Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

50 Shades of Normalization Part Two: the Cinema & Marketing to Teens

Originally posted on Lady Diction :

In the winter of 1986 when I was just sixteen years old, I viewed Nine 1/2 Weeks (Directed by Adrian Lyne and starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke) at a local movie theater.  I was on a date with a boy I only liked platonically, which I’d have to explain later in the car, and was fascinated by the power dynamics and BDSM in the movie. The film, based on Elizabeth McNeill’s non-fiction book, Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair, explores the brief sexual relationship between characters Elizabeth and John. I still vividly recall images from the movie: Kim’s bowler hat, the refrigerator and milk scene, the watch scene, and Kim Basinger crawling across the floor for money.

Were these healthy images for a sixteen year old girl to see? Perhaps not. At the time, I thought the relationship was romantic and cried when the couple…

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February 19, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2,500 Tons of the Food We Eat is Fake

Originally posted on TIME:

Do you really know what’s in your cheese?

New evidence may cast some doubt on the purity of your favorite foods. Interpol, the international criminal police organization, announced that it seized thousands of tons of fake food in a joint operation with Europol over the past two months—including seemingly benign mainstays like mozzarella, eggs, bottled mineral water, strawberries, cooking oil and dried fruit—in 47 countries.

Adulterations cut across all kinds of categories. In Italy, 31 tons of seafood were labeled as “fresh” but had actually been previously frozen, then doused with a chemical containing citric acid and hydrogen peroxide to hide that it was rotting. At an Italian cheese factory, officers found expired dairy and chemicals used to make old cheese seem fresh. They also found that mozzarella was being smoked in the back of a van with burning trash as a heat source.

Egyptian authorities seized 35 tons of…

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February 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Too much medical research may be unnecessary, unethical, unscientific, and wasteful, warns new international research network

Janice Flahiff:

As a health science librarian at a university, it is very rewarding to work on literature searches so folks can move forward without re-doing research.

Originally posted on Dr. Soumyadeep B:

Researchers, research funders, regulators, sponsors and publishers of research fail to use earlier research when preparing to start, fund or publish the results of new studies. To embark on research without systematically reviewing evidence of what is already known, particularly when the research involves people or animals, is unethical, unscientific, and wasteful.

To address this problem a group of Norwegian and Danish researchers have initiated an international network, the ‘Evidence-Based Research Network’ (EBRNetwork). The EBRNetwork brings together initial partners from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and USA was established in Bergen, Norway in December 2014. It also has members from low and middle income nations like India, South Africa and Brazil.

At the ‘Bergen meeting’ partners agreed the aim of the EBRNetwork is to reduce waste in research by promoting:

No new studies without prior systematic review of existing evidence

Efficient production, updating and dissemination of systematic…

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February 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More than 70 percent of TB patients in South Africa are co-infected with HIV

Originally posted on POSTNORM:

9:14 p.m. Pst By Alexis Footman

Tuberculosis, South Africa’s number one killer claims the lives of thousands of people every year. 80 percent of the country’s young adult population is infected with TB and many of these people don’t have access to medical care.

Recently, drug-resistant strains of TB have started to emerge causing concerns for a global epidemic and the possibility of lacking effective treatment. Health experts say these strains were introduced in the poor communities of South Africa where the living conditions are prime for spreading infectious bacteria.

At the root of the growing TB issue, there is an even more troubling problem sweeping through South Africa’s population. The majority of those infected with TB in this country, are also HIV positive. With an already weak immune system from HIV, for those co-infected with both illnesses the prognosis is gloomy.

South Africa has the largest number of people…

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February 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gut Brain?

Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:

Interesting article on how our gut may influence  what we eat.  Don’t know the science, but it does make some sense.  Lots of food for thought here.


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February 18, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The Secret Knowledge, Just Ignorance By Another Name”: The Real Facts Behind The Facts “They” Want You To Believe

Originally posted on

I call it the Secret Knowledge.

Meaning that body of information not everyone has, that body known only to those few people who had the good sense to go off the beaten path and seek it. It is information you’ll never see in your “newspapers” or “network news” or any other place overly concerned with verifiable “facts” and reliable “sources.” It will not come to you through a university “study,” peer-reviewed “article,” renowned “expert,” government “agency” or any other such traditional bastion of authority.

