Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Good News for Red Wine and Grapes

Janice Flahiff:

My sentiments exactly, could just be the grapes

Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:

This image shows a red wine glass. This image shows a red wine glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

CLICK HERE.

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February 13, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Press release] Many More Low-Income Children Starting the Day with School Breakfast, Find New Reports from the Food Research and Action Center

From the 10 February 2015 Food Research and Action Center press release

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.

February 13, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Awesome Infographic: The Secret Life of Water

Janice Flahiff:

The leakage rates in “the developing world” (such a misnomer, we are all developing) is a real shocker

Originally posted on Teagan Kuruna:

Infographic describing clean water and water sanitation problems worldwide 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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February 11, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

New finding may compromise aging studies — ScienceDaily

New finding may compromise aging studies — ScienceDaily.

February 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Podcast] Alice Rivlin discusses the Affordable Care Act, America’s health, and leading the CBO

From the 6 February post at Brookings

“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.

     [This is a screenshot, was unable to upload via an application similar to YouTube]

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 6.53.23 AM

     [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.”


Show Notes:

– 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

February 7, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pew, Other Groups Identify Potential Measures to Address Drug Shortages

Pew, Other Groups Identify Potential Measures to Address Drug Shortages.

Ritalin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the 5 February 2015 report

Pew and other health care organizations released a report on February 5, 2015 exploring measures that should be considered to address the ongoing issue of drug shortages in the United States, which impacts lifesaving medicines including antibiotics, chemotherapy, and cardiovascular drugs. The report summarizes manufacturing, regulatory, and economic issues related to drug shortages, as well as potential solutions identified at a 2014 Summit attended by 22 stakeholder groups, including health care professionals, non-profit organizations, industry, public interest, and government agencies.

The report explores the potential manufacturing, economic, and regulatory causes of drug shortages, and considers several possible solutions that merit further exploration, including:

  • Improving quality systems in pharmaceutical manufacturing to better prevent production problems that can lead to shortages by encouraging companies to foster a corporate quality culture, and use FDA’s set of quality metrics to support early collaboration between manufacturers and the agency.
  • Identifying regulatory efficiencies, such as synchronizing reviews by regulators in different countries to shorten the overall time for full approvals for facility upgrades.
  • Allowing for commercialization of trial batches of drugs that meet quality specifications to help mitigate losses during the approval process for upgrades to plants or production lines.
  • Incentivizing manufacturer investments in capacity and reliability by increasing contractual penalties for failing to supply a product, and also allowing price increases.
  • Supporting the market through better guarantees of demand by committing to the purchase of specified volumes of drugs vulnerable to shortage, either by a group purchasing organization or through a government program.
  • Establishing limited and/or shared exclusivity agreements to incentivize companies to produce needed drugs where there are no active producers.
  • Standardizing commonly used doses and concentrations in unit-of-use packaging to reduce waste and avoid contamination.

The 2014 Drug Shortages Summit was organized by the American Hospital Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists®, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Previous summits were held in 2010 and 2013.

 

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

[Pew Report] Most View the CDC Favorably; VA’s Image Slips

From the 22 January 2015 Pew Center post

More Partisan Opinions of the EPA, CIA

High Favorable Ratings for CDC, NASA, DOD; Mixed Ratings for IRSThe 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

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does More Care Do More Good?

Janice Flahiff:

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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February 5, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[press release] There’s a Growing Health Gap Between Rich and Poor Teens

“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.”

 

From 02 February 2015  post at The Lancet

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 [1] 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,” [2] 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.” [2]

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.”[2]

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 [3].”

 

February 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

What It Is Like To Go To War

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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February 3, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Five Accelerants to the Adoption of Connected Health

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.

Virtual Visits_Homebase program

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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February 1, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Schoolgirl comment points to antibiotics as new cancer treatments | EurekAlert! Science News

Schoolgirl comment points to antibiotics as new cancer treatments 

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
Professor Michael P. Lisanti

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.

January 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Issue Brief] The Rise in Health Care Coverage and Affordability Since Health Reform Took Effect – The Commonwealth Fund

The Rise in Health Care Coverage and Affordability Since Health Reform Took Effect – The Commonwealth Fund.

From the January 2015 Issue Brief

Overview

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.

View interactive
 

 

health insurance survey Publication Date:

January 15, 2015
Authors:
Sara R. CollinsPetra W. Rasmussen,Michelle M. DotySophie Beutel
Contact:
Sara R. Collins, Vice President, Health Care Coverage and Access, The Commonwealth Fund
E-mail: src@cmwf.org
Citation:
S. R. Collins, P. W. Rasmussen, M. M. Doty, and S. Beutel, The Rise in Health Care Coverage and Affordability Since Health Reform Took Effect, The Commonwealth Fund, January 2015.

January 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even More Bad News For Young Football Players

Originally posted on TIME:

Professional football players who began playing tackle football before age 12 experienced more dramatic cognitive decline as adults than their counterparts who begin playing later in life, found a new study in the journal Neurology. Overall, former NFL players in the study performed below expectations for their age groups on cognitive assessments.

“As a society we need to question whether we should sanction and condone allowing our children at a young age to having their brains be jostled about inside their skulls hundreds of times per season,” says study author Robert A. Stern, a professor at Boston University.

The study tested 42 former NFL players who were experiencing brain function issues on their ability to remember a list of words, solve problems requiring mental flexibility and read and pronounce uncommon words. Athletes who began playing before age 12 performed significantly worse than their late-starting counterparts on all measures.

MORE

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

The Ebola Virus Is Mutating, Say Scientists

Originally posted on TIME:

Scientists at a French research institute say the Ebola virus has mutated and they are studying whether it may have become more contagious.

Researchers at the Institut Pasteur are analyzing hundreds of blood samples from Guinean Ebola patients in an effort to determine if the new variation poses a higher risk of transmission, according to the BBC.

“We’ve now seen several cases that don’t have any symptoms at all, asymptomatic cases,” said human geneticist Dr. Anavaj Sakuntabhai. “These people may be the people who can spread the virus better, but we still don’t know that yet. A virus can change itself to less deadly, but more contagious and that’s something we are afraid of.”

Although virus mutations are common, researchers are concerned that Ebola could eventually morph into an airborne disease if given enough time.

However, there is no evidence to suggest this has happened yet, and the virus…

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

The Future of Diabetes Management: 8 Reasons Why We Face Extraordinary Times!

Originally posted on ScienceRoll:

Around 400 million patients have diabetes worldwide according to estimations. And over the last few years, diabetes management has been improving but due to the new technologies and devices coming to the market very soon, the whole management of diabetes will significantly change in the coming years. Let me show you some examples how.

Digital Contact Lenses

Google has an augmented reality glass called the Google Glass which they just stopped developing, but they also patented a digital contact lens through which we can get more information from the digital world plus it can measure blood glucose levels from tears as an added benefit. Google launched a partnership with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to develop these smart contact lenses that can track diabetes and fix farsightedness as well.

a

Gamification

There are amazing applications for smartphones that can help you manage diabetes efficiently. MySugr, an Austrian company, released several applications that…

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

[News article] People can be induced to remember crimes they never committed | Ars Technica

People can be induced to remember crimes they never committed | Ars Technica.

Implanting a false memory of committing a crime is easier than you think.

2383172328_a708fee546_zAlejandro Mejía Greene (flickr user: ·júbilo·haku·)

From the 26 January 2015 article

The idea that memories are not as reliable as we think they are is disconcerting, but it’s pretty well-established. Various studies have shown that participants can be persuaded to create false childhood memories—of being lost in a shopping mall or hospitalized, or even highly implausible scenarios like having tea with Prince Charles.

The creation of false memories has obvious implications for the legal system, as it gives us reasons to distrust both eyewitness accounts and confessions. It’s therefore important to know exactly what kinds of false memories can be created, what influences the creation of a false memory, and whether false recollections can be distinguished from real ones.

