Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Online Magazine] BioNews

March 16, 2015 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , | Leave a comment

[Report] Raising Minimum Wage Good for Public Health, Not Just Wallets: Advocates Call for Federal Increas

Raising Minimum Wage Good for Public Health, Not Just Wallets: Advocates Call for Federal Increase
http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/content/45/2/1.1.full
For a growing chorus of public health practitioners, raising the minimum wage is a fundamental step in addressing two key determinants of health: income and poverty.

March 16, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Online tool] Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) Website Launch

 

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From the  12 March 2015 press release 

CDC has released the updated Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) online tool that produces public health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes, which describes the population health status of a county and factors that have the potential to influence health outcomes, such as health care access and quality, health behaviors, social factors, and the physical environment.

Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes, which describes the population health status of a county and factors that have the potential to influence health outcomes, such as health care access and quality, health behaviors, social factors, and the physical environment.

The re-designed online application includes updated peer county groups, health status indicators, a summary comparison page, and U.S. Census tract data and indicators for sub-populations (age groups, sex, and race/ethnicity) to identify potential health disparities.  In this new version of CHSI, all indicators are benchmarked against those of peer counties, the median of all U.S. counties, and Healthy People 2020 targets.  Organizations conducting community health assessments can use CHSI data to:

  • Assess community health status and identify disparities;
  • Promote a shared understanding of the wide range of factors that can influence health; and
  • Mobilize multi-sector partnerships to work together to improve population health.

March 16, 2015 Posted by | Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] World Health Statistics 2014 Now Online

From the report summary

World Health Statistics 2014 contains WHO’s annual compilation of health-related data for its 194 Member States, and includes a summary of the progress made towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and associated targets.
This year, it also includes highlight summaries on the ongoing commitment to end preventable maternal deaths; on the need to act now to combat rising levels of childhood obesity; on recent trends in both life expectancy and premature deaths; and on the crucial role of civil registration and vital statistics systems in national and global advancement.

March 16, 2015 Posted by | Health Statistics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Millions of women and children get improved health services

From the 10 March 2015 EurekAlert!

Massive health program: $34 billion spent on women and children since 2010; New goal: End preventable deaths of women and young children

An ambitious 2010 initiative to improve the health of women and children around the world has turned into the fastest growing global public health partnership in history, attracting $60 billion in resources. Some $34 billion, nearly 60 percent of the total, has already been disbursed.

The Every Woman Every Child movement has now gathered more than 400 commitments by more than 300 partners around the world, ranging from governments and foundations to business, civil society and low-income countries themselves.

The movement stems from the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health.

Every Woman Every Child has set off a major wave in attention to improving essential health care for millions of poor women and children. Major gains in the past five years include greater professional maternity care, family planning, prenatal and postnatal care, childhood vaccinations, oral rehydration therapy and improving access to drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The result of such increased care is that maternal and child death rates have fallen in every one of the Global Strategy’s 49-targeted countries in the latest four years.

“The synergy between education and health is evident. Education and health are, quite simply, the drivers of change and development. Education empowers women and girls to live healthier lives and as a result, fewer children are dying. The evidence is clear, better education leads to better health outcomes.

“One of the most important lessons we have learned through the Millennium Development Goals is that to make progress we need an integrated and multifaceted approach,” says Kathy Calvin, president of the UN Foundation. “Effective partnerships are not just about financing; they also tap into partner expertise, innovation, and resources to deliver results. Every Woman Every Child has shown that when each sector contributes its unique strengths and capacities, we can save lives.”

Keys to progress

Significant improvements in key health indicators mainly in 49-targeted countries during its five-year history of Every Women Every Child include:

  • 870,000 new health care workers.
  • 193 percent increase in prevention of mother-to-child HIV treatment.
  • 49 percent increase in oral rehydration therapy for treating infant diarrhea.
  • 44 percent increase in exclusive breastfeeding.
  • 25 percent rise in post-natal care for women.
  • 25 percent rise in skilled birth attendance.

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, health care, Health News Items, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Voices in people’s heads more complex than previously thought

From the 11 March 2015 Durham University news release

Web Web

Voices in people’s heads are far more varied and complex than previously thought, according to new research by Durham and Stanford universities, published in The Lancet Psychiatry today.

One of the largest and most detailed studies to date on the experience of auditory hallucinations, commonly referred to as voice hearing, found that the majority of voice-hearers hear multiple voices with distinct character-like qualities, with many also experiencing physical effects on their bodies.

The study also confirmed that both people with and without psychiatric diagnoses hear voices.

The findings question some of the current assumptions about the nature of hearing voices and suggest there is a greater variation in the way voices are experienced than is typically recognised.

The researchers say this variation means different types of therapies could be needed for voice-hearers, such as tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) geared towards distinct voice sub-types or patterns of voice hearing.

Current common approaches to help with voices include medication, CBT, voice dialogue techniques and other forms of therapy and self-help.

Auditory hallucinations are a common feature of many psychiatric disorders, such as psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but are also experienced by people without psychiatric conditions. It is estimated that between five and 15 per cent of adults will experience auditory hallucinations during their lifetimes.

This is one of the first studies to shed light on the nature of voice-hearing both inside and outside schizophrenia, across many different mental health diagnoses.

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Psychiatry | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Value-Based Care

From the 11 March 2015 post by Cindy Nayer at The Health Care Blog

In recent weeks, the market has reacted to a few noteworthy headlines, all involved with or touching upon value-based discretionary actions, and many with the not-so-hidden question: What’s In It for Me or WIIFM?

  • CMS announced that by 2016 30% of fees in health care should be paid for through a value-based system, moving away from fee-for-service.
  • ACO results have shown ambivalent outcomes.
  • Outcomes-based contracts have permeated the Hepatitis C cost-nado (that’s a cost sharknado, the kind that fiercely defies cost controls and takes over all noise about payment reform and patient preferences).
  • Reference-based pricing is a good/bad troublemaker in the middle of the value-based travails.

The latest rampages have appeared on two national and highly-regarded blogs: The Health Care Blog [Value-Based Reform] and The Health Affairs Blog [Go Slow on Reference Pricing].

As one of the loudest proponents on value-based designs, I lift the curtain again to show the thinking behind the movement from fee for service to value-based designs. All of these items above discuss the message of payment reform, or system alignment, but they are intensely linked to the patient-consumer ability to make the right choices, choose the right sites for care, and pay the right amount for services rendered to achieve health security.

….

March 15, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Medical Journal Article] Developers neglect privacy and security in health apps

From the 9 March 2015 article

Health applications are enjoying a boom. There are already some 100,000 on the market on iOS (Apple) and Android platforms, generating 4.5 billion dollars’ worth (around 3.3 billion euros) of business. In Spain, a third of smartphone users will have installed at least one health application this year, according to a report from The App Date.

However, as Borja Martínez, researcher in the Telemedicine and eHealth Group at the University of Valladolid, explains to SINC: “These applications do not handle information securely and this is especially serious in apps that use clinical or medical data that are particularly critical for the user”.

These applications don’t have secure data processing and this is especially serious in apps that use clinical or medical data

Martínez is the lead author of a study that reviews these problems and proposes a series of recommendations for developers to improve the handling of information that should be confidential. The work was published in January in the ‘Journal of Medical Systems’.

This young engineer points out that “the developers, in their haste to get their applications out before the rest, neglect certain aspects that should be considered, especially privacy and security of data handled. Today the majority of health apps do not offer the user sufficient measures to protect their data”.

Risks

In their opinion, “the main risk is that someone can hack into the personal medical information of another individual or, even worse, modify it”.

A clear example, warns the researcher, “would be an app that saves electronic medical histories. If a third party unconnected with the app were to access the stored information and change any patient details, such as take away an allergy to certain medication, it could put the life of this person at risk should the case arise”.

