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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18-24 Segment 2: Living Through Excruciating Pain

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On October 1, 2003, Dr. Christina Crosby’s life was changed by a bicycle accident. She was paralyzed and had to learn to re-navigate her life as a quadriplegic. As a Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, her life now may be considered a heroic triumph by some. But, Crosby says many don’t understand what it’s like to live with continuous pain. She explains more about her experiences and thoughts on living in agony.

Crosby describes the sensation she feels in her body as a continuous buzz of neurological pain. While she can feel physical touch, her body is still paralyzed, which is frustrating, to say the least. Crosby’s experiences are paralleled by those of millions of Americans in chronic pain, whether from an accident like Crosby’s or something as common as arthritis. Crosby points to one particular frustration in her life, found in the doctor’s office: the 1-10 pain scale. Feeling and pain can’t be quantified, she says, and require more comprehensive language to accurately address the subjectivity.

A life in pain not only involves constant frustration and suffering but also can alienate the individual from their loved ones and society. Because of  pain’s invisibility and resistance to easy description, it gets in the way of many experiences and relationships. Furthermore, Crosby explains the struggle with loss, as the individual frequently grieves what they used to be. The desire to not forget has to be balanced with the need to move forward, Crosby says. There is still life while in pain, but it requires patience and understanding from the one suffering and those around them.

For more information about living in pain or about Crosby’s book, visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Dr. Christina Crosby, Professor of English and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain

Links for more information:

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Coming Up On Radio Health Journal Show 18-24

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Drug Abuse and Harm Reduction

As the opioid crisis continues, the city of Vancouver, BC, has found that a harm reduction approach helps addicts move to safer drug use and eventually getting clean. An author who’s watched the process discusses the controversial approach of officially allowing drug use, but in safer conditions.  

Living Through Excruciating Pain

Pain is an often misunderstood reality for millions of people. A noted university professor who became a quadriplegic in a bicycle accident discusses her constant pain and the way it changes life.

Medical Notes 17-14

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Medical Notes this week…

Some people will do almost anything to relieve their allergy symptoms but here’s an idea that works according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  It’s a probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria sold in stores under the name kidophilus.  Allergy suffers taking the supplement reported few or no symptoms and a higher quality of life compared to those who took a placebo.  Researchers think the probiotics work by increasing the immune symptoms T cells.

Millions of people rely on inhalers for medication for their lungs, but a new study finds that between 70% and 90% of the time patients make mistakes using them. The result is that those patients receive as little as 7% of the medicine they need.  The study in the journal Chest shows that the biggest mistake is in coordination of breathing with the activation of the inhaler.  Many patients inhale too late.

And finally, there’s a reason you feel better when you sit out in a grove of green trees.  A study in the journal Pain shows that green light helps mitigate chronic pain. A group of rats with neuropathic pain were bathed in green light and for the next four days they tolerated more thermal and touch stimulus than a control group. Another group of rats fitted with green contact lenses showed the same benefit compared to a group getting opaque lenses.  Scientists have no idea how green light works or whether the same effect holds for humans.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

16-25 Segment 2: Living Through Pain

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Pain is an often misunderstood reality for millions of people. A noted university professor who became a quadriplegic in a bicycle accident discusses her constant pain and the way it changes life.

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Click here for guest information and the transcript