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Ask a Scientist connects you to some of the top scientists in the country, and each of them is connected to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. If you’ve got a question about medicine, human biology, animals, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, or evolution, then please, Ask A Scientist
|Kids.gov is the U.S. government’s website for children (grades K-8). Kids, parents, and teachers can use the site to get help with homework, access lesson plans, watch videos, play games, and more.
|Kids.gov is the U.S. government’s website for children (grades K-8). Kids, parents, and teachers can use the site to get help with homework, access lesson plans, watch videos, play games, and more.
If you’ve visited Kids.gov previously, you’ll notice that the website has been completely redesigned. The vibrant new site provides areas for three specific audiences: kids (grades K-5), teens (grades 6-8), and grown-ups (teachers and parents).
A runny nose and a wet cough caused by a cold or an allergy may not feel very good. But human airways rely on sticky mucus to expel foreign matter, including toxic and infectious agents, from the body.Now, a study by Brian Button and colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, helps to explain how human airways clear such mucus out of the lungs. The findings may give researchers a better understanding of what goes wrong in many human lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
The researchers’ report appears in the 24 August issue of the journalScience.
“The air we breathe isn’t exactly clean, and we take in many dangerous elements with every breath,” explains Michael Rubinstein, a co-author of the Science report. “We need a mechanism to remove all the junk we breathe in, and the way it’s done is with a very sticky gel called mucus that catches these particles and removes them with the help of tiny cilia.”
“The cilia are constantly beating, even while we sleep,” he says. “In a coordinated fashion, they push mucus containing foreign objects out of the lungs, and we either swallow it or spit it out. These cilia even beat for a few hours after we die. If they stopped, we’d be flooded with mucus that provides a fertile breeding ground for bacteria.”
Until now, most researchers have subscribed to a “gel-on-liquid” model of mucus clearance, in which a watery “periciliary” layer acts as a lubricant and separates mucus from epithelial cells that line human airways. But this old explanation fails to explain how mucus remains in its own distinct layer.
“We can’t have a watery layer separating sticky mucus from our cells because there is an osmotic pressure in the mucus that causes it to expand in water,” Rubinstein says. “So what is really keeping the mucus from sticking to our cells?”
The researchers used a combination of imaging techniques to observe a dense meshwork in the periciliary layer of human bronchial epithelial cell cultures. The brush-like layer consists of protective molecules that keep sticky mucus from reaching the cilia and epithelial cells, thus ensuring the normal flow of mucus.
Based on their findings, Button and the other researchers propose a “gel-on-brush” form of mucus clearance in which mucus moves atop a brush-like periciliary layer instead of a watery one. They suggest that this mechanism captures the physics of human mucus clearance more accurately.
“This layer — this brush — seems to be very important for the healthy functioning of human airways,” according to Rubinstein. “It protects cells from sticky mucus, and it creates a second barrier of defense in case viruses or bacteria penetrate through the mucus. They would not penetrate through the brush layer because the brush is denser.”
“We found that there is a specific condition, below which the brush is healthy and cells are happy,” Rubinstein explains. “But above this ideal condition, in diseases like CF or COPD, the brush becomes compressed and actually prevents the normal cilia beating and healthy flow of mucus.”
The researchers explain that, whenever the mucus layer gets too dense, it can crash through the periciliary brush, collapse the cilia and stick to the cell surface.
“The collapse of this brush is what can lead to immobile mucus and result in infection, inflammation and eventually the destruction of lung tissue and the loss of lung function,” says Rubinstein. “But our new model should guide researchers to develop novel therapies to treat lung diseases and provide them with biomarkers to track the effectiveness of those therapies.”
- ‘Brush’ sweeps human lungs clean (bbc.co.uk)
- Science: Human lungs brush out intruders (eurekalert.org)
- Human Lungs Brush out Intruders (sott.net)
- Human Airways’ ‘Brush’ Mechanism Gives Clues to Lung Diseases (nlm.nih.gov)
- Human Airways’ ‘Brush’ Mechanism Gives Clues to Lung Diseases (news.health.com)
- UAB study shows cystic fibrosis drug should also be tested to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (al.com)
- New proteins to clear the airways in cystic fibrosis and COPD (eurekalert.org)
- Is smoking linked to Cystic Fibrosis? (nyrvabadette.com)
- Why Do We Sneeze? (news.nationalgeographic.com)
Originally posted on Weight Maven:
Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine on the sad state of medical research:
It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.
Scary, but I bet she’s right.
Originally posted on Breakfast on Radio Adelaide:
But the food your kids eat not only adds to a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.
A study led by University of Adelaide has found links between the diet of 6, 15 and 24 month old children and their IQ at age 8.
Originally posted on HealthCetera - CHMP's Blog:
Daliah Heller, PhD, MPH, joins the Center for Health Media and Policy (CHMP) at Hunter College this year as a Visiting Scholar.
I’m beginning to think Health Homes are one of the best-kept secrets in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). I’ve spoken with a lot of health care providers lately, and few seem to know about this provision, and that it is not the same as a Medical Home, though could be part of one.
Health Homes are case management-type entities established by the state health authority to
serve Medicaid-eligible people with chronic health conditions. ACA includes substance use
disorders among the eligible conditions, alongside mental health conditions, asthma, diabetes,
heart disease, and being overweight. And for the record, the term ‘substance use disorder’ refers
to a spectrum of excessive or harmful alcohol or drug use.
Yes, this is a controversial topic, but thought I’d include these items, the comments for both blogs are interesting.
My thoughts? Health insurance coverage does need revising..because caring for our nation’s health is a shared responsibility…
By expanding Medicaid, the state-federal partnership that offers health insurance to low-income Americans, the Affordable Care Act set out to cover some 17 million uninsured – or roughly half of the 34 million who are expected to gain coverage under reform. But when the Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act in June, it struck down a key provision which threatened that if a state refused to co-operate in extending Medicaid to more of its citizens, it could lose the federal funding it now receives for its current Medicaid enrollees…
Health care costs, premiums would rise
What these governors ignore is the impact that the loss of those Medicaid dollars will have on insurance rates in their states, says Joe Paduda, editor of Managed Care Matters. Hospitals have been counting on the influx of new Medicaid dollars to reduce the cost of uncompensated care. Today, hospitals spend billions delivering care to patients who are both uninsured and very poor. If more patients have Medicaid, the pile of unpaid bills will shrink.
Assuming that Medicaid will expand, the Affordable Care Act has already trimmed subsidies to hospitals that care for a disproportionate share of impoverished patients. But now, if states turn down the Medicaid funding, the hospitals in these states “are going to have to make up the revenue loss from somewhere,” says Paduda, “and that ‘somewhere’ is going to be from privately-insured patients. That will lead to health insurance costs increasing much faster in ‘non-expansion’ states than in the rest of the country.”