Also, “another significant problem is that health professionals and the patients themselves are not aware of the methods that apps use with regard to the privacy and security of their data. Many take it for granted that the application is secure and others couldn’t care less. I believe that greater collaboration between countries is necessary to create international laws which are in charge of monitoring these aspects,” he says.

What can be done? According to Borja Martínez, “many things [although] it all boils down to developers analysing the type of data that their apps are going to be dealing with and applying the necessary security and privacy methods”.

Each case is different, he states….

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Safety | | Leave a comment

[News release] New work schedule could cure your ‘social jetlag’

From the 12 March 2015 news release

Many of us are walking around all the time in a fog caused by “social jetlag.” That’s what happens when we lose sleep because our daily schedules don’t match our bodies’ natural rhythms. The condition can be a particular problem for shift workers, who work into the night or on a shifting schedule. Now, researchers report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on March 12 that sleep and workers’ general wellbeing could be improved if work schedules took workers’ biological clocks into account.

“A ‘simple’ re-organization of shifts according to chronotype allowed workers to sleep more on workday nights,” says Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Germany. “As a consequence, they were also able to sleep less on their free days due to a decreased need for compensating an accumulating sleep loss. This is a double-win situation.”

Such a change might have other long-term health implications, too, although that remains to be seen. An earlier report by Roenneberg’s team, also in Current Biology, showed a link between social jetlag and obesity, along with other unhealthy habits, including smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol and caffeine (see http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/cp-sji050412.php).

 

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] NIH Researchers Develop Database on Healthy Immune System

From the 12 March 2015 NIH news release

Resource May Help Identify Mechanisms of Immune-Related Diseases

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WHAT:
An extensive database identifying immune traits, such as how immune cell function is regulated at the genetic level in healthy people, is reported by researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators in the journal Cell. While many genetic risk factors have been linked to various diseases, including autoimmune disorders, how a genetic change causes susceptibility to a disease is not always clear. By studying healthy people, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center, part of the NIH, and colleagues from King’s College London have created a reference resource for other scientists.

The team analyzed blood samples collected from 669 female twins and developed a screening method that could differentiate approximately 78,000 subsets of immune cells, or immune traits. By using twins, the researchers identified which immune traits were most likely to be heritable and thus regulated at the genetic level. They selected 151 promising traits and performed a genome-wide approach to identify which, if any, genetic changes regulated a trait. They discovered 19 immune traits that were regulated by more than 240 genetic changes clustered within 11 areas of the human genome.
The results of this study have far-reaching implications, especially for researchers studying autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, lupus, type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. For example, genetic changes in the FCGR2 gene are known risk factors for several autoimmune disorders, including those just noted. However, it remains unclear how FCGR2 influences such a range of disorders. Now, researchers can use this new database to see how a change in FCGR2 or another gene affects components of the immune system and, subsequently, incorporate this information in the design of future studies.
ARTICLE:
M Roederer, L Quaye, M Mangino et al. The genetic architecture of the human immune system: a bioresource for autoimmunity and disease pathogenesis. Cell DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.046 (2015).
WHO:
Mario Roederer, Ph.D., chief of the ImmunoTechnology Section in NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center, is available to discuss the findings.

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Posting of trials results to online public database lagging, say Duke researchers

“What’s published in medical journals doesn’t necessarily match what was reported in clinicaltrials.gov….In a significant proportion of cases, the results on cliniclaltrials.gov were reported more thoroughly than the results in corresponding journal articles,”

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From the March 2015 Medicine News post from Duke University

Despite legal and ethical mandates for disclosure, results from most clinical trials of medical products are not reported promptly atclinicaltrials.govaccording to Duke Medicine researchers.

Among all clinical trials of medical products, those funded by industry were the most likely to be publicly disclosed in a timely fashion, but even then, compliance was poor.

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health and academic institutions lagged further, according to findings published by Monique Anderson, MD, assistant professor of medicine (Cardiology), and her DCRI colleagues in the March 12, 2015, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

  • Read the findings: Compliance with Results Reporting at ClinicalTrials.gov.
    From the results section
    “From all the trials at ClinicalTrials.gov, we identified 13,327 HLACTs that were terminated or completed from January 1, 2008, through August 31, 2012. Of these trials, 77.4% were classified as drug trials. A total of 36.9% of the trials were phase 2 studies, and 23.4% were phase 3 studies; 65.6% were funded by industry. Only 13.4% of trials reported summary results within 12 months after trial completion, whereas 38.3% reported results at any time up to September 27, 2013. Timely reporting was independently associated with factors such as FDA oversight, a later trial phase, and industry funding. A sample review suggested that 45% of industry-funded trials were not required to report results, as compared with 6% of trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 9% of trials that were funded by other government or academic institutions.”
  • Read a blog post about the study at Rethinking Clinical Trials, the NIH Collaboratory’s Rethinking Clinical Trials: A Living Textbook of Pragmatic Clinical TrialsExcerpts
    ““We were really surprised at how untimely the reporting was—and that more than 66 percent hadn’t reported at all over the 5 years [of the study interval],””Another unexpected result was the finding that industry-sponsored studies were significantly more likely to have reported timely results than were trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or by other academic or government funding sources. The authors noted that despite a seemingly widespread lack of compliance with both legal and ethical imperatives for reporting trial results, there has so far been no penalty for failing to meet reporting obligations,””reporting clinical trials results in order to contribute to scientific and medical knowledge is as much an ethical obligation for researchers as a legal one: “It’s something we really promise to every patient when they enroll on a trial.””
  • Listen to a report, with quotes from Dr. Anderson and Mark Stacy, MD, vice dean for clinical research, on National Public Radio: Results Of Many Clinical Trials Not Being ReportedExcerpts
    “Even counting the late entries and allowable exceptions, only about 50 percent of taxpayer-funded research has been reported back to the taxpayers on clinicaltrials.gov, ”
    “The study doesn’t assess why universities are frequently failing to post their results.”
    “scientists are generally more likely to publish good news and ignore bad news, which skews the scientific record.”
    “What’s published in medical journals doesn’t necessarily match whatwas reported in clinicaltrials.gov.”In a significant proportion of cases, the results on cliniclaltrials.gov were reported more thoroughly than the results in corresponding journal articles,” he says.
  • Visit clinicaltrials.gov

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Journal issue contents] Journal of Environmental Science and Health — Special Issue: Facing the Challenges – Research on Shale Gas Extraction

From the March 13, 2015 Full Text Reports summary

 lesa20.v050.i05.cover

Facing the Challenges – Research on Shale Gas Extraction
Source: Journal of Environmental Science and Health: Part A – Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering

  • Current perspectives on unconventional shale gas extraction in the Appalachian Basin
    David J. Lampe & John F. Stolz
  • Long-term impacts of unconventional drilling operations on human and animal health
    Michelle Bamberger & Robert E. Oswald
  • Human exposure to unconventional natural gas development: A public health demonstration of periodic high exposure to chemical mixtures in ambient air
    David R. Brown, Celia Lewis & Beth I. Weinberger
  • Reported health conditions in animals residing near natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania
    I. B. Slizovskiy, L. A. Conti, S. J. Trufan, J. S. Reif, V. T. Lamers, M. H. Stowe, J. Dziura & P. M. Rabinowitz
  • Marcellus and mercury: Assessing potential impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction on aquatic ecosystems in northwestern Pennsylvania
    Christopher J. Grant, Alexander B. Weimer, Nicole K. Marks, Elliott S. Perow, Jacob M. Oster, Kristen M. Brubaker, Ryan V. Trexler, Caroline M. Solomon & Regina Lamendella
  • Data inconsistencies from states with unconventional oil and gas activity
    Samantha Malone, Matthew Kelso, Ted Auch, Karen Edelstein, Kyle Ferrar & Kirk Jalbert
  • Scintillation gamma spectrometer for analysis of hydraulic fracturing waste products
    Leong Ying, Frank O’Connor & John F. Stolz
  • Well water contamination in a rural community in southwestern Pennsylvania near unconventional shale gas extraction
    Shyama K. Alawattegama, Tetiana Kondratyuk, Renee Krynock, Matthew Bricker, Jennifer K. Rutter, Daniel J. Bain & John F. Stolz

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

[Reblog] El Nino 2015: will it causes more infectious disease outbreaks than previous?