A recent paper in Psychological Science found that 71 percent of participants exposed to certain interview techniques developed false memories of having committed a crime as a teenager. In reality, none of these people had experienced contact with the police during the age bracket in question.

A number of tactics were used to induce the false memory. Social pressure was applied to encourage recall of details, the interviewer attempted to build a rapport with the participants, and the participants were told that their caregivers had corroborated the facts. They were also encouraged to use visualization techniques to “uncover” the memory.

In each of the three interviews, participants were asked to provide as many details as they could for both events. After the final interview, they were informed that the second memory was false, and asked whether they had really believed the events had occurred. They were also asked to rate how surprised they were to find out that it was false. Only participants who answered that they had genuinely believed the false memory, and who could give more than ten details of the event, were classified as having a true false memory. Of the participants in the group with criminal false stories, 71 percent developed a “true” false memory. The group with non-criminal false stories was not significantly different, with 77 percent of participants classified as having a false memory. The details participants provided for their false memories did not differ significantly in either quality or quantity from their true memories.

This study is only a beginning, and there is still a great deal of work to be done. There are a number of factors that couldn’t be controlled for but which may have influenced the results.

 

 

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Intervention and agency

Originally posted on cultivating & crashing:

Yesterday I attended a seminar by Lise Gauvin on different public health interventions that have taken place in Montreal, Wixx and BIXI. The talk was great, and not only because I’m really interested in this kind of work. One thing that struck me was the Nuffield intervention ladder, and how it demonstrates that effectiveness of public health initiatives are inversely proportional to the amount of control they exert on the individual or group. People should not drink sugary drinks, and the most effective intervention would be to ban its sale. Yet that would trigger riots more vehement than those protesting police murders of unarmed people. Wixx and BIXI are examples of interventions that are also well received by the public, showing that a balance can be struck between intervention and acceptability.

Profile on Lise Gauvin and her work

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January 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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

From the 26 January 2015 press release

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digicorp workplace

Digicorp workplace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

[News] New regulations proposed for off-label uses of drugs, devices — ScienceDaily

New regulations proposed for off-label uses of drugs, devices — ScienceDaily.

Excerpts

Date:January 22, 2015
Source:University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences
Summary:Researchers have proposed a system for off-label drug prescriptions combining reporting, testing and enforcement regulations, and allowing interim periods of off-label use. This would give patients more treatment options while providing regulators with evidence of the drugs’ safety and efficacy.

 

Medicine drugs

Medicine drugs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Off-label use of drugs and medical devices — using approved remedies in unapproved ways — has long been a part of medicine. The practice provides public health benefits but also presents some risks.

For the most part, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows physicians to prescribe drugs and devices off-label in the same way they are prescribed for their approved uses. The FDA couldn’t require approval for each off-label use because the burden for approval would be so high that few off-label uses would be approved, which would deprive patients of effective treatments for which the drugs weren’t originally intended.

As a result, health care providers have had to make their own decisions about using drugs off-label, often in the face of uncertain evidence.

To address that issue, researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have proposed a system combining reporting, testing and enforcement regulations, and allowing interim periods of off-label drug prescription. Their recommendations, published in the Duke Law Journal, would give patients more treatment options while providing regulators with evidence of the drugs’ safety and efficacy.

….

The authors’ proposal comprises three elements:

• Improved reporting of off-label use through disclosure of diagnostic codes in reports to the FDA, in detailing data that pharmaceutical companies obtain on physicians’ prescribing habits, and in reports to the FDA and Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement requests. This information, which would omit details that could identify individual patients, could then be shared with academics and pharmaceutical companies for use in research. • Expansion of post-market testing requirements for off-label use of drugs and medical devices. • A tiered labeling system for drugs consisting of “red box” warnings that prohibit certain off-label uses; informed consent from patients receiving prescriptions for off-label use of some drugs that currently carry “black box” warnings, which identify drugs that pose a significant risk of serious or life-threatening adverse effects; and the creation of a new “grey box” warning that blocks Medicare Part D and Medicaid reimbursements by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“The improved reporting, testing and enforcement regulation would work together to produce a more layered range of regulatory responses,” the authors write. “The FDA, armed with better information about the extent of off-label use and adverse effects, would be in a better position to require post-market testing and to discourage off-label use with new types of warnings if manufacturers fail to provide sufficient, timely evidence of safety and efficacy in that particular extrapolation.”

The report can be found at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3785&context=dlj

 

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Classic psychedelic use protective with regard to psychological distress and suicidality — ScienceDaily

 

Classic psychedelic use protective with regard to psychological distress and suicidality — ScienceDaily.

English: A bottle of LSD from a Swiss clinical...

English: A bottle of LSD from a Swiss clinical trial for end-of-life anxiety in cancer patients, circa 2007, conducted by Dr. Peter Gasser, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The opaque bottle has a red cap and a yellow, cyan, and white label. The label says in part: Clinical Study, EK # 2007/016, d-LSD hydrate Capsule, Only for research purposes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/81622620

Date:January 21, 2015
Source:SAGE Publications
Summary:Classic psychedelics, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and mescaline, previously have been shown to occasion lasting improvements in mental health. But researchers, through a new study, wanted to advance the existing research and determine whether classic psychedelics might be protective with regard to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Classic psychedelics, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms and mescaline, previously have been shown to occasion lasting improvements in mental health. But researchers led by University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health investigators wanted to advance the existing research and determine whether classic psychedelics might be protective with regard to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Approximately 30,000 lives in the United States are claimed by suicide every year, and more than 90 percent of victims have been diagnosed with mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Using data from more than 190,000 respondents of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2012, the researchers found that those who reported ever having used a classic psychedelic drug in their lifetime had a decreased likelihood of psychological distress in the past month, and decreased suicidal thinking, planning and attempts in the past year.

“Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored,” said Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and lead study author. “This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidality as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk (e.g., affective disturbance, addiction and impulsive-aggressive personality traits).”

Hendricks says the take-home message from this study is that classic psychedelics may hold great promise in the prevention of suicide and evaluating the therapeutic effectiveness of classic psychedelics should be a priority for future research.

 

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] US needs harm-reduction approach to drug use, researcher says

US needs harm-reduction approach to drug use, researcher says 

From the 14 January 2015 Rice University press release

Neill: Approach minimizes harm associated with drug use for the individual and society    

HOUSTON – (Jan. 14, 2015) – The United States’ law-and-order approach to reducing the supply of drugs and punishing sellers and users has impeded the development of a public health model that views drug addiction as a disease that is preventable and treatable. A new policy paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy advocates that a harm-reduction approach would more effectively reduce the negative individual and societal consequences of drug use.

According to the paper’s author, Katharine Neill, the rate of federal inmates incarcerated for drug offenses hovered at just under 50 percent in 2011, and in 2013 the Obama administration’s budget asked for $25.6 billion to fight the drug war, $15 billion of which was directed toward law enforcement. In addition, by some estimates, state and local governments spend a combined total of $51 billion per year on drug-related law enforcement efforts, which suggests they have a lot to gain by investing in treatment options, Neill said.

“That law enforcement efforts continue to dominate drug policy highlights the need to reframe the discourse on drug use and addiction,” said Neill, the Baker Institute’s Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy. “While emphasizing the cost-saving benefits of treatment is important, this should be coupled with more public conversations focusing on drug addiction as a disease requiring medical treatment, not politically based solutions. Reframing the issue in this way should increase the likelihood that a public health approach to drug policy will be adopted for the long term.”

The paper, “Tough on Drugs: Law and Order Dominance and the Neglect of Public Health in U.S. Drug Policy,” is published in the journal World Medical and Health Policy.

