Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Study: No Link Between Bully Victimization, Future Substance Abuse

From the 8 March 2016 University of Dallas News Center

Excerpt

“The research by three criminologists in UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) discovered that students who were bullied in third grade did not have a greater risk of using drugs or alcohol by ninth grade.

But the researchers found that children who had experienced the highest level of victimization smoked cigarettes or used alcohol at higher rates than high school peers. The study noted that experimentation with drugs and alcohol is common among adolescents regardless of whether they had been bullied.

“The findings speak to the necessity of continuing to encourage meaningful substance use prevention programs during adolescence and making sure students have the resilience skills necessary to stay away from substances,” said Dr. Nadine Connell, assistant professor of criminologyand lead author of the study. “Early in-school victimization may, however, have other consequences that should be explored.””

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Precision Medicine: Can We Afford It? Can We Afford Not To Explore It? [news release]

From the 8 March 2016 Texas A & M news release

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Excerpts

Imagine that the next time your doctor orders a round of tests, in addition to cholesterol and vitamin D, she also orders a genome sequence. It sounds like science fiction, but the day might come sooner than you think.

Precision medicine—in which each patient’s prevention and treatment decisions are tailored for them—has been a buzzword in the health care industry recently. President Barack Obama launched his Precision Medicine Initiative, and other countries have similar projects underway.

With concerns about the cost of health care, though, can we afford precision medicine?

In certain instances, precision medicine can actually save money. For example, if patients can be screened for drug hypersensitivity before being prescribed certain drugs, they won’t have to be treated later, which is better for patients and cuts down on costs. A similar approach works for choosing treatments.

“When you use a therapy to target only the individuals who will benefit, you avoid wasting drugs or other resources on people who you know won’t get any benefit, and who might actually be harmed,” said David Threadgill, Ph.D., professor and holder of the Tom and Jean McMullin Chair of Genetics at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of the Texas A&M Institute for Genome Sciences and Society.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. “Whether the economics works out in favor of precision medicine depends on two things: the difficulty and the cost of finding the best candidates who will benefit from specific, tailored treatments,” said Robert L. Ohsfeldt, Ph.D., health economist and professor in the Department of Health Policy & Management at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. “You have to know a lot about the disease process and how individual characteristics—genetics and environmental factors like diet or exposure to toxins—mediate the treatment response.”

Continue reading on Vital Record.

March 9, 2016 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Gun Restrictions Help Reduce Gun Deaths? [news release]

From the 8 March 2016 Columbia University news release

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“Astudy by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health looked at the associations between firearm-related laws and firearm homicides, suicides, and unintentional injuries and deaths.  The paper is the first to explore the evidence from around the world on gun laws and gun violence to determine whether gun restrictions help reduce gun deaths. While the research did not conclusively prove that restrictions, or relaxation of laws, reduce gun deaths, the results indicate that gun violence tended to decline after countries passed new restrictions on gun purchasing and ownership. Findings are published online in the February issue of Epidemiologic Reviews.

The researchers reviewed the findings from 130 studies conducted from 1950 to 2014 in 10 countries that had overhauled their gun law, mostly in the developed world, including the U.S., Australia, and Austria. A few studies looked at gun laws in middle-income countries, including Brazil, Colombia and South Africa.

“In most countries, we saw evidence of reduction in the firearm death rates after the enactment of firearm legislation” said Julian Santaella-Tenorio, a doctoral student in Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School and the study’s lead author.

Santaella-Tenorio and his Columbia co-authors, Professors Magdalena Cerdá and Sandro Galea, also found evidence that specific laws, such as background checks and rules on storage, reduced specific kinds of gun deaths including intimate partner homicides and firearm unintentional deaths in children, respectively.

By comparison, laws in place about carrying concealed weapons or standing your ground either had no effect on gun deaths or increased gun violence. “While our review is not proof that gun laws reduce violence, and also taking into account that for some countries there are very few papers examining firearm laws effects, we did see evidence showing an association between firearm laws and a decline in firearm homicide and suicide rates,” noted Santaella-Tenorio.

“Since we limited our review to changes in firearm policy and not ownership in general or other types of policy, the debate should not end here.”

– See more at: https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/do-gun-restrictions-help-reduce-gun-deaths#sthash.EpAJImmS.dpuf

 

March 9, 2016 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trust Your Aha! Moments, Experiments Show They’re Probably Right [news release]

From the 7 March 2016 news release

Excerpts

When a solution to a problem seems to have come to you out of thin air, it turns out you’ve more than likely been struck with the right idea, according to a new study.

A series of experiments conducted by a team of researchers determined that a person’s sudden insights are often more accurate at solving problems than thinking them through analytically.

“Conscious, analytic thinking can sometimes be rushed or sloppy, leading to mistakes while solving a problem,” said team member John Kounios, PhD, professor in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences and the co-author of the book “The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight and the Brain.” “However, insight is unconscious and automatic — it can’t be rushed. When the process runs to completion in its own time and all the dots are connected unconsciously, the solution pops into awareness as an Aha! moment. This means that when a really creative, breakthrough idea is needed, it’s often best to wait for the insight rather than settling for an idea that resulted from analytical thinking.”

Experiments with four different types of timed puzzles showed that those answers that occurred as sudden insights (also described as Aha! moments) were more likely to be correct. Moreover, people who tended to have more of these insights were also more likely to miss the deadline rather than provide an incorrect, but in-time, answer. Those who responded based on analytic thought (described as being an idea that is worked out consciously and deliberately) were more likely to provide an answer by the deadline, though these last-minute answers were often wrong.

– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2016/March/Insight_Correctness/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Science360NewsServiceComplete+%28Science360+News+Service%3A+Complete%29&utm_content=Netvibes#sthash.5dhxWU92.dpuf

 

March 9, 2016 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

How Finland takes care of its mothers and babies [Reblog]

From the 8 March 2016 blog item at Selam Selam by Laura Kihlström

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Excerpts

Once in a month my husband and I pack Amos in his stroller and walk a few blocks to our closest health care center. We take the elevator to the fourth floor and enter Neuvola, the maternity and child care clinic, or ‘Place for Advice’ as translated freely from the Finnish word.

Neuvola is a Finnish public health care service available for all expectant mothers and children for free.

Maternal and child health is crucial, a cornerstone of development for all countries. Currently in the world approximately 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and an estimated 5.9 million children die annually before they reach the age of 5.