From the 14 March 2015 post at  Abdullah Mahmud-Al-Rafat

Specific geographic regions that may be at risk for El Niño-linked infectious disease activity during late 2014 through spring 2015 Credit: doi: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.95fbc4a8fb4695e049baabfc2fc8289f.

Specific geographic regions that may be at risk for El Niño-linked infectious disease activity during late 2014 through spring 2015

From the scientific article Global Climate Anomalies and Potential Infectious Disease Risks: 2014-2015

El Nino for 2015 has already been announced by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Much of our discussions about El Nino is centered like ‘will it be more hotter than previous?’ Yes I agree that this is a reasonable topic to discuss. Surely we should be concern about global warming and how much it will be affected by coming El Nino. But this discussion is not the all. Besides of global warming topic probably its high time to discuss about ‘will it causes more infectious disease outbreaks than previous?’ Now a question might be commonly asked, does El Nino has any connection with infectious disease outbreaks? The answer is, Yes, it has. El Nino has direct/ indirect connection with infectious disease emergence/reemergence. After many years of research it is now established that climate changes like El Nino followed by human domination of earth’s ecosystems both have serious contribution in infectious disease outbreaks from wildlife reservoir

 

March 15, 2015 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

Re-engaging Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain A Thirtieth Anniversary Retrospective, 10th-11th Dec 2015, University of Brighton

Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

9352807Re-engaging Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain A Thirtieth Anniversary Retrospective 10th-11th December 2015 Grand Parade University of Brighton, UK

Understanding Conflict Research Cluster Critical Studies Research Group

Keynotes: Prof Elaine Scarry and Prof Joanna Bourke

The year 2015 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain. In this seminal text, Scarry offers a radical and original thesis on the relationship between embodiment, pain, wounding and imagining, arguing that pain is central to “the making and unmaking of the world”. Widely regarded as a classic, the text has influenced work on notions of the body, war, torture and pain in a variety of academic disciplines – from philosophy, to anthropology, to cultural geography, to political theory, to many others – as well as informing debates and discussions in medical science, NGOs, charities and other parts of society. In the years since its publication the text has only become…

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March 15, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] 4 Surprising Facts About Wheat and Gluten

From the March 2015 issue of Mother Jones

 

Is bread the devil? No, but it’s complicated. 

Is wheat a “perfect, chronic poison,” in the words of Wheat Belly author William Davis, or an innocuous staple that has been demonized to promote a trendy line of gluten-free products? I dug into the issue of wheat and its discontents recently, and walked away with some informed conjectures, but also a sense that the science is deeply unsettled. Now, a group of Cornell researchers (joined by one from Thailand) have performed a great service: For a paper published in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, they’ve rounded up and analyzed the recent science on wheat and the potential pitfalls of eating it. Here are the key takeaways:……

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl: A Collection of Recipes for Schools and Child Care Centers

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From the 23 February post at the USDA blog

This is the third installment of the What’s Cooking? Blog Series. In honor of the Let’s Move 5th Anniversary, and the commitment USDA shares with Let’s Move to promote healthy eating and access to healthy foods, this month-long series will high­­light the various features of the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl recipe website.

USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services is excited to have an interactive website that can help Child Nutrition professionals expand their portfolio of recipes.  The newly released What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl Web site is a searchable database of recipes that can be used by school nutrition and child care center professionals in their foodservice operations.

The What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl includes more than 1,000 mouth-watering recipes that are scaled for large quantity foodservice.  Most recipes for school nutrition yield 50 or 100 portions per recipe, while most recipes for child care centers yield 25 or 50 portions per recipe.  So that these popular dishes can be shared with parents and prepared at home, many of these recipes are available in the household search with fewer portions per recipe.

More than 400 large quantity recipes have been standardized by USDA and include information on how the recipe contributes toward the updated meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program and other USDA Child Nutrition Programs.  Many of the remaining recipes are being analyzed for nutritional and crediting information, and will be available in the coming year.  In addition, most recipes are available in both English and Spanish.

Large quantity recipes found in the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl were compiled from a variety of resources, including the popular Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook for Schools and Cookbook for Child Care Centers.  Recipes from this series of cookbooks were taste-tested and student-approved as part of the 2010 Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition.  Many of these recipes have become quite popular in the lunch line, so school nutrition and child care professionals should definitely give them a try!

One of the exciting functions of the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is the unique voting component which allows users to rate each recipe up to 5 stars.  This allows school and child care professionals to search and sort the database according to these star ratings, making it easier to find tried-and-true large quantity recipes for their food service operations.

The What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl offers school nutrition and child care professionals a one-stop-shop for delicious and healthy large quantity and home recipes.  Go online today and spice up your meal program with some new and exciting recipes!

– See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/02/23/whats-cooking-usda-mixing-bowl-a-collection-of-recipes-for-schools-and-child-care-centers/#sthash.jhGIkGUz.dpuf

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The Latest Privacy Risk? Looking Up Medical and Drug Information Online

From the [March ? 2015] Fast company blog

YOUR MOST SENSITIVE WEB SEARCHES (OR JUST YOUR 2 A.M. HYPOCHONDRIA) HAVE BECOME FODDER FOR ADVERTISERS AND DATA BROKERS.

If you have cancer, HIV, diabetes, lupus, depression, heart disease—or you simply look up health-related information online—advertisers are watching you. A new paper on what happens when users search for health information online shows that some of our most sensitive internet searches aren’t as anonymous as we might think.

Marketers care very much about what diseases and conditions people are searching for online. Tim Libert, a doctoral student at the Annenberg School For Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the paper says that over 90% of the 80,000 health-related pages he looked at on the Internet exposed user information to third parties. These pages included health information from commercial, nonprofit, educational, and government websites. According to Pew, 72 percent of internet users in the US look up health-related information.

PRIVACY LACKING AT WEBMD AND CDC.GOV

Site visit data by third parties isn’t just collected on for-profit sites like WebMD.com; even the Centers for Disease Control warns visitors that third-party content on their own pages includes marketing/analytics products like MotionPoint and Omniture that are used to generate targeted advertising. (Libert’s findings are published in this month’s Communications of the ACM.)

ONE COMPANY, MEDBASE 200, REPORTEDLY USED “PROPRIETARY MODELS” TO GENERATE AND SELL MARKETING LISTS OF RAPE VICTIMS, DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIMS, AND PATIENTS WITH HUNDREDS OF DIFFERENT ILLNESSES.

STOLEN MEDICAL INFORMATION IS ROUTINELY TRAFFICKED ON CRIMINAL WEBSITES.

WITH LITTLE REGULATION, TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF

While studies conducted by Annenberg indicate that slightly more than one in every three Americans knows that private third-parties can track their visits to health-related websites, regulation and oversight is lacking, says Libert. Health privacy is protected by the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), but the law is not meant to oversee business practices by third party commercial entities or data brokers. “Clearly there is a need for discussion with respect to legislation, policies, and oversight to address health privacy in the age of the internet,” says Libert.

To avoid the watchful eye of marketers, Libert recommends users make use of two different tools, Ghostery and Adblock Plus, which can at least partly prevent marketers from obtaining patient health information based on Internet browsing habits.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Activating genes on demand

Organs-on-Chips

In these images, the ability of the new Cas9 approach to differentiate stem cells into brain neuron cells is visible. On the left, a previous attempt to direct stem cells to develop into neuronal cells shows a low level of success, with limited red–colored areas indicating low growth of neuron cells. On the right, the new Cas9 approach shows a 40–fold increase in the number of neuronal cells developed, visible as red-colored areas on the image. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

 

From the 3 March 2015 Wyss Institute press release

New mechanism for engineering genetic traits governed by multiple genes paves the way for various advances in genomics and regenerative medicine 

When it comes to gene expression – the process by which our DNA provides the recipe used to direct the synthesis of proteins and other molecules that we need for development and survival – scientists have so far studied one single gene at a time. Anew approach developed by Harvard geneticist George Church, Ph.D., can help uncover how tandem gene circuits dictate life processes, such as the healthy development of tissue or the triggering of a particular disease, and can also be used for directing precision stem cell differentiation for regenerative medicine and growing organ transplants.

