Medical Notes 19-15

 

Medical Notes this week…

Millions of Americans take a low-dose aspirin every day in hopes of preventing a heart attack or stroke. But now the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association say to stop taking it if you have no history of heart attack or stroke. The new recommendation comes in the wake of a major study showing that a daily aspirin does nothing to prolong life and increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Experts say doctors should limit aspirin to people at high heart risk who also have a low risk of bleeding.

We’ve told you about the stroke risk connected to drinking lots of diet soda among post-menopausal women, now there’s another study showing that soda with sugar is also connected to heart death. The study in the journal Circulation finds that the risk of premature death goes up by 63 percent in women who drink more than two sodas per day and 29 percent among men. Sugary sodas increase cancer risk by 18 percent.

Nobody likes to get caught in traffic caused by road repairs but a new study in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation finds that preventive road maintenance saves a lot of money, time, and pollution. Researchers say performing maintenance when a road is in its early failure stage ends up saving 10 to 30 percent in cost and saves drivers two to five percent in fuel consumption, tire wear, and vehicle repairs. Keeping roads in good shape also cuts greenhouse gases by as much as two percent.

And finally, you have to be nuts to maintain your brain function as you age or, more correctly, you have to eat nuts. A study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging shows that eating at least two teaspoons of nuts each day can boost brain function by 60 percent, equivalent to putting off two years of brain aging.

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Medical Notes 19-13

 

Medical Notes this week…

About a third of people with major depression aren’t helped by the usual treatments. But they have some hope now that the FDA has approved the first completely new kind of drug for depression in years. The drug is a nasal spray called esketamine and it works in hours rather than weeks. Psychiatrists say it’s a major advance, but it’ll have to be used with caution. The drug is derived from an old anesthetic that was known as the party drug “special k,” and comes with a black box safety warning.

Having a teenage child can be frustrating, but scientists think they’ve discovered the one parental skill that can help navigate conflict with teens. It’s the ability to regulate anger. A study in the journal Development and Psychopathology finds that parents who can’t diminish anger are more likely to resort to the use of harsh, punitive discipline, creating hostile conflict. Researchers say dads are worse than moms at regulating anger and are more likely to conclude their teen is intentionally being difficult. So they dish out harsher punishment.

And finally, fast food now accounts for 11 percent of the energy intake in the United States and a new study shows, to no one’s surprise, that fast food meals are getting bigger and saltier. The study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics finds that the average fast food entrée has grown by 100 calories since 1986, and the average fast food dessert by 200 calories. On any given day, more than a third of American adults eat fast food.

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19-11 Segment 1: Recruiting Patients for Cancer Clinical Trials

RHJ 19-11a wordpress

Clinical trials drive medical advancement, but cancer clinical trials seldom meet their goals in recruiting patients. Experts discuss causes, consequences, and actions being taken to meet needs.

Guests:

  • Dr. David Ahern, Director, Program in Behavioral Informatics and EHealth, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, and co-author, Oncology Informatics: Using Health Information Technology to Improve Processes and Outcomes in Cancer
  • Dr. Bradford Hesse, Chief of Health Communication Informatics, National Cancer Institute, and co-author, Oncology Informatics: Using Health Information Technology to Improve Processes and Outcomes in Cancer
  • Dr. Julie Brahmer, Co-Director, Upper Aerodigestive Department, Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, and Professor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Links for more information:

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Medical Notes 19-10

19-10 notes


Medical Notes this week…

Antibacterial soaps are common today, as are antibacterial toothpaste, mouthwash, cosmetics, and even clothing and baby toys. But a new study finds that the active ingredient in most of those things could actually be making bacteria more able to withstand medications. The study in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy shows that the chemical triclosan (trick-lo-san) does kill some microbes, but those that are left are substantially more resistant to antibiotics.

Men who have enlarged prostates may worry about prostate cancer, too. But a new study suggests that enlarged prostates actually protect against prostate cancer. The key is that the prostate sits in a confined space. Scientists believe that as the prostate becomes enlarged, it’s squeezed tightly, impeding the growth of cancer cells inside. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And finally… over the last decade, many laws have locked up most of your sensitive medical data. But a new study shows that “shadow” health records generated just by living your life can tip off a lot about your health, and those records are wide open. The study in the journal Science Translational Medicine finds that using a fitness tracker, smartphone health app, or DNA ancestry test leave a health information trail. Shopping for a health-related item online or even searching the internet for health information leaves clues for savvy data gatherers.