No, the Secret Knowledge is the truth behind the truth, the real facts behind the facts “they” want you to believe. It unveils the conspiracies beneath the facade suckers mistake for real life. Not incidentally, the Secret Knowledge will always confirm your worst fears.

I don’t know when the mania for Secret Knowledge began. Maybe it was when King and the Kennedys were killed and some…

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February 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Socioeconomic Status and Public Health Financing

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

Health financing is the cornerstone of strategy development based on both in terms of raising resources and of ways to manage resources. It is critical to emphasize the need for greater evaluation of the distributional impact of policies and programs. Socioeconomic status could affect public health financing such as people with insurance or money, creating higher expenditures. On the other hand, medically underserved, uninsured and underinsured create greater expenses because they enter the health system at the advanced stages of diseases and in weakened conditions (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). In addition to socioeconomic status, other social determinants that affects both average and distribution of health includes physical environment, lifestyle or behavior, working conditions, social network, family, demographics, political, legal, institutional and cultural factors. Since funding is considered as a scarce resource, it is paramount to allocate resources based on the identified gaps in care. The significance of socioeconomic data in…

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February 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Bag Man carries a heavy load

Originally posted on The Vermont Political Observer.:

Listening to Jim Harrison on VPR’s Vermont Edition last Friday led me to one inescapable conclusion: as a public debater, he makes a mighty fine bagman.

Harrison, for those with a bliss-inducing level of ignorance about Statehouse matters, is one of the most effective lobbyists in Montpelier. Harrison heads the Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, and his current bête noire is the proposed two-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The recommended daily allotment of sugar is 8 teaspoons for a male adult, 6 for a female adult, and 2-3 for a child. The recommended daily allotment of sugar is 8 teaspoons for a male adult, 6 for a female adult, and 2-3 for a child. So go ahead, kids: Enjoy your daily two ounces of Coke!

Harrison appeared on VPR with the chief pro-tax lobbyist, Anthony Iarrapino of the Alliance for a Healthier Vermont. Harrison’s presentation was pretty much all over the place: he’d shift from one prehashed talking point to another with not even an attempt at segue, he pulled trusty (and rusty)…

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February 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From the 15 February 2015 post at Mad in America by

For nearly two decades, Big Pharma commercials have falsely told Americans that mental illness is associated with a chemical brain imbalance, but the truth is that depression and suicidality are associated with poverty, unemployment, and mass incarceration. And the truth is that American society has now become so especially oppressive for young people that an embarrassingly large number of American teenagers and young adults are depressed and suicidal.

In November of 2014, the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a press release titled “Nearly One in Five Adult Americans Experienced Mental Illness in 2013.” This brief press release provides a snapshot of the number of Americans who are suicidal, depressed, and mentally ill, and it bemoans how many Americans are not in treatment. However, excluded from SAMHSA’s press release—yet included in the lengthy results of SAMHSA’s national survey—are economic, age, gender, and other demographic correlates of serious mental illness, depression, and suicidality (serious suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts). It is these demographic correlates that have political implications.

These lengthy results, for example, include extensive evidence that involvement in the criminal justice system (such as being on parole or probation) is highly correlated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness. Yet Americans are not told that preventing unnecessary involvement with the criminal justice system—for example, marijuana legalization and drug use decriminalization—could well prove to be a more powerful antidote to suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness than medical treatment.

Also, the survey results provide extensive evidence that unemployment and poverty are highly associated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness. While correlation is not the equivalent of causation, it makes more sense to be further examining variables that actually are associated with suicidality, depression, and serious mental illness rather than focusing on variables such as chemical imbalances which are not even correlates (seeAlterNet January 2015). These results beg questions such as: Does unemployment and poverty cause depression, or does depression make it more likely for unemployment and poverty, or are both true?

These results make clear that suicidality, depression, and mental illness are highly correlated with involvement in the criminal justice system, unemployment, and poverty, and occur in greater frequency among young people, women, and Native Americans.

Shouldn’t researchers be examining American societal and cultural variables that are making so many of us depressed and suicidal? At the very least, don’t we as a society want to know what exactly is making physically healthier teenagers and young adults more depressed than senior citizens?