The numbers for maternal and child mortality used to be staggering in Finland as well. Just 80 years ago, out of 1000 children a total of 95 died before reaching the age of 5. Now that number is less than 3, one of the lowest in the whole world. Similarly, the rate of maternal deaths used to be high, with 400 mothers dying per 100,000 births. Today, such deaths do basically not occur.

Who are we to thank for this?

The story of Neuvola dates back to the 1920s.

Mr. Arvo Ylppö, a Finnish pediatrician, was determined to decrease infant mortality in Finland. He got his motivation from Germany where he studied and observed, for instance, that the cause of death for prematurely born infants can be traced to treatable conditions instead of simple underdevelopment.

The ideas he then implemented in Finland are, in essence, preventive health care measures.

He supported efforts to educate health care professionals, along with midwives, to municipalities. The services provided by Neuvola were to be free of charge and voluntary. At its core were to be the provision of guidance for mothers and families, a complete vaccination programme as well as the detection of abnormalities in a child’s development as early as possible.

These remain the activities of Neuvola even today.

Neuvola started small, but today it reaches practically all expectant mothers and children in Finland from their birth to the beginning of primary education which is usually at the age of 7. It has been a tremendous success story. My mother used Neuvola services, now I do too. It is a privilege shared by many generations.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Finland is one of the best countries in the world for parents.

March 9, 2016 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Cutting Urban Blight Reduce Teen Murders? [news release]

From the 7 March 2016 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia news release

Analyzing the immediate neighborhood surroundings of teenaged homicide victims, Philadelphia researchers found that neglected conditions — vacant lots, poor street lighting, fewer parks and less-traveled thoroughfares — were in much greater abundance compared to neighborhoods where adolescents were safer. Without attributing cause and effect, the new study adds to previous research suggesting that modifying specific outdoor features with low-cost improvements may foster community interaction and potentially reduce youth violence in cities.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/2565207319 Garry Knight Homeless In Clink Street
A couple walk past a young homeless man in London’s Clink Street.

“Homicide is a leading cause of death in U.S. adolescents and young adults, especially among African Americans, but the factors influencing violence are complex,” said corresponding author Alison J. Culyba, MD, MPH, an adolescent medicine specialist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “Large-scale violence-prevention programs addressing poverty and educational disparities are absolutely necessary, but may require long-term investment to yield results. We focused on a different level — modifiable features of the built environment that might be factors in violence risk.”

Culyba and her CHOP co-authors collaborated with researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, led by epidemiologist Charles C. Branas, PhD, the senior author and director of the Penn Injury Science Center.

The study appeared today in JAMA Pediatrics.

“One theory that resonated with a lot of the things we found points to the importance of busy streets in promoting outdoor activity, interaction and cohesion in communities, which could potentially deter street violence,” said Branas, who has led several previous studies suggesting that urban parks and greening vacant lots encourage people to become invested in maintaining their neighborhoods and may reduce violent crime.

Both Culyba and Branas stress that this study does not show that street features and other elements cause or reduce homicide. Rather, they say, street lighting, pedestrian infrastructure, public transit, parks and vacant lot greening may be promising targets for future research to discover whether such interventions may provide social and health benefits.

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Person-on-a-chip’ — U of T engineers create lab-grown heart and liver tissue for drug testing and more [news release]

From the 7 March 2016 University of Toronto news release

Excerpts
Professor Milica Radisic and her team have created a new platform for growing realistic human heart and liver tissue outside the body. The technique could help drug companies discover and prevent negative side effects. (Photo: Caz Zyvatkauskas)

Researchers at U of T Engineering have developed a new way of growing realistic human tissues outside the body. Their “person-on-a-chip” technology, called AngioChip, is a powerful platform for discovering and testing new drugs, and could eventually be used to repair or replace damaged organs.

Professor Milica Radisic (IBBME, ChemE), graduate student Boyang Zhang and their collaborators are among those research groups around the world racing to find ways to grow human tissues in the lab, under conditions that mimic a real person’s body. They have developed unique methods for manufacturing small, intricate scaffolds for individual cells to grow on. These artificial environments produce cells and tissues that resemble the real thing more closely than those grown lying flat in a petri dish.

Left to right: Team members Miles Montgomery, Professor Milica Radisic, Boyang Zhang and Yimu Zhao (Photo: Geoff George)

Left to right: Team members Miles Montgomery, Professor Milica Radisic, Boyang Zhang and Yimu Zhao (Photo: Geoff George)

The team’s recent creations have included BiowireTM — an innovative method of growing heart cells around a silk suture — as well as a scaffold for heart cells that snaps together like sheets of Velcro™. But AngioChip takes tissue engineering to a whole new level. “It’s a fully three-dimensional structure complete with internal blood vessels,” says Radisic. “It behaves just like vasculature, and around it there is a lattice for other cells to attach and grow.” The work — which is published todayin the journal Nature Materials — was produced collaboratively with researchers from across U of T, including Professor Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME), Professor Aaron Wheeler (Chemistry, IBBME) and their research teams, as well as researchers from Toronto General Hospital and University Health Network.

Zhang built the scaffold out of POMaC, a polymer that is both biodegradable and biocompatible. The scaffold is built out of a series of thin layers, stamped with a pattern of channels that are each about 50 to 100 micrometres wide. The layers, which resemble the computer microchips, are then stacked into a 3D structure of synthetic blood vessels. As each layer is added, UV light is used to cross-link the polymer and bond it to the layer below.

These tiny polymer scaffolds contain channels that are about 100 micrometres wide, about the same diameter as a human hair. When seeded with cells, the channels act as artificial blood vessels. By mimicking tissues in the human heart and other organs, these scaffolds provide a new way to test drugs for potentially dangerous side effects. (Image: Tyler Irving/Boyang Zhang/Kevin Soobrian)

These tiny polymer scaffolds contain channels that are about 100 micrometres wide, about the same diameter as a human hair. When seeded with cells, the channels act as artificial blood vessels. By mimicking tissues in the human heart and other organs, these scaffolds provide a new way to test drugs for potentially dangerous side effects. (Image: Tyler Irving/Boyang Zhang/Kevin Soobrian)

When the structure is finished, it is bathed in a liquid containing living cells. The cells quickly attach to the inside and outside of the channels and begin growing just as they would in the human body.

