These are my healthy news health headlines for May 24, 2013:
- Children of married parents less likely to be obese
“Children living in households where the parents are married are less likely to be obese, according to new research from Rice University and the University of Houston.”Childhood obesity is a significant public health issue in our country, with nearly one-third of all U.S. children ages 2-17 overweight or obese,” said Rachel Kimbro, study co-author, associate professor of sociology at Rice and director of Rice’s Kinder Institute Urban Health Program. “Despite this, very little research has been conducted to explore the impact of family structure on this epidemic.””
- Stress may be causing your cravings
“What do drug addicts, serial dieters and children from troubled homes have in common?
More than you might think.
Stress can play a pernicious role in triggering a vicious cycle that leaves these groups overwhelmed by uncontrollable impulses and distracted by negative feelings — all of which may, in turn, spark subsequent cycles of relapse, bingeing and failure.
Through a career that spans almost three decades, Rajita Sinha, psychologist and head of the Yale Stress Center, has sought to understand the processes underlying these stress cycles in hopes they may one day be prevented.”
- New California health insurance rates unveiled
“Amid anxiety over rising costs from the federal healthcare law, California received better-than-expected insurance rates for a new state-run marketplace, but many consumers still won’t be spared from sharply higher premiums.Three years after President Obama’s landmark law was passed, the state unveiled the first details Thursday on what many Californians can expect to pay for coverage from 13 health plans offering policies in the state’s exchange, in which as many as 5 million people will shop for coverage next year.Developments in California are being watched carefully around the country as an important indicator of whether the healthcare law can deliver on its promise to expand health coverage at an affordable price. Many Republicans, insurance executives and other critics of the law have been warning that consumers are in for a shock next year when insurance companies raise rates to comply with the law’s many new requirements.”
- Heartburn Tied to Throat Cancer
“Frequent heartburn increases the risk for throat cancer, a new study has found, and over-the-counter antacids may provide protection.Researchers studied heartburn incidence and medication use in 631 patients with squamous cell cancers of the throat and vocal cords who were not heavy smokers or drinkers, matching them with 1,234 healthy controls. The study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.After controlling for age, sex, race, smoking, alcohol consumption, HPV 16 infection, education and body mass index, they found that people who had reported a history of frequent heartburn were 78 percent more likely to have cancer than those who did not. Those with frequent heartburn who took antacids reduced their risk for cancer by 41 percent, compared with those whose heartburn was untreated.”
- Novo obesity drug could launch in U.S. end 2014
“Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk said it could launch obesity treatment liraglutide in the United States by the end of next year and rejected some analysts’ doubts over the medicine’s commercial potential.
The world’s biggest insulin producer is hoping the treatment for severe obesity will help to at least partly offset the delay to its next generation insulin treatment Tresiba after U.S. regulators asked for more tests.Novo said on Thursday a final stage clinical trial showed patients treated with 3 mg of liraglutide – which is already on sale as a treatment for type-2 diabetes under the brand name Victoza – had an average 8 percent weight loss.But some analysts on Friday questioned whether the results were strong enough to secure the drug’s success.
“The modest efficacy supports our hypothesis that the drug is unlikely to be a significant commercial success,” Deutsche Bank analysts said, adding they were also concerned by the high price of the injectable drug.”
- CDC Warns Of Spread Of Deadly Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria -An antibiotic-resistant family of bacteria continues to spread throughout the U.S. health care system and is now prompting warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The bacteria, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), kill up to half of the patients who get the bloodstream infections from the disease. The disease has evolved a resistance to carbapenems, also called last-resort antibiotics.In addition, the CRE bacteria can reportedly transfer its resistance to other bacteria within its family. The transfer of resistance can create additional life-threatening infections for patients in hospitals, longer-term health care facilities, and possibly otherwise healthy people, according to the CDC.
Charmaine Jackson lost half her body weight
These are my healthy news health headlines for February 21st through March 4th:
- Journaling helps woman lose half her body weight
Charmaine Jackson can tell you what she ate on any date for the past five years.She can tell you how much she exercised, what kind of mood she was in, how much water she drank — even if she watched television while mindlessly munching away.
All she has to do is flip through the pages of her 14 journals.
The reason she began her daily record keeping was simple — she wanted to lose weight and keep it off.
It may sound extreme, but it paid off. Since she began keeping journals, Jackson is half the person she used to be — going from 260 to 130 pounds.
