Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Nearly 4 Million Mentally Ill Left Uninsured

Nearly 4 Million Mentally Ill Left Uninsured.

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 persistent cancer myths debunked

Originally posted on Access Science:

Ever been told that eating superfoods prevents cancer? Or the one about sharks not being able to get cancer? If you’ve wondered how much truth is behind these ‘facts’ you should follow this link . Cancer Research have put out a fantastic blogpost debunking these cancer myths amongst others. Well worth a quick read!

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April 2, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anthropology and Public Health

Originally posted on HIV/AIDS in Global Context (PH770 - CUNY SPH):

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One major statement that stuck out to me from Ida Susser’s discussion of her book AIDS, Sex and Culture was that “anthropology starts where public health ends.” In her lecture she discussed how easy it is to switch hats from public health to anthropologist. Susser was able to emphasize the fact that public health professionals must understand how data frames ideas. For example, an HIV mortality rate men to women of 10:1 is looked at differently from a public health eye then from an anthropologist eye. Public health would put more funding and research into men and would discount women since they are dying at a lesser rate than men. Anthropology would look deeper at similarities and differences, both within and among societies, and would pay attention to race, sexuality, class, gender, and nationality.

Public health addresses infectious disease epidemiology. However, anthropology can help inform public health about other components…

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April 2, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cigarette smoking prevalence in US counties: 1996-2012

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

Cigarette smoking prevalence in US counties: 1996-2012
Source: Population Health Metrics

Background
Cigarette smoking is a leading risk factor for morbidity and premature mortality in the United States, yet information about smoking prevalence and trends is not routinely available below the state level, impeding local-level action.

Methods
We used data on 4.7 million adults age 18 and older from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) from 1996 to 2012. We derived cigarette smoking status from self-reported data in the BRFSS and applied validated small area estimation methods to generate estimates of current total cigarette smoking prevalence and current daily cigarette smoking prevalence for 3,127 counties and county equivalents annually from 1996 to 2012. We applied a novel method to correct for bias resulting from the exclusion of the wireless-only population in the BRFSS prior to 2011.

Results
Total cigarette smoking prevalence varies dramatically between counties, even within states, ranging…

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March 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates (PDF)
Source: American Journal of Public Health

Objectives.
We sought to better understand acts of self-harm among inmates in correctional institutions.

Methods.
We analyzed data from medical records on 244 699 incarcerations in the New York City jail system from January 1, 2010, through January 31, 2013.

Results.
In 1303 (0.05%) of these incarcerations, 2182 acts of self-harm were committed, (103 potentially fatal and 7 fatal). Although only 7.3% of admissions included any solitary confinement, 53.3% of acts of self-harm and 45.0% of acts of potentially fatal self-harm occurred within this group. After we controlled for gender, age, race/ethnicity, serious mental illness, and length of stay, we found self-harm to be associated significantly with being in solitary confinement at least once, serious mental illness, being aged 18 years or younger, and being Latino or White, regardless of gender.

Conclusions.
These self-harm…

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March 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crime and Mental Wellbeing

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

Crime and Mental Wellbeing (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

We provide empirical evidence of crime’s impact on the mental wellbeing of both victims and non-victims. We differentiate between the direct impact to victims and the indirect impact to society due to the fear of crime. The results show a decrease in mental wellbeing after violent crime victimization and that the violent crime rate has a negative impact on mental wellbeing of non-victims. Property crime victimization and property crime rates show no such comparable impact. Finally, we estimate that society-wide compensation due to increasing the crime rate by one victim is about 80 times more than the direct impact on the victim.

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March 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where’s HIV in the United States?

Originally posted on GIS Use in Public Health and Health Care:

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AIDSVu is an interactive online map illustrating the prevalence of HIV in the United States. The state- and county-level data on AIDSVu come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national HIV surveillance database, which is comprised of HIV surveillance reports from state and local health departments. ZIP code and census tract data come directly from state, county and city health departments, depending on which entity is responsible for HIV surveillance in a particular geographic area.

Uses can search through HIV prevalence data by race/ethnicity, sex and age, and see how HIV prevalence is related to various social determinants of health, such as educational attainment and poverty.

As one can see, HIV prevalence in the United States is concentrated in the South highlighting one of the many health disparities in the North-South divide in the United States.

Check out the map here.

Juhi Mawla, Intern, gis@vertices.com 

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March 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Press release] Obesity: Not just what you eat

Obesity: Not just what you eat.

Tel Aviv University research shows fat mass in cells expands with disuse

Over 35 percent of American adults and 17 percent of American children are considered obese, according to the latest survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even certain types of cancer, obesity places a major burden on the health care system and economy. It’s usually treated through a combination of diet, nutrition, exercise, and other techniques.

To understand how obesity develops, Prof. Amit Gefen, Dr. Natan Shaked and Ms. Naama Shoham of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, together with Prof. Dafna Benayahu of TAU’s Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, used state-of-the-art technology to analyze the accumulation of fat in the body at the cellular level. According to their findings, nutrition is not the only factor driving obesity. The mechanics of “cellular expansion” plays a primary role in fat production, they discovered.

By exposing the mechanics of fat production at a cellular level, the researchers offer insight into the development of obesity. And with a better understanding of the process, the team is now creating a platform to develop new therapies and technologies to prevent or even reverse fat gain. The research was published this week in the Biophysical Journal.

Getting to the bottom of obesity

“Two years ago, Dafna and I were awarded a grant from the Israel Science Foundation to investigate how mechanical forces increase the fat content within fat cells. We wanted to find out why a sedentary lifestyle results in obesity, other than making time to eat more hamburgers,” said Prof. Gefen. “We found that fat cells exposed to sustained, chronic pressure — such as what happens to the buttocks when you’re sitting down — experienced accelerated growth of lipid droplets, which are molecules that carry fats.

“Contrary to muscle and bone tissue, which get mechanically weaker with disuse, fat depots in fat cells expanded when they experienced sustained loading by as much as 50%. This was a substantial discovery.”

The researchers discovered that, once it accumulated lipid droplets, the structure of a cell and its mechanics changed dramatically. Using a cutting-edge atomic force microscope and other microscopy technologies, they were able to observe the material composition of the transforming fat cell, which became stiffer as it expanded. This stiffness alters the environment of surrounding cells by physically deforming them, pushing them to change their own shape and composition.

“When they gain mass and change their composition, expanding cells deform neighboring cells, forcing them to differentiate and expand,” said Prof. Gefen. “This proves that you’re not just what you eat. You’re also what you feel — and what you’re feeling is the pressure of increased weight and the sustained loading in the tissues of the buttocks of the couch potato.”

The more you know …

“If we understand the etiology of getting fatter, of how cells in fat tissues synthesize nutritional components under a given mechanical loading environment, then we can think about different practical solutions to obesity,” Prof. Gefen says. “If you can learn to control the mechanical environment of cells, you can then determine how to modulate the fat cells to produce less fat.”

The team hopes that its observations can serve as a point of departure for further research into the changing cellular environment and different stimulations that lead to increased fat production.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Health-care professionals should prescribe sleep to prevent, treat metabolic disorders, experts argue — ScienceDaily

Health-care professionals should prescribe sleep to prevent, treat metabolic disorders, experts argue — ScienceDaily.