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No girl or woman left behind: A global imperative for 2030 [Report]

From the 7 March 2016 Brookings report

Excerpts

This Tuesday, March 8, marks the first International Women’s Day since world leaders agreed last September to launch the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. A more rounded conception of gender equality marks one of the SDGs’ most important improvements compared to their predecessor Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Two SDG targets help to illustrate the broadening geopolitical recognition of the challenges. They also help to underscore how much progress is still required.

 

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A renewed target: Protecting mothers’ lives

The SDGs are also carrying forward the previous MDG priority of maternal health. Target 3.1 aims as follows: “By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.” Formally this falls under Goal 3 for health and wellbeing, but it certainly represents a gender equality objective too. Part of that is by definition; mothers are female. Part of it is driven by the need to overcome gender bias; male decision-makers at all levels might overlook key health issues with which they have no direct personal experience.

A new target: Eliminating child marriage

The inclusion of SDG target 5.3 adds one of the most important new priorities to the global policy agenda: to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.”

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

New study finds troubling health care outcomes for US workers without paid sick leave [News release]

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 6.15.22 AMFrom the 7 March 2016 EurkAlert

Excerpts

“Key findings from the study, which are representative of the nation, showed that regardless of income, age, race, occupation, full-time or part-time work status, health status or health insurance coverage, workers without paid sick leave were three times more likely to delay medical care than were workers with paid sick leave. They also were three times more likely to forgo needed medical care altogether. Furthermore, families of workers without paid sick leave were two times more likely to delay medical care and 1.6 times more likely to forgo needed medical care. The lowest-income group of workers without paid sick leave were at the highest risk of delaying and forgoing medical care for themselves and their family members — making the most financially vulnerable workers the least likely to be able to address health care concerns in a timely manner.

The researchers also found that working adults with paid sick leave benefits missed one-and-a-half days more of work because of an illness or injury compared to workers without paid sick leave, indicating that they were more likely to take time off work to care for themselves or family when needed.”

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health, Workplace Health | | Leave a comment

Too many avoidable errors in patient care, says report [Press release]

From the 8 March 2016 Imperial College London press release

Excerpts

by Kate Wighton

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Avoidable harm to patients is still too high in healthcare in the UK and across the globe.

Safety therefore must be a top healthcare priority for providers and policy makers alike.

These are the findings of two reports launched today by researchers from Imperial College London.  Both reports, produced by NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC), provide evidence on the current state of patient safety and how it could be improved the future.  They urge healthcare providers to embrace a more open and transparent culture to encourage continuous learning and harm reduction.

The first report focuses on the current system used by NHS staff to report patient safety incidents, called the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS). The report authors explain this system requires refinement and renovation, so as to take advantage of new technologies and recent behavioural insights. For example app-based technologies offer a simplified platform that engages staff in the incident reporting process. This will not only improve the ease of reporting, but also the accuracy of data reported.

In particular, the report reiterates problems around under-reporting of safety incidents, and reveals structural concerns within the NRLS, that have inhibited its usefulness as a tool to drive safety improvement.

The second report, Patient Safety 2030, suggests a ‘toolbox’ for patient safety. This would include: using digital technology to improve safety; providing robust training and education, and strengthening leadership at the political, organisational, clinical and community levels. Other points in the ‘toolbox’ include effective and high-quality education and training; strengthening measurement methods, including incident reporting, and exploring new digital solutions.

However, the authors warn that interventions implemented to reduce avoidable patient harm must be engineered with the whole system in mind, and empower patients and staff to become more involved in preventing harm and improving care.

Ultimately, both reports issue a global call-to-action on patient safety: both for individual health systems to convert the evidence on how to improve patient safety into everyday practice, and for the global community of health systems to share learnings from each other’s successes and failures.

The publications: “NRLS Research and Development Final Report”, funded by NHS England, will be presented on March 8th at the Royal Society in London. The “Patient Safety 2030”, funded by a grant from the Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and healthcare for people in the UK, will be presented on March 9th at the Patient Safety Global Action Summit 2016.

March 8, 2016 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

CU researchers offer framework to integrate behavioral health and primary care [News release]

From the 4 March 2014 EurkAlert

Excerpt

AURORA, Colo. (March 4, 2016) – – Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, along with experts from across the country, have developed a set of policy recommendations that would improve the quality of behavioral health care patients receive in clinical settings.

The Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released recommendations in a report, “Creating a Culture of Whole Health,” that offers practical improvements that would eliminate the artificial separation of “mental health” from “physical health.” The report provides recommendations that call for creating a new approach to health care.

“The health care system differentiates physical and behavioral health care, patients don’t,” said Benjamin Miller, PsyD, director of the Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center and assistant professor of family medicine at the CU School of Medicine. “They seek care in a single setting with providers they trust in clinics that are convenient for them to visit. There should be no ‘wrong door’ preventing patients from accessing appropriate care.”

To improve the quality of care, Miller and the project team make several recommendations. Among them:

  • policymakers and payers should establish payment methodologies that support team, not individual, providers;
  • policymakers and payers should invest in a national technical assistance center focused on how to improve care by revising federal, state and local policy and regulatory barriers;
  • providers should engage communities in service to advancing needs for behavioral health and assure consistency across care delivery;
  • providers should share information on how to operationalize successful strategies, such as telehealth; and
  • businesses and philanthropies could create resources and technical assistance strategies that improve access to data for patients and other providers.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

Hostile young adults may experience thinking and memory problems in middle age [News release]

From the 4 March 2016 EurkAlert

Excerpt

“MINNEAPOLIS – Young adults with hostile attitudes or those who don’t cope well with stress may be at increased risk for experiencing memory and thinking problems decades later, according to a study published in the March 2, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“We may not think of our personality traits as having any bearing on how well we think or remember things, but we found that the effect of having a hostile attitude and poor coping skills on thinking ability was similar to the effect of more than a decade of aging,” said study author Lenore J. Launer, PhD, with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.”

 

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychiatry | , , , , | Leave a comment

Physicians thoughts on medical care decisions and third-party payers [Reblog]

An excerpt from Quality vs. Quantity by By MICHEL ACCAD, MD at The Health Care Blog (4 March 2016)

“If we bear in mind that medical care consists of decisions and choices made in the face of uncertainty, then the quality of a decision can only be determined in real time, in a specific context, in light of all its alternatives. A third-party payer—public or private, single or multiple—cannot possibly obtain the needed knowledge to make that determination. For an outsider, the quality chasm is metaphysically impossible to cross. Measuring quality is grasping at straws.”

