quitting high school.
[News release] Survey Finds Physicians Want to Learn More About Diet and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
From the 13 March 2015 Newswise article
Most physicians are aware of the importance of lifestyle factors in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) — and believe diet is as important as statin therapy and exercise, according to a new survey from NYU Langone Medical Center.
Researchers found that a majority of doctors would welcome additional training in diet and nutrition so that they can effectively inform patients on the subject. The study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session as a poster presentation.
The 28-question online survey, created by a team from the NYU Langone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, was designed to identify gaps in nutritional knowledge and to evaluate physician attitudes and practices concerning diet in the prevention of CVD. The survey was completed by 236 cardiologists and internal medicine physicians and trainees.
Most of the survey respondents (78 percent) were open to additional training and thought it would result in better patient care. Just over half of the physicians said they currently spend three minutes or less educating patients on diet and lifestyle.
Overall the survey respondents did comparatively well, answering about two thirds of the knowledge-based questions correctly. Surprisingly, cardiologists scored no better than internal medicine physicians.
“We found physicians had a decent knowledge of general nutritional principles, but their practical knowledge was somewhat suboptimal,
urveys show that around 70% of US Internet users consult the Internet when they require medical information. People seek this information using both traditional search engines and via social media. The information created using the search process offers an unprecedented opportunity for applications to monitor and improve the quality of life of people with a variety of medical conditions. In recent years, research in this area has addressed public-health questions such as the effect of media on development of anorexia, developed tools for measuring influenza rates and assessing drug safety, and examined the effects of health information on individual wellbeing. This tutorial will show how Internet data can facilitate medical research, providing an overview of the state-of-the-art in this area. During the tutorial we will discuss the information which can be gleaned from a variety of Internet data sources, including social media, search engines, and specialized medical websites. We will provide an overview of analysis methods used in recent literature, and show how results can be evaluated using publicly-available health information and online experimentation. Finally, we will discuss ethical and privacy issues and possible technological solutions. This tutorial is intended for researchers of user generated content who are interested in applying their knowledge to improve health and medicine.
Ethics and equity in research priority-setting: stakeholder engagement and the needs of disadvantaged groups
Originally posted on Soumyadeep B:
Read the full paper published by Dr. Soumyadeep B et al at Indian Journal of Medical Ethics here (Click: Open Access)
Originally posted on Eat Like Jean:
Those of you who are dietitians in the U.S. are undoubtedly aware of the entity that is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). They both dictate the practicing of dietetics and provide the recommendations for healthy eating in America. What you may not be aware of is the myriad special interest groups hanging out in the pockets of the AND. A press release has just been made announcing the new partnership between the AND and Kraft Foods. Kraft will be added to the list of AND’s corporate sponsors, and “foods” like Kraft American Cheese and boxed Macaroni and Cheese will now be promoted as healthy food options for your children. It should also be mentioned that AND’s sponsor list already includes Coca-Cola, Pepsi, ConAgra, and McDonald’s. Meanwhile, the Academy maintains that this move is not an endorsement of Kraft foods. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
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Originally posted on FLXHUB:
By: Reed Abelson
In downtrodden East Cleveland, a three-story family health center has replaced the city’s full-service hospital. Seven thousand miles away in Abu Dhabi, a gleaming 24-story hospital is preparing to admit patients this year.
Back in Ohio, shoppers at Marc’s, a local discount grocer and pharmacy in Garfield Heights, can enter a kiosk equipped with a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and a two-way video screen that lets a patient talk directly to a doctor.
These disparate ventures bear the imprimatur of the renowned Cleveland Clinic, one of the most respected nonprofit health systems in the nation, as it tries to manage the extraordinary changes now transforming health care.
While it has traditionally relied on its ability to provide high-priced specialty care, the system, along with every stand-alone community hospital and large academic medical center, is being forced to remake itself. Patients are increasingly seeking care outside…
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Originally posted on TIME:
Loneliness kills. That’s the conclusion of a new study by Brigham Young University researchers who say they are sounding the alarm on what could be the next big public-health issue, on par with obesity and substance abuse.
The subjective feeling of loneliness increases risk of death by 26%, according to the new study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Social isolation — or lacking social connection — and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person’s health than feeling lonely, respectively increasing mortality risk by 29% and 32%.
“This is something that we need to take seriously for our health,” says Brigham Young University researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an author of the study. “This should become a public-health issue.”
The researchers emphasized the difference between the subjective, self-reported feeling of loneliness and the objective state of being socially isolated. Both are potentially damaging, the study…
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Originally posted on HealthCetera - CHMP's Blog:
The repeated public examples of subtle and blatant racism demonstrate the importance of conversations about the role of racism in the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. As part of Healthstyles’ ongoing series on health disparities, co-producers Kenya Beard, EdD, NP-C, and Diana Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, talks about these issues with Willie Tolliver, PhD, MSW, professor in the School of Social Work at Hunter College and three of his social work students: Jason Cartwright, James Gilliam, and Kim Wolfe. Their authentic and candid discussions about the deaths of Eric Gardner and Michael Brown include their own experiences with racism and how it plays out in the lives of all of us.