Date:
March 24, 2014
Source:
The Lancet
Summary:
Evidence increasingly suggests that insufficient or disturbed sleep is associated with metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, and addressing poor quality sleep should be a target for the prevention — and even treatment — of these disorders. Addressing some types of sleep disturbance — such as sleep apnea — may have a directly beneficial effect on patients’ metabolic health, say the authors. But a far more common problem is people simply not getting enough sleep, particularly due to the increased use of devices such as tablets and portable gaming devices.

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Addressing some types of sleep disturbance — such as sleep apnea — may have a directly beneficial effect on patients’ metabolic health, say the authors. But a far more common problem is people simply not getting enough sleep, particularly due to the increased use of devices such as tablets and portable gaming devices.
Furthermore, disruption of the body’s natural sleeping and waking cycle (circadian desynchrony) often experienced by shift workers and others who work outside daylight hours, also appears to have a clear association with poor metabolic health, accompanied by increased rates of chronic illness and early mortality.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Children exposed to methamphetamine before birth have increased cognitive problems — ScienceDaily

Children exposed to methamphetamine before birth have increased cognitive problems — ScienceDaily.

March 27, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Health Strategy on the Reduction of Inequalities: Not a Utopian Fantasy

Originally posted on O.N.E.—One Nation’s Echo:

          As social inequalities in health in the U.S. and international evidence continue to increase, disparities in income and wealth widened the gap making social class as a key determinant of population health. The gap is widening between upper-middle-class Americans and middle class Americans. Health and longevity are determined by the access of advances in medicine and disease prevention. These benefits are disproportionately delivered to individuals who have more education, connections, money, and good jobs. They are the ones in the best position to learn new information early, modify their behavior, take advantage of the latest treatments and have the cost covered by insurance. Since 1911, mortality statistics in Britain have consistently shown an inverse relation between measures of socio-economic status and mortality. While social class has been a less popular topic in the United States, this has been a trend in Europe since George III. Socio-economic…

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A vascular surgeon explains why he ditched statins for more meat and less sugar, lowering his cholesterol in the process

Originally posted on National Post | Life:

When I had a routine health checkup eight years ago, my cholesterol was so high that the laboratory thought there had been a mistake. I had 9.3 millimoles of cholesterol in every litre of blood — almost twice the recommended maximum.

It was quite a shock. The general practitioner instantly prescribed statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs that are supposed to prevent heart disease and strokes. For eight years, I faithfully popped my 20mg atorvastatin pills, without side effects. Then, one day last May, I stopped. It wasn’t a snap decision; after looking more closely at the research, I’d concluded statins were not going to save me from a heart attack and that my cholesterol levels were all but irrelevant.

[np_storybar title="Red-faced drinkers have spiked risk of high blood pressure, study says" link="http://life.nationalpost.com/2013/11/20/red-faced-drinkers-have-spiked-risk-of-high-blood-pressure-study-says/"]
That uncle or aunt who turns beet red after a few beers or a couple of glasses of wine?…

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Longitudinal Analysis of Electronic Cigarette Use and Smoking Cessation

Originally posted on Natural Products News and Updates:

dstockzlaja-i-pedjaset2pedja-no-2stock-4-100229272 The latest Journal of American Medical Association published a longitudinal analysis evaluating the smoking cessation rates in close to 1600 current smokers using electronic cigarettes. The authors stated that the study did not achieve statistical power, but contributed to the building evidence that e-cigarettes do not increase smoking cessation rates, as often suggested by manufacturers. What is your experience with e-cigarettes – personally or with your patients? Would your current recommendations change after reading this survey?

For additional information, please see JAMA.

Image courtesy of [patrisyu]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution
Source: World Health Organization

In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Should we consider alcohol-related violence to be a social justice issue?

Originally posted on One Punch Too Many:

Social justice is where the rights of every person in a community are considered in a fair and equitable manner. Consider these facts in relation to alcohol-related violence, when evaluating the relation of this issue to social justice:
  • People who are younger, from lower socioeconomic areas, and of lower education status are more likely to use and abuse alcohol and be involved with violent behaviours; meaning these groups are particularly vulnerable to experiencing alcohol-related violence.
  • Victims of alcohol-related violence are often young men, but men and women from all ages can be affected directly or indirectly, including children.
  • The victims of alcohol-related violence can be killed by a single punch, often in unprovoked or unexpected attacks. Those that live often have expensive hospitalisations, severe morbidities and long recoveries.

For health, social justice revolves around four key ideas; access, equity, rights and participation. The statements above establish that there is inequality…

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Air pollution’s 2012 toll: 7 million

Originally posted on Science for the Future:

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Polluted air killed seven million human beings in 2012.

So concludes a new report from the World Health Organization, which also found that one-third of the deaths occurred in Asia.

Air pollution is now Earth’s most dangerous environmental threat to health, the WHO study says, and it accounts for one out of every eight deaths.

Emissions of pollution to the atmosphere raises the risk that individuals will suffer heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. About 40 percent of heart disease victims and about 40 percent of stroke victims die as a result of outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution, such as from smoke and soot, accounts for 34 percent of stroke deaths and 26 percent of ischemic heart disease fatalities.

Overall, WHO estimates that 4.3 million people died as a result of exposure to indoor air pollution, while 3.7 million individuals perished due to outdoor air pollution.

“Cleaning up the air…

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Many Medicare Patients Get Same Narcotics Prescription from Multiple Doctors

Originally posted on Hofstra H.E.A.L.:

A Harvard Medical School study revealed that one in three Medicare patients with narcotic prescriptions received the prescriptions for the same drug from multiple doctors. The doctors of these patients did not know the patients were receiving the prescriptions from other doctors already. It is likely that this trend contributes to the rise in prescription narcotics, as well as to the deaths from patients overdosing unintentionally on these drugs. Another study, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed that 35% of 1.2 million Medicare patients who received prescriptions for opioids received  prescriptions for the same drug from several doctors.

Read more here.

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Escaping Death [in the Tropics]

Originally posted on Jeff Bloem:

It started after one of those nice conversations you have with someone you’ll (probably) never see again. We both exchanged pleasantries sharing about our personal histories and goals for the future. After a brief discussion about malaria and the risk (or lack there of) of contracting malaria in Kitale, it happened.

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Inequality Kills. Policy Drives Inequality. Elections Matter

Originally posted on The Inverse Square Blog:

Annie Lowrey in The New York Times today:

Fairfax is a place of the haves, and McDowell of the have-nots. Just outside of Washington, fat government contracts and a growing technology sector buoy the median household income in Fairfax County up to $107,000, one of the highest in the nation. McDowell, with the decline of coal, has little in the way of industry. Unemployment is high. Drug abuse is rampant. Median household income is about one-fifth that of Fairfax.

One of the starkest consequences of that divide is seen in the life expectancies of the people there. Residents of Fairfax County are among the longest-lived in the country: Men have an average life expectancy of 82 years and women, 85, about the same as in Sweden. In McDowell, the averages are 64 and 73, about the same as in Iraq.

There have long been stark economic differences between Fairfax County…

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

News: The Lancet’s manifesto “From Public to Planetary Health”

Originally posted on Library News:

globeSource: The Lancet

The Lancet wants to see public health transformed and is asking health professionals to commit to their manifesto.

Our vision is for a planet that nourishes and sustains the diversity of life with which we co-exist and on which we depend. Our goal is to create a movement for planetary health.

Read and register your agreement with the manifesto.