“(Journaling has) really helped me get an idea of what my behaviors are, what my patterns are, how I can make change for myself for good,” she said. “You wouldn’t see it unless you look at it over time and you really get a chance to see this worked and why.”
- Exercise, less sitting time, linked to better sleep
Insomniacs looking for a good night’s sleep may want to hit the treadmill, take a walk or play a game of golf or tennis because a new report released on Monday shows exercise promotes good sleep and the more vigorous the workout the better.Just 10 minutes of exercise a day could make a difference in the duration and quality of sleep, the survey by the non-profit National Sleep Foundation showed.
“We found that exercise and great sleep go together, hand in hand,” Max Hirshkowitz, a sleep researcher and the chair of the poll task force, said in an interview.
- Doctors report first cure of HIV in a child -For the first time, doctors are reporting that they have cured a child of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.The landmark finding will help scientists better understand the nature of HIV, doctors say, and could potentially help countless HIV-positive babies in developing countries.
“I’m sort of holding my breath that this child’s virus doesn’t come back in the future,” says Hannah Gay, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who treated the child, a 2½-year-old Mississippi girl. “I’m certainly very hopeful that it will produce studies that will show us a way to cure other babies in the future.”
- What Housework Has to Do With Waistlines
One reason so many American women are overweight may be that we are vacuuming and doing laundry less often, according to a new study that, while scrupulously even-handed, is likely to stir controversy and emotions.The study, published this month in PLoS One, is a follow-up to an influential 2011 report which used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine that, during the past 50 years, most American workers began sitting down on the job. Physical activity at work, such as walking or lifting, almost vanished, according to the data, with workers now spending most of their time seated before a computer or talking on the phone. Consequently, the authors found, the average American worker was burning almost 150 fewer calories daily at work than his or her employed parents had, a change that had materially contributed to the rise in obesity during the same time frame, especially among men, the authors concluded.
- Doctor Groups Issue List of Overused Medical Tests
In an effort to change entrenched medical practices, 17 major medical specialty groups recommended on Thursday that doctors greatly reduce their use of 90 widely used but largely unnecessary tests and treatments.This list of “don’ts” builds on 45 recommendations made last April, under a broad initiative by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, in partnership with the magazine Consumer Reports.
“As you look through the lists, a lot of these were mea culpas,” said Dr. Eric Topol, chief academic officer of Scripps Health, a health care provider in San Diego. Dr. Topol was not involved in creating the new recommendations. “The literature had supported these recommendations, but until now they were not sanctioned as no-no’s by the professional groups,” he said.
Some of the recommendations reinforce existing guidelines, but others aggressively go after procedures that have little evidence of benefit and may cause harm, yet are still practiced on a daily basis.
For example, the American Society of Echocardiography recommended against using echocardiograms before or during surgery for patients with no history or symptoms of heart disease; doctors routinely perform this test. The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging urged physicians not to perform routine annual stress testing using a nuclear heart scan after coronary artery surgery. This is also a routine test, and it exposes the patient to radiation equivalent to 2,000 chest X-rays.
- Smoking cessation in old age: Less heart attacks and strokes within five years
Professor Hermann Brenner and colleagues analyzed the data of 8.807 individuals aged between 50 and 74 years using data of Saarland citizens. “We were able to show that the risk of smokers for cardiovascular diseases is more than twice that of non-smokers. However, former smokers are affected at almost the same low rate as people of the same age who never smoked,” says Brenner. “Moreover, smokers are affected at a significantly younger age than individuals who have never smoked or have stopped smoking.”
- Study disputes long-term medical savings from bariatric surgery
In the span of 15 years, the number of bariatric surgeries performed in the United States has grown more than 16-fold to roughly 220,000 per year, gaining cachet as a near-panacea for obesity.Despite the daunting price tag, mounting research has boosted hopes that the stomach-stapling operations could reduce the nation’s healthcare bill by weaning patients off the costly drugs and frequent doctor visits that come with chronic obesity-related diseases like diabetes and arthritis.
But a new study has found that the surgery does not reduce patients’ medical costs over the six years after they are wheeled out of the operating room.
- The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
While the allure of the gym – climate-controlled, convenient and predictable – is obvious, especially in winter, emerging science suggests there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent bicycle or a track.You stride differently when running outdoors, for one thing. Generally, studies find, people flex their ankles more when they run outside. They also, at least occasionally, run downhill, a movement that isn’t easily done on a treadmill and that stresses muscles differently than running on flat or uphill terrain. Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version. In studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.