The findings, reported by Church and his team of researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School in Nature Methods, show promise that precision gene therapies could be developed to prevent and treat disease on a highly customizable, personalized level, which is crucial given the fact that diseases develop among diverse pathways among genetically–varied individuals. Wyss Core Faculty member Jim Collins, Ph.D. was also a co-author on the paper. Collins is also the Henri Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News releae] Fast Food Giants’ Ads for Healthier Kids Meals Don’t Send the Right Message

BK Meal

BK Meal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 5 March 2015 Dartmouth news release

Fast food giants attempts at depicting healthier kids’ meals frequently goes unnoticed by children ages 3 to 7 years old according to a new study by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. In research published on March 31, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald’s and Burger King children’s advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King’s ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

Other children admitted being confused by the depiction, as with one child who pointed to the product and said, “And I see some…are those apples slices?”

The researcher replied, “I can’t tell you…you just have to say what you think they are.”

“I think they’re french fries,” the child responded.

Almost Half of Energy Drink TV Ads Shown on Channels for Teens (Dartmouth press release)

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Smoking when pregnant increases cancer risk for daughters

From the 5 March 2015 Australian University news release

A new study has found women who smoke when pregnant are putting their daughters at a greater risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer later in life.

The Australian National University (ANU) study, published in Human Reproduction, found mothers who reported smoking most days while pregnant had daughters who had an earlier age of first menstruation, or menarche.

Lead researcher Dr Alison Behie said reaching menarche at an earlier age increases the number of ovulation cycles a woman will have in her life, and puts her at greater risk of developing reproductive cancers possibly due to increased exposure to hormones such as oestrogen.

“We’re discovering more and more that major aspects of our biology, and even our behaviour, are set before we are born,” said Dr Behie, a biological anthropologist from the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology.

“We know the mother’s exposure to stress, such as smoking in this case, can influence the long-term health of the child.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] ​ Workplace Lifestyle Intervention Program Improves Health, Reduces Diabetes and Heart Disease Risks

In the past I’ve posted items that argue against workplace health programs. Perhaps some programs are better than others.

From the 6 March 2015 University of Pittsburg news release

A healthy lifestyle intervention program administered at the workplace and developed by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Healthsignificantly reduces risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, according to a study reported in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The program was well-received by participants at Bayer Corp., who lost weight and increased the amount of physical activity they got each day, when compared with a control group in the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
“Health care expenditures associated with diabetes are spiraling, causing widespread concern, particularly for employers who worry about employee health and productivity,” said lead author M. Kaye Kramer, Dr.P.H., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’sDepartment of Epidemiology and director of the school’s Diabetes Prevention Support Center. “This leads to an interest in workplace health promotion; however, there are very few evidence-based programs that actually demonstrate improvement in employee health. This study found that our program not only improves health, but also that employees really like it.”
This demonstration program is based on the U.S. Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a national study that found people at risk for diabetes who lost a modest amount of weight through diet and exercise sharply reduced their chances of developing diabetes, outperforming people who took a diabetes drug instead.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Psychedelic Drug Use Could Reduce Psychological Distress, Suicidal Thinking

Major rethink in order for some of us, including me? Or is the jury still out, so to speak. Perhaps a major rethink of some substances in light of the emerging role of personalized medicine.
Personal flashback to 1979 and Peace Corps training in Nashville TN. We were housed in motel rooms during our 1 1/2 month stateside training. One evening I returned to my room, where my two roommates were lounging. One told me the other was tripping on LSD (it had come to her on the back of the postage stamp from a mailed letter from a friend). Well, I about lost it, I had smoked (but not inhaled!) some marijuana once, but my perception of LSD was that it, well, took control of you and made you do things you wouldn’t normally do. The other roommate told me I just had to accept it. I said I didn’t have to and left the room for a few others and hung out with other volunteers. I was well, a bit scared that if the roommate was caught or reported, I could get kicked out of the Peace Corps program. Well, we never talked about the LSD, and had about 3 weeks to go in the program. And we all managed to get along fairly well after this incident. Stayed home while I attended college, so I guess this was a version of college roommate “drama”.

 

From the 9 March 2015 Johns Hopkins news release

FAST FACTS:

  • U.S. adults with a history of using some nonaddictive psychedelic drugs had reduced likelihood of psychological distress and suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts, according to data from a nationwide survey.
  • While these psychedelic drugs are illegal, a Johns Hopkins researcher and study author recommends reconsidering their status, as they may be useful in treating depression.
  • Some people have serious adverse reactions to these drugs, which may not stand out in the survey data because they are less numerous than positive outcomes.

 

The observational nature of the study cannot definitively show that psychedelics caused these effects, Johnson says, because those who chose to use psychedelics may have been psychologically healthier before using these drugs. However, the results probably reflect a benefit from psychedelics — the study controlled for many relevant variables and found that, as the researchers expected, other drugs assessed in the study were linked to increased harms, he says. The use of nonaddictive psychedelic drugs may exacerbate schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders and can sometimes elicit feelings of anxiety, fear, panic and paranoia, which can lead to dangerous behavior, Johnson says. But these instances of individual harm, while serious, may not stand out in the survey data because they occur less often than the positive outcomes that some people experience.

“Our general societal impression of these drugs is they make people go crazy or are associated with psychological harm, but our data point to the potential psychological benefits from these drugs,” he says. Current research at Johns Hopkins and several other universities is examining the therapeutic potential of one of the psychedelics, psilocybin, when administered in carefully controlled, monitored medical studies.

Related article

No link between psychedelics and mental health problems

The use of psychedelics, such as LSD and magic mushrooms, does not increase a person’s risk of developing mental health problems, according to an analysis of information from more than 135,000 randomly chosen people, including 19,000 people who had used psychedelics. The results are published today in Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Nature and Lancet

Nature published a news item on this research yesterday, March 4: http://www.nature.com/news/no-link-found-between-psychedelics-and-psychosis-1.16968 Lancet Psychiatry will publish a companion letter to this study by Teri Krebs, “Protecting the human rights of people who use psychedelics.”

Few or no harms

Clinical psychologist Pål-&Ostroke;rjan Johansen (http://www.EmmaSofia.org) and neuroscientist Teri Krebs (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) used data from the US National Health Survey (2008-2011) to study the relationship between psychedelic drug use and psychological distress, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. The researchers found no link.

Johansen and Krebs previous population study, which used data from 2001-2004, also failed to find evidence for a link between psychedelic use and mental health problems.

“Over 30 million US adults have tried psychedelics and there just is not much evidence of health problems,” says Johansen.

“Drug experts consistently rank LSD and psilocybin mushrooms as much less harmful to the individual user and to society compared to alcohol and other controlled substances,” adds Krebs. In contrast to alcohol, psychedelics are not addictive.

Possible benefits

Johansen and Krebs found that, on a number of measures, the use of psychedelic drugs is correlated with fewer mental health problems. “Many people report deeply meaningful experiences and lasting beneficial effects from using psychedelics,” says Krebs. However, “Given the design of our study, we cannot exclude the possibility that use of psychedelics might have a negative effect on mental health for some individuals or groups, perhaps counterbalanced at a population level by a positive effect on mental health in others,” adds Johansen.

Psychedelics and human rights

“With these robust findings, it is difficult to see how prohibition of psychedelics can be justified as a public health measure,” Johansen argues. Krebs adds that the prohibition of psychedelics is also a human rights issue: “Concerns have been raised that the ban on use of psychedelics is a violation of the human rights to belief and spiritual practice, full development of the personalty, and free-time and play.”