We have been told that in some red states conservatives “hate poor people.” But my guess is that they’ll hate higher premiums more. If premiums go up, governors who turned down federal Medicaid dollars will have to answer to voters…
Now that some states are balking, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 6 million of the 17 million who were supposed to be covered by the Medicare expansion will be left out of the program. Fortunately, 3 million of those 6 million will be eligible for sliding-scale subsidies that the ACA provides to help low-income and middle-income Americans purchase private insurance – if they earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. ($11,170 to $43,320 for an individual).
What is less fortunate is that the CBO estimates that those subsidies will cost Washington $3,000 more per person than if the same people were covered by Medicaid: private health insurance plans have higher administrative costs than Medicaid and also tend to pay providers more.
3 million left out in the cold
The other 3 million will be left out in the cold. The subsidies, which come in the form of tax credits, are earmarked for those who earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line. Ironically, if a person earns “too little” (less than 100 percent of the FPL), they are not eligible for the subsidy. (The ACA assumed that they would be covered by the new Medicaid.)
At the same time, if they earn “too much” to qualify for Medicaid in a state that limits eligibility to 50 percent of the FPL, they will be shut out of that program as well – leaving them in a no-man’s land where they have no sure access to medical care.
In those cases where they do receive the care they need, the rest of us will wind up covering their unpaid bills as we watch our insurance premiums climb.
magine that you are the head of a family of three, struggling to get by on an income, say, of $25,000 a year. You’ve signed up for your employer’s health plan because you want your family to get good health care when they need it. But that takes a big bite out of your paycheck — $250 a month.
When you first heard about the president’s health plan, you heard him say that if you like the plan you’re in you can keep it. That was good news. You also believed the whole point of the reform was to help families like yours get health insurance if for some reason you had to seek insurance on your own.
Now get ready for some surprises. The first will be an announcement that in another year or so your employer’s health plan will no longer be available to you. The reason: plain economics. People at your income level will qualify for as good or better health insurance in a new health insurance exchange. And almost all the premium will be paid for by the federal government. Most people like you would rather have higher wages than a health plan that duplicates what you can get almost for free, your employer will reason. So in order to compete for labor, your company will have to give prospective employees the compensation package they most want. And your employer will be right.
Then there will be a second surprise. Under the new rules, if you are eligible for Medicaid, you can’t get private insurance in the exchange. Further the health reform law is designed to force the states to raise the income level for Medicaid. If your state complies, someone with your income will be eligible for Medicaid and you won’t be allowed in the exchange!
Now if you were a resident alien, the rules are different. Since they don’t generally qualify for Medicaid, immigrant families at your income level can get subsidized private insurance in the exchange. But alas, you’re a citizen. So this option isn’t open to you.
Now let’s say you are under the impression that Medicaid is second rate insurance and you remember that your employer promised to pay more in wages once your health benefit is gone. What about using the higher wages from your employer to buy private insurance outside the exchange?
Now get ready for the third surprise. There isn’t going to be any market for private insurance outside the exchange — at least not for you. The insurance companies are going away. The brokers are going away. The market is going away.
Now for the final surprise. The only option open to you under the Affordable Care Act is Medicaid! Why should you care? Because your initial impression is correct. Medicaid is second rate insurance.
In most places Medicaid patients have a terrible time finding doctors who will see them and facilities that will admit them. That’s why so many of them turn to community health centers and the emergency rooms of safety net hospitals for basic medical care. Medicaid enrollees turn to emergency rooms for their care twice as often as the privately insured and even the uninsured. In fact, if you’re trying to get a primary care appointment, it appears your chances are better if you say you are uninsured…
Here is where is gets little bit tricky, owing to the bizarre structure of ObamaCare. The new health law is trying to get the states to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138% of the federal poverty level ($15,415 for an individual or $26,344 for a family of three). But let’s suppose that, thanks to the Supreme Court, a state doesn’t do anything. It turns out that only people who are between 100% and 138% of poverty can then go into the exchange and get private insurance.
So if your employer does raise your pay and pushes you over that threshold, you qualify. However, while your salary is still only $25,000 you may not be eligible for Medicaid. Here’s the double whammy: You will not be allowed into the exchange either. You will be in a sort of “no-man’s-land” donut hole. And the only way out will be for you to somehow earn more income. Or, lie about it. This may be one of the very few instances where people will find it their self-interest to tell the IRS their income is higher than it really is!
According to the CBO about two-thirds of the states will not expand eligibility above 100% of the federal poverty level. That’s why 3 million citizens will be liberated and will get private insurance instead. Moreover, the subsidies in the exchange are incredibly generous. The most the family has to pay is 2% of their income.
Further, the private plans in the exchange will pay providers about 50% higher fees that the rock bottom payments they would have gotten from Medicaid. This will be a huge relief for safety net facilities that are scraping by on inadequate resources as it is. And it’s a reason why the CBO may have underestimated how many states will find this option very attractive.
ObamaCare is still a Rube Goldberg contraption that desperately needs repealing and replacing. But in the interim, the Supreme Court has done a lot of families a big favor.
- Falling through cracks if states don’t expand Medicaid (vitals.nbcnews.com)
- State’s poorest could be left without health insurance if Medicaid expansion is rejected (dispatch.com)
- Concern For The Poorest Americans If States Opt Out Of Medicaid Expansion (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Should Colorado opt out of the Medicaid expansion as outlined in the Affordable Health Care Act? No (denverpost.com)
- Medicaid gap could widen (toledoblade.com)
- Affordable Care Act Cheaper, Will Cover Less Lives Depending on States’ Actions (hmprg.typepad.com)
- Medicaid. Again. (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Drive to expand Medicaid is stalled (kansascity.com)
- Rationing Begins: States Limiting Drug Prescriptions for Medicaid Patients (righttruth.typepad.com)
- Medicaid and the November Elections (pubcit.typepad.com)
- Medicaid Expansion Could Cut Death Rate (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Medicaid expansion refusal hurts hospitals (sfgate.com)
- Poorest Americans at risk if states opt out of Medicaid expansion (medicalxpress.com)
- Study: Many Doctors Not Accepting Medicaid Patients (thinkprogress.org)
- Perry caught in Medicaid contradiction (thehill.com)
- Poorest Americans at risk if states opt out of Medicaid expansion (eurekalert.org)
- Texas Gov. Perry Uses Medicaid Expansion in Budget Assumption (news.firedoglake.com)
- Rick Perry Factors Into State Budget Obamacare Funds He Had Pledged To Reject (thinkprogress.org)
- Rick Perry budgets with Medicaid money he said he’d reject (dailykos.com)
Originally posted on Johns Hopkins University Press Blog:
The Doctor Is In is an occasional series where JHU Press authors discuss the latest developments and news in health and medicine.