Emphasizing harm reduction is a popular public health approach to drugs, Neill said. “A harm-reduction approach recognizes the permanence of drugs in society and, instead of trying to eradicate drug use, focuses on minimizing harm associated with drug use for the individual and society,” she said. “This encompasses a variety of objectives, including preventing individuals from using drugs, treating individuals who want to stop using drugs, preventing drug use where it increases the chances of negative outcomes such as driving while on drugs, and helping individuals who want to continue using drugs do so in a way that does not further compromise their health or the health of others.” This last objective is often achieved through needle-exchange programs intended to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C and is more controversial than other policies, Neill said.

Harm reduction is multidimensional and can include contradictory objectives, she said. For example, some proponents wish to decriminalize drug use and focus on helping drug users get the resources they need for treatment or to continue to use drugs safely, while others accept the illegality of drug use so long as treatment is more available. Others argue that distinctions should be made between drugs according to the risks they pose to the user and society and that policy should be based on these distinctions. “Still, most advocates of harm reduction agree on some basic tenets, including the view that addiction is a disease requiring medical assistance, the desire to minimize risky behavior without requiring abstinence and the need to protect the public from the consequences of drug use, which includes punishing individuals who commit acts that harm others,” Neill said.

– See more at: http://news.rice.edu/2015/01/14/us-needs-harm-reduction-approach-to-drug-use-baker-institute-researcher-says/#sthash.2OCJoKRU.dpuf

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Public Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[press release] Current nutrition labeling is hard to digest

Current nutrition labeling is hard to digest

From the 20 January 2015 McGill University press release

Study compares four types of nutrition labels, the least effective being the one currently required in Canada and the US.
PUBLISHED: 20 JAN 2015

Current government-mandated nutrition labeling is ineffective in improving nutrition, but there is a better system available, according to a study by McGill University researchers published in the December issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

The researchers compared four different labeling systems and found that the Nutrition Facts label currently required on most food products in the US and Canada was least useable. That label, which lists the percent daily value of several nutrients, took more time to understand and led to nutrition choices hardly different from chance. Another label type, NuVal, enabled quick and nutritious choices. NuVal is a shelf sticker used in some American food markets, which indicates the overall nutritional value of each food item with a number from 1-100.

Resolving “nutrition conflicts”

“Food shoppers typically have a limited amount of time to make each food choice, and they find the Nutrition Facts labels to be confusing and difficult to use,” says Peter Helfer, lead author and PhD student in Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill. “One product may be low in fat, but high in sugar, while another product may be just the opposite. Nutrition Facts labels can highlight nutrition conflicts but fail to resolve them. Even educated and motivated shoppers have difficulty picking out the most nutritious product with these labels.”

NuVal scores are calculated by nutrition experts at several universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Northwestern, and emphasize both the positive and negative aspects of each food. By reducing nutritional content to a single number, NuVal labels resolve nutrition conflicts.

Two other labeling methods produced mixed results. The Traffic Light system used in the UK allowed for a bit more nutritious choices than chance. But it took more time to use, because the colors of several traffic lights have to be counted and compared. Labels that certify some foods as nutritious, but not others, are used in Denmark, Sweden, and Canada. These allowed quick decisions, but did not increase nutritious choices. “Such certification labels are not sufficiently discriminating to produce consistently better nutrition. They also create controversies about exactly where to draw the line between nutritious and harmful foods,” says co-author Thomas Shultz, Professor of Psychology and Computer Science at McGill.

The widespread availability of low-nutrition, high-calorie food is believed to be an important cause of an epidemic of obesity and associated diseases throughout the world. Shultz argues that “Empowering consumers to make healthier food choices with valid and useful nutrition labeling could help to stem this epidemic. If consumers have the information to make nutritious choices, this could nudge food sellers and producers to improve their products.”

Picture: compared labelling systems (%Daily Value, Traffic Light, NuVal, and Heart)

The effects of nutrition labeling on consumer food choice: a psychological experiment and computational model
Peter Helfer, Thomas R. Shultz
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Dec. 2014
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24913496

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Connection between childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders seen at cellular level | EurekAlert! Science News

Connection between childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders seen at cellular level | EurekAlert! Science News.

Logo for mitochondrial DNA

Logo for mitochondrial DNA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 20 January 2015 press release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In a new study published online in Biological Psychiatry on January 16, 2015, researchers from Butler Hospital identify an association between biological changes on the cellular level and both childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders. These changes in the form of telomere shortening and alterations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), are important in the aging process, and this new research provides evidence that psychosocial factors–specifically childhood adversity and psychiatric disorders– may also influence these cellular changes and could lead to accelerated aging.

Mitochondria convert molecules from food into energy that can be used by cells and also play a key role in cellular growth, signaling, and death. Telomere shortening is also a measure of advanced cellular aging. Recent studies have examined the possible connection between mitochondria and psychiatric disorders, but the research is very limited, and no prior work has examined the relationship of mitochondrial DNA to psychosocial stress. “We are interested in these relationships because there is now clear evidence that stress exposure and psychiatric conditions are associated with inflammation and health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Identifying the changes that occur at a cellular level due to these psychosocial factors allows us to understand the causes of these poor health conditions and possibly the overall aging process.” said Audrey Tyrka, MD, PhD, Director of the Laboratory for Clinical and Translational Neuroscience at Butler Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University.

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Study reveals lack of data on opioid drugs for chronic pain — ScienceDaily

Study reveals lack of data on opioid drugs for chronic pain — ScienceDaily.
p0303-prescription-opioidshttp://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0303-prescription-opioids.html

 

From the article

Date:January 15, 2015
Source:University of Connecticut
Summary:Researchers have found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of opioid drugs in the treatment of long-term chronic pain, despite the explosive recent growth in the use of the drugs.
Read the article here

January 21, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The inequality of violent death (Part 2)

Originally posted on joe rojas-burke:

Injuries and violence kill more young people in the U.S. than any other cause of death. The burden of these deaths varies enormously by race, ethnicity and social class. Deaths by homicide, for instance, are more than eight times more prevalent among blacks than among whites, and homicide deaths are three times more common among American Indians and Alaskan Natives than among whites between the ages of 1 to 30 years old.

The figure below shows age-adjusted suicide and homicide rates in that age bracket by race and ethnic origin in the year 2010. The unit of measure is the number of deaths by suicide or homicide per 100,000 members of each population:

Age-adjusted suicide and homicide rates in the USA by race and ethnic origin, 2010. Source: Prevention of injury and violence in the USA, by Tamara M. Haegerich and others, The Lancet (2014)

The unequal burden stands out heart-breakingly clear in life expectancy numbers. Homicide takes two full years off the…

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January 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brutal inequalities in diabetes care: amputation hot spots

Originally posted on joe rojas-burke:

Hot spots of diabetic amputation in Los Angeles, where rates vary from less than 1 to more than 10 amputations per 1,000 people age 45 and older with diabetes in 2009. Hot spots of diabetic amputation in Los Angeles, where rates vary from less than 1 to more than 10 amputations per 1,000 people age 45 and older with diabetes in 2009.

Surgical amputation of toes, feet or legs is a dreaded outcome of diabetes that can be prevented with good medical care. That can be hard to get if you live in the wrong zip code. People with diabetes in the lowest income neighborhoods of California were 10 times more likely to lose lower extremities to amputation than people with diabetes in the highest income neighborhoods, according to a new paper published in Health Affairs.

Many news outlets covered the story, but none that I read provided much context beyond repeating what the Health Affairs paper had to say, which is a shame because there’s a lot to report. Most didn’t even bother to mention the racial divide and relentless…

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January 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Emerging Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

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

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

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

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

#Drug scene ever more complex and dangerous

Originally posted on Safe In Warwickshire:

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

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

Injecting Drug Paraphernalia

Read the full article and summary here:

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

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

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

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

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

On Preventable Death

Originally posted on ibijugoles:

public health

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

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

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

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

US Government Complementary & Alternative Medicine Agency Changes Name to Reflect Mission

nciih

 

 

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM) is now the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, or NCCIH.
According to the NIH Web page explaining the name change ,  “[t]he change was made to more accurately reflect the Center’s research commitment to studying promising health approaches that are already in use by the American public. Since the Center’s inception, complementary approaches have grown in use to the point that Americans no longer consider them an alternative to medical care. For example, more than half of Americans report using a dietary supplement, and Americans spend nearly four billion dollars annually on spinal manipulation therapy. The name change is in keeping with the Center’s existing Congressional mandate and is aligned with the strategic plan currently guiding the Center’s research priorities and public education activities.