March 5, 2016 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

The US is far behind peer nations in aligning policies with her public’s health. [Reblog]

The future of public health in the United States is difficult to predict, but the challenges public health has yet to overcome are much more certain. As Keck, Scutchfield, and Holsinger point out i…

Source: The US is far behind peer nations in aligning policies with her public’s health.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

13 Tips for Surviving Hospitalization of an Aging Parent or Spouse [Reblog]

How many times have people said “You must take care of yourself?” when caring for an elderly loved on who’s hospitalized. There’s stress. …too many things to take care…

Source: 13 Tips for Surviving Hospitalization of an Aging Parent or Spouse

March 4, 2016 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices [Reblog]

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices Information Resources By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S. Posted June 02, 2015 Background “Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the…

Source: Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Ending medical reversal [New book]

Guest post by Vinayak K. Prasad, MD, MPH, and Adam S. Cifu, MD For doctors, it is common to have some doubt about a new medical test, procedure or drug—even one which is widely hailed as remarkable…

For doctors, it is common to have some doubt about a new medical test, procedure or drug—even one which is widely hailed as remarkable or a game changer. It is not cynicism but a healthy skepticism towards marketing over substance. Doctors want to see the evidence that a drug actually works rather than just a good story about why it should work.

Often, however, this skepticism does not last. After a few months, still without any evidence, the doctor finds herself buying in, just a little, to the hype. OK, let me just see what everyone is talking about, she thinks. She begins recommending the drug herself. She still thinks of herself as cautious and conservative—while her colleagues use the treatment widely, she thinks it has a more narrow and defined role. Probably the pill does not work for everyone, but in a select group of people.

A few more years go by, and she gets comfortable with the once-hyped treatment. She now knows how to manage its complications; she thinks she has a good sense of who it benefits; and she considers it a part of her practice.”

Source: Ending medical reversal

March 4, 2016 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

Here’s how one journalist discovered the rush to robotic surgery was ahead of the evidence

What does it take to write an award-winning article? For Richard Mark Kirkner, the process involved finding the right idea, pursuing the reporting doggedly, and then putting it together in one comp…

“In a new How I Did It, Kirkner explains his thinking: “Whenever new medical technology is put to use, hospitals and specialty clinics like to put the best spin on it. But it can take years for such new medical equipment to prove its mettle compared with existing methods.””

Source: Here’s how one journalist discovered the rush to robotic surgery was ahead of the evidence

March 4, 2016 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Supplements and Safety (PBS)

For those who missed it and are interested. Also see supplementary materials (bad pun).

Supplements and Safety

February 7, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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Herbal Viagra warning & more

From: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/sex/erectiledysfunction.htm

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Erectile Dysfunction/Sexual Enhancement

As many as 30 million American men have erectile dysfunction (ED). If you’re one of them and considering a so-called “herbal Viagra,” you should discuss the situation with your health care provider. Conventional treatments are available that may help you. Another important reason to see your health care provider is that ED may be a sign of an underlying health problem that needs to be treated, such as clogged blood vessels or nerve damage from diabetes. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that some products marketed as dietary supplements for male sexual enhancement or ED contain prescription drug ingredients or related substances. These products may interact in dangerous ways with medicines.

Bottom Line: No complementary health approaches have been shown to be safe and effective for sexual enhancement or treating ED. Safety is a serious concern with regard to dietary supplements promoted for ED or sexual enhancement.

Safety: Many supplements promoted for ED and sexual enhancement have been found to be tainted with drug ingredients or related substances. These contaminants may interact with prescription drugs in harmful ways. For example, some of the contaminants in these supplements may interact with drugs that contain nitrates, leading to a dangerous decrease in blood pressure. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take drugs containing nitrates, and men with these conditions frequently have ED.

Warning signs that a dietary supplement for ED may be tainted with potentially harmful substances include:

  • Claims that the product is a natural alternative to prescription drugs or has effects similar to those of drugs
  • Promises that the product will work very rapidly or that its effects will last for a day or more
  • Personal testimonials about incredible benefits from the product.

For more information on ED, see the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Web site.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

The risks of electronic health records

Source: The risks of electronic health records

November 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Analyzing the Life Cycle of Chemicals

From a page from the US EPA

EPA is combining different types of data to characterize impacts of chemicals to human health and the environment. The research provides accessible information to support scientific discovery and sustainable decisions. EPA researchers are using scientific advances to identify chemical characteristics and features that are associated with potential for environmental and human health impacts.

The research is generating chemical, biological and toxicological information to advance the understanding of relationships between chemical characteristics and potential impacts of use. This research will help EPA and others evaluate these chemicals prior to use to ensure they are the most effective and safest chemicals to use.

Our research analyzing the life cycle of chemicals focuses on four areas:

Nanoparticles and Emerging Materials

Sustainable Chemistry

Environmental and human health impacts of chemical use across the chemical/product life cycle

EPA is developing ways to efficiently evaluate environmental and human health impacts of chemical use across the chemical/product life cycle to support sustainability analysis, assessment of chemical alternatives and to help inform risk-based decisions.

Ecological Modeling

EPA evaluates the risk of pesticide use to threatened and endangered species. This research is using population effects and spatial distribution to develop ecological risk models to predict potential risk to ecological systems and the environment.

  • Markov Chain Nest Productivity Model: estimates the impact of pesticide exposures on the reproduction success of bird populations.
  • Web Ice: estimates acute toxicity to aquatic and terrestrial organisms for use in risk assessment.
  • EcoTox: Provides information on adverse effects of single chemical stressors to ecologically relevant aquatic and terrestrial species. It includes more than 780,000 test records covering 12,000 aquatic and terrestrial species and 11,000 chemicals.

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

Source: Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

From the Source

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S.
Posted June 02, 2015

Background

“Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the “Time to Talk Campaign,” managed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Like any health-related decision, your decision about whether to use complementary health practices is central to your health and safety. Yet, information you find on the Web is not always specific to your illness or based on scientific evidence.

The NIH monthly consumer-friendly series, “Time to Talk Tips,” discusses specific health topics, together with the scientific evidence related to those topics. The series is designed to encourage you and your medical doctors or other healthcare providers to talk about any complementary practice that you are considering.