Guest post by Edward A. Bell, Pharm.D., BCPS
Do you know how to properly measure and administer medicine to your child? A recent study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting suggests that parents with low reading and math skills may not.
Jane McGonigal asks: Why doesn’t the real world work more like an online game? In the best-designed games, our human experience is optimized: We have important work to do, we’re surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly and in a low-risk environment. In her work as a game designer and director of game R&D at the Institute for the Future, she creates games that use mobile and digital technologies to turn everyday spaces into playing fields, and everyday people into teammates. Her game-world insights can explain–and improve–the way we learn, work, solve problems, and lead our real lives.
Several years ago she suffered a serious concussion, and she created a multiplayer game to get through it, opening it up to anyone to play. In “Superbetter,” players set a goal (health or wellness) and invite others to play with them–and to keep them on track. While most games, and most videogames, have traditionally been about winning, we are now seeing increasing collaboration and games played together to solve problems.
Using the County Health Rankings and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs county economic rankings, Georgia’s “Partner Up! For Public Health” advocacy campaign has developed a research project and presentation that visually illustrates how Georgia’s economic vitality and population health go hand in hand.
The still-evolving, data-driven narrative has already been presented, along with key observations and policy suggestions from the report, to more than 30 audiences throughout Georgia, including the Georgia Public Health Association, Georgia Rural Health Association, the Georgia Association of Regional Commissions, and a meeting of key state legislative leaders.
he most over-used and under-analyzed statement in the academic vocabulary is surely “more research is needed”.
These four words, occasionally justified when they appear as the last sentence in a Masters dissertation, are as often to be found as the coda for a mega-trial that consumed the lion’s share of a national research budget, or that of a Cochrane review which began with dozens or even hundreds of primary studies and progressively excluded most of them on the grounds that they were “methodologically flawed”.
Yet however large the trial or however comprehensive the review, the answer always seems to lie just around the next empirical corner.
With due respect to all those who have used “more research is needed” to sum up months or years of their own work on a topic, this ultimate academic cliché is usually an indicator that serious scholarly thinking on the topic has ceased. It is almost never the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from a set of negative, ambiguous, incomplete or contradictory data…
- Understanding the nuances of evidence-informed healthcare (thehindu.com)
Mobile Devices Were Wrecking My Health. Here’s How I Plan to Change That (One Person’s Self Diagnosis)
’m the first guy to extol the fruits of mobile technology. The flexibility and power they provide, the productivity they can enhance. But every sword has two edges (unless it’s a sabre or scimitar, but I digress).
My eyesight – stuck at the same prescription for more than a decade – began worsening again about a year ago. I noticed I was sleeping less and less well, routinely waking up unrefreshed and with a sore lower back.
Mentally, I felt foggy in a way that a shot of Peet’s Coffee or 5-Hour Energy could only temporarily cure. My once-infallible memory gave way to struggles to remember routine facts and names.
At first, I blamed other factors: parenting two young boys, crossing the big 4-oh, even a saggy mattress.
I don’t expect the Surgeon General to start Warning that the Kindle Fire is Hazardous for One’s Health. Still, it’s clear that something so right can also be so wrong…
[I found these excerpts a bit startling]
39% said they wake up in the middle of the night to check e-mail (8% do it every night). When asked how their device keeps them awake at night, 47% said it made them think about work, while 36% said it wakes them with sounds at night.
elite consultants don’t just send one another emails at 1 a.m. They expect answers by 3 a.m.
- Mobile Devices Were Wrecking My Health. Here’s How I Plan to Change That. (forbes.com)
- Mobile Devices Were Wrecking My Health. Here’s How I Plan to Change That. (thehealthcareblog.com)
When I was in the Peace Corps (Liberia) many volunteers had and used this book, despite strongly worded caveats from the Peace Corps Office
This book is the most widely used health education book in tropical developing countries. Based on David Werner’s experiences at his Project Piaxtla in western Mexico, it was originally written in Spanish as Donde No Hay Doctor. It has since been revised and has sold over one million copies and been translated into over 100 languages.
It covers all aspects of people’s health ranging from diarrhea to malaria and bone fractures and ringworm. The book explains to you what you can do yourself and how to prevent, recognise and treat many common sicknesses. There is also a large section on giving first aid.
Originally posted on greendistrict:
My latest post on The Atlantic’s Cities website explores geo-medicine, a new field that uses GIS mapping to correlate environmental conditions to health risks like heart attacks and cancer. There’s even a free app that allows you to map the types of toxic exposures in everyplace you’ve ever lived and correlate them to the likelihood of developing cancer or dying of a heart attack.
Beyond charting the potential for your own personal doomsday, however, geo-medicine has many other applications: It can allow doctors to zoom in on a patient’s life to create a geographically enhanced medical history. Or it can zoom out to give public health officials, city planners and activists detail-rich insights on how to improve the well-being of entire communities.
Originally posted on Do No Harm:
A third of malaria drugs in the world are counterfeit. These are the findings of the Lancet Infectious Diseases research (reported by BBC here). These findings spur concern because counterfeit malaria drugs not only make the treatment of malaria not effective but are also likely to cause drug resistant malaria strains. This problem, however, is not limited to malaria drugs.
As much as 15% of medicines in the world are counterfeit thus causing 100,000 deaths worldwide according to the WHO. The increase of counterfeit drugs across the world in the last decade is both a consequence and a symptom of one phenomenon: the globalization of drugs production and distribution. The supply chain of medicines has become increasingly fragmented and scattered across the globe with raw material extraction taking place in one country and ingredients synthesis and formulation in another country. This globalized supply chain has two implications:
1. It makes the counterfeit drugs problem not an exclusivity of developing countries: developed countries are as much exposed to this risk as least developed countries.
Originally posted on Plan for the Public:
The main focus of this blog is to explore the connection between public health and urban planning. These two diverse fields have a direct relationship with one another, which is often overlooked. Historically these two disciplines have operated independently, without collaboration. We believe that we can form healthier, more fulfilling future for our communities through the integration and application of these two fields. The following chart shows the relationship between public health and urban planning and how they have a continual direct effect on one another.
Urban planning is the process that regulates development in neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Planners deal with all the components that make up a metro region; transportation systems, the economy, natural resources, urban design, and physical facilities. These all come together to define our cities.
” According to FDA, 40% of drugs (generic and prescription) consumed in the U.S. are manufactured outside of the U.S.”