So tune in on Thursday, March 19, 2015, to Healthstyles on WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City (www.wbai.org) or click here to listen anytime:
HealthCetera is sponsored by the Center for Health, Media…
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BioNews is an online British magazine that covers genetics, assisted conception, and stem cell research. Founded in 1999 with a grant from the Baroness Mary Warnock, the site offers a mix of news and commentary on both scientific advancements and the political, legal, ethical, and social issues that arise with these advancements. Recent articles have unpacked Europe’s approval of stem cell marketing, highlighted some bad journalism on egg donors, and explored the possible medical applications of graphene. In addition to the excellent news coverage, the site offers a large glossary of terms related to genetics, assisted conception, and stem cell research. Few free, web-based magazines can compete with BioNews when it comes to coverage of biotech and related topics. [CNH]
From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2015. https://www.scout.wisc.edu
[Journal issue contents] Journal of Environmental Science and Health — Special Issue: Facing the Challenges – Research on Shale Gas Extraction
Facing the Challenges – Research on Shale Gas Extraction
Source: Journal of Environmental Science and Health: Part A – Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
- Current perspectives on unconventional shale gas extraction in the Appalachian Basin
David J. Lampe & John F. Stolz
- Long-term impacts of unconventional drilling operations on human and animal health
Michelle Bamberger & Robert E. Oswald
- Human exposure to unconventional natural gas development: A public health demonstration of periodic high exposure to chemical mixtures in ambient air
David R. Brown, Celia Lewis & Beth I. Weinberger
- Reported health conditions in animals residing near natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania
I. B. Slizovskiy, L. A. Conti, S. J. Trufan, J. S. Reif, V. T. Lamers, M. H. Stowe, J. Dziura & P. M. Rabinowitz
- Marcellus and mercury: Assessing potential impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction on aquatic ecosystems in northwestern Pennsylvania
Christopher J. Grant, Alexander B. Weimer, Nicole K. Marks, Elliott S. Perow, Jacob M. Oster, Kristen M. Brubaker, Ryan V. Trexler, Caroline M. Solomon & Regina Lamendella
- Data inconsistencies from states with unconventional oil and gas activity
Samantha Malone, Matthew Kelso, Ted Auch, Karen Edelstein, Kyle Ferrar & Kirk Jalbert
- Scintillation gamma spectrometer for analysis of hydraulic fracturing waste products
Leong Ying, Frank O’Connor & John F. Stolz
- Well water contamination in a rural community in southwestern Pennsylvania near unconventional shale gas extraction
Shyama K. Alawattegama, Tetiana Kondratyuk, Renee Krynock, Matthew Bricker, Jennifer K. Rutter, Daniel J. Bain & John F. Stolz
If you have cancer, HIV, diabetes, lupus, depression, heart disease—or you simply look up health-related information online—advertisers are watching you. A new paper on what happens when users search for health information online shows that some of our most sensitive internet searches aren’t as anonymous as we might think.
Marketers care very much about what diseases and conditions people are searching for online. Tim Libert, a doctoral student at the Annenberg School For Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the paper says that over 90% of the 80,000 health-related pages he looked at on the Internet exposed user information to third parties. These pages included health information from commercial, nonprofit, educational, and government websites. According to Pew, 72 percent of internet users in the US look up health-related information.
Site visit data by third parties isn’t just collected on for-profit sites like WebMD.com; even the Centers for Disease Control warns visitors that third-party content on their own pages includes marketing/analytics products like MotionPoint and Omniture that are used to generate targeted advertising. (Libert’s findings are published in this month’s Communications of the ACM.)
ONE COMPANY, MEDBASE 200, REPORTEDLY USED “PROPRIETARY MODELS” TO GENERATE AND SELL MARKETING LISTS OF RAPE VICTIMS, DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIMS, AND PATIENTS WITH HUNDREDS OF DIFFERENT ILLNESSES.
STOLEN MEDICAL INFORMATION IS ROUTINELY TRAFFICKED ON CRIMINAL WEBSITES.
While studies conducted by Annenberg indicate that slightly more than one in every three Americans knows that private third-parties can track their visits to health-related websites, regulation and oversight is lacking, says Libert. Health privacy is protected by the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), but the law is not meant to oversee business practices by third party commercial entities or data brokers. “Clearly there is a need for discussion with respect to legislation, policies, and oversight to address health privacy in the age of the internet,” says Libert.
To avoid the watchful eye of marketers, Libert recommends users make use of two different tools, Ghostery and Adblock Plus, which can at least partly prevent marketers from obtaining patient health information based on Internet browsing habits.
I’ve wondered where the waste went, this is good news.
…”The whole goal is to take this problematic mixture of stuff — acid whey — and isolate all of the various components and find commercial uses for them,” says Dean Sommer, a food technologist with Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (CDR) in the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
That’s no easy task.
Food companies have been separating the components of sweet whey — the byproduct of cheese production — for more than a decade now, extracting high-value whey protein powders that are featured in muscle-building products and other high-protein foods and beverages.
Compared to sweet whey, however, acid whey from Greek yogurt is hard to work with. Similar to sweet whey, it’s mostly water — 95 percent — but it contains a lot less protein, which is considered the valuable part. Some of the other “solids” in acid whey, which include lactose, lactic acid, calcium, phosphorus and galactose, make it more difficult to process. For instance, thanks to galactose and lactic acid, it turns into a sticky mess when it’s dried down.
Instead of drying it, CDR scientists are developing technologies that utilize high-tech filters, or membranes, to separate out the various components.
“We’re taking the membranes that are available to us and stringing them together and developing a process that allows us to get some value-added ingredients out at the other end,” says dairy processing technologist Karen Smith, who is working on the project.
At this point, the CDR has set its sights on lactose, an ingredient that food companies will pay good money for in food-grade form.
“It’s the lowest-hanging fruit, the most valuable thing in there in terms of volume and potential worth,” says Sommer.
On a related note, a tasty recipe! Sweet Potato chips with Greek yogurt blue cheese dip.
Spiciness of chips (chili powder) balances well with sweetness of dip( the honey)
Made them with a Japanese sweet potato (from our local co-op). Took them to the card party group, they did not go over that well. Put chips in our toaster oven, got braver and made them crispier. Thinking these chips taste better hot (temperature hot).
OK, it was hard to get past the blog title…housewife in training. that’s all I’ll say!
Again, great recipe.
Good news! Efforts To Improve Patient Safety Result in 1.3 Million Fewer Patient Harms [AHRQ report]
Interim Update on 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013
This document provides preliminary estimates for 2013 on hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), indicating a 17 percent decline, from 145 to 121 HACs per 1,000 discharges, from 2010 to 2013. A cumulative total of 1.3 million fewer HACs were experienced by hospital patients in 2011, 2012, and 2013 relative to the number of HACs that would have occurred if rates had remained steady at the 2010 level. Approximately 50,000 fewer patients died in the hospital as a result of the reduction in HACs, and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved from 2010 to 2013.