The Center’s mission is unchanged.”The Center’s research priorities include the study of complementary approaches, such as spinal manipulation, meditation, and massage, to manage pain and other symptoms that are not well-addressed by conventional treatments, to encourage self-care methods that support healthier lifestyles, and to uncover potential usefulness and safety issues of natural products. The practices and products that will continue to be studied by the Center are prioritized by four guiding principles: scientific promise, amenability to be studied using the highest quality research methods, use by the American public, and the potential impact on public health.”

 Especially for Health Care Professionals

PubMed   often yields  more comprehensive searches in integrative and complementary medicine.  After a search is done, select Complementary Medicine in the left side bar (under Subjects).

Please do not hesitate to contact a reference librarian for consultation and assistance with your reference and research needs. Let us save you time and alleviate frustration!

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

[CDC Press release] Only 3 in 10 Americans with HIV have virus in check | Full Text Reports…

Only 3 in 10 Americans with HIV have virus in check |

National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis,
STD, and TB Prevention
404-639-8895, NCHHSTPMediaTeam@cdc.gov


HIV STAGES OF CARE
There is an urgent need to reach more people with testing and make sure those with the virus receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment.
Entire Infographic

Just 30 percent of Americans with HIV had the virus under control in 2011, and approximately two-thirds of those whose virus was out of control had been diagnosed but were no longer in care, according to a new Vital Signs report published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The new study underscores the importance of making sure people with HIV receive ongoing care, treatment, and other information and tools that help prevent transmission to others, as well as the need to reach more people with HIV testing.  Among those whose infection was not under control, more than three times the proportion (66 percent) were no longer in care as had never been diagnosed (20 percent).

The HIV epidemic continues to threaten the health and well-being of many Americans – with more than one million people living with the disease in the U.S. and 50,000 new infections each year.

When used consistently, antiretroviral medication can keep HIV controlled at very low levels in the body (known as viral suppression), allowing people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives and reducing the likelihood they will transmit HIV to others. Treatment has been shown to reduce sexual transmission of HIV by 96 percent, and U.S. clinical guidelines now recommend that everyone diagnosed with HIV receive treatment, regardless of their CD4 cell count or viral load.

“For people living with HIV, it’s not just about knowing you’re infected – it’s also about going to the doctor for medical care,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “And for health care facilities, it’s not just about the patients in your care – it’s every person diagnosed, and every person whose diagnosis has not yet been made.  Key to controlling the nation’s HIV epidemic is helping people with HIV get connected to – and stay in – care and treatment, to suppress the virus, live longer and help protect others.”

The new study estimates that of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV in 2011, 70 percent did not have their virus under control. Among the nearly 840,000 people who had not achieved viral suppression:

  • 66 percent had been diagnosed but were not engaged in regular HIV care,
  • 20 percent did not yet know they were infected,
  • 4 percent were engaged in care but not prescribed antiretroviral treatment, and
  • 10 percent were prescribed antiretroviral treatment but did not achieve viral suppression.

The percentage of Americans with HIV who achieved viral suppression remained roughly stable (26 percent in 2009 vs. 30 percent in 2011).

CDC focus on stopping HIV transmission through treatment

CDC has increased the focus on diagnosing people with HIV, supporting linkage to ongoing care and treatment, provision of risk reduction information, and increasing medication adherence.  By making the most of these strategies for those who are HIV-positive, as well as other high impact strategies to protect those who remain uninfected but are at highest risk for HIV, CDC believes substantial progress can be made in reducing new infections.

“There is untapped potential to drive down the epidemic through improved testing and treatment, but we’re missing too many opportunities,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention. “Treatment is crucial.  It is one of our most important strategies for stopping new HIV infections.”

Current initiatives to promote HIV testing and treatment include innovative partnerships to make HIV testing simple, accessible and routine; programs to help health departments identify and reach out to infected individuals who have fallen out of care; and public awareness campaigns to urge testing and encourage people with HIV to seek ongoing care.

These efforts are an essential component of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, launched in 2010.  Key goals of the strategy include reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

Younger adults with HIV least likely to have virus under control

Today’s study also found that viral suppression increased with age, with young people significantly less likely than older age groups to have their virus under control – only 13 percent of people aged 18-24 were virally suppressed, compared to 23 percent among those aged 25-34, 27 percent among those aged 35-44, 34 percent among those aged 45-54, 36 percent among those aged 55-64, and 37 percent among those aged 65 and older. The researchers attribute the disparity in large part to the fact that fewer than half (49 percent) of 18- to 24-year olds with HIV have been diagnosed, underscoring the need for more HIV testing in this population.

“It’s alarming that fewer than half of HIV-positive young adults know they are infected,” said Eugene McCray, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.  “Closing that gap could have a huge impact on controlling HIV – knowing your status is the first critical step toward taking care of your own health and avoiding transmission to others.”

The study did not find statistically significant differences in viral suppression by race or ethnicity, sex, or risk group.
For additional resources on today’s analysis, visit
www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom.

December 12, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dying trying: The UN’s Development Agenda for the next 15 Years

Originally posted on Ruminations:

UN Secretary General Dr Ban Ki-moon today presented his synthesis report on the post-2015 Development Agenda. Entitled “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet”, this is Ban Ki-moon’s updating of the Millennium Development report (which Kofi Annan rather more modestly called “We the Peoples – The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century).

I note in passing that the former penchant for having development “Decades” covering distinct topics has now swollen into a 15-year catch-all cycle. WHO’s Health for All, which all of us were supposed to be enjoying by the year 2000, was taken over by the UN and prolonged into 2015 in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This is now being extended to 2030 in a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched by the Secretary General’s report.

Well, health was not achieved by all by the…

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December 11, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ClinicalKey tips from their latest newsletter

Try the Presentation Maker. When you find an image in your search results that you’d like to use in a presentation, hover over the image and click the “Add to Presentation Maker” button. Presentation Maker automatically imports the necessary citations into your presentation.

Save articles for later – without leaving the results page. If you find something interesting in your results but need to come back to it, save it for later. Make customized, searchable tags to keep your content organized.

 

Another tip …Meyler’s Side Effects Titles are in ClinicalKey

Search in CliicalKey for the specific substance
OR
Search for Meyler’s in ClinicalKey, these selections will appear in a drop down menu

  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Analgesics and Anti-inflammatory Drugs
  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Antimicrobial Drugs
  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Cardiovascular Drugs
  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Drugs Used in Anesthesia
  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Drugs in Cancer and Immunology
  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Endocrine and Metabolic Drugs
  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Herbal Medicines
  • Meyler’s Side Effects of Psychiatric Drugs

 

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

[Medical Journal Article] The Lancet: Universal health coverage for US military veterans within reach, but many still lack coverage

 

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The Lancet: Universal health coverage for US military veterans within reach, but many still lack coverage.

From the press release

Over a million US military veterans lacked healthcare coverage in 2012, according to new estimates published in The Lancet. While many people believe that all veterans are covered by the Veterans Affairs health care system, less than half (8.9 million) of the 22 million veterans in the US are covered by VA health benefits, and most veterans are covered by private health insurance. Uninsured veterans are more likely to be young, single, African American, and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the authors of this viewpoint estimate that universal health coverage for veterans is within reach, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion and subsidies for private health care. According to the authors, 87% of currently uninsured veterans could be eligible for health coverage through the Medicaid expansion, via the subsidized private health insurance market, or by enrolling in VA health benefits. Uninsured veterans are more likely to be clustered in states that have rejected the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Of the top five states with the highest number of uninsured veterans, four [1] are states that have rejected the expansion (the fifth, California, has accepted the expansion, but is also the most populous state in the union).