Originally posted on Regulatory Compliance Digest:
Product safety has gone global. It is one of the byproducts of our growing global village. Despite the volume and variety of domestically produced products, U.S. consumers continue to show increasing demand for imported goods of all kinds. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responsibility for ensuring the safety of most of the products Americans consume, the agency’s work has gone global. It is an expanding regulatory frontier.
In April 2012, FDA published a report, which documents how the agency works (through overseas inspections and collaborations with foreign governments) to ensure that the imported foods, medical products, and other goods it regulates meet the same high standards for safety and quality set for products manufactured domestically. One major area involves medical products.
The Global Drugstore
Originally posted on Amy Croan MPH:
Hang in there with me for just a few minutes, folks.
The leading causes of U.S. deaths are heart disease, cancer, respiratory ailments and stroke. Right? In the vast majority of cases, these are attributed to poor nutrition, not genetics. What food groups do we as a nation consume the most? Meat and dairy. Consumption of which foods increases at the same rate as chronic disease and fatal illness? Meat and dairy. What are two of the main food groups the Food Pyramid encourages us to eat as part of our daily diet? Meat and dairy. Why would an agency of the federal government urge us to consume the two most unhealthy foods as part of each meal? (defended my 10-year old son).
Originally posted on Upstream:
Shanna H. Swan, a renowned scientist specialising in reproductive medicine, has warned about the health effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) known as phthalates which can end up in food via pesticides or plastics. In an interview with EurActiv, she calls on regulators to better protect consumers against those “hidden chemicals”.
Add your thoughts here… (optional)
Originally posted on Mr Epidemiology:
Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi back to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.
The negative health effects of sedentary behaviour are a hot topic gaining scientific and popular attention. Any Canadian reading the news should be aware that sitting is killing us – Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC have all recently published on the topic. Given the tsunami-like obesity epidemic that has risen over North America over the past few decades, critical investigation of our sedentary behaviour is highly warranted.
Legal Drug-Pushing: How Disease Mongers Keep Us All Doped Up – John-Manuel Andriote – Health – The Atlantic
By manipulating our fear of suffering and death, big pharmaceutical companies are able to keep us coming back for expensive medications
Excerpts from this article from the 3 April 2012online edition of The Atlantic
.Pharmaceutical giants, like small-town pizza parlors, have two options for making more money: convince regulars to buy more of what they obviously like, or find ways to persuade more people that they will be happier with this drug or that thin crust with extra cheese.In the case of the drug companies, it’s not our taste buds they’re appealing to. Instead, they market prescription drugs directly to consumers — a practice legal only in the United States and New Zealand — by, basically, manipulating our fear of suffering and death.These “disease mongers” — as science writer Lynne Payer in her 1992 book of that name called the drug industry and the doctors, insurers, and others who comprise its unofficial sales force — spin and toil “to convince essentially well people that they are sick, or slightly sick people that they are very ill.”Changing the metrics for diagnosing a disease is one reliable technique. Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, associate professor of pharmacology and director of the industry watchdog group PharmedOut.org at Georgetown University School of Medicine, pointed to how the numbers used to diagnose diabetes and high cholesterol have been lowered over time. “The very numbers we use have been reduced to the point of absurdity,” she said. “120/80 was considered normal blood pressure; now it’s considered ‘pre-hypertension.’”Entirely new diseases can be, and have been, invented to extend a manufacturer’s patent on a highly profitable drug. Fugh-Berman said Eli Lilly stood to lose a lot of profits once the patent expired on its hugely popular antidepressant Prozac. “So they positioned this new condition, PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder), and then went to physicians and the FDA with their highly paid experts who said PMDD is a tragic disease, and they got approved for Sarafem, the same drug. It’s an on-label use for a repackaged drug; they created the disease and then got a drug re-approved that was going off patent.”..
The article goes on to outline one feature of the “medical industrial complex” – the expansion of disease categories to include precursor conditions as psychosis risk syndrome. These categories are included in professional manuals, making it easier for drug companies to develop and market new drugs associated with conditions recognized by medical associations.
The authors also asks if Americans are being overdiagnosed through an overly medicalized drug culture partly created through aggressive prescription drug advertisements. Responsibility for addressing this issue is in the hands of consumers, professional health care providers, government regulators, and all who contribute to our culture (as artistis, writers, and journalists).
- ClinicalTrials.gov -up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions. A clinical trial (also clinical research) is a research study in human volunteers to answer specific health questions. Interventional trials determine whether experimental treatments or new ways of using known therapies are safe and effective under controlled environments.
A growing number of clinical trials publish at least some of their results at ClinicalTrials.gov
Use the Advanced Search and use the Search Results to limit to Studies with Results
- Cochrane Systematic Reviews
(Click here for the free summary version)Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting. They are published online in The Cochrane Library.Each systematic review addresses a clearly formulated question; for example: Can antibiotics help in alleviating the symptoms of a sore throat? All the existing primary research on a topic that meets certain criteria is searched for and collated, and then assessed using stringent guidelines, to establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence about a specific treatment. The reviews are updated regularly, ensuring that treatment decisions can be based on the most up-to-date and reliable evidence
- Drug Information Portal
A gateway to selected drug information from the US government. It links you to information on over 12,000 drugs from trusted consumer drug information sources (as MedlinePlus Drug Information), the US Food and Drug Information (as Drugs @FDA), LactMed (summary of effects on breastfeeding), and more.
Clinically important safety information and reporting serious problems with human medical products.Safety information includes drug information, recalls & alerts, drug shortage information, and medication guides.
Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information (from MedlinePlus.gov)Learn about your prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. Includes side effects, dosage, special precautions, and more.Browse dietary supplements and herbal remedies to learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.
- We should treat diseases not create diseases to treat (medrants.com)
Pop. Snort. Parachute.(New York Magazine, 2005))
To many New York teenagers, all the world’s a pharmacy. There is a vanishing distinction between pills for medication and for recreation, and the much-touted risk of suicide misses the point.By David Amsden Published May 21, 2005
“….Drug companies, though, have plenty of incentives to market their drugs to kids. Adolescents represent a relatively untapped (but rapidly growing) market for drugmakers, something any successful business looks to exploit. And they’re generally encouraged to do so by the government. A federal law passed in 1997 allows a drug company to keep its patent an extra six months by performing clinical trials on children, which translates into enormous profits. Zoloft, for instance, grossed about $3.1 billon in sales last year, so that additional time is hugely lucrative.