Examples of “Time to Talk Tips”

Each month, the series highlights a health topic. For example, topics include “Natural Products for the Flu and Colds,” and “What Consumers Need to Know about the Use of Dietary Supplements.”

The series includes simple tips, such as, taking vitamin C regularly does not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold, but may improve some cold symptoms, and some dietary supplements may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications or other dietary supplements.

Sometimes, a health topic targets a specific health condition, such as “Six Things You Need to Know about Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches , or, “Five Things to Know about Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches.”

The consumer tips accompany topics found in the NCCIH Clinical Digest for Health Professionals, which is a monthly e-newsletter for medical doctors and other healthcare providers. The Clinical Digest addresses the state of science on complementary health practices for a variety of health conditions.

 How to Make “Time to Talk Tips” Work for You

The same topics that are found in the NCCIH Clinical Digest and the “Time to Talk Tips” are discussed in monthly Twitter chats, allowing you, as a member of the public, to interact with NCCIH Information Specialists, to ask questions, and to receive answers in real time.

The NCCIH “Time to Talk Tips” monthly series on complementary health practices was started in 2012. If you access the NCCIH website, “Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices,” on a regular basis, you can see the list of tips grow, from month to month.

Stay informed in the following ways:

Resources for Patients from the National Institutes of Health

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

References

 National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM).
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Clearinghouse.
(Accessed May 03, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Clinical Digest.
(Accessed May 23, 2015)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH E-Mail Us – Submit a Question or Comment.
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Live Chats with Experts.(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Time to Talk Home Page.
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “NIH Launches Consumer-Friendly Tips Series on Complementary Health Practices.” NIH News. March 06, 2012.
(Accessed May 03, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. “Time to Talk Tips.”
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus.
(Accessed My 24, 2015)

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Source: September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

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

Ending medical reversal

Source: Ending medical reversal

From the book review

Guest post by Vinayak K. Prasad, MD, MPH, and Adam S. Cifu, MD

prasadFor doctors, it is common to have some doubt about a new medical test, procedure or drug—even one which is widely hailed as remarkable or a game changer. It is not cynicism but a healthy skepticism towards marketing over substance. Doctors want to see the evidence that a drug actually works rather than just a good story about why it should work.

Often, however, this skepticism does not last. After a few months, still without any evidence, the doctor finds herself buying in, just a little, to the hype. OK, let me just see what everyone is talking about, she thinks. She begins recommending the drug herself. She still thinks of herself as cautious and conservative—while her colleagues use the treatment widely, she thinks it has a more narrow and defined role. Probably the pill does not work for everyone, but in a select group of people.

A few more years go by, and she gets comfortable with the once-hyped treatment. She now knows how to manage its complications; she thinks she has a good sense of who it benefits; and she considers it a part of her practice.

Then, one day, she opens one of the nation’s top medical journals and discovers that the treatment she was once skeptical of, but slowly grew to accept, simply does not work. A well-done clinical trial, probably the one which should have been done before the treatment even came to market, compared the treatment to the prior therapy, and found no benefit.”

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

JoVE

September 16, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bad for your health: What can be done about Britain’s long hours’ culture?

Source: Bad for your health: What can be done about Britain’s long hours’ culture?

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

Children Are Being Poisoned by Marijuana and E-Liquid*

smoking-and-vaping-by-teenagers

*Though Not as Many as the Number of Children Poisoned by Cosmetics, Household Cleaning Products and Painkillers.

In the past couple years we’ve seen a growth of e-cig and cannabis edible usage and a corresponding increase in corporate media scare stories warning us of the dangerous epidemics sweeping the country: children accidentally ingesting cannabis edibles and nicotine liquid. Though such incidents are a real concern that the public needs to be aware of and take steps to prevent, actual statistics show that the problem is not as alarming as it’s often made out to be when examined in relation to other products that harm children when ingested.

With the advent of legal recreational cannabis in Colorado, data from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center (RMPDC) is often cited by news media for stories about the dangers of marijuana edibles. In 2014 the RMPDC received 151 calls about marijuana exposure…

View original post 573 more words

August 5, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Approves First 3D Printed Pill [Reblog]

https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/1359921/3984025

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first 3D printed pill.

 

The medicine, Spritam (levetiracetam), helps to treat epilepsy. Previous levetiracetam tablets did not dissolve easily, but the new version boasts porous layers that make it easily dissolvable, according to a press release from the company, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals. A spokesperson for the FDA confirmed to the Associated Press that Spritam is the first 3D printed prescription tablet to gain approval.

Seizure medication is often too large and difficult to swallow—particularly for the elderly and children—making advances in 3D printing key for epileptics and other who suffer from seizures, according to the company.

August 5, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

B.C., feds spend millions on reward points for Canadians who use new healthy living app [news story]

From the 29 July 2015 Metro article

The B.C. and federal governments are spending millions of dollars to buy reward points for Canadians who engage with a new app that encourages healthy lifestyles.

Called “Carrot Rewards,” the $7.5-million smartphone app was created in partnership with company Social Change Rewards with $5 million from Ottawa and $2.5 million from the province as an innovative way to send Canadians mass messages about public health and nudge people to make better choices.

People who sign up for the free app will get reward points of their choice – be it for flights, groceries or movie tickets – in exchange for completing small actions such as using the B.C. Shopping Sense tool to make healthy grocery choices or completing a Heart and Stroke Foundation risk assessment.

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

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy [newspaper article]

Toxic Waters

From a 2009 NY Times article

(Yes this article is a bit old, but posting it because of water woes here in Toledo regarding microcystins, which fortunately are still at safe levels, in my humble opinion. Still, it seems to be wrecking havoc with our mayor’s election bid)

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Toxic Waters

Outdated Laws

Articles in this series are examining the worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

All Articles in the Series »

Only 91 contaminants [ still true, I counted them today, 31 July 2015  at http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm#List ] are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie.

From the 25 May 2015 Lancaster University news release

Is your smartwatch spying on you? wearables by Alexey Boldin/shutterstock.com

26 May 2015 06:11

Now that the sun is shining and the temperature is rising, it’s officially sickie season: go to work, or get struck down with “flu”, a “24-hour virus”, or that faithful stand-by, the dodgy prawn takeaway.