“Largely on account of the Affordable Care Act, the goal of universal health coverage for veterans is closer than ever,”* explains author Dave A Chokshi. “There remain political hurdles to achieving this goal, both in the false impression that the VA already provides universal coverage, and the decision by several states to reject the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. While eligibility for insurance is not tantamount to access to care, universal coverage is an important first step towards high-quality healthcare.”*

###

NOTES TO EDITORS:

*Quotes direct from author and cannot be found in text of Article

[1] There are an estimated 126000 uninsured veterans in Texas, 95000 in Florida, 54000 in North Carolina, and 53000 in Georgia

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

[Press release]Paper electronics could make health care more accessible

aPaper electronics could make health care more accessible.

From the 19 November 2014 EurekAlert

Flexible electronic sensors based on paper — an inexpensive material — have the potential to some day cut the price of a wide range of medical tools, from helpful robots to diagnostic tests. Scientists have now developed a fast, low-cost way of making these sensors by directly printing conductive ink on paper. They published their advance in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Anming Hu and colleagues point out that because paper is available worldwide at low cost, it makes an excellent surface for lightweight, foldable electronics that could be made and used nearly anywhere. Scientists have already fabricated paper-based point-of-care diagnostic tests and portable DNA detectors. But these require complicated and expensive manufacturing techniques. Silver nanowire ink, which is highly conductive and stable, offers a more practical solution. Hu’s team wanted to develop a way to print it directly on paper to make a sensor that could respond to touch or specific molecules, such as glucose.

The researchers developed a system for printing a pattern of silver ink on paper within a few minutes and then hardening it with the light of a camera flash. The resulting device responded to touch even when curved, folded and unfolded 15 times, and rolled and unrolled 5,000 times. The team concluded their durable, lightweight sensor could serve as the basis for many useful applications.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release]Herbs and spices enhance heart health as well as flavor

Herbs and spices enhance heart health as well as flavor.

English: cinnamon bark Cinnamomum verum. Franç...

English: cinnamon bark Cinnamomum verum. Français : Canelle Cinnamomum verum. Ελληνικά: Κανέλα, μπαχαρικό (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excerpt

Spices and herbs are rich in antioxidants, which may help improve triglyceride concentrations and other blood lipids, according to Penn State nutritionists.

Triglyceride levels rise after eating a high-fat meal — which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. If a high-antioxidant spice blend is incorporated into the meal, triglyceride levels may be reduced by as much as 30 percent when compared to eating an identical meal without the spice blend. The spiced meal included garlic powder, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, turmeric, ginger and black pepper.

Sheila G. West, professor of biobehavioral health and nutritional sciences, and Ann C. Skulas-Ray, research associate in nutritional sciences, reviewed a variety of research papers that focused on the effects that spices and herbs have on cardiovascular disease risk. They published their findings in a supplement to the current issue of the journal Nutrition Today, based on papers presented at the McCormick Science Institute Summit held in May 2014.

“The metabolic effects of spices and herbs and their efficacy and safety relative to traditional drug therapy represent an exciting area for future research given the public health significance of cardiovascular disease,” the researchers wrote.

West and Skulas-Ray looked at three categories of studies — spice blends, cinnamon and garlic.

“We live in a world where people consume too many calories every day,” said West. “Adding high-antioxidant spices might be a way to reduce calories without sacrificing taste.”

West and Skulas-Ray reviewed several cinnamon studies that looked at the effect of the spice on both diabetics and non-diabetics. Cinnamon was shown to help diabetics by significantly reducing cholesterol and other blood lipids in the study participants. However, cinnamon did not appear to have any effect on non-diabetics.

The garlic studies reviewed were inconclusive, but this is likely because the trials had a wide range of garlic doses, from nine milligrams of garlic oil to 10 grams of raw garlic. The reviewers noted that across the studies there was an eight percent decrease in total cholesterol with garlic consumption, which was associated with a 38 percent decrease in risk of heart problems in 50-year-old adults.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Datasets used by policymakers, scientists for public health analyses inconsistent [press release]

 

From the 17 November 2014 press release at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Science 

Commercially available datasets containing a wealth of information about food and alcohol establishments differ significantly, raising concerns about their reliability as sources of information that could be used to set public policy or conduct scientific research, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health investigation.
The analysis, funded by the Aetna Foundation, will be presented Monday at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual meeting in New Orleans. It examined systematic differences in two commercially available datasets when they were used to determine the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and the density of food and alcohol establishments.
“If we’re making decisions about setting public policy to improve public health – such as incentives for grocery stores that offer fresh produce in economically depressed areas – then we need to be making these decisions based on accurate data to back up the need for such incentives,” said lead investigator Dara Mendez, Ph.D., M.P.H., an epidemiologist at Pitt Public Health. “Our study found that relying on just one of these commercially available datasets likely wouldn’t provide robust information.”
There are numerous datasets available for a fee that give detailed information about food and alcohol establishments across the U.S. Typically, these datasets are purchased by companies that use them for marketing purposes.
Dr. Mendez and her team used two different commercially available datasets containing information about food and alcohol establishments in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh. The information was divided into the 416 distinct census tracts in the county as a means to define neighborhoods. Each census tract consists of an average of 4,000 people.
Both of the datasets showed that the density of alcohol outlets increased as neighborhood poverty increased. However, the datasets differed when it came to grocery stores. One showed that as poverty increased, the number of grocery stores increased. The other showed no association.
“This is a perplexing disagreement that likely comes down to the datasets using different classification systems and also not accurately capturing all the information. For example, because we are familiar with Allegheny County, my team was able to determine that some of the key grocery stores in our area were not included,” said Dr. Mendez. “However, if we were doing a similar analysis for a city we were not familiar with, we likely wouldn’t catch the discrepancy and could come to an inaccurate conclusion.”
The Aetna Foundation funded the study as part of a larger grant to Pitt Public Health to study the potential influence of living in stressful neighborhoods on the health of African-American mothers and their babies.
Additional researchers on this study include Anthony Fabio, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Kevin H. Kim, Ph.D., both of Pitt; and Cecily Hardaway, Ph.D., of Duke University.
APHA Abstract No. 302593, “Examining systematic biases in secondary commercial data sources of food and alcohol environments: Differences across neighborhood racial and socioeconomic characteristics,” will be given as an oral presentation at 12:30 p.m. CST on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.

 

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

[Psychology Resource] APA Center for Organizational Excellence

APA Center for Organizational Excellence

·http://www.apaexcellence.org

From the Scout Report

The science of psychology is often associated with either carefully controlled lab experiments or the soft-spoken tones of a therapist’s office. But psychologists actually study a huge range of behavioral phenomena. This site from the American Psychological Association (APA) focuses on work and work environments, asking questions such as: What makes work meaningful? How can companies help people love their jobs? And what’s in it for the companies if they invest in making the workplace healthier? There is a lot to discover here, including the Articles & Research section, which links readers to coverage of workplace research by such media outlets as USA Today and Market Watch. The Good Company section is another great find and features Podcasts as well as a Newsletter and Blog that provide focused, research-based content for both employers and workers. Company executives may also want to look into the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award, which has been “shining the spotlight on exemplary organizations” since 1999. [CNH]

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Psychology, Uncategorized, Workplace Health | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] THIEVES Essential Oil – Crimes against public health | Science-Based Pharmacy

THIEVES Essential Oil – Crimes against public health | Science-Based Pharmacy.