Exhibit 6. Estimated Deaths Averted, by Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC), 2011-2013
Preliminary 2013 estimates show that the decline in HACs resulted in a preliminary estimate of cost savings of approximately $8 billion in 2013. Estimated cumulative savings for 2011, 2012, and 2013 are approximately $12 billion (Exhibit 7). As was the case for the deaths averted estimates, the majority of cost savings are estimated to result from declines in pressure ulcers and ADEs (Exhibit 8).
- Interim Update on 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013 ( PDF version – 546.53 KB )
- Methods To Estimate the Baseline 2010 PFP National Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate ( PDF version – 249.91 KB )
- Updated Information on the Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate: 2011 and 2012 ( PDF version – 243.14 KB )
Two related Mulford Library resoruces
As always, do not hesitate to consult a Mulford reference librarian with your research and information needs. Let us same you time and alleviate frustration!
Bacteria that talk to one another and organize themselves into biofilms are more resistant to antibiotics. Researchers are now working to develop drugs that prevent bacteria from communicating.
Tracing bacteria: The researchers are testing the new group of drugs in transparent worms called C. elegans, in which they can trace the bacteria while infection develops. They do this by feeding the worms with fluorescent bacteria.
The aim is to find alternatives to antibiotics and reduce the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
– Understanding how bacteria communicate could provide a new means of controlling them and preventing and treating infectious diseases, says Professor Anne Aamdal Scheie at the Department of Oral Biology at the University of Oslo.
Together with Professor Fernanda Cristina Petersen, Aamdal Scheie is shedding light on one of the most important health challenges facing the world today, namely antibiotic resistance. The researchers believe that understanding bacterial communication has a key role to play in the fight against resistant bacteria.
Research groups at the Faculty of Dentistry therefore want to understand how bacteria talk to one another – precisely to prevent them from communicating and becoming hazardous.
The New Medicine: Hacking Our Biology is part of the series “Engineers of the New Millennium” from IEEE Spectrum magazine and the Directorate for Engineering of the National Science Foundation. These stories explore technological advances in medical inventions to enhance and extend life.
Transcripts are included.
[Press release]Zombie outbreak? Statistical mechanics reveal the ideal hideout | EurekAlert! Science News
To be presented at the 2015 APS March Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, March 5
From the press release
A team of Cornell University researchers focusing on a fictional zombie outbreak as an approach to disease modeling suggests heading for the hills, in the Rockies, to save your brains from the undead.
Reading World War Z, an oral history of the first zombie war, and a graduate statistical mechanics class inspired a group of Cornell University researchers to explore how an “actual” zombie outbreak might play out in the U.S.
During the 2015 American Physical Society March Meeting, on Thursday, March 5 in San Antonio, Texas, the group will describe their work modeling the statistical mechanics of zombies–those thankfully fictional “undead” creatures with an appetite for human flesh. (See the abstract: http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/MAR15/Session/S48.8)
Why model the mechanics of zombies? “Modeling zombies takes you through a lot of the techniques used to model real diseases, albeit in a fun context,” says Alex Alemi, a graduate student at Cornell University.
From the 22 August 2012 post at KevinMD.com
t’s easy for those with health problems to complain about what we don’t want to hear others say to us, but I thought it might be helpful to let others know what we wish they would say to us.
“You look so good, but how are you really feeling?”
It’s hard for us to respond to comments like, “You look so good” (or the always dreaded, “But you don’t look sick”) because we know that you’re just trying to be nice. If we respond truthfully with, “Thanks, but I feel awful,” you might be embarrassed or think we’re being ungrateful. It would be such a relief to be asked a question that goes to the heart of the matter: “How are you really feeling?”
“I’m going to the grocery store, can I pick anything up for you?”
“Alu” sequences are small repetitive elements representing about 10% of our genome. Because of their ability to move around the genome, these “jumping genes” are considered as real motors of evolution. However, they were considered for a long time as “junk” DNA, because, although they are transcribed into RNA, they encode no proteins and do not seem to participate actively in the cell’s functions. Now, the group of Katharina Strub, professor at the Faculty of Science of the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, has uncovered two key functions of Alu RNAs in human cells, which are the subject of two different articles published in Nucleic Acids Research. Alu RNA can bind to specific proteins forming a complex called Alu RNP. On the one hand, this complex allows the cells to adapt to stress caused for example by chemical poisoning or viral infection. On the other hand, the same complex plays a role in protein synthesis by regulating the number of active ribosomes, suggesting that it could be part of the innate system of cellular defense against certain viruses.
Toronto scientists uncovered how viral remnants helped shape control of our genes.
If genes were lights on a string of DNA, the genome would appear as an endless flicker, as thousands of genes come on and off at any given time. Tim Hughes, a Professor at the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre, is set on figuring out the rules behind this tightly orchestrated light-show, because when it fails, disease can occur.
Genes are switched on or off by proteins called transcription factors. These proteins bind to precise sites on the DNA that serve as guideposts, telling transcription factors that their target genes are nearby.
In their latest paper, published in Nature Biotechnology, Hughes and his team did the first systematic study of the largest group of human transcription factors, called C2H2-ZF.
Despite their important roles in development and disease, these proteins have been largely unexplored because they posed a formidable challenge for researchers.
C2H2-ZF transcription factors count over 700 proteins — around three per cent of all human genes! To make matters more complicated, most human C2H2-ZF proteins are very different from those in other organisms, like those in mice. This means that scientists could not apply insights gained from animal studies to human C2H2-ZFs.
Hughes’ team found something remarkable: the reason C2H2-ZFs are so abundant and diverse — which makes them difficult to study — is that many of them evolved to defend our ancestral genome from damage caused by the notorious “selfish DNA.”
So true “To actually address why parents opt out of vaccinations, Science must ask itself difficult and uncomfortable questions about why such a large and fundamental trust-gap exists, and what we plan to do about it.”