Figures show that over a third of employees in the UK admit to pulling a sickie at some point or other. But things may be changing soon – wearable tech such as the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band, Fitbit, or Jawbone Up may become mainstream within a few years, bringing health monitoring capabilities that reveal how your body is performing. It’s not inconceivable that in time this same data could be used to prove how well, or unwell, you are – such as when phoning in sick.

Wearable health tech is still in its early days. These devices come with sensors that can record how many steps and how much exercise you’ve taken, how well and long you‘ve slept, stress levels, blood pressure, sun exposure, even what you’ve have eaten. Added together, all this could easily demonstrate that you’re not so sick after all.

Using your data against you

What if employers and health insurance companies move in the direction that the car insurance industry has taken, where every health transgression (a boozy night out, a Christmas feast, or too many lazy days on the sofa) could increase your health premium rates? Such a scenario isn’t so far away, and this should concern us. Apple is clearly making a beeline for the health and fitness industry with Watch and its integrated HealthKit software, now integrated with its iOS mobile operating system, and it is the only firm to do so.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Awe may promote altruistic behavior

Awe may promote altruistic behavior.

From the 19 May 2015 post at APA

Inducing a sense of awe in people can promote altruistic, helpful and positive social behavior according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others,” said Paul Piff, PhD, assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine. He was lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®.

Awe is that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world. People commonly experience awe in nature, but also in response to religion, art and even music.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

EPA Releases Updated Health Indicators Database [reblog]

From the 23 July 2015 ResearchBuzz post

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 8.37.04 AM

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released updated environmental and public health indicators and made them available in an online database. “This is an online update to EPA’s Report on the Environment. Users can explore 85 individual indicators– on our air, water, land, human exposure, health and ecological condition– using interactive graphs, tables, and maps, and download the data for each indicator.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Florida’s Penchant For Eating Armadillos Has Triggered A Leprosy Outbreak [Reblog]

My Peace Corps Liberia site (1980/81) was 10 miles away from a “leper colony” at a Methodist Mission.
Most of the residents were men with their families. Many made a living wood carving. How they did that with many of their finger extremities was incredible.  Bought quite a few carvings before I left, 2 or 3 commissioned.  Was never afraid of getting leprosy, was told during our Peace Corps training it took 17 years or so of very close contact.

Woodcarver (with leprosy) with finished carving

 

madonna  Madonna – commissioned for about $25, (“market rate”)

3carvings

Women with baby pounding rice (dehulling); hair pic (yiddi-fa); Madonna

From the 23 July 2015  UPPROX post  

shutterstock_83394460

If you’re a nerd like me, you’re fully aware that only two animals can contract leprosy: Armadillos and humans. This is an excellent reason to stay away from armadillos, but Floridians apparently never got that memo.

Why, you might ask, are Floridians handling armadillos? Well, you know the old joke about how armadillos exist to give Texans something to eat on the half-shell?Nobody explained that was a joke to Florida’s population. We’re not kidding: Shooting and eating armadillos is, for some reason, common enough in Florida tobecome a public health problem.

Just to underline how bizarre and dumb this is, leprosy is incredibly hard to get. Ninety-five percent of humanity is naturally immune to it, thanks to dormant versions of the virus being effectively everywhere, and you can only get it through prolonged contact with somebody who has it. Even then, it’s an exceptionally slow virus; you can have it for decades before you show any symptoms. Similarly, armadillos are very shy and hard to trap, so it’s not like they’re up in our business.

The good news is that leprosy is currently very treatable with multi-drug therapy techniques. Now, the shame of gunning down an ugly-cute animal and eating it, there’s no treatment for that except shame. Work on exporting shame to Florida is ongoing, and we hope to have the first treatments soon.

 

Read the entire post here

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Things Every Woman Should Know About Yeast Infections [Reblog]

From the 25 July 2015 Time blog by Jennifer So

The symptoms can mimic other problems

One study found that as few as 11% of women who have never had a yeast infection could identify the symptoms, while other research has found that only one-third of women who thought they had a yeast infection actually did. Why the confusion?

The signs are similar to other down-there problems. If you have a yeast infection, you might notice burning, itching, pain during sex, and a thick white odorless discharge.

But if it smells fishy, it may instead be bacterial vaginosis (BV), and if you have only burning and pain during urination, that suggests a urinary tract infection. Bottom line: It can be difficult to figure out.

First-timer? Go to the doctor if you think you have one

 

Read the entire post here

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

Public Health 24/7 or Using Twitter to Advance Public Health

Innovations in Health Communications

Smartphones changed the way we connect with the world: most U.S. smartphone owners check their phone at least hourly.

Essentially we are staying in constant touch with each other through our handheld devices. According to recent Gallup report, 72 percent of the respondents claim to check their smartphone at least once an hour, most of them several times. Young Americans are the most frequent smartphone checkers. 22 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds peek at their phone every few minutes and another 51 percent check it a few times an hour.1 Could it be due to socializing on Twitter, a powerful networking service with more than 500 million active users who generate more than 58 million tweets and 2.1 billion search queries every day?2

I think that Twitter’s concept: access to information in real time on a global scale is an important way for public health professionals to improve…

View original post 539 more words

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

5 Challenges Facing Medicaid At 50 [Reblog]

From the 27 July 2015 Kaiser Health News blog item

A “sleeper” provision when Congress created Medicare in 1965 to cover health care for seniors, Medicaid now provides coverage to nearly 1 in 4 Americans, at an annual cost of more than $500 billion. Today, it is the workhorse of the U.S. health system, covering nearly half of all births, one-third of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

Enrollment has soared to more than 70 million people since 2014 when the Affordable Care Act began providing billions to states that chose to expand eligibility to low-income adults under age 65. Previously, the program mainly covered children, pregnant women and the disabled.

Unlike Medicare, which is mostly funded by the federal government (with beneficiaries paying some costs), Medicaid is a state-federal hybrid. States share in the cost, and within broad federal parameters, have flexibility to set benefits and eligibility rules.