Meanwhile, the shame associated with psychotropic meds continues to dissipate as doctors write more prescriptions and the diagnosed “disorders” become less severe-sounding. First there was depression, then social-anxiety disorder; now we have general-anxiety disorder, which Xanax’s Website defines as having “vague feelings that something bad is going to happen,” an apt description of what it’s like to be an adolescent. Zoloft’s Website describes social-anxiety disorder as often starting in the “mid-teen” years, and yet the drug’s television ad campaign, with its cartoon powder puffs, looks like a Sesame Streetouttake. And while Pfizer denies targeting kids, teenagers themselves aren’t so sure. “That’s so geared toward children,” Timothy told me. “It’s like, ‘You’re not happy anymore? Here, take some pills and you’ll be appreciating butterflies left and right!’ ”
“What’s really changed is that now they market medical conditions,” says Marcia Angell, a member of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Social Medicine and author of The Truth About the Drug Companies, the just-published indictment of big pharmaceutical firms. “It’s simple—there will always be more healthy people than sick people, so they need to make more people think they’re sick. Teens are naturally going through an intense period of ups and downs. The marketing makes them think the downs are unacceptable, that they’re a disorder.”
What such marketing cannot take into account is that kids are cynical, reluctant to take the word of adults at face value. When this attitude mixes with prescription drugs, it turns into a desire to reinvent their intended uses in a manner that’s not necessarily ill-intentioned. Because the taboo truth is that illicit use can be legitimately helpful, which makes the dangers that much easier to overlook….
- Many NIH-funded clinical trials go unpublished over two years after completion (with ClinicalTrials.gov link for many trial study results) (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Pharmaceutical Companies Turn to Checklists to Sell More Drugs (labsoftnews.typepad.com)
- Painkiller sales soar across U.S., spread to new areas (usatoday.com)
- Tony Bennet Says Legalizing Drugs Could Prevent Deaths Like Whitney Houston’s; Prescription Drugs Aren’t Safer (blisstree.com)
- The billion-dollar battle over premenstrual disorder (salon.com)
Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:
In the last few months, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has published a number of reports that are on public health topics, such as Nutrition and Health Aging in the Community, Country-Level Decision Making for Control of Chronic Diseases, and Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health.
Find the complete list of publications here. Remember that most can be read online free of charge.
Killing Us Softly 4 – a fresh look at how advertising traffics in distorted and destructive ideals of femininity
The blog posting is by pearleyes at the blog “What would Mary Astell do?”
A feminist community campaign resource and blog on political philosophy, law, education & culture
An excerpt from the 22 minute video.
“And just as it’s difficult to be healthy in a toxic physical environment, if we’re breathing poisoned air for example, or drinking polluted water.
So it’s difficult to be healthy in what I call a “toxic cultural environment” – an environment that surrounds us with unhealthy images and constantly sacrifices our health and our sense of well being for the sake of profit.
Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success and perhaps most important, of normalcy.
To a great extent they tell us who we are and who we should be.
The video goes on to showcase how photshop creates images of woman which do not reflect reality, how advertising portrays women as objects, creates climate in which there is widespread violence against women.Dehumanization is a step towards violence.
Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:
The most recent CDC Prevention Research Program highlights a new community-based program on the U.S.-Mexico border that reduced chronic disease risks. Pasos Adelante was developed by the University of Arizona PRC.
Community health workers helped to tailor and lead this program, which delivereded educational sessions targeting nutrition, physical activity, and other chronic disease and mental health risk factors, and form walking groups to promote activity
Significant improvements in body mass index; blood pressure, total cholesterol, and glucose levels; health-related quality of life; and depression have been sustained, even after the intervention ended.
From the 25 January posting at Eye on FDA
Patients are changing. They are accessing medical information differently, they are storing it differently and they are consuming it more voraciously. This access to medical information and tools means that many patients are more medically conversant and knowledgeable than the patient of just five years ago. Medical literacy is likely on the rise.
It also changes the way physician and patient communicate. Five years ago, I never would have considered the need for email between my physician and myself, thinking it impractical. Today, I think a physician needs to have some portal of access for the exchange of data and information. Here are my readings – blood pressure, blood sugar, whatever… – for the week. The medical record will reflect information not just gathered at an exam in the office, but that gathered by my apps when I am not in the office. And when I’m diagnosed with a new condition, I fully expect either the physician or someone in his or her office to not only prescribe some medication, but to pull out an i-Pad to steer me to some good resources, including apps. If the condition is one where there are few treatment options and I’m expected to consider a clinical trial, the i-Pad should have a clinical trials app that lets us look at what’s available together….
- eHealth: patients are changing, but not (yet) the Physicians (scienceintelligence.wordpress.com)
- From Pinterest and Septris to the Patient of the Future (Science Blog)
“Are ePatients self diagnosing too much ? Too many people are not going to see their doctors on a regular basis and they need to be educated on why that is a bad idea. No printed or interactive forum can replace a trained medical professional. The Patient of the Future Like many “self-quanters,” Smarr wears a Fitbit to count his every step, a Zeo to track his sleep patterns, and a Polar WearLink that lets him regulate his maximum heart rate during exercise. Stanford University’s Septris app …”
There’s no doubt the US population is increasingly aging*. Transportation needs change as people age. For example, elderly people often are unable to drive vehicles and rely more on public transportation. Often public transportation does not fit their needs or is nonexistent where they live. This may lead to health needs not being addressed as they find they cannot easily get to health care provider offices and other places which meet their health and health related needs (as nutritious food).
- Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile : Preserving the Mobility and Safety of Older Americans (February 2012) includes the following observations
- While traffic fatalities have dramatically decreased in recent years, older Americans make up a disproportionally high share of fatal vehicle crashes. Certain situations and hazards are more challenging for older Americans.I
- While older Americans overwhelmingly use private vehicles, public transportation options can be improved for all Americans
- Improved transportation options could include expanded public transportation, ride sharing, volunteer drivers, and door-to-door community transportation services.
*From Older Americans Month- May 2011 [Profile American Facts and Features, US Census Dept]
39.6 million – The number of people 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2009. This age group accounted for 13 percent of the total population. Between 2008 and 2009, this age group increased by 770,699 people.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/NC-EST2009-sa.html>
88.5 million -Projected population of people 65 and older in 2050. People in this age group would comprise 20 percent of the total population at that time.