Originally posted on #HOPEJAHRENSURECANWRITE:
Recently, a millennial came to my office and asked me if she should get vaccinated, even though her mom had never wanted her to. I didn’t tell her what to do. Instead, I told her why I vaccinate my own son. Here’s what I said.
How I Learned to Trust The Needle
When my son was a couple of months old, I took him to the third of his many well-baby appointments. On that day, our pediatrician approached me tentatively. “This is the appropriate time for his vaccinations,” she informed me in a cautious, even tone.
“Load him up!” I screamed, “Give him a double!” My baby son looked up at us and blinked, unperturbed by the hysterics to which he had become accustomed in utero. I signed some papers, and the doctor vaccinated him against an assortment of maladies. More than a decade has passed since then, and today I…
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Thinking what a boon this will be for underserved areas, both here in the US and low GNP countries. Thinking of how countries went from virtually no telephone service to cell phones for most, bypassing costly infrastructure. 3D printing will foster another leap for humankind.
Originally posted on ScienceRoll:
Kaiba Gionfriddo was born prematurely in 2011. After 8 months his lung development caused concerns, although he was sent home with his parents as his breathing was normal. Six weeks later, Kaiba stopped breathing and turned blue. He was diagnosed with tracheobronchomalacia, a long Latin word that means his windpipe was so weak that it collapsed. He had a tracheostomy and was put on a ventilator––the conventional treatment. Still, Kaiba would stop breathing almost daily. His heart would stop, too. His caregivers 3D printed a bioresorbable device that instantly helped Kaiba breathe. This case is considered a prime example of how customized 3D printing is transforming healthcare as we know it.
Since then this area has been skyrocketing. The list of objects that have been successfully printed demonstrates the potential this technology holds for the near future.
Tissues with blood vessels: Researchers at Harvard University were the first to…
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Originally posted on Lady Diction :
In the winter of 1986 when I was just sixteen years old, I viewed Nine 1/2 Weeks (Directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke) at a local movie theater. I was on a date with a boy I only liked platonically, which I’d have to explain later in the car, and was fascinated by the power dynamics and BDSM in the movie. The film, based on Elizabeth McNeill’s non-fiction book, Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair, explores the brief sexual relationship between characters Elizabeth and John. I still vividly recall images from the movie: Kim’s bowler hat, the refrigerator and milk scene, the watch scene, and Kim Basinger crawling across the floor for money.
Were these healthy images for a sixteen year old girl to see? Perhaps not. At the time, I thought the relationship was romantic and cried when the couple…
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Originally posted on TIME:
Do you really know what’s in your cheese?
New evidence may cast some doubt on the purity of your favorite foods. Interpol, the international criminal police organization, announced that it seized thousands of tons of fake food in a joint operation with Europol over the past two months—including seemingly benign mainstays like mozzarella, eggs, bottled mineral water, strawberries, cooking oil and dried fruit—in 47 countries.
Adulterations cut across all kinds of categories. In Italy, 31 tons of seafood were labeled as “fresh” but had actually been previously frozen, then doused with a chemical containing citric acid and hydrogen peroxide to hide that it was rotting. At an Italian cheese factory, officers found expired dairy and chemicals used to make old cheese seem fresh. They also found that mozzarella was being smoked in the back of a van with burning trash as a heat source.
Egyptian authorities seized 35 tons of…
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Too much medical research may be unnecessary, unethical, unscientific, and wasteful, warns new international research network
As a health science librarian at a university, it is very rewarding to work on literature searches so folks can move forward without re-doing research.
Originally posted on Soumyadeep B:
Researchers, research funders, regulators, sponsors and publishers of research fail to use earlier research when preparing to start, fund or publish the results of new studies. To embark on research without systematically reviewing evidence of what is already known, particularly when the research involves people or animals, is unethical, unscientific, and wasteful.
To address this problem a group of Norwegian and Danish researchers have initiated an international network, the ‘Evidence-Based Research Network’ (EBRNetwork). The EBRNetwork brings together initial partners from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and USA was established in Bergen, Norway in December 2014. It also has members from low and middle income nations like India, South Africa and Brazil.
At the ‘Bergen meeting’ partners agreed the aim of the EBRNetwork is to reduce waste in research by promoting:
No new studies without prior systematic review of existing evidence
Efficient production, updating and dissemination of systematic…
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Originally posted on POSTNORM:
9:14 p.m. Pst By Alexis Footman
Tuberculosis, South Africa’s number one killer claims the lives of thousands of people every year. 80 percent of the country’s young adult population is infected with TB and many of these people don’t have access to medical care.
Recently, drug-resistant strains of TB have started to emerge causing concerns for a global epidemic and the possibility of lacking effective treatment. Health experts say these strains were introduced in the poor communities of South Africa where the living conditions are prime for spreading infectious bacteria.
At the root of the growing TB issue, there is an even more troubling problem sweeping through South Africa’s population. The majority of those infected with TB in this country, are also HIV positive. With an already weak immune system from HIV, for those co-infected with both illnesses the prognosis is gloomy.
South Africa has the largest number of people…
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“The Secret Knowledge, Just Ignorance By Another Name”: The Real Facts Behind The Facts “They” Want You To Believe
Originally posted on mykeystrokes.com:
I call it the Secret Knowledge.
Meaning that body of information not everyone has, that body known only to those few people who had the good sense to go off the beaten path and seek it. It is information you’ll never see in your “newspapers” or “network news” or any other place overly concerned with verifiable “facts” and reliable “sources.” It will not come to you through a university “study,” peer-reviewed “article,” renowned “expert,” government “agency” or any other such traditional bastion of authority.
No, the Secret Knowledge is the truth behind the truth, the real facts behind the facts “they” want you to believe. It unveils the conspiracies beneath the facade suckers mistake for real life. Not incidentally, the Secret Knowledge will always confirm your worst fears.