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Traffic light food labels strengthen self-control

English: yellow traffic light Español: señal d...

English: yellow traffic light Español: señal de tráfico amarilla Deutsch: gelbes Verkehrszeichen Français : feux de signalisation jaunes Italiano: segnale stradale giallo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 9 March 2015 AlphaGalileo news release

Should food products be labeled with traffic light symbols to make health-related information on ingredients easier to understand? This question has remained a subject of debate. Now researchers at the University of Bonn have reached the conclusion that the traffic light label is more effective in helping consumers resist high-calorie foods than a purely information-based label. Scientists observed study participants in the brain scanner as they made purchase decisions. The study has just been published in the journal Obesity.

Red, yellow, green: The traffic signal labels on packages are supposed to be an easy-to-understand indication of the overall “healthiness” of a food product. For example, “red” symbolizes a high percentage of fat, sugar or salt, “green” a lower percentage. Just as on an actual traffic light, yellow falls in the middle. ” This is the first study that analyzes the effect that traffic light signals have on the evaluation processes in the consumer’s brain when making a purchase decision”, says Prof. Dr. Bernd Weber of the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) at the University of Bonn. Do the “traffic lights” help consumers choose a healthier diet when grocery shopping? Scientists from the CENs have addressed this question in a recent study.

 

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Most Information in Drug Development Is Lost

From the 9 March 2015 Newswise article

Lots of potentially useful medical information is getting lost. McGill researchers discovered this when they looked into the lack of reporting of information from “stalled drug” trials in cancer, cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

“Stalled drugs” are drugs that fail to make it to the market either because they prove to be ineffective or unsafe or both. Because only one in ten of the drugs that goes into human testing actually gets licensed, most of the information collected in developing new drugs is currently being lost. This is despite the fact that this information is critical for effective care, protecting patients, and discovering better drugs.

….

Findings from trials of stalled drugs:

1. Allow drug developers to discover what didn’t work, and then adjust the compound or method of delivery so that it might work for other conditions. For example, the drug Viagra failed initially as a drug for treatment of angina. We now know it to be a very effective drug for erectile dysfunction.

2. Help us learn about the safety of other approved drugs. Often, trials of experimental drugs generate valuable evidence about the safety of approved drugs – especially if the approved drugs are in the same chemical family.

3. Help drug discoverers learn about the limits of animal models and other experimental techniques. “When a drug works in animal models but not in patients, we have an opportunity to study why our model fell short and to improve it,” says Amanda Hakala, a Master’s student who is first author on the study.

4. Contain safety and efficacy information that might be useful in other parts of the world. Often, drugs that are considered unsafe and ineffective in one part of the world are approved in another. “Failure to publish these trials deprives patients in those other jurisdictions of state of the art evidence of safety and efficacy,” says Kimmelman.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] MRSA can linger in homes, spreading among its inhabitants

From the 10 March 2015 EurkAlert!

Households can serve as a reservoir for transmitting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a study published this week inmBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Once the bacteria enters a home, it can linger for years, spreading from person to person and evolving genetically to become unique to that household.

The researchers found that isolates within households clustered into closely related groups, suggesting a single common USA300 ancestral strain was introduced to and transmitted within each household. Researchers also determined from a technique called Bayesian evolutionary reconstruction that USA300 MRSA persisted within households from 2.3 to 8.3 years before their samples were collected, and that in the course of a year, USA300 strains had a 1 in a million chance of having a random genetic change, estimating the speed of evolution in these strains. Researchers also found evidence that USA300 clones, when persisting in households, continued to acquire extraneous DNA.

“We found that USA300 MRSA strains within households were more similar to each other than those from different households,”

We’re also getting hints at how it evolves inside households. Decolonization of household members may be a critical component of prevention programs to control USA300 MRSA spread in the United States.”

Related Article

Highly effective regimen for decolonization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriers.“Standardized decolonization treatment consisted of mupirocin nasal ointment, chlorhexidine mouth rinse, and full-body wash with chlorhexidine soap for 5 days. Intestinal and urinary-tract colonization were treated with oral vancomycin and cotrimoxazole, respectively. Vaginal colonization was treated with povidone-iodine or, alternatively, with chlorhexidine ovula or octenidine solution. Other antibiotics were added to the regimen if treatment failed.”

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and adversely affect blood sugar control

From the 7 March 2015 news release at Newswise

….At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance was significantly increased by 17% and 39%, respectively….

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Onion extract may improve high blood sugar and cholesterol

From the 6 March 2015 EurkAlert

The extract of onion bulb, Allium cepa, strongly lowered high blood glucose (sugar) and total cholesterol levels in diabetic rats when given with the antidiabetic drug metformin, according to a new study. The study results will be presented Thursday at The Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego.

“Onion is cheap and available and has been used as a nutritional supplement,” said lead investigator Anthony Ojieh, MBBS (MD), MSc, of Delta State University in Abraka, Nigeria. “It has the potential for use in treating patients with diabetes.”

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The FDA and Me (or How to Explain Your Test is Not a Game)

From the 6 March 2015 post at The Health Care Blog (Association of Health Care Journalists)

So you have a great idea for an app. Not so fast: it took two years and over half a million dollars to get ours cleared for marketing by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Our app, DANA uses a mobile phone to records peoples’ reaction time during game-like tests. It also provides questionnaires that help clinicians evaluate brain health. Commissioned from AnthroTronix by the Department of Defense, the app will help diagnose concussion, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For something so important, a serious investment of time and money for clearance may not sound extravagant, but few small companies can afford a two-year go-to-market delay, not to mention the significant investment and heartache that goes with it. And although the FDA has tried to facilitate regulation by providing guides like the Mobile Medical Applications Guidance Document and the Mobile Medical Applications website, the regulatory process remains confusing.

Here are five simple lessons from our own experience that will help other entrepreneurs to do the right thing and engage with the FDA:

Innovators are afraid of the FDA

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

[News release & chip/dip recipe] Center for Dairy Research turns yogurt waste into new products

I’ve wondered where the waste went, this is good news.

From the 6 March 2015 University of Wisconsin-Madison news release

…”The whole goal is to take this problematic mixture of stuff — acid whey — and isolate all of the various components and find commercial uses for them,” says Dean Sommer, a food technologist with Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (CDR) in the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

That’s no easy task.

Food companies have been separating the components of sweet whey — the byproduct of cheese production — for more than a decade now, extracting high-value whey protein powders that are featured in muscle-building products and other high-protein foods and beverages.

Compared to sweet whey, however, acid whey from Greek yogurt is hard to work with. Similar to sweet whey, it’s mostly water — 95 percent — but it contains a lot less protein, which is considered the valuable part. Some of the other “solids” in acid whey, which include lactose, lactic acid, calcium, phosphorus and galactose, make it more difficult to process. For instance, thanks to galactose and lactic acid, it turns into a sticky mess when it’s dried down.

Instead of drying it, CDR scientists are developing technologies that utilize high-tech filters, or membranes, to separate out the various components.

“We’re taking the membranes that are available to us and stringing them together and developing a process that allows us to get some value-added ingredients out at the other end,” says dairy processing technologist Karen Smith, who is working on the project.

At this point, the CDR has set its sights on lactose, an ingredient that food companies will pay good money for in food-grade form.

“It’s the lowest-hanging fruit, the most valuable thing in there in terms of volume and potential worth,” says Sommer.

On a related note, a tasty recipe!  Sweet Potato chips with Greek yogurt blue cheese dip.
Spiciness of chips (chili powder) balances well with sweetness of dip( the honey)
Made them with a Japanese sweet potato (from our local co-op). Took them to the card party group, they did not go over that well.  Put chips in our toaster oven, got braver and made them crispier. Thinking these chips taste better hot (temperature hot).