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Newtown Public Opinion on Gun Policy—the Disconnect with Political Action

Originally posted on Johns Hopkins University Press Blog:

Guest Post by Beth McGinty and Colleen Barry

Fourteen months ago, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school prompted a national dialogue about gun violence. The weeks and months following the shooting provided a rare window of opportunity for policymakers to garner the public support and political will needed to strengthen gun laws in the United States, and polls showed that the overwhelming majority of Americans supported many gun policy options. In January 2013, less than a month after the Sandy Hook shooting, our team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research conducted a national public opinion survey to gauge Americans’ support for gun policy options. We found that large majorities of Americans— including gun owners and Republicans—supported a wide range of gun policies, including policies to enhance the background check system for gun sales and prevent certain categories of dangerous persons—like those convicted of…

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sexual violence and exploitation are public health issues

Originally posted on Public Health Emergency:

Almost a year after public health responsibilities transferred back to local government, Birmingham City Council is getting to grips with sexual health…and that means tackling big issues like sexual violence and exploitation.

Ask most people what sexual health services meant to them and the most common answers will be contraception or family planning and of course sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

In truth, that is only part of the story.

In Birmingham we’re currently reviewing services to ensure we meet the needs of one of Europe’s youngest cities in 2014 and that means an increased focus on the less talked about issues of sexual coercion, sexual violence and exploitation.

Figures taken from the British Crime Survey show that 76,000 Birmingham women and 1,100 men have been subject to a sexual assault since the age of 16. In 2011 (the most recent figures we have), that amounted to 11,600 women and 1,100…

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

E-cigarettes – We Need More Research

Originally posted on Drexel SPH Blog:

E Cigarettes Become Popular Alternative E-cigarettes are a growing method of respiring nicotine and other hazardous chemicals into one’s body.  Recently I heard students across the country are using e-cigarettes on college campuses and in college buildings.  I think this was bound to happen soon seeing as tobacco products are heavily regulated and taxed.  E-cigarettes offer another method of delivery that is advertised as safer for others in the vicinity because it is a vaporizer.  I am still very hesitant about this, and after being near someone on the train using an e-cigarette, I decided to get some more information.

I came across a publication about secondary exposures to e-cigarette emission.  E-cigarettes contain volatile organic substances including, but not limited to, nicotine and propylene glycol, which is a known odorless and colorless toxin.  When released into the air as “vapor”, there are very small, 2.5 micrometer particulates.  These small particulates penetrate further into the respiratory…

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?

Originally posted on PublicMentalHealth:

Sympathies for violent protest and terrorism were uncommon among men and women, aged 18–45, of Muslim heritage living in two English cities. Youth, wealth, and being in education rather than employment were risk factors.

See the full paper: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0090718

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Press release] Innovative gaming research gains national recognition

Just completed an online continuing ed medical librarian class on emerging technologies.
Week 4 focused on gamification. Went into the course a bit wary on gamification. However,
if developed and implemented properly, it could prevent medical errors.
A local hospital was in the news two years ago for a failed kidney transplant procedure. The donor kidney was placed in the medical waste container. By the time the error was noticed, the kidney was no longer usable.

From the 14 March 2014 EurkAlert

A collaborative project in North Texas could help physicians and nurses improve communication.

 IMAGE: In GLIMPSE, physicians and nurses are helping researchers determine if a video game simulation can improve their communication skills.Click here for more information.

Television shows have been using tension between hospital personnel as compelling drama for years. But, in the real world, misunderstandings and miscommunication in the healthcare environment can cause errors with long-lasting, even fatal consequences.

With that in mind, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, Baylor Scott & White Health and UT Dallas developed a video-game simulation that they say can teach doctors and nurses to work more collaboratively by playing out tense situations in a virtual world.

The federally funded project recently received two national awards at the 4th Annual Serious Games and Virtual Environments Arcade & Showcase during the 2014 International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare in San Francisco. The honors included a Best-in-Show award for the Academic Faculty Category and a 4th place award in the Technology Innovations division.

“Our hope is that this project will enhance patient safety and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes,” said Beth Mancini, a UT Arlington nursing professor and Associate Dean of the College of Nursing. “Being honored by the judges at this year’s International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare tells us that the virtual learning environment we’ve built is among the very best in terms of content and design.”

Read the entire press release here

Links to a few items from the course I took

  • Gamification pioneer Yu-kai Chou, provides an overview of Gamification.
    (His Web site including description of Octoanlysis is here)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5Qjuegtiyc

 

From the class….Choose read a minimum of two (2) of these articles to get a better sense of how gamification is being used in various industries.

  1. In Gaming, A Shift from Enemies to Emotions. NPR. All Tech Considered. January 7, 2014.
  2. Silverman, Rachel (Nov 2, 2011). “Latest Game Theory: Mixing Work and Play — Companies Adopt gaming Techniques to Motivate Employees”. Wallstreet Journal.
  3. Takahashi, Dean (August 25, 2010). “Website builder DevHub gets users hooked by “gamifying” its service”. VentureBeat.
  4.  Sinanian, Michael (April 12, 2010). “The ultimate healthcare reform could be fun and games”. Venture Beat.
  5. A Game wit Heart, Gone Home is a Bold Step in Storytelling. NPR. All Tech Considered. Dec. 26, 2013.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wristbands Offer Clues to Toxin Exposure

Originally posted on HealthCetera - CHMP's Blog:



Environmental exposure, or exposomes, plays a critical role in public health, as Elise Miller, Director of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment   discussed  on a recent segment of   HealthStyles .

Exposomes encompass indoor and outdoor toxins, as well as behavioral factors like nutrition, stress, and lifestyle. Researchers are working on new technologies to better understand the links between exposomes and long-term health effects on a wide range of compounds.

Simple silicone wristbands – like the ones worn for cancer awareness or animal cruelty — may be an inexpensive means to detect potential disease risks of exposure to substances like pesticides. According to a recently published study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, people breathe, touch and ingest a low-level mix of natural and synthetic substances every day.

wristbands

However, determining exactly which compounds can lead to disease is difficult. Thousands of these compounds are in common consumer…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet – Tips on How to Talk with your Health Care Provider

Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet | NCCAM

From the Web page

Order or Download Your Free Patient Packet

As part of the Time To Talk campaign, NCCAM has developed a packet of helpful materials to help you begin a dialogue with your health care providers. Order your packet online or call 1-888-644-6226 and use reference code D393.

Each packet contains:

  • Backgrounder PDFBackgrounder: The backgrounder provides information about the importance of health care providers and their patients talking about complementary health practices.Download PDF

 

Order your packet online or call 1-888-644-6226 and use reference code D393.

 

Related Resources

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[BBC] Cancer ‘tidal wave’ on horizon, warns WHO

Back in 1980/81 I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa.
Cancer was basically unheard of.  Children were dying at high rates of preventable diseases/conditions as malaria and diarrhea. Most diseases were infectious  and/or related to environmental conditions as malaria, dengue fever, and cholera.
Always thought that cancer was not prevalent because the diet was healthy. Everything I ate was what we call “organic”.

Now the tide not only is turning, it has turned.

Just one note, the term “developing country” is a misnomer. All countries are developing!

From the 3 February 2014 BBC article

The globe is facing a “tidal wave” of cancer, and restrictions on alcohol and sugar need to be considered, say World Health Organization scientists.

It predicts the number of cancer cases will reach 24 million a year by 2035, but half could be prevented.

The WHO said there was now a “real need” to focus on cancer prevention by tackling smoking, obesity and drinking.