Though it provides a vital safety net, Medicaid faces five big challenges to providing good care and control costs into the future:

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill creating Medicare and Medicaid at the library of former President Harry Truman, who was in attendance, on July 30, 1965. (Photo courtesy of Truman Library)

July 28, 2015 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

Are interventions to reduce sitting at workplace effective? [reblog]

From the 28 July 2015  post at al_gores_officeDR. SOUMYADEEP B

It is common for family physicians in developing nations like India to encounter patients whose profession demands sedentary lifestyle. Such patients present with back problems, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and ask doctors for advice on how to decrease sitting. Workplaces need to address this issue by inculcating strategies to decrease sitting and improve health of their employees. Occupational physicians too need to suggest evidence-based strategies to employers. This article provides an evidence based summary about what interventions are actually effective for decreasing sitting at workplace.

Read the full Evidence Summary , published at Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care here. (Open Access)

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Workplace Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Large urban hospitals disadvantaged by medicare/medicaid patient satisfaction rating system [News release]

Large urban hospitals disadvantaged by medicare/medicaid patient satisfaction rating system.

From the 25 May 2015 Mt. Sinai news release

The largest urban health systems do worse on government patient satisfaction scores than smaller, non-urban hospitals according to a new study by Mount Sinai researchers published this month in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

NEW YORK

 – May 19, 2015 /Press Release/  –– 

The largest urban health systems, which serve as safety nets for large patient populations with lower socioeconomic status and greater likelihood to speak English as a second language, do worse on government patient satisfaction scores than smaller, non-urban hospitals likely to serve white customers with higher education levels, according to a new study by Mount Sinai researchers published this month in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Patient satisfaction scores, in part due to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, are a key part of the formula that determines reimbursements levels to hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The ACA has encouraged hospitals to evolve from a fee-for-service model to one based on measures of value, including patient satisfaction. Hospitals are rewarded or penalized based on metrics that assess quality and efficiency of care in part culled from Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys.

The study authors suggest that the current formulas need adjustment to be fair to large, urban hospitals, and offer a formula to achieve this equity.

“Our analysis found that the lowest satisfaction scores were obtained from population-dense regions of Washington, DC; New York State, California, Maryland and New Jersey, and the best scores were from Louisiana, South Dakota, Iowa, Maine and Vermont,” said senior author Randall Holcombe, MD, Professor, Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer for Cancer for The Mount Sinai Health System.

Across the country, large hospital size and non-English as a primary language predicted poor patient satisfaction scores while white race and higher education level predicted better scores,” said co-author Daniel McFarland, DO, Clinical Fellow, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Other demographic factors were also important but these four were the most significant.”

“This study points out that the interpretation of patient satisfaction scores can be very complex,” said Sandra Myerson, MBA, MS, BNS, RN, Senior Vice President and Chief Patient Experience Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System. “It is important to understand these trends in order to provide the highest quality of patient experience.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010 [Report]

Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,*** 2010 | Full Text Reports….

Introduction
The high rate of unemployment among emerging adults (aged 18 to 25 years) is a public health concern. The risk of depression is higher among the unemployed than among the employed, but little is known about the relationship between unemployment and mental health among emerging adults. This secondary data analysis assessed the relationship between unemployment and depression among emerging adults.

Methods
Data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) were analyzed.

Results
Almost 12% of emerging adults were depressed (PHQ-8 ≥10) and about 23% were unemployed. Significantly more unemployed than employed emerging adults were classified with depression. In the final model, the odds of depression were about 3 times higher for unemployed than employed emerging adults.

Conclusion
The relationship between unemployment and depression is significant among emerging adults. With high rates of unemployment for this age group, this population may benefit from employment- and mental-health–focused interventions.

***

BRFSS logo imageThe Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the nation’s premier system of health-related telephone surveys that collect state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. Established in 1984 with 15 states, BRFSS now collects data in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. BRFSS completes more than 400,000 adult interviews each year, making it the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.

By collecting behavioral health risk data at the state and local level, BRFSS has become a powerful tool for targeting and building health promotion activities. As a result, BRFSS users have increasingly demanded more data and asked for more questions on the survey.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health Statistics, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Complex signaling between blood and stem cells controls regeneration in fly gut

Complex signaling between blood and stem cells controls regeneration in fly gut.

 

Buck Institute scientists say impaired interactions between macrophages and stem cells are likely players in human intestinal maladies like IBS, leaky gut and colorectal cancers 

May 25, 2015/NOVATO, CA:  Having a healthy gut may well depend on maintaining a complex signaling dance between immune cells and the stem cells that line the intestine. Scientists at the Buck Institute are now reporting significant new insight into how these complex interactions control intestinal regeneration after a bacterial infection. It’s a dance that ensures repair after a challenge, but that also goes awry in aging fruit flies — the work thus offers important new clues into the potential causes of age-related human maladies, such as irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut and colorectal cancer.

“We’ve dissected a very complex signaling interaction,” said senior scientist and Buck faculty Heinrich Jasper, PhD. “By doing so temporally we’ve clearly established a role for the immune system both in initiating the regenerative process and in shutting it down – activities that are essential for maintaining tissue homeostasis.”

Publishing in the May 25, advance online edition of Nature Cell Biology, researchers in the Jasper lab show that the macrophage-like hemocytes (which comprise the cellular immune system in flies) go to the intestines ofDrosophila following damage. The hemocytes secrete the growth factor Dpp (a homologue of BMP, which has many functions, including the control of mobility, differentiation and invasiveness of normal cells), setting off the regenerative process by activating specific receptors in stem cells. In a fascinating twist, stem cells switch their response to Dpp in the middle of the regenerative response by turning on other Dpp-related receptors, which in turn instruct the stem cells to go back to a quiescent or quiet state.  Jasper says it’s a balancing act that both allows for healing and prevents excessive cell proliferation, which could lead to pre-cancerous dysplasia. “The temporal sequence of cell interactions during injury-induced regeneration is only beginning to be understood,” said Jasper. “The proper timing of these interactions may be key in maintaining a healthy gut.”

Jasper says aging makes it harder for the stem cells to switch gears between proliferation and quiescence and that flies suffer from age-related intestinal dysfunctions similar to those experienced by humans.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How the brain makes decisions [news release]

How the brain makes decisions.
From the 25 May 2015 MedicalExpress news release

 

Some types of decision-making have proven to be very difficult to simulate, limiting progress in the development of computer models of the brain. EPFL scientists have developed a new model of complex decision-making, and have validated it against humans and cutting-edge computer models, uncovering fascinating information about what influences our decision-making and ability to learn from it.