Source: Population projections <http://www.census.gov/population/www/projections/summarytables.html>
- Growing Cities Need Progressive Suburbs (earthgarage.com)
- Sixty-Five and Older Age Group On the Rise (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- Appalachia’s aging population is rising fast (goerie.com)
- Seniors Have Fastest-Growing Population (blogs.wsj.com)
- ‘Silver surfers’ should be listened to (bbc.co.uk)
- More People Were 65+ in 2010 than Ever Before: U.S. Census Report (ibtimes.com)
- Projection of the American ageing population (jepoirrier.org)
- Census: U.S. population nears 313M (politico.com)
- ‘India has world’s youngest internet population’ (ibnlive.in.com)
- Pa. Ranks 4th In Fatal Crashes With Older Drivers (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
- Q&A – Authors on Aging Boomers and Housing Options – NYTimes.com (policyabcs.wordpress.com)
- Should roads be designed with older drivers in mind? (timesunion.com)
- Study shows many older Floridians have no backup plan after hanging up their keys (eurekalert.org)
- Study shows many older Floridians have no backup plan after hanging up their keys (scienceblog.com)
- Baby Boomers Make Old the New Young (money.usnews.com)
Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:
Traffic fatalities among older drivers remain disproportionately high; as baby boomers begin to turn 65, U.S. Transportation System Insufficient to Meet Their Growing Mobility and Safety Needs (PDF)
As the Baby Boom Generation begins to turn 65, the number of older Americans and their share of the overall population will swell dramatically. But, according to a new report, although these older Americans will be more mobile and active than any previous generation, they will face a transportation system that is inadequate to offer the mobility and safety demanded by older Americans and the population in general. The report, “Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile: Preserving Mobility and Safety for Older Americans,” was released today by TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C.
Despite their efforts to modify their own driving, and the fact that overall fatalities have declined in recent years, older motorists are still involved in a disproportionately high share of traffic fatalities. In 2010, there were 5,750 fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver 65 or older. And although drivers 65 and older account for eight percent of all miles driven, they comprise 17 percent of all traffic fatalities. Data for each state can be found in the report’s appendix.
Weaning From Gluten May Be Pointless For Many (22 February 2012 article at Medical News Today)
People who do not have celiac disease and believe they have “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” may be weaning themselves off gluten unnecessarily, researchers from the University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy, reported inAnnals of Internal Medicine. The authors added that the majority of people who avoid gluten have “nonceliac gluten sensitivity” – those with celiac disease are a minority among gluten avoiders…
The authors say that some people who think they are food sensitive and do not have celiac disease may be abstaining from gluten unnecessarily. They suggest that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be a perceived sensitivity, and one caused by the nocebo effect of gluten ingestion or wheat. Nocebo effect is a negative placebo effect, as may occur when somebody takes a medication and experiences unpleasant side-effects which are unrelated to the pharmacological action of the drug. The nocebo effect is linked to the individual’s prior expectations of a side effect.
The researchers give examples of patients who strictly abstained from gluten, and believed their gluten-free diets helped reduce their symptoms. However, very few of them had ever undergone a proper diagnosis procedure.
They believe doctors should think about performing open or single-blind gluten challenge tests on those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity – at least until a valid biomarker for non-celiac gluten sensitivity is found….
The comments overwhelmingly were against the research findings. Some argued that their symptoms/conditions cleared with gluten free diets despite not being diagnosed with celiac disease. Others wrote that gluten free diets resolved other conditions as autoimmune disorders.
This comment supporting the researchers stressed the importance of teasing out variables..
I believe that many people who eliminate gluten often eliminate foods that are high in sugar, fat, and contain other non-nutrative additives. While they believe gluten was the culprit it was probably the junk food and highly processed foods that caused them to feel many of the symptoms.
In my humble opinion, there is something to gluten free diets. I believe they are helpful to many and perhaps not just those suffering from celiac disease. However I don’t think there is enough evidence that everyone should go gluten free because our digestive systems were not “designed” for gluten.
- Gluten-free diets not always necessary, study suggests – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- All Hype? Gluten-Free Diets May Not Help Many (healthland.time.com)
- Is Avoiding Gluten in Foods Always Necessary? (news.health.com)
- Gluten Sensitivity Questioned By Italian Researchers (inquisitr.com)
- Are gluten-free products a waste for those without celiac disease? (boston.com)
- Would You Go Gluten-Free in the Name of Beauty? (bellasugar.com)
- Gluten-free diet may be a waste of money for some (todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com)
- Gluten Sensitivity: Fact or Fad? (webmd.com)
- Are gluten-free products a waste for those without celiac disease? – Boston Globe (bostonglobe.com)
- When Is Gluten Intolerance a Disease? (abcnews.go.com)
- Gluten-Free: ‘Not Just A Fad For Me’ (blisstree.com)
- Oh, Baby: There May Be Arsenic in Your Formula (healthland.time.com)
- Study: Arsenic hidden in baby forumula (boston.com)
- Arsenic found in infant formula, cereal bars (cbsnews.com)
- Arsenic and Infant Formula, What you should know. (mommybrainreports.com)
- Rice-Sweetened Baby Formula May Contain Arsenic (nlm.nih.gov)
- Rice products may be source of high arsenic levels: Study (vancouversun.com)
- Organic, baby foods high in arsenic content – Zee News (zeenews.india.com)
Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:
From the New York Times:
The city’s health department uses no sugar-coating in its latest ads, which feature images of overweight people whose mobility is impaired to warn of the dangers of ever-growing portions of unhealthy food and soft drinks.
The ads are the latest installment in a campaign by the Bloomberg administration to jolt New Yorkers out of bad health habits; other ads, which have run in the transit system and on local broadcast outlets and the Internet, have depicted smokers who lost fingertips or their ability to speak normally.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a new tool that provides the public with important information about pollutants that are released into local waterways. Developed under President Obama’s transparency initiative, the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool brings together millions of records and allows for easy searching and mapping of water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector, and pollutant. Americans can use this new tool to protect their health and the health of their communities.
“Transparency leads to greater accountability and better information about pollution in our nation’s communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By making the data we collect available in easy to use tools, we are keeping Americans informed about the health of the environment in their neighborhoods.”
Searches using the DMR Pollutant Loading Tool result in “top ten” lists to help users easily identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution and impacted waterbodies. When discharges are above permitted levels, users can view the violations and link to details about enforcement actions that EPA and states have taken to address these violations. …
- EPA Releases New Tool with Information about Water Pollution Across the U.S. (bespacific.com)
- Federal level oversight and research picking up(NC Triassic Basins water & shale gas:A look at hydraulic fracturing for shale gas and its potential impact on water resources in North Carolina)
The Secretary of the Interior was in Ohio visiting a small manufacturing facility that is benefiting from the hydraulic fracturing wave, and spoke a bit about the valuable source of energy natural gas is, along with the need to extract it safely and responsibly.
Secretary of Interior Speaks On Energy, Fracking.
This visit corresponds with talk of BLM and EPA requiring full disclosure of the fracturing cocktail that is used, at least that which will be used on production wells located on public lands.