The same dynamic has been shown to apply to cycling, where wind drag can result in much greater energy demands during 25 miles of outdoor cycling than the same distance on a stationary bike. That means if you have limited time and want to burn as many calories as possible, you should hit the road instead of the gym.
These are my healthy links for February 19th:
- California’s Tobacco Control Program generates huge health care savings, study shows -Over a span of nearly 20 years, California’s tobacco control program cost $2.4 billion and reduced health care costs by $134 billion, according to a new study by UC San Francisco (UCSF).Additionally, the study — covering the beginning of the program in 1989 to 2008 — found that the state program helped lead to some 6.8 billion fewer packs of cigarettes being sold that would have been worth $28.5 billion in sales to cigarette companies.
These are my health links for February 5th through February 13th:
- Straining to Hear and Fend Off Dementia -At a party the other night, a fund-raiser for a literary magazine, I found myself in conversation with a well-known author whose work I greatly admire. I use the term “conversation” loosely. I couldn’t hear a word he said. But worse, the effort I was making to hear was using up so much brain power that I completely forgot the titles of his books.A senior moment? Maybe. (I’m 65.) But for me, it’s complicated by the fact that I have severe hearing loss, only somewhat eased by a hearing aid and cochlear implant.Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, describes this phenomenon as “cognitive load.” Cognitive overload is the way it feels. Essentially, the brain is so preoccupied with translating the sounds into words that it seems to have no processing power left to search through the storerooms of memory for a response.
- Fitness May Lower Dementia Risk -Being physically fit in midlife is associated with a lower risk of dementia in old age, a new study reports.Between 1971 and 2009, 19,458 healthy adults younger than age 65 took a treadmill fitness test as part of a broader health examination. Researchers followed the subjects through their Medicare records for an average of 24 years.After adjusting for age, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol and other health factors, the researchers found that compared with those in the lowest 20 percent for fitness in midlife, those in the highest 20 percent had a 36 percent reduced risk of dementia.
The reason for the association is unclear, but it was independent of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors for dementia, suggesting that both vascular and nonvascular mechanisms may be involved.
- Getting the Right Dose of Exercise -A common concern about exercise is that if you don’t do it almost every day, you won’t achieve much health benefit. But a commendable new study suggests otherwise, showing that a fairly leisurely approach to scheduling workouts may actually be more beneficial than working out almost daily.For the new study, published this month in Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham gathered 72 older, sedentary women and randomly assigned them to one of three exercise groups.One group began lifting weights once a week and performing an endurance-style workout, like jogging or bike riding, on another day.
Another group lifted weights twice a week and jogged or rode an exercise bike twice a week.
- Government says it recovers billions in health fraud crackdown -The federal government recovered a record $4.2 billion in the last fiscal year from medical providers and others who fraudulently billed government healthcare programs such as Medicare, the Obama administration announced Monday.The 2012 tally – which surpassed the $4.1 billion the government reclaimed the previous fiscal year – extends a years-long trend and reflects efforts by the Obama administration to crack down on healthcare fraud.The president’s healthcare law includes new initiatives to weed out fraudulent medical providers and bar them from receiving Medicare reimbursements.
- Does fluoride lower your child’s IQ? Dr. Joseph Mercola says yes on the Huffington Post. Don’t trust him. -So there I was last Sunday, filling my son’s sippy cup with tap water, when my friend told me about a Huffington Post article making the parenting rounds-the one titled “Harvard Study Confirms Fluoride Reduces Children’s IQ.” I set down my Brita pitcher, knowing that fluoride was one of the few chemicals it doesn’t remove, and sighed. Well, shit.Then I read the actual article, realized it was written by Dr. Joseph Mercola, the alternative physician who distinguishes himself as not being driven by “whatever has the most profit potential,” yet who sells fluoride-free toothpaste and hundreds of other products on his website (some of which have been slammed by the FDA for illegal marketing), and felt much better. Mercola frequently overstates the science and misleads his many readers-among other things, he preaches that vaccines cause autism and that homeopathy cures it, and oh, that animals are psychic-and this story (thankfully) is no different: The study on which he based his HuffPo article did find an association between high fluoride consumption and child IQ, but the findings aren’t applicable to American kids for a number of reasons.