The World Cancer Research Fund said there was an “alarming” level of naivety about diet’s role in cancer.

Fourteen million people a year are diagnosed with cancer, but that is predicted to increase to 19 million by 2025, 22 million by 2030 and 24 million by 2035.

 

The developing world will bear the brunt of the extra cases.

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Dr Chris Wild, the director of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, told the BBC: “The global cancer burden is increasing and quite markedly, due predominately to the ageing of the populations and population growth.

“If we look at the cost of treatment of cancers, it is spiralling out of control, even for the high-income countries. Prevention is absolutely critical and it’s been somewhat neglected.”

A third of people said cancer was mainly due to family history, but the charity said no more than 10% of cancers were down to inherited genes.

The WHO’s World Cancer Report 2014 said the major sources of preventable cancer included:

  • Smoking
  • Infections
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity and inactivity
  • Radiation, both from the sun and medical scans
  • Air pollution and other environmental factors
  • Delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding

 

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Continue reading the main story

 

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

[Report] Adult illicit drug users are far more likely to seriously consider suicide | Full Text Reports…

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 6.27.11 AM

 

Adult illicit drug users are far more likely to seriously consider suicide 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 16 January SAMSHA news release ( US Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)

Adults using illicit drugs are far more likely to seriously consider suicide than the general adult population according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report finds that 3.9 percent of the nation’s adult population aged 18 or older had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year, but that the rate among adult illicit drug users was 9.4 percent.

According to SAMHSA’s report, the percentage of adults who had serious thoughts of suicide varied by the type of illicit substance used. For example, while 9.6 percent of adults who had used marijuana in the past year had serious thoughts of suicide during that period, the level was 20.9 percent for adults who had used sedatives non-medically in the past year.

“Suicide takes a devastating toll on individuals, families and communities across our nation,” said Dr. Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. “We must reach out to all segments of our community to provide them with the support and treatment they need so that we can help prevent more needless deaths and shattered lives.”

Those in crisis or who know someone they believe may be at immediate risk of attempting suicide are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, funded by SAMHSA, provides immediate free and confidential, round-the-clock crisis counseling to anyone in need throughout the country, every day of the year.

This report, “1 in 11 Past Year Illicit Drug Users Had Serious Thoughts of Suicide,” is based on the findings of SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report. The NSDUH report is based on a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 70,000 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.  Because of its statistical power, it is a primary source of statistical information on the scope and nature of many substance abuse and mental health issues affecting the nation.

The complete survey findings are available on the SAMHSA web site at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/spot129-suicide-thoughts-drug-use-2014.pdf

For more information about SAMHSA visit: http://www.samhsa.gov/.

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February 1, 2014 Posted by | Health Statistics, Psychiatry, Public Health, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Health Shouldn’t Require Wealth: How ACA Increases Coverage of the Uninsured

Originally posted on Psychology Benefits Society:

Stethoscope on pile of money

By Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD (Assoc. Exec. Director, APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office)

According to the US Census, almost 47 million Americans lacked insurance in 2012. Moreover, a 2012 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 15 million of these individuals went without health insurance for three years, with about 10 million uninsured for their entire life.  Over 40% of the uninsured interviewed identified cost as the reason they lacked insurance.

Without health insurance, millions of Americans find themselves unable to access quality and affordable healthcare, which creates health inequities – differences in health outcomes and their determinants between segments of the population, in this case inequities based on income.[1] Related, substantial racial and ethnic health disparities present a very troubling picture. For example, among uninsured adults, people of color are more likely to be uninsured than Whites (27% vs. 15%), with…

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January 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Surgeon General’s Report: After 50 Years, New Harms of Smoking Still Emerging

Originally posted on news@JAMA:

“Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men; the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking outweighs all other factors; and the risk of developing lung cancer increases with the duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked per day, and diminishes by discontinuing smoking.”

This statement from the 1964 landmark surgeon general’s report on smoking—the first public announcement of the negative health consequences of smoking—changed the world’s perception of a centuries-old habit. Now, 50 years later, the new information gained from new research continues to be staggering.

The 2014 surgeon general’s report on “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress”, released last Friday, presented some notable new conclusions since the last report in 2012, including new evidence that

  • smoking causes liver cancer,
  • smoking causes colon cancer,
  • smoking causes diabetes,
  • smoking causes rheumatoid arthritis and general inflammation in the body,
  • secondhand smoke causes stroke.

The report…

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January 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Even organic foods not free of environmental toxins

Originally posted on Vancouver Sun:

Organic growers say that growing fruits and vegetables guaranteed free of pesticides and chemical residues is a “pipe dream.”

Nearly 80 per cent of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables and 50 per cent of organic produce bought at Canadian grocery stores tested positive for pesticide residues, in testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The idea of toxin-free food in the modern world is a fantasy, said Rebecca Kneen, co-president of the Certified Organic Associations of B.C. “We aren’t farming in a bubble.”

Conventional farmers have been applying steadily increasing rates of toxins in the form of pesticides to the soil and to our food directly since the 1950s, said Kneen.

“That’s 70 years of applying agro-toxins, of course they are still going to be there,” she said.
Consumers who buy certified organic foods support a system of agriculture that aims to enhance biodiversity, eliminate synthetic agro-toxins, employs humane animal…

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January 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[News article] Seniors moving to homecare based services face more hospital risk

Seniors moving to homecare based services face more hospital risk.

From the 8 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.55.44 AM

… Aging-in-Place House Plans by Nicolleli Architects. [not an endorsement]

Seniors want greater access to home- and community-based long-term care services. Medicaid policymakers have been happy to oblige with new programs to help people move out of expensive nursing homes and into cheaper community or home care. It seems like a “win-win” to fulfill seniors’ wishes while also saving Medicaid programs money, but a new study of such transitions in seven states finds that the practice resulted in a 40 percent greater risk of “potentially preventable” hospitalizations among seniors dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.

“We are trying to move people into the community and I think that is a really great goal, but we aren’t necessarily providing the medical support services that are needed in the community,” said Andrea Wysocki, a postdoctoral scholar in the Brown University School of Public Health and lead author of the study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. “One of the policy issues is how do we care for not only the long-term care needs when we move someone into home- and community-based settings but also how do we support their medical needs as well?”

Wysocki said her finding of a higher potentially preventable hospitalization risk for seniors who transitioned to community- or home-based care suggests that some medical needs are not as well addressed in community settings as they are in nursing homes. More vigilant and effective treatment for chronic, already-diagnosed ailments such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease could prevent some of the hospitalizations that occur.

There are two likely reasons why care in home and community settings is not as effective in preventing hospitalizations, Wysocki said.

[One]Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care by trained nurses and doctors, but workers with much less medical training provide community- and home-care services.

[Two] In addition, while Medicaid pays for long-term care, Medicare pays for medical care, meaning that Medicaid programs do not have a built-in financial incentive to prevent hospitalizations. Home- and community-based care is less expensive for Medicaid regardless of the medical outcome.