“To me, those rules are common sense,” Salazar was quoted by the Platts news service as saying during a speech in Ohio. “And if we do not move forward with that kind of program from the Department of Interior, my own view is that the failure of disclosure and the failure of giving the American people confidence that hydraulic fracturing will in fact work will end up being the Achilles heel of the energy promise of America.”
- EPA Annual Enforcement Results Highlights Commitment to Address Largest Pollution Problems with Greatest Community Impact (bespacific.com)
- You: EPA beach pollution rules allow 1 in 28 to get sick (latimes.com)
- Farmers Speak Out at the EPA: Atrazine is Safe, Effective, and Critical to Our Bottom Line (prweb.com)
- Water pollution bill clears another committee, ready for House floor (tampabay.com)
- EPA Releases 2010 Toxics Release Inventory National Analysis (bespacific.com)
- EPA: Wyoming well water tainted with chemicals consistent with fracking (alternet.org)
- What You Should Know About Earth Day (everydayhealth.com)
From the press release of Queen’s University (January 25, 2012
Historic legal rulings did not protect the rights of persons with disabilities, while legal rulings concerned with race or gender provided much more protection of individual rights and freedoms according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Queen’s University PhD student Christopher A. Riddle has determined in a recent study. “The motivation for this examination came from the very simple observation that the rights of persons with disabilities were not being promoted through the very mechanisms designed to ensure justice for everyone,” says the study’s author…
- The Rights Of People With Disabilities Are Not Being Promoted, Study Finds (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Study shows the rights of people with disabilities are not being promoted (medicalxpress.com)
- US Hospitality Industry Often Reluctant To Hire People With Disabilities (medicalnewstoday.com)
From the KeviMD column of Wed Feb 1, 2012 11:00
Since I dedicated an entire issue of JAMA on Nov. 11, 1998 to the theme of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in an effort to move CAM into the mainstream, I keep hoping that some of the numerous CAM offerings will make it out of the realm of anecdotal and placebo-healer-effect, and successfully through randomized controlled clinical trials.
So I got excited when I saw the BMJ Evidence Centre via McMaster feature the article, entitled “Evidence for the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines in the management of rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review,” published in Rheumatology in September 2011.
Originally posted on Pursuit of Public Health:
Carmen shared with us a couple great Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes in her Occupy Healthcare post on Monday, and it inspired me to take a look at some of Dr. King’s other quotations. So many of them captured concepts relevant to public health that I wanted to share some of my favorites here. Here’s hoping we can take some of Dr. King’s wisdom and apply it to our work!
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.”
I think this quote truly captures the essence of public health – public health isn’t about treating individuals with band-aids or quick fixes; it is about protecting health and saving lives– hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions at a time – by restructuring the systems that produce sickness, violence, and other problems that ail our society.
Prediction that 1 in 16 Black men will be infected with HIV flags a neglected crisis in US Black communities
Originally posted on SAGE Insight:
Heterosexual risk for HIV among Black men in the United States: A call to action against a neglected crisis in black communities
Alarmingly, recent data gathered in the United States predicts that 1 in 16 Black men in will be infected with HIV in their lifetime. Black men at heterosexual risk of HIV have largely been neglected by research, program, and policy, as the focus historically has been on risks for homosexual Black men and drug users. This article presents data documenting heterosexual risks for HIV among Black men and outlines how this trend is a major concern. Findings suggest that Black communities may be moving toward a more generalized HIV epidemic.
Originally posted on Science Intelligence and InfoPros:
If the FDA has announced earlier a new structure (see Phar. Executive, Dec. 2011), the agency has also released a new website on the first days of January.
Mark Senak, the Eye on FDA, has immediately compiled the good points but also a certain number of questions and concerns:
In a few words,
People with diets high in several vitamins or in omega 3 fatty acids are less likely to have the brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease than people whose diets are not high in those nutrients, according to a new study published in the December 28, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology…
- Diet, nutrient levels linked to cognitive ability, brain shrinkage (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Diet patterns may keep brain from shrinking | Logicamp (logicamp.wordpress.com)
- Diet Patterns May Keep Brain From Shrinking (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Nutrients May Stop Brain Shrinkage Linked To Alzheimer’s (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Diet patterns may keep brain from shrinking (eurekalert.org)
- Omega-3 Diet + Vitamins Help Keep Brain from Shrinking (psychcentral.com)
- How Your Diet May Affect Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (healthland.time.com)
- Fast food may damage brain: study (windsorstar.com)
- Fast food may damage your brain: study (vancouversun.com)
- Diet rich in fish, vitamins may reduce brain shrinkage (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
From the 19 December 2011 Beth Medical Newsletter
Study gauges baseline interest in three-site OpenNotes trial
BIDMC Contact: Jerry Berger
BOSTON – Patients are overwhelmingly interested in exploring the notes doctors write about them after an office visit, but doctors worry about the impact of such transparency on their patients and on their own workflow, a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) study suggests….
While many of the more than 100 primary care doctors who volunteered to participate in this experiment predicted possible health benefits from allowing patients to read their notes, the majority of those who declined participation were doubtful about positive impacts. And among the 173 doctors completing surveys, the majority expressed concerns about confusing or worrying patients with the content. Doctors also anticipated that they would write their notes less candidly and that responding to patient questions might be exceedingly time-consuming.
In contrast to the doctors surveyed, the nearly 38,000 patients who completed the baseline survey were almost uniformly optimistic about OpenNotes, and few anticipated being confused or worried
“The enthusiasm of patients exceeded our expectations,” wrote Walker. “Most of them were overwhelmingly positive about the prospect of reading visit notes, regardless of demographic or health characteristics.”
More than 90 percent favored making the notes available. Well over half anticipated improved adherence to their medications, 90 percent expected to feel more in control of their care, and four out of five predicted they would take better care of themselves….
- Doctors are cautious, patients enthusiastic about sharing medical notes (eurekalert.org)
- Patients eager to see doctor’s notes; physicians, not so much (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Patients Want to See What Doctors Write about Them, Says Survey (onehealthyblog.wordpress.com)
- Patients, Docs Differ on Online Notes (abcnews.go.com)
- Patients Want Electronic Link To Doctor’s Notes (informationweek.com)
- How much guidance do patients want with their medical decisions? (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
Originally posted on EcoJournalist:
There is a striking lack of mainstream news coverage of the health hazards posed by beauty products, such as hair relaxers and skin lighteners, that are commonly used by black women. African-American women spend more on beauty products than white women do, but far too little research has looked at how women use these products.
So when the New York City-based WE ACT for Environmental Justice set out to survey African, African-American, and Latina women this year to find out how they use beauty products and what they know about them, it was an important step toward increasing awareness of a long-standing women’s health issue.