- Southern diet, fried foods, may raise stroke risk -Deep-fried foods may be causing trouble in the Deep South. People whose diets are heavy on them and sugary drinks like sweet tea and soda were more likely to suffer a stroke, a new study finds.It’s the first big look at diet and strokes, and researchers say it might help explain why blacks in the Southeast – the nation’s “stroke belt” – suffer more of them.Blacks were five times more likely than whites to have the Southern dietary pattern linked with the highest stroke risk. And blacks and whites who live in the South were more likely to eat this way than people in other parts of the country were. Diet might explain as much as two-thirds of the excess stroke risk seen in blacks versus whites, researchers concluded.
“We’re talking about fried foods, french fries, hamburgers, processed meats, hot dogs,” bacon, ham, liver, gizzards and sugary drinks, said the study’s leader, Suzanne Judd of the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
People who ate about six meals a week featuring these sorts of foods had a 41 percent higher stroke risk than people who ate that way about once a month, researchers found.
- Tennis Elbow: No Long-Term Benefit From PT, Corticosteroids -A steroid injection and 2 months of physical therapy may not be the solution for lateral epicondylalgia, commonly known as tennis elbow, suggest research findings published in the February 5 issue of JAMA.Brooke K. Coombes, PhD, from the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia, and colleagues found that patients treated with a single corticosteroid injection had a 14% greater chance of poor outcome and a 77% increased risk for reinjury at 1 year relative to placebo.Eight weeks of physical therapy appeared to have no long-term benefit with the exception of decreased analgesic use. However, the physical therapy did improve short-term pain and disability outcomes at 1 month, although those benefits were lost when steroid injection was added to the treatment.
- Longer span between mammograms okay for older women -Screening women over 65 each year for breast cancer doesn’t catch any more early tumors – but it does lead to more false positives – than screening every other year, according to a new study.The findings are based on more than 140,000 older women included in five mammography registries across the United States.”This study clearly tells us that screening every two years may be more appropriate than screening women every year,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS).
- Old Age and Motorcycles Are a Dangerous Mix -If you’re over 40 and planning to hop on a motorcycle, take care. Compared with younger riders, the odds of being seriously injured are high.That is the message of a new study, published this week in the journal Injury Prevention, which found that older bikers are three times as likely to be severely injured in a crash as younger riders.The percentage of older bikers on the road is quickly rising, and their involvement in accidents is a growing concern. Nationwide, from 1990 to 2003, the percentage of motorcyclists over age 50 soared from roughly 1 in 10 to about 1 in 4. At the same time, the average age of riders involved in motorcycle crashes has also been climbing. Injury rates among those 65 and older jumped 145 percent from 2000 to 2006 alone.
- California’s Premature Birth Rate Continues To Fall -California’s rate of premature births declined slightly in 2011. A new report from the March of Dimes shows California’s rate has fallen five years in a row.The report shows overall, 9.8 percent of babies in California were born premature in 2011. Only four states have a lower premature birth rate: Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.In California, some populations had a much higher rate. For example, the premature birth rate among uninsured women was 25 percent.
- Forbidden fruit roll-ups: USDA plans to restrict school snacks -The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing regulations to keep the nation’s students from buying gummy bears, fruit roll-ups and cheese puffs from vending machines and at campus snack bars during the school day. But it would allow high school students to buy 12-ounce sports drinks and 20-ounce diet sodas.The rules would apply only during the school day, allowing candy sales and other fundraisers to continue during non-school hours (half an hour after the school day ends) and at off-campus events. A limited number of such fundraisers could occur during the school day, and parents would be able to pack whatever they choose in their children’s lunch bags and bring cupcakes or other treats for special events such as birthdays.
These are my health links for January 31st through February 4th:
- How did ‘Little House’ sister really become blind? -Any fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved “Little House” books knows how the author’s sister Mary went blind: scarlet fever. But turns out that probably wasn’t the cause, medical experts say, upending one of the more dramatic elements in the classic stories.An analysis of historical documents, biographical records and other material suggests another disease that causes swelling in the brain and upper spinal cord was the most likely culprit. It was known as “brain fever” in the late 1800s, the setting for the mostly true stories about Wilder’s pioneer family.Scarlet fever was rampant and feared at the time, and it was likely often misdiagnosed for other illnesses that cause fever, the researchers said.