Read the entire article here

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Unintended Pregnancy in the United States | Full Text Reports…

From the 2013 Guttmacher Institute Web site

• Most American families want two children. To achieve this, the average woman spends about five years pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant, and three decades—more than three-quarters of her reproductive life—trying to avoid an unintended pregnancy.[1]

• Most individuals and couples want to plan the timing and spacing of their childbearing and to avoid unintended pregnancies, for a range of social and economic reasons. In addition, unintended pregnancy has a public health impact: Births resulting from unintended or closely spaced pregnancies are associated with adverse maternal and child health outcomes, such as delayed prenatal care, premature birth and negative physical and mental health effects for children. [2,3,4]

• For these reasons, reducing the unintended pregnancy rate is a national public health goal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 campaign aims to reduce unintended pregnancy by 10%, from 49% of pregnancies to 44% of pregnancies, over the next 10 years.[5]

• Currently, about half (51%) of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States each year (3.4 million) are unintended (see box).[6]

• In 2008, there were 54 unintended pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15–44. In other words, about 5% of reproductive-age women have an unintended pregnancy each year.[6]

• By age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and three in 10 will have had an abortion.[7].

• The U.S. unintended pregnancy rate is significantly higher than the rate in many other developed countries.[8]

Incidence of Unintended Pregnancy (State)

• At least 37% of pregnancies in every U.S. state are unintended. In 31 states and the District of Columbia, more than half of pregnancies are unintended (see map).[9]

• Rates of unintended pregnancy are generally highest in the South and Southwest, and in states with large urban populations.[9]

• States with the highest unintended pregnancy rates in 2008 were Delaware (70 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), California (66), Mississippi (66), Louisiana (63), Florida (62), New York (62), Hawaii (61), Georgia (60) and New Jersey (60).

• The lowest unintended pregnancy rates in 2008 were found in New Hampshire (31 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), Wisconsin (35), Maine (36), and Vermont (37). [9]

Read the entire article here

 

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January 20, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Study shows how social media engages people with chronic diseases

Study shows how social media engages people with chronic diseases.

From the 27 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

Using Facebook chats to convey health information is becoming more common. A study at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City set out to find the best way to boost participation in the chats to raise awareness of lupus, an autoimmune disease.

Specifically, investigators at HSS wanted to see if collaboration with a community-based lupus organization would increase patient awareness and participation. They found that the number of people participating in the chat tripled when the hospital joined forces with the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation to publicize the chat.

“The Facebook chats provide a new venue to get information from rheumatologists and other health professionals who understand this complex disease. Lupus patients are hungry for information, and with social media, we can address their specific concerns in real time,” said Jane Salmon, M.D., director of the Lupus Center of Excellence and senior author of the study.

“The Facebook chats provide a new venue to get information from rheumatologists and other health professionals who understand this complex disease. Lupus patients are hungry for information, and with social media, we can address their specific concerns in real time,” said Jane Salmon, M.D., director of the Lupus Center of Excellence and senior author of the study.

Read the entire article here

 

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January 6, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Nuts and death – journal animated video explanation

From the 22 November post at HealthNewsReview.blog

You probably saw, read, or heard about news of an observational study in the New England Journal of Medicine pointing to a statistical association between nut consumption and lower death rate.  Larry Husten did a good job explaining the study on Forbes.com.

The NEJM itself posted a YouTube video that had journal editor Jeffrey Drazen’s voice over an animated explanation.  I hadn’t seen such NEJM videos before.  Take a look. Drazen ends:  “I would be nuts to think that eating nuts alone would add years to my life.”

I wish I had that kind of budget. Frankly, I wish I had any budget.

——————–
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Comments

Ellen Goldbaum posted on November 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

Thank you for posting this wonderful video! It was everything a press release should be but so much more enjoyable! To your point about budgets, even those of us who work for large institutions are wondering, how did NEJM make that video, how much personpower and money does it take? curious.

Reply

Brad F posted on November 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm

they ript off Blank on Blank
http://blankonblank.org/pbs/

 

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Internet Use Associated with Better Decision Making in Older Adults

From the 25 November 2013 posting at HealthCetera – CHMP’s Blog
[Center for Health Media & Policy at Hunter College (CHMP): advancing public conversations about health & health policy]

Older adults face many important decisions about their health and financial well-being. Whether it’s making retirement savings last longer or authorizing a health proxy, the ability to make good choices has consequences for a senior’s quality of life, aging in place, and end of life care. According to a new study from Rush University, presented yesterday at the Gerontological Society of America Conference in New Orleans, Internet use is associated with better health and financial decision-making among older adults.

Senior on laptop“The Internet has become the primary corridor for finding information and assisting in decision-making on finances and healthcare,” said Bryan James, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago and lead author of the study. “The Internet is becoming what we call ‘proto-normative,’ meaning you have to have some ability or savvy to function online these days.”

Recent research from Pew’s Internet and American Life Project show that slightly more than half (53%) of all seniors are now online. However, James said there remains a significant portion of older adults who use the Internet infrequently, or not at all. This may have important implications for quality of life and independence, including the ability to age at home.

James pointed to the digital divide between older and younger people. In addition to the general anxiety expressed by older adults express about computers and the Internet,  there are also certain parts of the aging process that may may pose obstacles to Internet use, such as cognitive decline, as well as decline in hearing, vision, and motor skills.

……

Read the entire post here

Related Resources

Evaluating Health Information (from Health Resources for All, edited  by Janice Flahiff)

Anyone can publish information on the Internet. So it is up to the searcher to decide if the information found through search engines (as Google) is reliable or not. Search engines find Web sites but do not evaluate them for content. Sponsored links may or may not contain good information.
A few universities and government agencies have published great guides on evaluating information.
Here are a few
  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.The tips include
    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?

The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
Topics include

  • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
  • Getting Information from the Web
  • Talking with your Health Care Provider


Additional Resources

 
And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
 

National Council Against Health Fraud

National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency focusing on health misinformation, fraud, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Gun Safety: A Public Health Perspective

Trigger lock fitted to the trigger of a revolver

Trigger lock fitted to the trigger of a revolver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gun Safety: A Public Health Perspective.

“statistics show that the likelihood of accidentally being shot and killed in a home with guns is much higher than in one without, or with the guns locked”

“people may claim they need assault rifles in case the government comes after them; if the government does come after them, however, it will use weapons that will overwhelm anything that a private citizen would own.”

From the 30 October 2013 blog item at charlettelobueno

The recent outbreak of mass shootings, including one that occurred on October 21 at a junior high school in Sparks, Nevada, has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun ownership and Americans’ right to bear arms. How can incidents such as the recent one in Nevada, and the shooting that happened last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., be prevented in a country where the right to own a gun is constitutionally guaranteed?

The first step is addressing gun safety from a public health standpoint, using a multi-pronged approach, similar to that used to reduce the number of car accident fatalities, said Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Such an approach involves making guns safer and educating gun owners and establishing strict licensing standards and conducting thorough background checks. Public awareness campaigns about gun safety and more careful consideration of how gun violence is portrayed in popular media such as video games, movies and TV are also necessary.

A multifaceted approach is required because neither guns nor humans exist in a vacuum. A relationship exists between a human and a gun, much the way it exists between a human and a car, said Don Ihde, distinguished professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University. Ihde explained that humans plus technology, and the range of interactions that can occur between them, determine what patterns of behavior will occur.

The article continues under the headings of Safer Guns, Educating Owners, and Raising Awareness

Here is an audio clip from her interview with Dr David Hemenway:

https://soundcloud.com/clobuono13/charlottelobuonodavidhemenwa

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Public Health, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

[FDA Press Release] Why Are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick? – FDA asking consumers to report illnesses

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From the 22 October 2013 FDA press release

If you have a dog or cat that became ill after eating jerky pet treats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to hear from you or your veterinarian.