Excerpt:

As discussed in one of my previous posts, the promotion of quackery is so ubiquitous in my town it’s become white noise for me. I mostly tune it out unless I’m personally asked my opinion. Often this promotion comes in the weekly newspaper, in the advertising-disguised-as-advice page “Ask the Expert.” Occasionally there are columns by financial advisors and home improvement experts, but by far the majority of “expert advice” comes from chiropractors, naturopaths, Chinese Medicine practitioners, and holistic nutritionists. One regular advertiser is a local who calls herself a “Divine Healer”. She has some initials after her name, none of which I can trace back to any actual licenced health profession, degree or diploma. Her services include reflexology, mediumship, craniosacral therapy, aromatherapy and card-reading. She also offers a special massage called “vibrational raindrop technique” which apparently involves the use of essential oils and tuning forks or singing bowls.

 

This actually sounds like it might be kind of relaxing and entertaining. Something I would personally never pay the money for, but harmless, right? Earlier this year, however, a local public health nurse who I consider a kindred spirit based on our views of alternative medicine contacted me about the weekly claim. In the wake of a severe local flu outbreak and depletion of vaccine supply, the healer recommended an essential oil called “Thieves” claiming that “research shows that it has a 99.96 percent kill rate against airborne bacteria – interrupting the life cycle and interfering with the ability of viruses to replicate.” Further information available on her website goes on to describe how you can boost your immune system by placing a few drops on your feet every morning (this old wives’ tale makes me shake my head, every time I read it – which is too often).

Also provided are several recipes for making your own capsules with various essential oils which you should then take three times a day if you actually become sick. In bold, she warns that you must never take essential oils internally unless they are Young Living brand, which of course, is the brand that she represents. I found that information to be very interesting, considering the Health Canada guidelines for approval for aromatherapy essential oils clearly states that they are for topical or inhalation only. Also interesting is the fact that Young Living doesn’t appear to have an NPN for Thieves.

Young Living has also been under fire recently from the FDA for boldly claiming that Thieves can kill Ebola. While the letter from the FDA may prompt some correction at their top level, I doubt the message has trickled down to their thousands of distributors who will still likely be selling it any way they can, and that really is the modus operandi of all multi-level marketing schemes. Dr. Harriet Hall discussed a similar MLM company, and states:

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

[News article] High milk intake linked with higher fractures and mortality, research suggests — ScienceDaily

High milk intake linked with higher fractures and mortality, research suggests — ScienceDaily.
A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait

Excerpts from the 28 October 2014 article

Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
A high milk intake in women and men is not accompanied by a lower risk of fracture and instead may be associated with a higher rate of death, suggests observational research. Women who drank more than three glasses of milk a day had a higher risk of death than women who drank less than one glass of milk a day.
“there may be a link between the lactose and galactose content of milk and risk, although causality needs be tested.

“Our results may question the validity of recommendations to consume high amounts of milk to prevent fragility fractures,” they write. “The results should, however, be interpreted cautiously given the observational design of our study. The findings merit independent replication before they can be used for dietary recommendations.”

Michaëlsson and colleagues raise a fascinating possibility about the potential harms of milk, says Professor Mary Schooling at City University of New York in an accompanying editorial. However, she stresses that diet is difficult to assess precisely and she reinforces the message that these findings should be interpreted cautiously.

“As milk consumption may rise globally with economic development and increasing consumption of animal source foods, the role of milk and mortality needs to be established definitively now,” she concludes.”

A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Neglect of culture in medicine is ‘single biggest barrier’ to achieving better health | Daily Science News

Neglect of culture in medicine is ‘single biggest barrier’ to achieving better health | Daily Science News.

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From the 28 October post

The systematic neglect of culture is the single biggest barrier to advancing the highest attainable standard of health worldwide, say the authors of a major new report on culture and health, led by Professor David Napier, a leading medical anthropologist from University College London (UCL), UK, and published in The Lancet.

Bringing together experts from many different fields, including anthropologists, social scientists, and medics, the Commission is the first ever detailed appraisal of the role of culture in health. The authors argue that cultures of all kinds – not only people’s religious or ethnic identity, but also professional and political cultures – have been sidelined and misunderstood by both medical professionals and society as a whole.

Until now, culture has largely been conceived of as an impediment to health, rather than a central determining feature of it. However, the Commission makes a powerful case to the contrary, showing that culture not only determines health – for example, through its influence on behaviours such as smoking and unhealthy eating – but also defines it through different cultural groups’ understandings of what it means to be well.

Culture is often blamed for clinical malpractice,…

November 3, 2014 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Letting patients change their own meds using apps and connected devices

Letting patients change their own meds using apps and connected devices.

Aneroid sphygmomanometer with stethoscope, use...

Aneroid sphygmomanometer with stethoscope, used for auscultatory blood pressure measurement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 18 September 2014 post at iMedicalapps

A recent trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has demonstrated the efficacy of self-titration of blood pressure medications by patients with hypertension.

Personally, I’m a proponent of giving patients self-titration schedules, particularly in my patients with systolic heart failure in whom I’m trying to maximize medical therapy. It’s a strategy I use somewhat sparingly though in part because of the difficulty to follow the home monitoring these patients are doing between clinic visits.

In this study, the self-titration plan was agreed upon in a clinic visit and then transcribed onto a paper given to the patient. The patient then used an unconnected blood pressure cuff at home with pre-set parameters for the patient to notify their primary care physician if their readings were too high or too low. Notifications of self-titration were accomplished by having the patient send in paper notifications to their primary care physician.

There are clearly a number of opportunities here to streamline the process to help make it less cumbersome for the patient and improve the monitoring of patients undertaking this kind of self-titration strategy. There are a number of wireless blood pressure cuffs on the market as well as wired devices that can transmit data through USB connections to a computer.

With the coming standardization of health data being captured by personal health devices thanks to Google Fit and Apple HealthKit, this data can then be readily transferred into the electronic health record. Practice Fusion already does that with some personal health devices; Apple and Epic are working on developing that integration as well. Trials and pilots underway at institutions like Stanford and Duke are exploring the creation of automated alert systems to help filter the data being collected with pre-specified rules as it flows into their EHR.

There are a number of limitations in this study.

November 3, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Fairness is in the brain

Fairness is in the brain.

From the 20 October 2014 EurekAlert!

Ever wondered how people figure out what is fair? Look to the brain for the answer. According to a new Norwegian brain study, people appreciate fairness in much the same way as they appreciate money for themselves, and also that fairness is not necessarily that everybody gets the same income.

Economists from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and brain researchers from the University of Bergen (UiB) have worked together to assess the relationship between fairness, equality, work and money. Indeed, how do our brains react to how income is distributed?

More precisely, the interdisciplinary research team from the two institutions looked at the striatum; or the “reward centre” of the brain. By measuring our reaction to questions related to fairness, equality, work and money, this part of the brain may hold some answers to the issue of how we perceive distribution of income.

“The brain appreciates both own reward and fairness. Both influence the activation of the striatum,” says Professor Alexander W. Cappelen. “This may explain why a lot of people are willing to sacrifice monetary rewards when this results in a fairer balance.”

Inequality vs. fairness

Cappelen works at the Department of Economics at NHH and is co-director of the Choice Lab, which consists of researchers devoted to learning more about how people make economic and moral choices.

Along with his NHH Choice Lab colleagues Professor Bertil Tungodden and Professor Erik Ø. Sørensen, Cappelen wanted to explore how the brain’s reward system works. To help them answer this question, the NHH team got in touch with brain researchers Professor Kenneth Hugdahl, Professor Karsten Specht and Professor Tom Eichele, all from the Bergen fMRI Group and UiB’s Department of Biological and Medical Psychology.

Together, the NHH and UiB researchers set out to prove that the brain accepts inequality as long as this inequality is considered fair. The researchers published their results in the article Equity theory and fair inequality: A neuroeconomic study, which was published in the scientific journal PNAS on 13 October 2014.

People’s preferences for income distribution fundamentally affect their behaviour and contribute to shaping important social and political institutions. The study of such preferences has become a major topic in behavioural research in social psychology and economics.

“Our research showed that the striatum shows more activity to monetary rewards when the reward was judged to be fair,” says Kenneth Hugdahl.