I don’t know when the mania for Secret Knowledge began. Maybe it was when King and the Kennedys were killed and some…
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Originally posted on O.N.E.—One Nation’s Echo:
Health financing is the cornerstone of strategy development based on both in terms of raising resources and of ways to manage resources. It is critical to emphasize the need for greater evaluation of the distributional impact of policies and programs. Socioeconomic status could affect public health financing such as people with insurance or money, creating higher expenditures. On the other hand, medically underserved, uninsured and underinsured create greater expenses because they enter the health system at the advanced stages of diseases and in weakened conditions (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). In addition to socioeconomic status, other social determinants that affects both average and distribution of health includes physical environment, lifestyle or behavior, working conditions, social network, family, demographics, political, legal, institutional and cultural factors. Since funding is considered as a scarce resource, it is paramount to allocate resources based on the identified gaps in care. The significance of socioeconomic data in…
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Originally posted on The Vermont Political Observer.:
Listening to Jim Harrison on VPR’s Vermont Edition last Friday led me to one inescapable conclusion: as a public debater, he makes a mighty fine bagman.
Harrison, for those with a bliss-inducing level of ignorance about Statehouse matters, is one of the most effective lobbyists in Montpelier. Harrison heads the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, and his current bête noire is the proposed two-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
Harrison appeared on VPR with the chief pro-tax lobbyist, Anthony Iarrapino of the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont. Harrison’s presentation was pretty much all over the place: he’d shift from one prehashed talking point to another with not even an attempt at segue, he pulled trusty (and rusty)…
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For nearly two decades, Big Pharma commercials have falsely told Americans that mental illness is associated with a chemical brain imbalance, but the truth is that depression and suicidality are associated with poverty, unemployment, and mass incarceration. And the truth is that American society has now become so especially oppressive for young people that an embarrassingly large number of American teenagers and young adults are depressed and suicidal.
In November of 2014, the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a press release titled “Nearly One in Five Adult Americans Experienced Mental Illness in 2013.” This brief press release provides a snapshot of the number of Americans who are suicidal, depressed, and mentally ill, and it bemoans how many Americans are not in treatment. However, excluded from SAMHSA’s press release—yet included in the lengthy results of SAMHSA’s national survey—are economic, age, gender, and other demographic correlates of serious mental illness, depression, and suicidality (serious suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts). It is these demographic correlates that have political implications.
These lengthy results, for example, include extensive evidence that involvement in the criminal justice system (such as being on parole or probation) is highly correlated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness. Yet Americans are not told that preventing unnecessary involvement with the criminal justice system—for example, marijuana legalization and drug use decriminalization—could well prove to be a more powerful antidote to suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness than medical treatment.
Also, the survey results provide extensive evidence that unemployment and poverty are highly associated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness. While correlation is not the equivalent of causation, it makes more sense to be further examining variables that actually are associated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness rather than focusing on variables such as chemical imbalances which are not even correlates (seeAlterNet January 2015). These results beg questions such as: Does unemployment and poverty cause depression, or does depression make it more likely for unemployment and poverty, or are both true?
These results make clear that suicidality, depression, and mental illness are highly correlated with involvement in the criminal justice system, unemployment, and poverty, and occur in greater frequency among young people, women, and Native Americans.
Shouldn’t researchers be examining American societal and cultural variables that are making so many of us depressed and suicidal? At the very least, don’t we as a society want to know what exactly is making physically healthier teenagers and young adults more depressed than senior citizens?
Originally posted on JeffreySterlingMD.com:
Thoughts from a crowded Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia
Over my career, I’ve been fortunate to have studied and assisted healthcare systems all over the world. This past week, Sterling Medical Advice had the pleasure, privilege and outright honor of being invited to spend a week in Indonesia with the U.S. Department of Commerce on a healthcare mission in what will be a recurring role. By way of introduction (in case you weren’t aware), Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world (right after the U.S.) with a population of approximately 252 million people. It is approximately the same size as the United States, and it is a democracy and a member of the G-20 (with the 17th largest world economy).
More relevantly, Indonesia is in the midst of becoming the largest country in the world to implement a system of universal healthcare for its citizens. That’s right:…
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American scientists believe they face a challenging environment and the vast majority of them support the idea that participation in policy debates and engagement with citizens and journalists is necessary to further their work and careers.
A survey of 3,748 American-based scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) finds that 87% agree with the statement “Scientists should take an active role in public policy debates about issues related to science and technology.”Just 13% of these scientists back the opposite statement: “Scientists should focus on establishing sound scientific facts and stay out of public policy debates.”
This widely held view among scientists about active engagement combines with scientists’ perspectives on the relationship between science and society today in several ways:
- Most scientists see an interested public: 71% of AAAS scientists believe the public has either some or a lot of interest in their specialty area.
- Many scientists see debates over scientific research findings in the media:53% of AAAS scientists say there is a lot or some debate in the news about their field.
- A sizable share of scientists believe careers can be advanced by media coverage of their work and social media use: 43% of AAAS scientists say it is important or very important for scientists in their specialty to get coverage of their work in news media, up from 37% who said that in a 2009 survey. Some 22% described it as either “very important” (4%) or “important” (18%) for career advancement in their discipline to promote their findings on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Still, a majority of AAAS scientists say it is not too or not at all important for career advancement to have their research covered in the news (56%), and 77% say it is not too or not at all important for career advancement to promote their findings on social media.
- At the same time, most scientists believe that science news coverage can pose problems for science: 79% of scientists believe it is a major problem for science that news reports don’t distinguish between well-founded and not well-founded scientific findings. Further, 52% of scientists say that simplification of scientific findings is a major problem for science in general.
Using Twitter can help physicians be better prepared to answer questions from their patients, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.
The study, presented today at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), finds more and more health care professionals are embracing social media. This challenges common opinion that physicians are reluctant to jump on the social media bandwagon.
“Many people go online for health information, but little research has been done on who is participating in these discussions or what is being shared,” says Julie Robillard, lead author and neurology professor at UBC’s National Core for Neuroethics and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.