The agency has repeatedly issued alerts to consumers about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets have died.

To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.

To gather even more information, FDA is reaching out to licensed veterinarians and pet owners across the country. “This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” says CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”

In a letter addressing U.S. licensed veterinarians, FDA lists what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the treats. In some cases, veterinarians will be asked to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from their patients for further analysis. FDA will request written permission from pet owners and will cover the costs, including shipping, of any tests it requests.

Meanwhile, a consumer fact sheet will accompany the letter to veterinarians so they can alert consumers to the problem and remind them that treats are not essential to a balanced diet. The fact sheet also explains to consumers how they can help FDA’s investigation by reporting potential jerky pet treat-related illnesses online or by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for their state.

 

What to Look Out For

Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit, some pets have exhibited decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination.

Severe cases have involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. About 60 percent of cases involved gastrointestinal illness, and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary systems.

The remaining cases reported various symptoms, such as collapse, convulsions or skin issues.

Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China. Manufacturers of pet foods are not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.

A number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January 2013 after a New York State lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. While the levels of these drugs were very low and it’s unlikely that they caused the illnesses, FDA noted a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses after the products were removed from the market. FDA believes that the number of reports may have declined simply because fewer jerky treats were available.

Meanwhile, the agency urges pet owners to be cautious about providing jerky treats. If you do provide them and your pet becomes sick, stop the treats immediately, consider seeing your veterinarian, and save any remaining treats and the packaging for possible testing.

 

What FDA Is Doing

More than 1,200 jerky pet treat samples have been tested since 2011 for a variety of chemical and microbiological contaminants, from antibiotics to metals, pesticides and Salmonella. DNA testing has also been conducted, along with tests for nutritional composition.

In addition to continuing to test jerky pet treat samples within FDA labs, the agency is working with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), an FDA-coordinated network of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the U.S. and Canada. (A summary of the tests is available on Vet-LIRN’s webpage.)

Inspections of the facilities in China that manufacture jerky products associated with some of the highest numbers of pet illness reports did not identify the cause of illness. However, they did identify additional paths of investigation, such as the supply chain of some ingredients in the treats. Although FDA inspectors have found no evidence identifying the cause of the spate of illnesses, they did find that one firm used falsified receiving documents for glycerin, a jerky ingredient. Chinese authorities informed FDA that they had seized products at the firm and suspended its exports.

To identify the root cause of this problem, FDA is meeting regularly with regulators in China to share findings. The agency also plans to host Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility to increase scientific cooperation.

FDA has also reached out to U.S. pet food firms seeking further collaboration on scientific issues and data sharing, and has contracted with diagnostic labs.

“Our fervent hope as animal lovers,” says Dunham, “is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses.”

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Oct. 22, 2013

 

 

October 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Canadian journalist: every cancer cure claim needs scrutiny (with related critical thinking resources)

From the 17 October 2013 item at HealthNewsReview.org

Carly Weeks of The Globe and Mail, based in Toronto, writes, “Why every claim of an exciting new cancer cure needs close examination.” She begins:

“The Internet loves a good conspiracy.

Have you heard the one about scientists finding a cure for cancer, but it being blocked from the public because Big Pharma can’t make a cent off it?

Those sensational accusations appear on multiple websites and YouTube videos that purport to expose the “truth” about how a cheap and safe drug that has been around for decades is actually an expert cancer-cell killer. They claim that because the drug, called dichloroacetic acid or dichloroacetate (DCA), is a widely available chemical compound and can’t be patented, drug companies aren’t interested in pursuing it as a cancer treatment. Some conspiracy theorists take it a step further, saying that health organizations and cancer charities are in on the plot to keep this miracle drug out of sight because they have ties to drug firms and want to keep money flowing their way.

It reads like the plot of a cheesy gift-shop thriller.

However, the idea that DCA may be used to eradicate cancer cells originated in respected medical journals, not the bowels of the Internet. Subsequent media attention painted a glowing picture of DCA as a cancer treatment, which led to a frenzy among patients and family members desperately hoping for a cure.

The true picture, however, is far less clear.”

That’s the hook.  Now please read the rest of her analysis.  But note how she describes media coverage through the years that referred to the drug as “a potentially life-saving treatment” that “astounded” researchers….and “a miracle drug” (including in her own newspaper). She concludes:

“Every week, dozens of press releases cross the news wires, alerting editors and readers to a new “breakthrough” or “landmark discovery” that may forever change the way a disease is treated.

What is often missing from those announcements is that those discoveries may just as likely change nothing. True breakthroughs are rare and the development of important new treatments takes years – decades, even – of rigorous research and study. Overzealous reporting of preliminary findings may generate positive publicity for researchers and institutions, but it does patients no favours.”

Earlier this week I wrote about a fresh New York Times story that referred to a line of cancer research as ““amazing…game-changer…watershed moment.”

Canadians Weeks, her colleague Andre Picard at the same newspaper and rising star Julia Belluz (now on a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT) seem to scrutinize evidence in media messages and even criticize news coverage more often than any of their U.S. colleagues in mainstream news organizations.  And I applaud them for their efforts.  Wish we saw more of it down here in the land of guns and Obamacare.

 

Related Resources

Anyone can publish information on the Internet. So it is up to the searcher to decide if the information found through search engines (as Google) is reliable or not. Search engines find Web sites but do not evaluate them for content. Sponsored links may or may not contain good information.
A few universities and government agencies have published great guides on evaluating information.
Here are a few
  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.

    The tips include

    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?

The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
Topics include

  • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
  • Getting Information from the Web
  • Talking with your Health Care Provider

Additional Resources

 
And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
 

National Council Against Health Fraud

National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency fousing on health misinformation, fruad, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

How to Read a Research Paper

Medical research results are increasingly available to all of us. However, caution is urged in interpreting results. For example, be very careful to not confuse causation with association.

Just because two factors occur together does not mean one causes the other. For example, eating fish may result in lower cholesterol levels. But it may just mean one is eating less read meat. Another example is recent news item about insulin use and cancer. Some say insulin use can cause cancer, while others insist insulin users are predisposed to cancers.)

The MedlinePlus Topic Page Understanding Medical Research has links to tutorials, overviews, and more

A sampling of links

 

October 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Going all the way should mean more than completing high school

From the article by   | PHYSICIAN |  at the SEPTEMBER 26, 2013 post of KevinMD.com

So what is the one thing that I see over and over and over again in the management of emergency room psychiatric patients that makes me fear for our survival as a country and even as a species?

Is it the severity of psychotic illness? The rampant drug and alcohol use that starts now when kids are pre-adolescent? Is it the broken families that are producing another generation of children who have one parent or no parents and are raised by distant relatives? Is it financial poverty? Is it reliance on government assistance?

Well, I could write about any of these and make a case for all of them, but that’s not what keeps hitting me right between the eyes most days that I sit in my chair and talk to people via the Polycom screen.

The problem?

Lack of education.

 

One of my standard questions when taking a medical history is, “How far did you go in school?” I ask everyone this question because it is so very important in understanding someone’s frame of reference and their ability to assess a problem and deal with it realistically, be it a kidney stone or an episode of depression. I get answers to this question that are all over the map. I have seen teens who have graduated college already. I see old women who never graduated high school but raised entire families on their own. I see proud aging men who ply their trades, hard workers with calloused hands who had formal schooling up to the third grade and no further. I have seen professionals with decades of formal training and multiple degrees who are as psychotic as they can be, completely out of touch with reality due to drug use or mental illness.