Decision-making comes in two major into two types: Markovian and non-Markovian, named after the mathematician Andrey Markov (1856-1922). Simply put, in Markovian decision-making, the next decision step depends entirely on the current state of affairs. For example, when playing backgammon, the next move depends only on the current layout of the board, and not on how it got to be like that. This relatively straightforward process has been extensively modeled in computers and machines.

Non-Markovian decision-making is more complex. Here, the next step is affected by other factors, such as external constraints and previous decisions. For example, a person’s goal might be to travel on the train. But what will happens when he arrives at the door to the train depends on whether or not he has previously visited the ticket booth to buy a ticket. In other words, the next step depends on how he got there; without a ticket, he cannot proceed to the desired goal. In neuroscience, the “buy-ticket” step is referred to as a “switch-state”.

Decision dynamics

The results of the study drew three major conclusions. First, that human decision-making can perform just as well as current sophisticated computer models under non-Markovian conditions, such as the presence of a switch-state. This is a significant finding in our current efforts to model the  and develop artificial intelligence systems.

Secondly, that delayed feedback significantly impairs human decision-making and learning, even though it does not impact the performance of computer models, which have perfect memory. In the second experiment, it took human participants ten times more attempts to correctly recall and assign arrows to icons. Feedback is a crucial element of decision-making and learning. We set a goal, make a decision about how to achieve it, act accordingly, and then find out whether or not our goal was met. In some cases, e.g. learning to ride a bike, feedback on every decision we make for balancing, pedaling, braking etc. is instant: either we stay up and going, or we fall down. But in many other cases, such as playing backgammon, feedback is significantly delayed; it can take a while to find out if each move has led us to victory or not.

Finally, the researchers found that the spiking neurons model matches and describes human performance very well. The significance of this cannot be overstated, as non-Markovian decision-making has proven to be very challenging for computer models. “This is a proof-of-concept study,” says Michael Herzog. “But the study makes an important contribution toward understanding, and accurately modeling, the human brain – and even surpassing its abilities with artificial intelligence.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | | Leave a comment

A digital nightmare: When fitness bands become student-tracking devices [News release]

From the 25 May 2015 University of Queensland news release

A “nightmarish” vision of a future in which technology makes physical education more boring, judgmental and narrow is driving a new study by a University of Queensland academic.

Associate Professor Michael Gard from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences has begun a three-year research project on the digitisation of school health and physical education.

The project stems from the assumption that developments in digital technology present exciting educational opportunities but carry a new set of philosophical, educational and ethical questions and dilemmas.

“Will we leverage the power of digital technology to expand students’ minds and open up choices about how to live, or will we use it to monitor students’ behaviour and tell them how to live?” Dr Gard said.

“For example, much of the health-related technology that we are seeing involves asking children to count the calories they consume or expend when they are exercising. Is this this what we want students to be doing at school?

“There is a lot of money to be made from digitising school health and physical education and, make no mistake, companies are already vigorously marketing all kinds of health and fitness technologies to schools.

“Then you have the whole ‘big data’ concern about how your child’s records are used.”

 

“Then think of a perfect storm, where performance pay for health and physical education teachers is linked to children losing weight, and you introduce some very tricky ethical situations. Once again, some American states are moving in this direction.”

The study will also investigate how schools use digital technology to measure students, such as their BMI (body mass index), and what becomes of the data once collected.

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware of hype about how consumers will benefit when health insurers merge [Reblog]

From the 27 July 2015 blog of the Association of Healthcare Journalists

GraphicStock

GraphicStock

 

Earlier this month, Thomas Greaney explained the antitrust issuescomprehensively in Health Affairs. “Because each market is local, antitrust analysis would also require an assessment of the competitive overlap in each region,” he wrote. Greaney, is the Chester A. Myers Professor of Law and director of the Center for Health Law Studies at Saint Louis University School of Law.

There is no evidence that insurance or provider monopolies are good for consumers, he wrote, citing Boston and Pittsburgh as evidence that big is not necessarily better in health care or health insurance.

For a good review of the regulatory hurdles insurers face, see this thorough analysisi*** in The New York Times by Robert Cyran. Regulators are concerned about how reduced competition may drive up prices, he explained, writing, “Insurance markets are highly concentrated, and big mergers will make them even more so.”

***Excerpt from The New York Times article
“What’s more, the argument that a big merger would create competition for an even heftier rival has already failed in other industries. In 2011, for example, Sprint, the third-largest cellphone service provider at the time, defended its plan to buy T-Mobile US, the fourth-largest, as necessary to keep its rivals Verizon and AT&T in check. The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department rejected the contention, making clear that shrinking the market to fewer than two nationwide carriers would harm consumers.”

So what might persuade the regulators?

The Affordable Care Act could be the answer. President Obama’s health care overhaul creates online exchanges for buying coverage, allowing insurers to expand into new markets without hiring expensive agents. The companies will still need the approval of state commissioners, but the lower barriers to entry should stir more competition – and, at least in the future, appease regulatory fears. It’s unclear whether that would be enough to counterbalance concerns over the top five insurers’ currently chunky market shares.”

July 28, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2014: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Guide to Clinical Preventive Services 2014: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (ePub) – Available for download at this site.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (via USGPO)

The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services presents abridged U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations on screening, counseling, and preventive medications for use in primary care practice. The 2014 Guide continues the precedent set by earlier editions in providing the Task Force recommendations in a form that provides on-the-job clinical decision support for clinicians. The Guide is organized and cross referenced so that clinicians can search for recommendations alphabetically by topic and by patient category (adult or child/adolescent).

Related Resource

Choosing Wisely is an initiative of the ABIM Foundation that promotes patient-physician conversations about unnecessary medical tests and procedures.

July 25, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glancing at a grassy green roof significantly boosts concentration [news item]

Glancing at a grassy green roof significantly boosts concentration.

A green grassy roof in Toronto, a city renowned for its efforts to balance nature and urban space.

The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, gave 150 students a boring, attention-sapping task. The students were asked to press a key as a series of numbers repeatedly flashed on a computer screen, unless that number was three.

They were given a 40-second break midway through the task to view a city rooftop scene. Half the group viewed a flowering meadow green roof, the other half looked out onto a bare concrete roof.

After the break, students who glanced at the greener vista made significantly less errors and demonstrated superior concentration on the second half of the task, compared to those who viewed the concrete roof.

The green roof provided a restorative experience that boosted those mental resources that control attention, researchers concluded.

Read the entire news item here

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

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