- Battles Erupt Over Filling Doctors’ Shoes -As physician assistants and other midlevel health professionals fill growing gaps in primary health care, turf battles are erupting in many states over what they can and can’t do in medical practices.One of the bitterest fights is in Kentucky, where physician assistants are lobbying the state legislature to repeal a law that says that for the first 18 months after certification, physician assistants are allowed to treat patients only when a supervising physician is on site. Being in phone contact isn’t deemed sufficient.The Kentucky Medical Association, which represents doctors in the state, says it is still evaluating the bill. But it helped push for an on-site requirement in 2003 and helped block two previous attempts to rescind the 18-month rule, on the grounds that physician assistants have far less experience than physicians and benefit from more supervision.
- Effective Addiction Treatment – Make that Evidence Based -Countless people addicted to drugs, alcohol or both have managed to get clean and stay clean with the help of organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous or the thousands of residential and outpatient clinics devoted to treating addiction.But if you have failed one or more times to achieve lasting sobriety after rehab, perhaps after spending tens of thousands of dollars, you’re not alone. And chances are, it’s not your fault.Of the 23.5 million teenagers and adults addicted to alcohol or drugs, only about 1 in 10 gets treatment, which too often fails to keep them drug-free. Many of these programs fail to use proven methods to deal with the factors that underlie addiction and set off relapse.
According to recent examinations of treatment programs, most are rooted in outdated methods rather than newer approaches shown in scientific studies to be more effective in helping people achieve and maintain addiction-free lives. People typically do more research when shopping for a new car than when seeking treatment for addiction.
A groundbreaking report published last year by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University concluded that “the vast majority of people in need of addiction treatment do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care.” The report added, “Only a small fraction of individuals receive interventions or treatment consistent with scientific knowledge about what works.”
- Key TB vaccine trial fails; more waiting in the wings -A highly anticipated study of the first new tuberculosis vaccine in 90 years showed it offered no added benefit over the current vaccine when it came to protecting babies from TB infections, a disappointing but not entirely unexpected outcome, researchers said on Monday.The vaccine, known as MVA85A, is the most advanced of more than a dozen TB vaccines now in clinical trials in people, and scientists are poring over the results to learn why the trial failed and how the results can inform future studies.MVA85A was developed by researchers at the University of Oxford in Britain with support from Aeras, the Wellcome Trust, the European Commission and the Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium, a joint venture between Oxford and Emergent Biosolutions Inc.
“Obviously, we all would have liked to see greater protection,” said Dr Ann Ginsberg of Aeras, a non-profit biotech based in Rockville, Maryland and funded in large part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The current TB vaccine, known as Bacille Calmette-Guérin, or BCG, was developed in 1921, and is given routinely to babies in countries with high rates of TB to prevent severe disease.
However, protection wears off in just a few years, and BCG does nothing to protect against the most common form of tuberculosis that invades the lungs of adults and adolescents, and can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing.
- Vitamin C supplements tied to men’s kidney stones -Men who take vitamin C supplements are at higher-than-average risk of developing kidney stones, a new study from Sweden suggests.The findings don’t prove the vitamin itself triggers stones to form. But researchers said that because there are no clear benefits tied to taking high-dose vitamin C, people who have had stones in the past might want to think before taking extra supplements.”I don’t think I would hold this up and say, ‘You shouldn’t take vitamin C, and here’s the evidence,'” said Dr. Brian Matlaga, a urologist who studies kidney stones at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.
But, “When you talk to patients, a lot of times you’ll find patients are taking non-prescribed medications, like vitamin supplements… and there may not be great evidence that there’s an actual health benefit associated with these,” he told Reuters Health.
The new finding “suggests that stone formers who take regular vitamin C may actually place themselves at increased risk,” said Matlaga, who wasn’t involved in the study.
- Myths of Weight Loss Are Plentiful, Researcher Says -If schools reinstated physical education classes, a lot of fat children would lose weight. And they might never have gotten fat in the first place if their mothers had just breast fed them when they were babies. But be warned: obese people should definitely steer clear of crash diets. And they can lose more than 50 pounds in five years simply by walking a mile a day.Those are among the myths and unproven assumptions about obesity and weight loss that have been repeated so often and with such conviction that even scientists like David B. Allison, who directs the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have fallen for some of them.Now, he is trying to set the record straight. In an article published online today in The New England Journal of Medicine, he and his colleagues lay out seven myths and six unsubstantiated presumptions about obesity. They also list nine facts that, unfortunately, promise little in the way of quick fixes for the weight-obsessed. Example: “Trying to go on a diet or recommending that someone go on a diet does not generally work well in the long term.”