Robillard and fourth-year psychology student Emanuel Cabral spent six months monitoring conversations surrounding stem cell research related to spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease on Twitter. They found roughly 25 per cent of the tweets about spinal cord injury and 15 per cent of the tweets about Parkinson’s disease were from health care professionals.
The study found the majority of tweets were about research findings, particularly the ones perceived as medical breakthroughs. The most shared content were links to research reports……
Looks like I’m going to cut down on the carbs, increase fruits/vegetables
Originally posted on TIME:
A little fat may not be harmful, while too much of it can be unhealthy, and even fatal. But in the latest review of studies that investigated the link between dietary fat and causes of death, researchers say the guidelines got it all wrong. In fact, recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made.
Reporting in the journalOpenHeart, Zoe Harcombe, a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at University of the West of Scotland, and her colleagues say that the data decisionmakers had in 1977, when the first U.S. guidelines on dietary fat were made, did not provide any support for the idea that eating less fat would translate to fewer cases of heart disease, or that it would save lives.
“The bottom line is that there wasn’t evidence for those guidelines to be introduced,” she says. “One of the…
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My go to for anything medically/health related “for the rest of us”. Great links to reputable organizations, agencies, and health care facilities
Originally posted on Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library:
MedlinePlus: It’s like you have a medical professional right in your computer
Did you know you can access up to date, authoritative information on nearly 1,000 health topics in easy to read (i.e., non-medical jargon) language for FREE? The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine have a terrific resource called MedlinePlus geared toward the general public, and not health professionals.
Health topics in MedlinePlus are available in many different languages, from Japanese to Samoan, even Swahili and Polish. Topics are categorized by body location/system, disorders and conditions, diagnosis and therapy, demographic groups, and health and wellness. You can also find information on drugs and supplements, and watch videos and tutorials.
Although the content in MedlinePlus is not meant for health professionals, the information found here can be very useful for physicians and nurses. Materials in MedlinePlus are typically written at a 5th to…
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My sentiments exactly, could just be the grapes
Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:
Red wine is back in the news and this time its relationship affects how the body burns fat. Most of the benefits of red wine has been related to lower rates of heart disease found in the French population – a.k.a the French Paradox. But this time, it’s back to obesity rates and here the French shine too – they are low. White wine is not mentioned here, but eating red grapes might be worth a shot. The study was done on mice, so caution should be taken here as to whether it applies to humans. Also how much wine was not mentioned – so moderation is of utmost importance here. I would stick to consuming more red grapes until more is known about the wine dosage, just to be on the safe side.
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[Press release] Many More Low-Income Children Starting the Day with School Breakfast, Find New Reports from the Food Research and Action Center
School breakfast continues to make significant gains in communities across the U.S., according to two new analyses by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released today, which look at school breakfast participation at the district, state, and national level. During the 2013-2014 school year, an average of 11.2 million low-income children ate a healthy morning meal each day at school, an increase of 320,000 children from the previous school year, according to FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard (pdf) on state trends and School Breakfast — Making it Work in Large Districts (pdf).
FRAC measures School Breakfast Program participation by comparing the number of low-income children receiving school breakfast to the number of such children receiving school lunch. By this measure, nationally 53 low-income children ate school breakfast for every 100 who also ate school lunch, an increase from the previous school year’s ratio of 52:100, and far above the 43:100 ratio of a decade earlier.
Progress is being made, but still nearly half of low-income students in the U.S. are missing out on school breakfast and its well-established benefits for health and education. Research demonstrates the profound impact school breakfast has on improving nutrition and ensuring children start the day ready to learn.
“More low-income children are eating breakfast, and a large part of this success is due to more schools and states adopting proven strategies to increase participation,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “FRAC’s research has shown that participation grows in schools that offer breakfast in the classroom or from ‘grab and go’ carts, or that use other creative ways to get breakfast to hungry students. The new Community Eligibility Provision to expand the program in high poverty schools also is showing promise. We know what works, and more children are eating breakfast as a result. ”
Not only are more children starting the day with school breakfast, but they also are eating healthier meals as a result of new nutrition standards which went into full effect in the 2013-2014 school year.
The leakage rates in “the developing world” (such a misnomer, we are all developing) is a real shocker
Originally posted on Teagan Kuruna:
Produced by Mairi Mackay and George Webster for CNN. Designed by Matt Barringer. Source. Sources used in infographic: World Health Organization, UNHabitat, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, UNEP, World Water Assessment Programme
This great infographic put together by Mairi McKay, George Webster, and Matt Baringer of CNN uses data from UNWater to illustrate important facts about drinking water around the world. Some of the stats:
- 80% of illnesses in the developing world are related to water.
- 1 in 4 urban residents worldwide do not have access to clean water–only 11% of city dwellers in Uganda can safely consume the water.
- While nowhere near comparable to what’s happening in the developing world, it’s surprising to see that 3% of Americans living in cities do not have access to safe water.
As water shortages continue and inevitably worsen, these problems will only be exacerbated. Learn more about the issues and…
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From the 2015 Psychology, Public Policy and Law journal article (Volume 21, Number 1)
Concealing Campus Sexual Assault: An Empirical Examination (PDF)
Source: Psychology, Public Policy and Law
This study tests whether there is substantial undercounting of sexual assault by universities. It compares the sexual assault data submitted by universities while being audited for Clery Act violations with the data from years before and after such audits. If schools report higher rates of sexual assault during times of higher regulatory scrutiny (audits), then that result would support the conclusion that universities are failing to accurately tally incidents of sexual assault during other time periods. The study finds that university reports of sexual assault increase by approximately 44% during the audit period. After the audit is completed, the reported sexual assault rates drop to levels statistically indistinguishable from the preaudit time frame. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the ordinary practice of universities is to undercount incidents of sexual assault. Only during periods in which schools are audited do they appear to offer a more complete picture of sexual assault levels on campus. Further, the data indicate that the audits have no long-term effect on the reported levels of sexual assault, as those crime rates return to previous levels after the audit is completed. This last finding is supported even in instances when fines are issued for noncompliance. The study tests for a similar result with the tracked crimes of aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary, but reported crimes show no statistically significant differences before, during, or after audits. The results of the study point toward 2 broader conclusions directly relevant to policymaking in this area. First, greater financial and personnel resources should be allocated commensurate with the severity of the problem and not based solely on university reports of sexual assault levels. Second, the frequency of auditing should be increased, and statutorily capped fines should be raised to deter transgressors from continuing to undercount sexual violence. The Campus Accountability and Safety Act, presently before Congress, provides an important step in that direction.