Read the entire article here, along with comments

February 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Straight, No Chaser: Contrasting Healthcare Reform In the U.S. and Halfway Around the World

Originally posted on

 Thoughts from a crowded Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia

Over my career, I’ve been fortunate to have studied and assisted healthcare systems all over the world. This past week, Sterling Medical Advice had the pleasure, privilege and outright honor of being invited to spend a week in Indonesia with the U.S. Department of Commerce on a healthcare mission in what will be a recurring role. By way of introduction (in case you weren’t aware), Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world (right after the U.S.) with a population of approximately 252 million people. It is approximately the same size as the United States, and it is a democracy and a member of the G-20 (with the 17th largest world economy).


More relevantly, Indonesia is in the midst of becoming the largest country in the world to implement a system of universal healthcare for its citizens. That’s right:…

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February 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Report] How Scientists Engage the Public

From the 15 February 2015 Pew Report

American scientists believe they face a challenging environment and the vast majority of them support the idea that participation in policy debates and engagement with citizens and journalists is necessary to further their work and careers.

A survey of 3,748 American-based scientists connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) finds that 87% agree with the statement “Scientists should take an active role in public policy debates about issues related to science and technology.”Just 13% of these scientists back the opposite statement: “Scientists should focus on establishing sound scientific facts and stay out of public policy debates.”


This widely held view among scientists about active engagement combines with scientists’ perspectives on the relationship between science and society today in several ways:


February 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Twitter the right prescription for sharing health research: UBC study



From the 14 February 2014 University of British Columbia press release

Using Twitter can help physicians be better prepared to answer questions from their patients, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia.

The study, presented today at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), finds more and more health care professionals are embracing social media. This challenges common opinion that physicians are reluctant to jump on the social media bandwagon.

“Many people go online for health information, but little research has been done on who is participating in these discussions or what is being shared,” says Julie Robillard, lead author and neurology professor at UBC’s National Core for Neuroethics and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.

Prof. Julie Robillard

Robillard and fourth-year psychology student Emanuel Cabral spent six months monitoring conversations surrounding stem cell research related to spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease on Twitter. They found roughly 25 per cent of the tweets about spinal cord injury and 15 per cent of the tweets about Parkinson’s disease were from health care professionals.

The study found the majority of tweets were about research findings, particularly the ones perceived as medical breakthroughs. The most shared content were links to research reports……


February 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Where Dietary-Fat Guidelines Went Wrong

Janice Flahiff:

Looks like I’m going to cut down on the carbs, increase fruits/vegetables

Originally posted on TIME:

A little fat may not be harmful, while too much of it can be unhealthy, and even fatal. But in the latest review of studies that investigated the link between dietary fat and causes of death, researchers say the guidelines got it all wrong. In fact, recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made.

Reporting in the journalOpenHeart, Zoe Harcombe, a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at University of the West of Scotland, and her colleagues say that the data decisionmakers had in 1977, when the first U.S. guidelines on dietary fat were made, did not provide any support for the idea that eating less fat would translate to fewer cases of heart disease, or that it would save lives.

[time-brightcove videoid=3619144914001]

“The bottom line is that there wasn’t evidence for those guidelines to be introduced,” she says. “One of the…

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

MedlinePlus: The Best Database You’re Probably Not Using

Janice Flahiff:

My go to for anything medically/health related “for the rest of us”. Great links to reputable organizations, agencies, and health care facilities

Originally posted on Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library:

MedlinePlus: It's like you have a medical professional right in your computer MedlinePlus: It’s like you have a medical professional right in your computer

Did you know you can access up to date, authoritative information on nearly 1,000 health topics in easy to read (i.e., non-medical jargon) language for FREE? The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine have a terrific resource called MedlinePlus geared toward the general public, and not health professionals.

Health topics in MedlinePlus are available in many different languages, from Japanese to Samoan, even Swahili and Polish. Topics are categorized by body location/system, disorders and conditions, diagnosis and therapy, demographic groups, and health and wellness. You can also find information on drugs and supplements, and watch videos and tutorials.

Although the content in MedlinePlus is not meant for health professionals, the information found here can be very useful for physicians and nurses. Materials in MedlinePlus are typically written at a 5th to…

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

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.


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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
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.










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, 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


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
Sara R. CollinsPetra W. Rasmussen,Michelle M. DotySophie Beutel
Sara R. Collins, Vice President, Health Care Coverage and Access, The Commonwealth Fund
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.


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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.



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.


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:


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)

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:

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.

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

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.


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:

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




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

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

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
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



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.”*



*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


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