Posted by VicPlough on Mar 31, 2012 in Health
Story By: by Ted Burnham
U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin totes a copy of a report on the need to reduce children’s use of tobacco.
Update 5:25 p.m.: Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris, released a statement responding to the Surgeon General’s report. “We agree with the Surgeon General and others that kids should not use tobacco products, and we share the common goal of keeping tobacco products out of the hands of kids,” the statement reads, emphasizing that tobacco companies do not market directly to children. It says Phillip Morris has given states more than $55 billion in settlements over the last 15 years, but says states have not used the money to its full potential.
The U.S. Surgeon General today issued the first report on youth smoking since 1994. And the findings aren’t encouraging.
Surgeon General Regina Benjamin calls tobacco use a “pediatric epidemic.” The nation’s war on smoking hinges on preventing young people from taking up the habit in the first place, she says.
For starters, 1 in 4 American high school seniors smokes cigarettes. Most of them will become adult smokers, and half of them will die prematurely as a result, the report says.
To stop that from happening, Benjamin says the nation has to “reinvigorate” its battle against tobacco.
Anti-smoking campaigns need to focus on teenagers and young adults. That means doing a lot more to counter the billions of dollars the tobacco industry still spends on advertising and marketing.
The Surgeon General says strategies might include public service ads, higher taxes on cigarettes and more smoking bans.
Smoking rates for teens dipped in the early part of the last decade, after a wave of public concern in the late ’90s. But by 2007, rates were at a standstill.
The new report comes as many states, hit hard by the recession, have cut funding for anti-smoking campaigns. Although states won a $246 billion settlement from the tobacco industry in 1998, much of the money earmarked specifically for anti-smoking programs has been shifted to other uses, as USA Today reported recently,
Posted by VicPlough on Mar 22, 2012 in Health
Story By: Talk of the Nation
Estimated altitude for this flight was about 115,000 feet, says Raul Oaida, 18-years-old. Raul launched the shuttle, along with a video camera and a GPS tracker, by way of a large helium balloon. Flight time was about three hours—the shuttle landing about 150 miles south of where it took off.
Posted by VicPlough on Mar 15, 2012 in Health
Story By: by Scott Hensley
Kids who injured their heads were more likely to have lingering cognitive problems than those who broke limbs.
Concussions are not kids stuff.
Even a pretty small knock to a child’s head can lead to problems for months afterward, a new study finds.
Researchers charted the progress of more than 250 kids admitted to two hospitals for either mild traumatic brain injuries or broken bones in an arm or leg.
The kids who had brain injuries â especially ones that led to unconsciousness or visible changes on MRI scans â were more likely than the others to have headaches, tiredness and trouble thinking a year after being seen at the hospitals.
The results appear in the latest issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
The outcome might not come as a surprise. Another study covered by Shots recently found that concussions affect the thinking of teenagers more than they do that of adults or younger children. But all three age groups show lasting problems with working memory after sports concussions, which are generally thought of as pretty mild.
About a half-million kids under 15 wind up in hospitals with head injuries each year. And it’s a big enough problem that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips for recognizing concussions, as well as preventing them.
The researchers concluded that doctors need to be on guard for kids having trouble as long as a year after a mild concussion. They may need extra help with school, for instance. And this study suggests that kids with headaches and other physical symptoms three months after the injury were more likely to need that kind of help later on.
“The overall message emerging from this research is that the group of injuries classified as ‘mild TBI,’ including sports-related concussions, should not necessarily be treated as minor injuries, which quickly resolve,” an accompanying editorial says.
Both the researchers and the author of the editorial called for the development of better tests to predict which children with brain injuries will need extra attention.
Posted by VicPlough on Mar 14, 2012 in Health
Story By: by NPR Staff
Jennifer Coursey with her son, 12-year-old Grant Coursey, at StoryCorps in Ukiah, Calif.
When Grant Coursey was a toddler, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer often found in young children. A tumor had wrapped itself around Grant’s spinal cord and had grown so that it pushed against his lungs.
Now 12, Grant is cancer-free; he received his first “clean” scan 10 years ago in March 2002. He had to undergo several procedures to rid his body of the cancer.
Recently, Grant and his mother, Jennifer, sat down to talk about his young life and how cancer has affected it.
“So, Mom, when I was diagnosed with cancer, how old was I?” Grant asks.
“You were 16 months old,” Jennifer says.
That diagnosis was made after Grant’s doctor started looking into what seemed to be a case of asthma. A chest X-ray was scheduled to find the cause of Grant’s wheezing. When the Courseys came in to have the X-ray images taken, Grant’s grandfather, a doctor, walked over from his office to be with them.
“As a professional courtesy, the radiologist asked if we’d like to see the images right there and then,” Jennifer says. “So, when they put the images up, things got real quiet in the room.”