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Medical Notes 19-08

19-08 notes


Medical Notes this week…

Explorers and scientists have been looking for the fountain of youth for thousands of years. Now there’s speculation they may have found an aging inhibitor in a generic HIV drug called Lamivudine. A study in the journal Nature shows that mice who are equivalent to 75 years old in human terms experienced dramatically reduced inflammation and other signs of aging when they received the drug. Lamivudine was approved for treating HIV in 1995. Scientists say they’re anxious to start human anti-aging trials.

Speed limits on highways are usually set as a result of engineering studies. But some local governments override those recommendations, believing that the lower the limit is, the safer the road will be. A new study in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention shows that’s only partially true. Crashes are reduced when a speed limit is set five miles per hour lower than recommendations… but setting the speed limit 10, 15, or 25 miles per hour lower actually increases both total crashes and fatal crashes because so many drivers completely ignore the limit.

And finally… educators have long sought ways to get girls more interested in science. Now a study in the journal Psychological Science has some tips. The study shows that suggesting “let’s do science” is much more effective at getting girls engaged than suggesting “let’s be scientists.” Researchers say pervasive stereotypes, even among the young, torpedo the idea that very many girls ever do become scientists.

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Medical Notes 19-07


Medical Notes this week…

A cancer diagnosis can create stress that goes beyond the breaking point. A new study in the journal Nature Communications shows that people with cancer are more than four times more likely to commit suicide compared to other people. White men and people who receive a diagnosis at a younger age are most likely to complete suicide, along with people who are diagnosed with lung, head and neck, and testicular cancers. Researchers say that even though cancer is a major cause of death in the U.S., most cancer patients survive it and die of other causes.

Electric scooters are a rapidly rising cause of injury, and a new study shows that one in three people involved in an e-scooter accident is injured badly enough to need treatment in the E.R. The study in the journal JAMA Network Open shows that 40 percent of those hurt had head injuries and another 32 percent had fractures. Only four percent of those hurt were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Falls rather than collisions made up nearly three-quarters of the accidents.

And finally… it turns out that people who are good navigators are almost always good at identifying smells as well. A study in the journal Nature Communications finds that the same area of the brain is used for both of these two very different tasks, and that the brain region is bigger in people who are good at them. Scientists admit the finding surprised them.

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Medical Notes 19-05


Medical Notes this week…

Cancer deaths are continuing to decline. In fact, a report from the American Cancer Society trumpets a major milestone—cancer death rates have dropped every year for the last 25 years. Overall, they’ve dropped 27 percent since 1991… but some cancers are even more striking. For example, lung cancer death rates are down by 48 percent among men. Breast cancer death rates are down by 40 percent, and prostate cancer death rates have dropped by 51 percent.

Parents of teenagers are remarkably pessimistic that schools are keeping their kids safe. A study in the Journal of Community Health shows that 36 percent of parents believe their local high school is “highly likely” to have a shooter incident in the next three years. The study finds that the majority of parents are dissatisfied with the systems schools have in place to counteract gun violence.

Two drugs commonly prescribed for type two diabetes may significantly raise the risk for heart attacks. The drugs, sulfonylureas (sul-fon-eye-loor-ee-ahs) and basal insulin, are often prescribed when metformin doesn’t work. But a study in the journal JAMA Network Open shows that patients who take basil insulin are twice as likely to experience cardiovascular harm, and those taking sulfonylureas are 36 percent more likely to be harmed than patients taking newer second-line drugs. Experts say the results should prompt large scale changes in how type two diabetes is treated.

And finally… more than half of people who take medical marijuana for chronic pain admit they’ve driven while under the influence… and one in five users say they’ve driven while they were “very high” in the last six months. The study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence surveyed medical marijuana users in Michigan… where recreational marijuana is also legal. Researchers say they’re troubled that users don’t think there’s much risk to driving under the influence of pot… but they admit they’re not sure how marijuana affects driving for people who use it every day.

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