OK, it was hard to get past the blog title…housewife in training. that’s all I’ll say!
Again, great recipe.

http://thehousewifeintrainingfiles.com/healthy-sweet-potato-chips-greek-yogurt-blue-cheese-dip/

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

[News release] Physical labor, hypertension and multiple meds may reduce male fertility

From the 6 March 2015 EurkAlert!

NIH-funded study analyzes data from more than 450 men attempting to conceive

Working in a physically demanding job, having high blood pressure, and taking multiple medications are among health risks that may undermine a man’s fertility, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Stanford University, Stanford, California. The study is the first to examine the relationships between workplace exertion, health, and semen quality as men are trying to conceive. The results were published online inFertility and Sterility.

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] When hospitals buy physician practices, patients hit with fees

From the 5 March 2015 post at Covering Health (Association of Health Care Journalists)

WSB-Atlanta recently explored what happens when hospitals buy physician practices, which has been happening all over the Atlanta area.

Prices for patients go up.

The same physicians – in the same offices, with the same treatments – start charging more.

“Everything is exactly the same,” said cancer patient Mike Rosenberg.

Except the bill.

Sometimes it’s an “outpatient facility fee.” And sometimes it’s a “treatment room fee.”

And it’s a lot of money – sometimes thousands of dollars, not covered by insurance.

And even patients who are savvy enough to know about these fees before they get the bill have a lot of trouble finding out about them, as Erica Byfield made clear in her strong 3-minute report.

It’s not unique to Atlanta. She quotes a University of California, Berkeley, studythat found that patients generally pay 10 percent more at hospital-owned practices.

The ACA does include incentives for “vertical integration,” or having doctors and physicians part of one organization. But it’s not supposed to raise costs. It’s supposed to bring them down by improving efficiency, creating economies and encouraging care coordination. (Some of the fee problems actually stem from Medicare billing practices, not specifically the ACA.)

 

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Good news! Efforts To Improve Patient Safety Result in 1.3 Million Fewer Patient Harms [AHRQ report]

From the publication summary at the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Interim Update on 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013

This document provides preliminary estimates for 2013 on hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), indicating a 17 percent decline, from 145 to 121 HACs per 1,000 discharges, from 2010 to 2013. A cumulative total of 1.3 million fewer HACs were experienced by hospital patients in 2011, 2012, and 2013 relative to the number of HACs that would have occurred if rates had remained steady at the 2010 level. Approximately 50,000 fewer patients died in the hospital as a result of the reduction in HACs, and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved from 2010 to 2013.

 

Exhibit 6. Estimated Deaths Averted, by Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC), 2011-2013

Pie chart shows estimated deaths averted, by Hospital-Acquired Condition: Adverse drug events, 11,540; Catheter-associated urinary tract infections, 4,427; Central line-associated bloodstream infections, 1,998; Falls, 2,750; Obstetric adverse events, 15; Pressure ulcers, 20,272; Surgical site infections, 1,297; Ventilator-associated pneumonias, 1,150; (Post-op) Venous Thromboembolisms, 520; All other HACs, 6,387.

Preliminary 2013 estimates show that the decline in HACs resulted in a preliminary estimate of cost savings of approximately $8 billion in 2013. Estimated cumulative savings for 2011, 2012, and 2013 are approximately $12 billion (Exhibit 7). As was the case for the deaths averted estimates, the majority of cost savings are estimated to result from declines in pressure ulcers and ADEs (Exhibit 8).

 

Two related Mulford Library resoruces

 

As always, do not hesitate to consult a Mulford reference librarian with your research and information needs. Let us same you time and alleviate frustration!

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

3-D printing offers innovative method to deliver medication

From the 3 March 2015 Society of Interventional Radiology press release

3-D printing could become a powerful tool in customizing interventional radiology treatments to individual patient needs, with clinicians having the ability to construct devices to a specific size and shape. That’s according to a study being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Annual Scientific Meeting. Researchers and engineers collaborated to print catheters, stents and filaments that were bioactive, giving these devices the ability to deliver antibiotics and chemotherapeutic medications to a targeted area in cell cultures.

“3-D printing allows for tailor-made materials for personalized medicine,” said Horacio R. D’Agostino, M.D., FSIR, lead researcher and an interventional radiologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUH) in Shreveport. “It gives us the ability to construct devices that meet patients’ needs, from their unique anatomy to specific medicine requirements. And as tools in interventional radiology, these devices are part of treatment options that are less invasive than traditional surgery,” he added.

Using 3-D printing technology and resorbable bioplastics, D’Agostino and his team of biomedical engineers and nanosystem engineers at LSUH and Louisiana Tech University developed bioactive filaments, chemotherapy beads, and catheters and stents containing antibiotics or chemotherapeutic agents. The team then tested these devices in cell cultures to see if they could inhibit growth of bacteria and cancer cells.

When testing antibiotic-containing catheters that could slowly release the drug, D’Agostino’s team found that the devices inhibited bacterial growth. Researchers also saw that filaments carrying chemotherapeutic agents were able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

….

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Research Magazine Article] Looking for alternatives to antibiotics

From the March 2015 article by the University of Oslo

Bacteria that talk to one another and organize themselves into biofilms are more resistant to antibiotics. Researchers are now working to develop drugs that prevent bacteria from communicating.

Tracing bacteria: The researchers are testing the new group of drugs in transparent worms called C. elegans, in which they can trace the bacteria while infection develops. They do this by feeding the worms with fluorescent bacteria.

The aim is to find alternatives to antibiotics and reduce the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

– Understanding how bacteria communicate could provide a new means of controlling them and preventing and treating infectious diseases, says Professor Anne Aamdal Scheie at the Department of Oral Biology at the University of Oslo.

Together with Professor Fernanda Cristina Petersen, Aamdal Scheie is shedding light on one of the most important health challenges facing the world today, namely antibiotic resistance. The researchers believe that understanding bacterial communication has a key role to play in the fight against resistant bacteria.

Research groups at the Faculty of Dentistry therefore want to understand how bacteria talk to one another – precisely to prevent them from communicating and becoming hazardous.

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

[Press release] What makes some women able to resist or recover psychologically from assault-related trauma?

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 2 March 2015 press release

In a study of 159 women who had been exposed to at least one assault-related potentially traumatic event, 30% developed major depressive disorder, which may be attributed to self-blame common to survivors of assault. Fewer women (21%) developed chronic posttraumatic stress disorder.

Mastery–the degree to which an individual perceives control and influence over life circumstances–and social support were most prevalent in women who did not develop a trauma-related psychiatric disorder after assault exposure, while mastery and posttraumatic growth were related to psychiatric recovery. These factors were less established in women with a current psychiatric disorder.

The Brain and Behavior findings have significance for the health and wellbeing of women, and for identifying individuals who are most in need of resilience-promoting interventions. “Women exposed to assault may present with post-trauma depression in lieu of posttraumatic stress disorder. Resilience factors like mastery and social support may attenuate the deleterious effects of an assault,” said lead author Heather L. Rusch. “The next step is to determine the extent that these factors may be fostered through clinical intervention.”

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poll finds US public sees ill health as resulting from a broad range of causes

Good study. However I would like to see how this compares with what researchers believe are causes/correlations of ill health and how best to address the causes/correlations.

From the 2 March 2015 Harvard School of Public Health press release

Many believe their health has been impacted by negative childhood experiences

A new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll finds that more than six in ten people living in the U.S. (62%) are concerned about their future health. Nearly four in ten (39%) said that they had one or more negative childhood experiences that they believe had a harmful impact on their adult health.

Causes of ill health

“When the public thinks about the causes of ill health, it’s not just about germs. They also see access to medical care, personal behavior, stress, andpollution as affecting health,” said Robert J. Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

When given a list of 14 factors that might cause ill health, the top five causes cited by the public as extremely important are lack of access to high-quality medical care (42%), personal behavior (40%), viruses or bacteria (40%), high stress (37%), and exposure to air, water, or chemical pollution (35%).