IMAGE: Here are five of the six NHH and UiB researchers behind the new study that shows how the brain responds to questions regarding fairness and inequality. Left to right: Bertil…

Click here for more information.

Despite the large literature studying preferences for income distribution, there has so far been no direct neuronal evidence of how the brain responds to income distributions when people have made different contributions in terms of work effort.

Inspired by an article in Nature

The background for the joint study between the NHH and UiB researchers was an article in Nature in February 2010, where an interdisciplinary team of American researchers found evidence that people’s brains react negatively to inequality. The American researchers reached their conclusion by studying how the striatum responded to different levels of inequality in a situation where everyone had made the same contribution….

Website of The Choice lab, Norwegian School of Economics: http://blogg.nhh.no/thechoicelab/

Website of the The Bergen fMRI Group, University of Bergen: http://fmri.uib.no/

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Complementary Health Practices for U.S. Military, Veterans, and Families

nccam

 

From the NCCAM Web page

 

Many military personnel and veterans experience chronic pain, a condition that can be debilitating and is often difficult to treat. Post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, depression, and substance use are other conditions that tend to co-occur in these same service members and are also challenging to treat. Opioid medications are often prescribed for chronic pain conditions, but use and misuse of opioids resulting in hospitalizations and death has been on the rise. A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine examined the prevalence of chronic pain and opioid use among U.S. soldiers following deployment. The researchers found that of the more than 2,500 participants surveyed, 44 percent had chronic pain and 15 percent regularly used opioids—rates much higher than the general population.

Many military, veterans, and their families turn to complementary and integrative health approaches such as mindfulness meditation and other practices in an effort to enhance the options for the management of pain and associated problems. This page provides resources and information on health conditions of special concern to military, veterans, and their families and the complementary and integrative health practices being studied for this population.

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Robotic surgery: More complications, higher expense for some conditions

 

From the 8 October press release at EurkAlert

For benign ovarian surgery, conventional laparoscopy causes fewer complications, is less expensive, than robot-assisted surgery

NEW YORK, NY (October 8, 2014)—For benign gynecologic conditions, robot-assisted surgery involves more complications during surgery and may be significantly more expensive than conventional laparoscopic surgery, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The results were published online today in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Robot-assisted surgery was first widely used for radical prostatectomy. For procedures such as prostatectomy, where there were previously no minimally invasive options, robot-assisted laparoscopy often offered a dramatic improvement. But in the two gynecologic surgeries looked at in this study—oophorectomy (removal of one or both ovaries) and cystectomy (removal of an ovarian cyst) —surgeons already had laparoscopic options. The rate of robot-assisted surgery increased from 3.5 percent in 2009 to 15.0 percent in 2012 for oophorectomy and from 2.4 percent in 2009 to 12.9 percent in 2012 for cystectomy.

The CUMC researchers analyzed data on conventional laparoscopic and robot-assisted procedures performed on 87,514 women for benign gynecologic conditions between 2009 and 2012. The procedures took place at 502 U.S. hospitals.

The study showed a small but statistically significant overall increase in intraoperative (during surgery) complications, mainly ureteral and bladder injuries, with the robot-assisted procedures—3.4 percent for robot-assisted oophorectomy vs. 2.1 percent for conventional laparoscopic oophorectomy; 2.0 percent for a robot-assisted cystectomy vs. 0.9 percent for a conventional laparoscopic cystectomy. It is possible that the rate of complications will decline as surgeons become more experienced in robotic technology.

“The findings raise questions about the potential utility of robotic-assisted surgery for ovarian cancer and suggest that further studies are needed prior to considering these procedures as a standard of care,” said co-author Jason Wright, MD, Sol Goldman Associate Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and chief, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The researchers also found robot-assisted procedures to be more expensive. The median total cost for robot-assisted oophorectomy was $7,426, while for conventional laparoscopic oophorectomy it was $4,922. The median total cost for robot-assisted cystectomy was $7,444; for conventional laparoscopic cystectomy it was $4,133.

“With the rapid rise in the cost of cancer care, we need to make sure that public policies encourage comparative studies prior to widespread dissemination of new technologies,” said another co-author, Dawn L. Hershman, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and leader of the Breast Cancer Program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.

###

The paper is titled, “Comparative Effectiveness of Robotic-Assisted Compared to Laparoscopic Adnexal Surgery for Benign Gynecologic Disease.” The other authors are: Alessandra Kostolias, MD (CUMC), Cande V. Ananth, PhD, MPH (CUMC), William M. Burke, MD (CUMC), Ana I. Tergas, MD (CUMC), Eri Prendergast, MS (CUMC), Scott D. Ramsey, MD, PhD (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), and Alfred I. Neugut, MD, PhD (CUMC).

Dr. Wright (R01CA169121-01A1) and Dr. Hershman (R01 CA166084) are recipients of grants and Dr. Tergas is the recipient of a fellowship (R25 CA094061-11) from the National Cancer Institute.

The authors declare no financial or other conflicts of interest.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. For more information, visit cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] The Commission for Environmental Cooperation releases its first-ever, multi-year examination of reported industrial pollution in North America

http://www.cec.org/Page.asp?PageID=122&ContentID=25816&SiteLanguageId=1

From the press release

The latest edition of the Taking Stock report details pollutant releases and transfers across the region from 2005 through 2010, with an in-depth review of releases from the pulp and paper industry.

Montreal, 1 October 2014—The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has released a comprehensive report on the changing face of industrial pollution in North America, covering the years 2005 through 2010. This is the first time an edition of the CEC’s Taking Stock series, which gathers data from pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs) in Canada, Mexico and the United States, has analyzed North American pollutant information over an extended timeframe.

This volume of Taking Stock documents pollutant releases and transfers reported over the six-year period by approximately 35,000 industrial facilities across the region. Key findings include:

  • Total reported amounts of pollutants increased by 14 percent (from over 4.83 billion kilograms in 2005 to more than 5.53 billion kilograms in 2010), driven by releases to land (108-percent increase) and off-site disposal (42-percent increase). These increases reflect the introduction of Canada’s more comprehensive reporting requirements on tailings and waste rock, as well as on total reduced sulfur (TRS), resulting in more complete reporting by the metal ore mining and oil and gas extraction sectors in Canada.
  • Most other types of releases and transfers declined over this period—including releases to air from electric utilities, mainly in the United States, which declined by 36 percent. Changes in regulations for fossil fuel–based power plants, along with facility closures, were the drivers of these decreases.
  • There was also a 38-percent decrease in releases to air of substances in four categories that have significant potential to cause harm to human health or the environment: known or suspected carcinogens, developmental or reproductive toxicants, persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) substances, and metals.

By providing details at the country level, Taking Stock also highlights the gaps in the picture of North American industrial pollution that are created by differences in national PRTR reporting requirements and practices. For example:

  • Of the more than 500 pollutants reported across the region every year, only 60 are common to all three PRTRs.
  • Oil and gas extraction, a key sector tracked in Canada and that ranks among the top sectors for reported releases and transfers each year, is not subject to reporting in the United States. Mexican data show a low level of reporting by oil and gas extraction facilities.
  • Compared to the United States and Canada, Mexican data show wider fluctuations in reporting between 2005 and 2010, reflecting the fact that Mexico’s PRTR is relatively new.

“As a result of ongoing collaboration among the three countries’ PRTR programs and the CEC, we are now able to track industrial pollutant releases and transfers across North America and over time to identify tendencies, as well as important gaps, in reporting. By establishing linkages between PRTR data and facilities’ environmental sustainability efforts, Taking Stock supports the needs of the private sector, governments, citizens, and communities concerned with and affected by North American industrial pollution,” said Irasema Coronado, CEC Executive Director.