“I think the Affordable Care Act is actually doing quite well,” says Senior Fellow Alice Rivlin in this podcast. Rivlin, the Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair in Health Policy Studies and director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at Brookings, cited the expansion of medical insurance coverage, declining cost growth, and other positive factors for the ACA. She also reflects on continued political opposition to the law, the impending King v. Burwell Supreme Court case, and what it was like to stand up a new federal agency, the Congressional Budget Office, in 1975.
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[This is a screenshot, was unable to upload via an application similar to YouTube]
Also in the podcast, Senior Fellow David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, offers his regular “Wessel’s Economic Update.”
- Improving Health While Reducing Cost Growth, What is Possible? (with Mark McClellan)
– People Who Wanted Market-Driven Health Care Now Have it in the Affordable Care Act
– Health360: The latest views on health policy
From the 5 February 2015 report
More Partisan Opinions of the EPA, CIA
The public continues to express positive views of many agencies of the federal government, even though overall trust in government is near historic lows. Large majorities express favorable views of such government agencies as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NASA and the Defense Department.
In fact, favorable opinions surpass unfavorable views for seven of eight government agencies tested – the IRS is the lone exception. In a survey last February, however, just 24% said they could trust the government in Washington always or most of time. (See this interactive for more on trust in government.)
More at http://www.people-press.org/2015/01/22/most-view-the-cdc-favorably-vas-image-slips/2/, including tables on NSA, IRS, and VA; views based on party affiliation and Tea Party Republicans
My sentiments exactly. A few months ago, I collapsed at church. Although I couldn’t stand up well, I knew it was from exhaustion, and not anything needing immediate expensive care. I was talked into going to the hospital by the first responders. Battery of tests showed everything was normal. Thank goodness for insurance, the bill was nearly $2,000.
Originally posted on As Our Parents Age:
When we are sick, how much health care is good health care? These days when we call an ambulance, the medics rush in with all sorts of equipment and medications — called advanced life support, which replaces the basic life support that many of us learned in CPR classes.
Doing More for Patients Often Does No Good, a January 12, 2015 article appearing in the New York Times, makes the point that more advanced therapies and medical care do not guarantee higher quality or better outcomes. Written by Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., the piece shares a study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that compared the outcomes for patients who had received life support — basic or advanced — before being admitted to the hospital. He also writes about other studies that appear to show how the most advanced emergency care does not necessarily mean longer survival.
Dr. Carroll, a professor…
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“Between 2002 and 2010, both improvements in health (ie, increased physical activity and life satisfaction) and declines in health (increased body mass and physical symptoms) in young people were recorded. At the same time, the difference in health between the least and the most well-off became larger.”
Over the past decade, rising national wealth across high-income countries has contributed to some improvements in health and well-being among adolescents. But the gap in health between rich and poor has widened, an international study of nearly half a million adolescents from 34 countries  across Europe and North America has found.
The findings, published in The Lancet, reveal that socioeconomic differences across multiple areas of adolescent mental and physical health increased between 2002 and 2010, with young people from the poorest socioeconomic groups more likely to be in worse health: being less physically active, with larger body mass index (BMI), and reporting more physical and psychological symptoms (such as irritability or headaches).
“A strong international focus on reducing child poverty and mortality in children under 5 years has not been matched by a similar response in older age groups, resulting in widening socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent health,”  explains Frank Elgar, lead author and a psychiatry Professor at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.
“If health inequalities are now widening in such abundantly rich countries, particularly during the so-called ‘healthy years’ of adolescence, then these trends are especially alarming for future population health.” 
The aim of the study was to measure socioeconomic-related inequalities in five areas of adolescent health (physical activity, body mass index, psychological symptoms [irritability, feeling low, feeling nervous, and difficulty sleeping] and physical symptoms [headache, stomach ache, backache, and feeling dizzy, and life satisfaction]), and to track their changes between 2002 and 2010.
The researchers analysed nationally representative data from almost 500000 young people across Europe and North America who participated in the WHO Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. The adolescents (age 11 to 15) were surveyed in 2002, 2006, and 2010. Socioeconomic status was based on material assets and common indicators of wealth such a owning a car. The researchers also examined whether differences in health and health inequalities between socioeconomic groups related to national wealth and income inequality.
Between 2002 and 2010, both improvements in health (ie, increased physical activity and life satisfaction) and declines in health (increased body mass and physical symptoms) in young people were recorded. At the same time, the difference in health between the least and the most well-off became larger. For example, the difference in amount of physical activity between the least and most affluent groups increased from 0.79 days to 0.83 days per week. Increasing differences were also found for body mass index (0.15 to 0.18), psychological symptoms (0.58 to 0.67), and physical symptoms (0.21 to 0.26). Only in life satisfaction did inequality decline, from a 0.98 point difference in 2002 to a 0.95 point difference in 2010 (see figure 1 page 3 and table 4 page 5).
The research also showed that adolescents living in countries with greater income inequality were less physically active had larger body mass index, lower life satisfaction, and reported more psychological and physical symptoms. Young people in these countries also had larger health inequalities between socioeconomic groups in psychological and physical symptoms and life satisfaction.
According to Professor Elgar, “The many health and social problems that relate to income inequality and the current global trends in rising income inequality all lead to a grim prediction about future population health. Urgent action is needed to tackle inequities in health in adolescence.”