Those rankings diverge, however, among ethnic groups.

Actions to improve health

Given the wide range of reasons given for why ill health occurs, it is not surprising that people in the U.S. have a very broad view of the actions that could be taken to improve people’s health. The top five things (from a list of 16) that the public believes would improve people’s health a great deal are: improving access to affordable healthy food (57%), reducing illegal drug use (54%), reducing air, water, or chemical pollution (52%), increasing access to high-quality health care (52%), and improving the economy and the availability of jobs (49%).

 

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Adults only really catch flu about twice a decade

Don’t think the article is advocating skip the annual flu shots!

Adults only really catch flu about twice a decade, suggests study 

From the release

 

main image

Adults over the age of 30 only catch flu about twice a decade, a new study suggests.

Flu-like illness can be caused by many pathogens, making it difficult to assess how often people are infected by influenza.

Researchers analysed blood samples from volunteers in Southern China, looking at antibody levels against nine different influenza strains that circulated from 1968 to 2009.

They found that while children get flu on average every other year, flu infections become less frequent as people progress through childhood and early adulthood. From the age of 30 onwards, flu infections tend to occur at a steady rate of about two per decade.

Dr Adam Kucharski, who worked on the study at Imperial College London before moving to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “There’s a lot of debate in the field as to how often people get flu, as opposed to flu-like illness caused by something else. These symptoms could sometimes be caused by common cold viruses, such as rhinovirus or coronavirus. Also, some people might not realise they had flu, but the infection will show up when a blood sample is subsequently tested. This is the first time anyone has reconstructed a group’s history of infection from modern-day blood samples.”

Dr Steven Riley, senior author of the study, from the Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial, said: “For adults, we found that influenza infection is actually much less common than some people think. In childhood and adolescence, it’s much more common, possibly because we mix more with other people. The exact frequency of infection will vary depending on background levels of flu and vaccination.”

In addition to estimating the frequency of flu infection, the researchers, from the UK, the US and China, developed a mathematical model of how our immunity to flu changes over a lifetime as we encounter different strains of the virus.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] New nanodevice defeats drug resistance

New nanodevice defeats drug resistance 

From the 3 March 2015 MIT press release

Tiny particles embedded in gel can turn off drug-resistance genes, then release cancer drugs.

Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors at first, but as cancer cells become resistant to drug treatment, tumors can grow back. A new nanodevice developed by MIT researchers can help overcome that by first blocking the gene that confers drug resistance, then launching a new chemotherapy attack against the disarmed tumors.

The device, which consists of gold nanoparticles embedded in a hydrogel that can be injected or implanted at a tumor site, could also be used more broadly to disrupt any gene involved in cancer.

“You can target any genetic marker and deliver a drug, including those that don’t necessarily involve drug-resistance pathways. It’s a universal platform for dual therapy,” says Natalie Artzi, a research scientist at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and senior author of a paper describing the device in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 2.

,,,

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Audio program] The New Medicine: Hacking our Biology

From IEEE Spectrum

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 5.54.40 AM

The New Medicine: Hacking Our Biology is part of the series “Engineers of the New Millennium” from IEEE Spectrum magazine and the Directorate for Engineering of the National Science Foundation. These stories explore technological advances in medical inventions to enhance and extend life.

Transcripts are included.

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

[Press release]Zombie outbreak? Statistical mechanics reveal the ideal hideout | EurekAlert! Science News

Zombie outbreak? Statistical mechanics reveal the ideal hideout | EurekAlert! Science News.

To be presented at the 2015 APS March Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, March 5

From the press release

A team of Cornell University researchers focusing on a fictional zombie outbreak as an approach to disease modeling suggests heading for the hills, in the Rockies, to save your brains from the undead.

Reading World War Z, an oral history of the first zombie war, and a graduate statistical mechanics class inspired a group of Cornell University researchers to explore how an “actual” zombie outbreak might play out in the U.S.

During the 2015 American Physical Society March Meeting, on Thursday, March 5 in San Antonio, Texas, the group will describe their work modeling the statistical mechanics of zombies–those thankfully fictional “undead” creatures with an appetite for human flesh. (See the abstract: http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/MAR15/Session/S48.8)

Why model the mechanics of zombies? “Modeling zombies takes you through a lot of the techniques used to model real diseases, albeit in a fun context,” says Alex Alemi, a graduate student at Cornell University.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Public Health, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Sex, contraception, or abortion? Class gaps in unintended childbearing | Brookings Institution

Sex, contraception, or abortion? Class gaps in unintended childbearing | Brookings Institution.

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From the report

A poor woman is about five times as likely as an affluent woman to have an unintended birth, which further deepens the divides in income, family stability, and child outcomes. But what is behind the gap? That is the question we address in our new paper, Sex, Contraception, or Abortion? Explaining Class Gaps in Unintended Childbearing, and in this data interactive.”

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How can I order Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments (ERTAs) or Comparative Effectiveness Reviews?

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What are Evidence Based Reports?

EPC Evidence-Based Reports (home page and links to reports)

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), through its EPCs, sponsors the development of various reports to assist public- and private-sector organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of health care in the United States. These reports provide comprehensive, science-based information on common, costly medical conditions and new health care technologies and strategies. The EPCs review all relevant scientific literature on a wide spectrum of clinical and health services topics. EPCs also produce technical reports on methodological topics and other types of evidence synthesis-related reports.

Where do Technology Assessments come from?

The Technology Assessment (TA) Program at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides technology assessments for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These technology assessments are used by CMS to inform its national coverage decisions for the Medicare program as well as provide information to Medicare carriers.
Fact sheets and reports can be found through The Technology Assessment (TA) Program

 

 

How can I order Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments (ERTAs) or Comparative Effectiveness Reviews? [From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45610/ (accessed 3 March 2015)]

The Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments (ERTAs) and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews (CERs) are provided to Bookshelf by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ has a publications clearinghouse, which can be accessed through this link: http://ahrqpubs.ahrq.gov/OA_HTML/ibeCZzpHome.jsp

 

March 7, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

United Nations News Centre – Over 5 billion people worldwide lacking access to essential medicines, says UN report

United Nations News Centre – Over 5 billion people worldwide lacking access to essential medicines, says UN report.

From the 3 March 2015 report

A patient in a hospital in Cambodia is given some pain killers. Photo: World Bank/Masaru Goto

3 March 2015 – Three quarters of the world population has no access to proper pain relief treatment, according to a report by the United Nations body charged with overseeing Governments’ compliance with international drug control treaties, which was released in London today.

Around 5.5 billion people still have limited or no access to medicines containing narcotic drugs such as codeine or morphine the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) says in its Annual Report for 2014, which went on to point out that around 92 per cent of all morphine used worldwide is consumed by only 17 per cent of the world population, primarily living in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The report, which calls on Governments to address the discrepancy in order to comply with International Drug Control Conventions, notes that natural disasters and armed conflicts around the world can further limit access to essential medicines and the Board stressed that in cases of emergency medical care, simplified control measures can be applied.

For example in the Philippines following the destruction by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the Board pointed out to all countries as well as to providers of humanitarian assistance the simplified procedures for the export, transportation and delivery of medicines containing substances under international control.

In its Report, the INCB notes that drug control measures do not exist in a vacuum and that, in their implementation of the drug control conventions, States must also comply with obligations under other treaties, including international humanitarian law and their international human rights obligations, such as allowing civilians to have access to medical care and essential medicines during armed conflicts.

Additionally, the INCB noted that States were charged with deciding specific sanctions for drug-related offences, but should avoid application of the death penalty for such cases.

To achieve a balanced and integrated approach to the drug problem, Governments also should ensure that demand reduction is one of the first priorities of their drug control policies, while they should put greater emphasis on and provide support and appropriate resources to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, the Report says.