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economic, Social, and Health Correlates

hmm… could you envision these maps in a tourist guide book??

Psychological Regions

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From the 17 October 2013 summary at Full Text Reports 

There is overwhelming evidence for regional variation across the United States on a range of key political, economic, social, and health indicators. However, a substantial body of research suggests that activities in each of these domains are typically influenced by psychological variables, raising the possibility that psychological forces might be the mediating or causal factors responsible for regional variation in the key indicators. Thus, the present article examined whether configurations of psychological variables, in this case personality traits, can usefully be used to segment the country. Do regions emerge that can be defined in terms of their characteristic personality profiles? How are those regions distributed geographically? And are they associated with particular patterns of key political, economic, social, and health indicators? Results from cluster analyses of 5 independent samples totaling over 1.5 million individuals identified 3 robust psychological profiles: Friendly & Conventional, Relaxed & Creative, and Temperamental & Uninhibited. The psychological profiles were found to cluster geographically and displayed unique patterns of associations with key geographical indicators. The findings demonstrate the value of a geographical perspective in unpacking the connections between microlevel processes and consequential macrolevel outcomes.

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

What makes a data visualization memorable?

Many postings here make use of visuals.  And of course, some visuals are better than others.
At times, I thought about just what made a good visual, but much like art, thought it was in the eye of the beholder.

So, when I came across this article, just had to post!

No conclusions yet, but some interesting hypotheses that go against the grain.

From the press release at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science

(Via Science 360 News Service  - a Web site of the National Science Foundation – a US Govt Agency
                          which was on hiatus during the government shutdown)

 

COMPUTER SCIENTISTS AT HARVARD AND COGNITIVE SCIENTISTS AT MIT TEAM UP TO SETTLE A DEBATE OVER “CHART JUNK”

A range of visualization types. (Image courtesy of Michelle Borkin, Harvard SEAS.)

Which of these visualizations will you remember later? (Images courtesy of Michelle Borkin, Harvard SEAS.)


Cambridge, Mass. – October 16, 2013 – It’s easy to spot a “bad” data visualization—one packed with too much text, excessive ornamentation, gaudy colors, and clip art. Design guru Edward Tufte derided such decorations as redundant at best, useless at worst, labeling them “chart junk.” Yet a debate still rages among visualization experts: Can these reviled extra elements serve a purpose?

Taking a scientific approach to design, researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are offering a new take on that debate. The same design elements that attract so much criticism, they report, can also make a visualization more memorable.

Detailed results were presented this week at the IEEE Information Visualization (InfoVis) conference in Atlanta, hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

For lead author Michelle Borkin, a doctoral student at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), memorability has a particular importance:

“I spend a lot of my time reading these scientific papers, so I have to wonder, when I walk away from my desk, what am I going to remember? Which of the figures and visualizations in these publications are going to stick with me?”

But it’s more than grad-school anxiety. Working at the interface of computer science and psychology, Borkin specializes in the visual representation of data, looking for the best ways to communicate and interpret complex information. The applications of her work have ranged from astronomy to medical diagnostics and may already help save lives.

Her adviser, Hanspeter Pfister, An Wang Professor of Computer Science at Harvard SEAS, was intrigued by the chart junk debate, which has flared up on design blogs and at visualization conferences year after year.

Together, they turned to Aude Oliva, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and a cognitive psychologist by training. Oliva’s lab has been studying visual memory for about six years now. Her team has found that in photographs, faces and human-centric scenes are typically easy to remember;landscapes are not.

“All of us are sensitive to the same kinds of images, and we forget the same kind as well,” Oliva says. “We like to believe our memories are unique, that they’re like the soul of a person, but in certain situations it’s as if we have the same algorithm in our heads that is going to be sensitive to a particular type of image. So when you find a result like this in photographs, you want to know: is it generalizable to many types of materials—words, sound, images, graphs?”

“Speaking with [Pfister] and his group, it became very exciting, the idea that we could study what makes a visualization memorable or not,” Oliva recalls. “If it turned out to be the same for everyone, we thought this would be a win-win result.”

For Oliva’s group, it would provide more evidence of cognitive similarities in the brain’s visual processing, from person to person. For Pfister’s group, it could suggest that certain design principles make visualizations inherently more memorable than others.

With Harvard students Azalea A. Vo ’13 and Shashank Sunkavalli SM ’13, as well as MIT graduate students Zoya Bylinskii and Phillip Isola, the team designed a large-scale study—in the form of an online game—to rigorously measure the memorability of a wide variety of visualizations. They collected more than 5,000 charts and graphics from scientific papers, design blogs, newspapers, and government reports and manually categorized them by a wide range of attributes. Serving them up in brief glimpses—just one second each—to participants via Amazon Mechanical Turk, the researchers tested the influence of features like color, density, and content themes on users’ ability to recognize which ones they had seen before.

The results meshed well with Oliva’s previous results, but added several new insights.

“A visualization will be instantly and overwhelmingly more memorable if it incorporates an image of a human-recognizable object—if it includes a photograph, people, cartoons, logos—any component that is not just an abstract data visualization,” says Pfister. “We learned that any time you have a graphic with one of those components, that’s the most dominant thing that affects the memorability.”

Visualizations that were visually dense proved memorable, as did those that used many colors. Other results were more surprising.

“You’d think the types of charts you’d remember best are the ones you learned in school—the bar charts, pie charts, scatter plots, and so on,” Borkin says. “But it was the opposite.”

Unusual types of charts, like tree diagrams, network diagrams, and grid matrices, were actually more memorable.

“If you think about those types of diagrams—for example, tree diagrams that show relationships between species, or diagrams that explain a molecular chemical process—every one of them is going to be a little different, but the branching structures feel very natural to us,” explains Borkin. “That combination of the familiar and the unique seems to influence the memorability.”

The best type of chart to use will always depend on the data, but for designers who are required to work within a certain style—for example, to achieve a recognizable consistency within a magazine—the results may be reassuring.

“A graph can be simple or complex, and they both can be memorable,” explains Oliva. “You can make something familiar either by keeping it simple or by having a little story around it. It’s not really that you should choose to use one color or many, or to include additional ornaments or not. If you need to keep it simple because it’s the style your boss likes or the style of your publication, you can still find a way to make it memorable.”

At this stage, however, the team hesitates to issue any sweeping design guidelines for an obvious reason: memorability isn’t the only thing that matters. Visualizations must also be accurate, easy to comprehend, aesthetically pleasing, and appropriate to the context.

“A memorable visualization is not necessarily a good visualization,” Borkin cautions. “As a community we need to keep asking these types of questions: What makes a visualization engaging? What makes it comprehensible?”

As for the chart junk, she says diplomatically, “I think it’s going to be an ongoing debate.”

##

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF, grant 1016862), Google, and Xerox, as well as graduate research fellowships from the Department of Defense and the NSF.

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Household chaos may be hazardous to a child’s health

Remembering that the television was only on for about an hour weekday evening (after homework was done!), and Saturday mornings for cartoons. Also Sunday evenings.  Still  generally stick to this after all these years. Even without homework.
No angel, could be on the Internet less!!

From the 9 October 2013 EurekAlert article

Study links crowding, noise, lack of routine to worse outcomes

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kindergarten-age children have poorer health if their home life is marked by disorder, noise and a lack of routine and they have a mother who has a chaotic work life, new research suggests.