Decreases in pollutant releases from pulp and paper mills—a look at the driving factors

This year’s report also takes advantage of six years of North American PRTR data to examine releases reported by pulp and paper mills—which have consistently ranked among the top sectors for releases to air and water in North America. The data show that between 2005 and 2010, the sector’s releases to air decreased by 19 percent and releases to water by 6 percent. Taking Stock identifies the drivers of these decreases, through data analyses, a survey of mills, and information from industry representatives. Among the findings:

  • A key driver of the decreases seen over this period has been the shutdown of several facilities in Canada and the United States (the two countries with the most reporting from this sector).
  • Emissions typically associated with pulp and paper mills include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), methanol, hydrogen sulfide, phosphorous, and formaldehyde, among others. However, some of these pollutants are not subject to reporting in one or more of the three countries (e.g., methanol in Mexico), creating challenges when analyzing the pollution profiles of pulp and paper mills.
  • While factors such as new emissions regulations have played a role in the decline in releases over this period, the report also shows that facilities’ own environmental engagement, as well as customer demand for environmentally-friendly products, have had impacts—with mills adopting environmental management decisions that include pollution prevention and mitigation practices.

Explore North American PRTR data online

The data presented in the Taking Stock report can be searched using the CEC’s Taking Stock Onlinetool, which is updated annually with data from North America’s three PRTRs. It allows users to:

  • explore information on industrial pollutant releases and transfers;
  • generate reports in a variety of formats, including pie charts and spreadsheets;
  • create maps and view them using Google Earth; and
  • analyze PRTR data with respect to other information, such as locations of watersheds, rivers, lakes, and population centers, using geospatial data from the North American Environmental Atlas.

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caution: Some Over-the-Counter Medicines May Affect Your Driving

ucm417432

 

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm417426.htm

From the FDA Web site

Anyone who operates a vehicle of any type—car, bus, train, plane, or boat—needs to know there are over-the-counter medicines that can make you drowsy and can affect your ability to drive and operate machinery safely.

Over-the-counter medicines are also known as OTC or nonprescription medicines. All these terms mean the same thing: medicines that you can buy without a prescription from a healthcare professional. Each OTC medicine has a Drug Facts label to guide you in your choices and to help keep you safe. OTC medicines are serious medicines and their risks can increase if you don’t choose them carefully and use them exactly as directed on the label.

According to Ali Mohamadi, M.D., a medical officer at FDA, “You can feel the effects some OTC medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours. In some cases, a medicine can cause significant ‘hangover-like’ effects and affect your driving even the next day.” If you have not had enough sleep, taking medicine with a side effect that causes drowsiness can add to the sleepiness and fatigue you may already feel. Being drowsy behind the wheel is dangerous; it can impair your driving skills.

ucm417460

Choosing and Using Safely

You should read all the sections of the Drug Facts label before you use an OTC medicine. But, when you know you have to drive, it’s particularly important to take these simple steps:

First, read the “active ingredients” section and compare it to all the other medicines you are using. Make sure you are not taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient. Then make sure the “purpose” and “uses” sections of the label match or fit the condition you are trying to treat.

Next, carefully read the entire “Warnings” section. Check whether the medicine should not be used with any condition you have, or whether you should ask a health care professional whether you can use it. See if there’s a warning that says when you shouldn’t use the medicine at all, or when you should stop using it.

The “When using this product” section will tell you how the medicine might make you feel, and will include warnings about drowsiness or impaired driving.

Look for such statements as “you may get drowsy,” “marked drowsiness will occur,” “Be careful when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery” or “Do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery when using this product.”

Other information you might see in the label is how the medicine reacts when taken with other products like alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers, and other effects the OTC medicine could have on you. When you see any of these statements and you’re going to drive or operate machinery, you may want to consider choosing another medicine for your problem this time. Look for an OTC medicine that treats your condition or problem but has an active ingredient or combination of active ingredients that don’t cause drowsiness or affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Talk to your healthcare professional if you need help finding another medicine to treat your condition or problem. Then, check the section on “directions” and follow them carefully.

ucm417458

Here are some of the most common OTC medicines that can cause drowsiness or impaired driving:

  • Antihistamines: These are medicines that are used to treat things like runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose or throat, and itchy or watery eyes. Some antihistamines are marketed to relieve cough due to the common cold. Some are marketed to relieve occasional sleeplessness. Antihistamines also can be added to other active ingredients that relieve cough, reduce nasal congestion, or reduce pain and fever. Some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, can make you feel drowsy, unfocused and slow to react.
  • Antidiarrheals: Some antidiarrheals, medicines that treat or control symptoms of diarrhea, can cause drowsiness and affect your driving. One of these is loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium.
  • Anti-emetics: Anti-emetics, medicines that treat nausea, vomiting and dizziness associated with motion sickness, can cause drowsiness and impair driving as well.

“If you don’t read all your medicine labels and choose and use them carefully,” says Dr. Mohamadi, “you can risk your safety. If your driving is impaired, you could risk your safety, and the safety of your passengers and others.”

Please visit, Over-the-Counter Medicines and Driving, for the audio and slide presentation for more about driving and OTC medicines and with practice looking at Drug Facts labels.

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

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] NIH funds research consortia to study more than 200 rare diseases

From the 8 October 2014 EurkAlert

$29 million awarded to expand NCATS’ collaborative Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network

Physician scientists at 22 consortia will collaborate with representatives of 98 patient advocacy groups to advance clinical research and investigate new treatments for patients with rare diseases. The collaborations are made possible through awards by the National Institutes of Health — totaling about $29 million in fiscal year 2014 funding — to expand the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN), which is led by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

There are several thousand rare diseases, of which only a few hundred have any treatments available. Combined, rare diseases affect an estimated 25 million Americans. Some obstacles to developing rare disease treatments include difficulties in diagnosis, widely dispersed patients and scientific experts, a perception of high risk, and a lack of data from natural history studies, which follow a group of people with a specific medical condition over time.

“NCATS seeks to tackle these challenges in an integrated way by working to identify common elements among rare diseases,” said NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D. “The RDCRN consortia provide a robust data source that enables scientists to better understand and share these commonalities, ultimately allowing us to accelerate the development of new approaches for diagnosing and treating rare diseases.”

Many patients with rare diseases often struggle to obtain an accurate diagnosis and find the right treatments. In numerous cases, RDCRN consortia have become centers of excellence for diagnosing and monitoring diseases that few clinicians see on a regular basis.

These latest awards establish six new RDCRN consortia:

Consortium Name Lead Institution/ Principal Investigator Disease Areas of Study
Brittle Bone Disorders Consortium of the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network Baylor College of Medicine, Houston/ Brendan Lee, M.D., Ph.D. Bone diseases (e.g., osteogenesis imperfecta)
Clinical Research in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Related Disorders for Therapeutic Development University of Miami Miller School of Medicine/Michael Benatar, M.B.Ch.B., M.S., D.Phil. Neurological diseases (e.g., ALS, frontotemporal dementia, hereditary spastic paraplegia, primary lateral sclerosis, progressive muscular atrophy)
Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati/Marc E. Rothenberg, M.D., Ph.D. Food allergy disorders (e.g., eosinophilic esophagitis, eosinophilic gastritis, eosinophilic colitis)
Developmental Synaptopathies Associated with TSC, PTEN and SHANK3 Mutations Children’s Hospital Corporation, Boston/ Mustafa Sahin, M.D., Ph.D. Neurological diseases (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities)
Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Clinical Research Consortium University of California, San Francisco/Adam L. Boxer, M.D., Ph.D. Neurological diseases (e.g., corticobasal syndrome, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, frontotemporal dementia, primary progressive aphasia, progressive supranuclear palsy syndrome)
Rare Lung Diseases Consortium: Molecular Pathway-Driven Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Rare Lung Diseases Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center/ Bruce Trapnell, M.D. Lung diseases (hereditary interstitial lung disease, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome)
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To learn more about the six new and 16 continuing consortia as well as the DMCC, visit http://www.ncats.nih.gov/rdcrn-awards2014.html.

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To find out about specific clinical trials, and how to apply…
Go to clinicaltrials.gov

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

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