Writing in a linked Comment, John Santelli, Wendy Baldwin, and Jennifer Heitel from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, USA point out, “Investment in youth now could pay huge dividends in health outcomes and reduce health disparities in later years…Although some interventions should always support individual behaviour change, Elgar and colleagues remind us of the importance of social context. To improve health and reduce health disparities across the lifespan, a focus should be on social factors that affect the health and wellbeing of young people .”
Originally posted on The Newfangled M.P.H.:
You know when you finish an incredible book, and you spend the next few days or weeks just going over everything? It’s your brain obsession for a while, you process everything and go over details. I love those books. When you just connect for some reason; writing style, the topic, a character, a paragraph. Everyone has these handful of books that stay with them.
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Originally posted on The cHealth Blog:
So, at the risk of ‘dumbing down’ adoption, here is my list of five accelerants. If we could make these go faster, the adoption of connected health would accelerate too.
1. Increase value-based reimbursement for providers.
The more providers are financially rewarded for outcomes/quality and efficiency, the more they will be receptive to virtual care. This is more acute in situations where providers take on downside risk, i.e., they lose money if they do not achieve the targets mentioned above. Virtual care enables improved efficiency by allowing us to scale our human resources across more individuals/patients. It enables improved quality by enhancing ‘just-in-time’ decision-making. And, patients are almost universally in favor of it. For instance, a recent survey showed that 64% of consumers were receptive to virtual visits with their doctor.
2. Create more mechanisms for provider reimbursement for non face-to-face care (like the new CMS CPT code that…
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From the 28 January 2015 University of Manchester press release
A way to eradicate cancer stem cells, using the side-effects of commonly used antibiotics, has been discovered by a University of Manchester researcher following a conversation with his young daughter.
Professor Michael P. Lisanti, Director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Unit, led the research. He was inspired to look at the effects of antibiotics on the mitochondria of cancer stem cells by a conversation with his daughter Camilla about his work at the University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences. Camilla is currently a student at the Moor Allerton Preparatory School.
His new paper, published in Oncotarget, opens up the possibility of a treatment for cancer, which is highly effective and repurposes drugs which have been safely used for decades.
Mitochondria are the ‘engine’ parts of the cells and are the source of energy for the stem cells as they mutate and divide to cause tumours. Cancer stem cells are strongly associated with the growth and recurrence of all cancers and are especially difficult to eradicate with normal treatment, which also leads to tumours developing resistance to other types of therapy.
Professor Lisanti said: “I was having a conversation with Camilla about how to cure cancer and she asked why don’t we just use antibiotics like we do for other illnesses. I knew that antibiotics can affect mitochondria and I’ve been doing a lot of work recently on how important they are to the growth of tumours, but this conversation helped me to make a direct link.”
Professor Lisanti worked with colleagues from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York and the Kimmel Cancer Centre, Philadelphia. The team used five types of antibiotics – including one used to treat acne (doxycycline) – on cell lines of eight different types of tumour and found that four of them eradicated the cancer stem cells in every test. This included glioblastoma, the most aggressive of brain tumours, as well as lung, prostate, ovarian, breast, pancreatic and skin cancer.
Mitochondria are believed to be descended from bacteria which joined with cells early on in the evolution of life. This is why some of the antibiotics which are used to destroy bacteria also affect mitochondria, though not to an extent which is dangerous to people. When they are present in stem cells, mitochondria provide energy for growth and, crucially, for division, and it is this process going wrong which leads to cancer.
In the lab, the antibiotics had no harmful effect on normal cells, and since they are already approved for use in humans, trials of new treatments should be simpler than with new drugs – saving time and money.
Professor Lisanti said: “This research makes a strong case for opening new trials in humans for using antibiotics to fight cancer. Many of the drugs we used were extremely effective, there was little or no damage to normal cells and these antibiotics have been in use for decades and are already approved by the FDA for use in humans. However, of course, further studies are needed to validate their efficacy, especially in combination with more conventional therapies.”
Dr Matthew Lam, Senior Research Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “The conclusions that the researchers have drawn, whilst just hypotheses at this stage, are certainly interesting. Antibiotics are cheap and readily available and if in time the link between their use and the eradication of cancer stem cells can be proved, this work may be the first step towards a new avenue for cancer treatment.
“This is a perfect example of why it is so important to continue to invest in scientific research. Sometimes there are answers to some of the biggest questions right in front of us but without ongoing commitment to the search for these answers, we’d never find them.”
Importantly, previous clinical trials with antibiotics – intended to treat cancer-associated infections, but not cancer cells – have already shown positive therapeutic effects in cancer patients. These trials were performed on advanced or treatment-resistant patients.
In the lung cancer patients, azithromycin, the antibiotic used, increased one-year patient survival from 45% to 75%. Even lymphoma patients who were ‘bacteria-free’ benefited from a three-week course of doxycycline therapy, and showed complete remission of the disease. These results suggest that the antibiotic’s therapeutic effects were actually infection-independent.
“As these drugs are considerably cheaper than current therapies, they can improve treatment in the developing world where the number of deaths from cancer is predicted to increase significantly over the next ten years,” said Dr Federica Sotgia, another leader of the study.
The research was published in the journal Oncotarget and part-funded by Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
The paper is available here.
[Issue Brief] The Rise in Health Care Coverage and Affordability Since Health Reform Took Effect – The Commonwealth Fund
From the January 2015 Issue Brief
New results from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2014, indicate that the Affordable Care Act’s subsidized insurance options and consumer protections reduced the number of uninsured working-age adults from an estimated 37 million people, or 20 percent of the population, in 2010 to 29 million, or 16 percent, by the second half of 2014. Conducted from July to December 2014, for the first time since it began in 2001, the survey finds declines in the number of people who report cost-related access problems and medical-related financial difficulties. The number of adults who did not get needed health care because of cost declined from 80 million people, or 43 percent, in 2012 to 66 million, or 36 percent, in 2014. The number of adults who reported problems paying their medical bills declined from an estimated 75 million people in 2012 to 64 million people in 2014. Read the brief.