The results show the importance of order and routine in helping preschoolers stay healthy and develop to the best of their potential, said Claire Kamp Dush, lead author of the study and assistant professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Children need to have order in their lives,” Kamp Dush said. “When their life is chaotic and not predictable, it can lead to poorer health.”

Kamp Dush said that the study involved mostly low-income families, and the results showed mothers who were more impoverished reported significantly higher levels of chaos.

“I don’t think that the findings would be different in a middle-class sample – chaos is bad for children from any background,” she said.

“But most middle-class families can avoid the same level of chaos that we saw in the most impoverished families. We’re not talking about the chaos of your kids being overinvolved in activities and the parents having to run them from one place to another. This harmful chaos is much more fundamental.”

Kamp Dush conducted the study with Kammi Schmeer, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State, and Miles Taylor, assistant professor of sociology at Florida State University. Their results appear online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Data came from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study, and included 3,288 mothers who were interviewed at their homes by a trained interviewer when their child was 3 and again when he or she was 5 years old. Most of the parents were unmarried and low-income.

The researchers used several measures of household chaos: crowding (more than one person per room), TV background noise (TV was on more than 5 hours a day), lack of regular bedtime for the child, and a home rated as noisy, unclean and cluttered by the interviewer.

The study also included a measure of the mother’s work chaos, which included stress caused by the work schedule, difficulty dealing with child care problems during working hours, lack of flexibility to handle family needs and a constantly changing work schedule.

The children’s health was rated by their mother at ages 3 and 5 as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.

Results showed that higher levels of household chaos and mothers’ work chaos when their children were age 3 were linked to lower ratings of child health at age 5, even after taking into account initial child health and other factors that may have had an impact.

In addition, the researchers were also able to use a statistical technique to determine if the causality may have been reversed: in other words, if poor child health might lead to more household chaos. “It would be easy to see how having a sick child may make your household more chaotic, but that’s not what we found. We did clearly see, however, that a chaotic household at age 3 was linked to poorer health at age 5,” Kamp Dush said.

The most common source of household chaos was television noise, with more than 60 percent of mothers reporting the television was on more than five hours a day. Between 15 and 20 percent of households reported crowding, noise, and unclean and cluttered rooms.

About a third of the mothers had inflexible work schedules and 11 percent worked multiple jobs.

How does household chaos lead to sicker children? Kamp Dush noted that chaos has been linked to stress, and stress has been shown to lead to poorer health. Women with inflexible work schedules may not be able to take their children to the doctor when needed. And a dirty house may increase exposure to toxins and germs.

Kamp Dush emphasized that the findings shouldn’t be used to suggest that the parents are at fault for the chaos in their households.

“We’re not blaming the victims here – there is a larger system involved,” she said.

“These mothers can’t help it that their jobs don’t give them the flexibility to deal with sick kids. They can’t afford a larger house or apartment to deal with overcrowding. With their work schedules, they often don’t have time to keep a clean home and they don’t have the money to spend on organizational systems or cleaning services used by middle-class families to keep their homes in order.”

What these mothers and fathers need most is jobs that allow them to maintain regular schedules and have the flexibility to deal with sick children, Kamp Dush said. Having to maintain two jobs is also detrimental to keeping households free of chaos.

 

###

 

Kamp Dush received support for this study from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Infographic: 60 Ideas to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Originally posted on Million Ideas:

SAD-Infographic_for-blog

I’ve always struggled with the winter blues. I live in Oregon, and I love it here, but our constant rain and early darkness are a huge drag. The good news is that I’m not alone. Millions of people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and while some cases are really severe (and require some medical attention), many of us can beat the blues by getting active, healthy, and creative.

Since winter affects all of us differently, I wanted to provide some ideas to kick your winter blues right in the chops! While I’m guessing you won’t try all 60 (it would be incredibly impressive if you did), try a few of these out and see if they get you out of your winter rut. Good luck, and happy winter!

header_SAD-Graphic

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October 11, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mumps outbreak may be tied to popular Belmar bar, health official says (with links to related informational Web sites)

Before and after being infected with Mumps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Good precautionary note. Wherever you are, please do not share your germs! And for heaven’s sakes, keep your distance from those sneezing/coughing.

Read the news Sept 5th New Jersey story here.

Related Web pages

Transmission

Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared. In addition, the virus may spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.

Most mumps transmission likely occurs before the salivary glands begin to swell and within the 5 days after the swelling begins. Therefore, CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.

If you have mumps, there are several things you can do to help prevent spreading the virus to others:

  • Minimize close contact with other people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
  • Stay home from work or school for 5 days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live in your house.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands too.
  • Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
  • Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.

People with flu [JF note...and any respiratory disease] can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.”
“Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.”

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What You Need to Know About Health Care Reform

Originally posted on MJ Everson Financial:

In the next couple of months, you will be hearing a lot about health insurance.  Most aspects of the Affordable Care Act become effective in 2014 but whether they will impact you depends on your unique circumstances.  All too often, many consumers receive advice from individuals or companies with biased points of view or who may simply be unaware of the facts.

 

Debunking some common myths

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is intended to expand access, remove certain limits, and protect customers, but this complex legislation has left consumers confused as to how it may affect them. Below, we debunk some common misunderstandings so that you can better understand the upcoming changes under the new legislation.

 

Myth: The new law cuts Medicare’s primary benefits.

Fact: The legislation adds benefits, such as annual wellness exams and preventive screenings, incorporated at no cost into Medicare Part B.

 

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September 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Experiments in Collaboration: Interdisciplinary Graduate Education in Science and Justice

This grant caught my eye at least partly because I am now reading a rather dense biography on Robert Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer was the director of the  Manhattan Project, the program that developed the first nuclear weapon during World War II. However, he later became the chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission,which later opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb. And he went on to support international control of atomic energy.

The Manhattan project, and the larger government-scientific community failed to look at the long term consequences of developing atomic weapons.

So it is refreshing to see, hopefully not too late !, that our government is willing to see the long term consequences of science and technology through grants as this.

From the article at PLos One

Over the past two decades, policy changes at the national level have created an increased focus on science-society relations. An example in the United States has been a subtle but significant shift in the foundational principles of the National Science Foundation (NSF): rather than assume societal benefits directly flow from support of science and engineering, the NSF now explicitly seeks to create knowledge that benefits society [1][4]. To achieve this goal, the agency moved in 1997 to adopt the Broader Impacts Criterion (BIC) to review grant proposals [5],[6]. Similarly, the 2007 America COMPETES Act increased ethics education requirements for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows without specifying content[7][10]. While these policy changes require scientists and engineers to practice science and engineering in new ways that engage “the public” and benefit “society,” few institutions provide physical spaces for cross-disciplinary contact and intellectual space for figuring out how practically to achieve these ends [10][13].

SJTP is a graduate-level research and education program that trains science and engineering students alongside students of social science, arts, and humanities to respond to the ethical and social justice questions that arise in their research. Rather than treating justice as a concern to be tacked onto an already formed research project, SJTP graduate fellows are provided with fellowship funding and faculty mentorship that supports them to explore questions of ethics and justice as they arise in their research.

The space, funding, and institutional recognition of the program give fellows the opportunity to reorient their research questions, methodologies, and goals around questions of science and justice.

 

Some related bioethics resources

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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