Among the rest of the Report’s findings were an increase in the number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) by 11 per cent and a 66 per cent increase in global consumption of methylphenidate, a stimulant primarily used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The Report also pointed out that the legalization of production, distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis and its derivatives for recreational purposes in Uruguay, together with the moves by States in the United States to legalise sale and distribution of cannabis for non-medical purposes, ran counter to article 4 of the 1961 Single Convention on narcotic drugs, which requires States to limit the use of narcotic drugs to medical and scientific purposes.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | health care, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Most Consumers Encounter Challenges Using New Types of High Tech Devices, Accenture Survey Finds | Full Text Reports…

Most Consumers Encounter Challenges Using New Types of High Tech Devices, Accenture Survey Finds | Full Text Reports….

From the press release

NEW YORK; Jan. 5, 2015 – Most consumers experience challenges using several new types of smart high tech devices, according to a new report from Accenture titled Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World.

Overall, 83 percent report various problems when they use new device types such as wearable fitness monitors, smart watches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home connected surveillance cameras and security systems, and wearable health products.

The biggest challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are “too complicated to use” (21 percent), “set-up did not proceed properly” (19 percent), and “did not work as advertised” (19 percent).

“For these new connected device categories, high tech companies need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their product development approaches to focus on the entire customer experience,” said Sami Luukkonen, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High Tech group. “They should make fundamental strategic changes that no longer focus on product feature differentiation but rather holistic, digital experience differentiation.”

 

Related resources

      • Set realistic expectations
      • Avoid apps that promise too much
      • Research the developers
      • Choose apps that use techniques you’ve heard of
      • See what other users say
      • Test apps before committing
  • Sources of Trusted, Reviewed and Evaluated Apps
    iMedical Apps   –Mobile medical app reviews, commentary by medical professionals
    Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites – from the US National Library of Medicine
    Mobile Resources Selected by the MSKCC Library for Patients and Families   from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center LibraryInformation For Patients from the University of Michigan LibraryGuide-Health Sciences Mobile Device Resources – Resources by Subject
     Scroll down in the right column of this guide until you get to Information for Patients

     

March 3, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Website] Social Impact Calculator

The Social Impact Calculator is “a new tool that allows you to put a dollar value on the benefits of things like an affordable home, a great school or access to transit.”

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From the 13 January 2015 blog post at Investing in Community Change

The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) has created the Social Impact Calculator – a tool that allows you to put a dollar value to the impact of capital investments.

LIIF is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that invests in capital projects in low income communities in an effort to provide families with access to healthy, green and economically strong places to live. Using the Social Impact Calculator, LIIF is able to monetize the impact of capital investments in communities — such as funding for housing, child care centers and charter schools — and assess how well its investments are creating opportunities and reducing inequities in communities.

How does it work? The Social Impact Calculator estimates social returns using research and translating data into monetary values. For example, investments in affordable housing can create discretionary income for families by reducing the burden of housing costs. Those savings can be used by families to cover additional needs, such as food and healthcare. Similarly, as suggested by research, investing in high-performing schools can increase a child’s lifetime earnings while also reducing costs associated with incarceration.

LIIF has made the Social Impact Calculator available to the public and invites communities to explore how they might use the calculator to assess their own efforts. In addition, LIIF invites you to provide feedback about the Social Impact Calculator.

 

 

March 3, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Calendar] National Health Observances

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Looking to promote prevention of a particular disease or condition this coming year? Or bring awareness to a population need?
Consider tying in your program with a US based national observance.
This guide is also great for the curious!

Each site has a related Web site (usually the sponsoring organization) and contact information.

 

 

National Health Observances – 2015 at a Glance

 

 

March 3, 2015 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public) | | Leave a comment

[Reblog] How the discussion on dying has changed over 40 years: A conversation with Nancy Berlinger | Association of Health Care Journalists

How the discussion on dying has changed over 40 years: A conversation with Nancy Berlinger | Association of Health Care Journalists.

From the 18 February 2015 post

If you want a refresher on how far society has come on dealing with end-of-life care issues — and what issues are still to be resolved — then this retrospective article in the Feb 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine from experts at The Hastings Center is a great place to begin. It reviews the history of the end-of-life care movement in the U.S., takes a look at the integration of palliative care into health care delivery, discusses the still controversial “death with dignity” laws and ethical issues like removal of feeding and hydration tubes.

I recently spoke with co-author Nancy Berlinger, Ph.D., a research scholar at Hastings, about how the conversation on death and dying has changed over four decades.

Q: Why did you and your colleagues develop this retrospective for publication in a medical journal?

NB: It stemmed from a recent revision of The Hastings Center Guidelines [for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life].

We see lots of ads from hospitals advertising their standards of excellence and their programs. None of them ever advertise their end of life care.

it’s clear that financial incentives are very misaligned with what people need, what they want, what would be medically appropriate. This is a very complex issue – it can’t be undone by a patient, or by an individual doctor or nurse. This has to be the focus of very high-level attention.

Q: What should journalists be focusing on?

NB: Even if they don’t cover the deep medical end of things, they can still ask questions in the context of health and wellness, such as:

  • How much power does a sick person have?
  • How much power does a really stressed out family have?
  • How much power does a doctor, seeing X number of patients, really have?
  • And, what still do we want to try to help these people to do? To understand we’re all connected in these efforts.

March 3, 2015 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Helpful things to say to someone who’s sick

Helpful things to say to someone who’s sick.

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From the 22 August 2012 post at KevinMD.com

t’s easy for those with health problems to complain about what we don’t want to hear others say to us, but I thought it might be helpful to let others know what we wish they would say to us.

“You look so good, but how are you really feeling?”

It’s hard for us to respond to comments like, “You look so good” (or the always dreaded, “But you don’t look sick”) because we know that you’re just trying to be nice. If we respond truthfully with, “Thanks, but I feel awful,” you might be embarrassed or think we’re being ungrateful. It would be such a relief to be asked a question that goes to the heart of the matter: “How are you really feeling?”

“I’m going to the grocery store, can I pick anything up for you?”

….

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

[Press release] More women now using compounded hormones without understanding the risks — ScienceDaily

More women now using compounded hormones without understanding the risks — North America Menopause Society

From the 28 February 2015 press release

From 28% to 68% of women using hormones at menopause take compounded, so-called “bioidentical” hormones, but women don’t understand the risks of these unapproved, untested treatments, shows an analysis of two large surveys, which was published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society.

Prescriptions of compounded hormones aren’t systematically tracked the way those for FDA-approved drugs are, so the analysts used two large internet surveys of middle-aged and older US women to gauge how commonly they use approved hormone therapy and compounded hormone therapy at menopause. Nearly 3,000 women completed the Harris Interactive Inc and Rose Research LLC surveys, and the researchers used their feedback and US Census data to estimate national use.

They calculated that each year 57 to 75 million prescriptions for all menopausal hormone therapies are filled. Thirty-six million prescriptions are written for FDA-approved hormone therapy, so the remaining 28 to 39 million prescriptions are likely for compounded hormones.

But it seems that women who take them don’t know what they’re getting into. One survey asked women “Do you believe that bioidentical hormone therapies compounded at a specialty pharmacy are FDA-approved?” Only 14% correctly answered “no.” Most–76%–weren’t sure, and 10% incorrectly answered “yes

March 3, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] My Doctor Just Gave Me His Cell Phone Number … | The Health Care Blog

My Doctor Just Gave Me His Cell Phone Number … | The Health Care Blog.

From the 17 February 2015 post

That’s right…it really happened.

At the conclusion of a recent doctor visit, he gave me his cell phone number saying, “Call me anytime if you need anything or have questions.”

In disbelief, I wondered if this was a generational thing – and whether physicians in their late thirties had now ‘gone digital’.

My only other data point was our family pediatrician, who is also in her late thirties. Our experience with her dates back nearly seven years when my wife and I were expecting twins.  A few pediatricians we met with mentioned their willingness to correspond with patients’ families via email as a convenience to parents.  The pediatrician we ultimately selected wasn’t connected with patients outside of the office at that time, but now will exchange emails.

March 3, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

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