“We noticed that groups conducting surveys around this have focused on middle-class white women,” Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, campaign director for WE ACT in Harlem, told The Uptowner. “But there is a whole area of hair products that you wouldn’t know about unless you live in certain urban areas.”
….”recent research suggests that parks aren’t just good for our well-being, they may even be a matter of life and death. In a December 2005 Environmental Health Perspectives article, Amy Schulz and her colleagues suggested that parks might be a protective factor in cardiovascular disease risk; an absence of safe parks may be part of why poverty leads to poorer health outcomes. Amy Auchincloss and her colleagues reported in a 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine piece that residential areas which support physical activity, by having things like ample park space, were associated with a lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes. With links like this sprouting up at increasing rates, researchers have even started to examine which specific park components offer the biggest health bang. In the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, for example, Ariane Rung and her colleagues found that basketball courts and playgrounds offered the highest rate of energy expenditure.
Originally posted on Ideas:
This has been a bad year for state and local parks. If you’ve come across park gates that are chained shut or playgrounds that are rusting, as we have, then you know this firsthand. Budget crises have forced states to not only drastically cut park funding but consider unprecedented closures as well. The impact, as Deena Loyola, the communications coordinator for Utah’s Parks and Recreation Department, said earlier this year, is that parks (and the public) suffer because of “reduced hours, facilities that are less clean and fewer law enforcement rangers.” California, with over 60 of its 278 state parks on the chopping block for 2012, is scrambling for private philanthropy to keep as many open as possible. This neglect runs contrary to public opinion, which consistently supports parks, even in a time of shrinking budgets, because they are good for the economy, animal habitats, family bonding, community building and the growing problems of childhood obesity and nature deficit disorder — a term coined by Richard Louv, who argues that children are spending less time outdoors because of parental safety fears and the presence of TV and other electronic screens.
But recent research suggests that parks aren’t just good for our well-being, they may even be a matter of life and death. In a December 2005 Environmental Health Perspectives article, Amy Schulz and her colleagues suggested that parks might be a protective factor in cardiovascular disease risk; an absence of safe parks may be part of why poverty leads to poorer health outcomes. Amy Auchincloss and her colleagues reported in a 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine piece that residential areas which support physical activity, by having things like ample park space, were associated with a lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes. With links like this sprouting up at increasing rates, researchers have even started to examine which specific park components offer the biggest health bang. In the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, for example, Ariane Rung and her colleagues found that basketball courts and playgrounds offered the highest rate of energy expenditure.
Diet, nutrient levels linked to cognitive ability, brain shrinkage
CORVALLIS, Ore. – New research has found that elderly people with higher levels of several vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids in their blood had better performance on mental acuity tests and less of the brain shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s disease – while “junk food” diets produced just the opposite result.
The study was among the first of its type to specifically measure a wide range of blood nutrient levels instead of basing findings on less precise data such as food questionnaires, and found positive effects of high levels of vitamins B, C, D, E and the healthy oils most commonly found in fish.
The research was done by scientists from the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. It was published today inNeurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“This approach clearly shows the biological and neurological activity that’s associated with actual nutrient levels, both good and bad,” said Maret Traber, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute and co-author on the study.
“The vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers,” Traber said. “I’m a firm believer these nutrients have strong potential to protect your brain and make it work better.”
The study was done with 104 people, at an average age of 87, with no special risk factors for memory or mental acuity. It tested 30 different nutrient biomarkers in their blood, and 42 participants also had MRI scans to measure their brain volume.
“These findings are based on average people eating average American diets,” Traber said. “If anyone right now is considering a New Year’s resolution to improve their diet, this would certainly give them another reason to eat more fruits and vegetables.”
Among the findings and observations:
- The most favorable cognitive outcomes and brain size measurements were associated with two dietary patterns – high levels of marine fatty acids, and high levels of vitamins B, C, D and E.
- Consistently worse cognitive performance was associated with a higher intake of the type of trans-fats found in baked and fried foods, margarine, fast food and other less-healthy dietary choices.
- The range of demographic and lifestyle habits examined included age, gender, education, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, body mass index and many others.
- The use of blood analysis helped to eliminate issues such as people’s flawed recollection of what they ate, and personal variability in nutrients absorbed.
- Much of the variation in mental performance depended on factors such as age or education, but nutrient status accounted for 17 percent of thinking and memory scores and 37 percent of the variation in brain size.
- Cognitive changes related to different diets may be due both to impacts on brain size and cardiovascular function.
The epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease has suggested a role for nutrition, the researchers said in their study, but previous research using conventional analysis, and looking in isolation at single nutrients or small groups, have been disappointing. The study of 30 different blood nutrient levels done in this research reflects a wider range of nutrients and adds specificity to the findings.
The study needs to be confirmed with further research and other variables tested, the scientists said.###
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The article is available online only thru paid subscription or purchase.
For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here.
Links to the article abstract and accompanying editorial may be found here. (at Nutrient Biomarker Patterns…)
- Diet rich in fish, vitamins may reduce brain shrinkage (cbc.ca)
- Diet Patterns May Keep Brain From Shrinking (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Fast food may damage your brain: study (vancouversun.com)
- Diet ‘can stop brain shrinking’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Fast food may damage brain: study (windsorstar.com)
- Elderly Brains Stay Sharp After a Low Trans Fat Life (livescience.com)
- Diet Patterns Linked With Brain Health (webmd.com)
- Diet patterns may keep brain from shrinking (eurekalert.org)
- Poor vitamin B-12 status leads to reduced brain volume and cognitive decline (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
Originally posted on Public Health Science Communication 2.0:
How do you communicate the relevance of science communication to a fellow public health person? Can I make a convincing argument for why things such as Twitter can be a useful tool in the communication of research?
In the days leading up to Christmas, I was challenged by these exact questions, when I after dinner had an interesting discussion with a good friend and skillful researcher in public health sciences. I am not sure that I gave the best arguments for science communication or for why Twitter could be useful for his research, but it made me reflect on where the scepticism, which many researcher have towards communication of research, comes from.
Based on my own experience, both as a public health expert and in talking with friends and public health colleagues, it is my feeling that most of us, through our university studies have indirectly been taught that communication is something that comes at the end of a research project. It is to a large extend perceived as a separate element that is added as the final phase of a very often long process. It sort of becomes a sometimes troublesome appendix which can be prioritized – if time and money permits and if the communication department will take much of the responsibility on their shoulders (although they are worried that the communication department will simplify every thing too much and they’d therefore almost rather that they didn’t communicate it at all).