The X-rays showed a tumor the size of a grapefruit. As Jennifer remembers, Grant’s grandfather looked at the images then gave his family a hug.
“And you know how Papa walks really straight?” Jennifer asks Grant, referring to his grandfather. “He kinda looked like somebody’d kicked him in the gut as he was walking back to his office, and that scared me.”
The boy was quickly scheduled for a biopsy. Over the next 12 months, more surgeries followed.
“The first time they put you under anesthesia and they put the mask on your face, you really struggled,” Jennifer says. “That’s pretty awful for …”
“A parent,” Grant says.
“A parent and a kid,” Jennifer says.
“But I remember as I got older I used to like it, actually,” Grant says.
Before he was three years old, Grant Coursey underwent several surgeries for a cancerous tumor.
“Yeah. So, you being super into firefighters, I said, ‘This is just like the firefighters, you know? They put the clean air on so they can go in there and save people.’”
“I practically put it on myself the minute I walked in there!” Grant says.
“You did! You loved it,” Jennifer says. “So, what else do you remember?”
“I remember being scared, a lot,” Grant says. “I remember waiting in the waiting room made me … what’s the word? Apprehensive, kind of. That was brutal, always.”
After the biopsy, Grant underwent a 10-hour operation, as surgeons removed the bulk of the tumor from his chest. Eventually, he required one more surgery to remove the remnants of the tumor, which had begun to grow anew.
“I always kind of hoped that you didn’t really remember much,” Jennifer says, “but the scary stuff really stuck with you.”
“Yeah. You know, I’ve got big scars all over my back from getting cut open,” Grant says. “Whenever that kind of starts to twinge a little bit, like if I touch it wrong or something like that, it just kind of reminds me I’m lucky.”
“Yeah,” Jennifer says.
“You know, life is really good,” Grant says. “And there’s this saying that says if you’ve been close to death, you understand life more. And sometimes I think of that, and I think, you know, if this had never happened to me, I never would have understood how much life means, kinda. You know? What if I had died? I’d never have this amazing life.”
“That’s right,” his mother says.
“That’s crazy to think about,” Grant says.
“It is crazy to think about,” Jennifer says. “Well, Grant, I’m sure glad you got well.”
“I sure love you. And I hope you’re picking up that I’m so proud of you,” Jennifer says. “I’m so proud of you.”
“I pick that up a lot, honestly,” Grant says.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.
Posted by VicPlough on Mar 13, 2012 in Health
Nick Clegg has said he remains committed to seeing through changes to the NHS despite being defeated by Lib Dem party members over the issue.
The decision is not binding on the government, but BBC correspondent Norman Smith said it was a major setback for the Lib Dem leadership.
In his keynote speech to the two-day conference, Mr Clegg did not mention the defeat directly but acknowledged the issue was "highly controversial and difficult".
But after the defeat, Lib Dem MP Andrew George urged the government to "reflect" on the views of Lib Dem members and take action.
"The bill needs to be withdrawn…and to start with a blank sheet of paper," he said.
Health Minister Paul Burstow, who is a Lib Dem MP, said there had been major changes already to the proposed legislation ensuring patients' interests came first and services remained integrated. But he acknowledged the government still had "more to do" to convince critics of its proposals.
"Conference made up its mind yesterday not to adopt a 'kill the bill' strategy. We had a debate today about concerns conference still has about this bill and that is understandable.
"That is why we listen very carefully to those concerns and why we are continuing to make improvements to this legislation."
But Labour said Mr Clegg was passing up an opportunity to "break away" from the Conservatives over the issue.
"Nick Clegg can tell his party to be proud of what they've achieved all he likes – the only people with a reason to be pleased that the Lib Dems are in government are the Conservatives," said the party's deputy leader Harriet Harman.
"Nick Clegg should listen to the country, listen to his members and tell the Conservatives to drop this bill."
In his keynote speech, Mr Clegg also pledged to do more to reduce the tax burden for the lowest-paid, saying next week's Budget must have "fairness" at his heart.
The UK's economic recovery would be "long and hard", he argued, but the Lib Dems and their Conservative coalition partners were determined to help those facing tough times.
Posted by VicPlough on Mar 10, 2012 in Health
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A few sessions of behavioral therapy — even a self-help” version — may help some women find relief from menopausal hot flashes, a new study suggests.
The study, reported in the journal Menopause, tested the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy among 140 women with bothersome hot flashes and night sweats due to menopause.
And researchers found that after six weeks, more than two-thirds of women who had the therapy — through group sessions or self-help — had a clinically significant” drop in problems related to hot flashes and night sweats.
Essentially, that means the symptoms were noticeably less problematic” and interfering less in the women’s daily lives, explained senior researcher Myra S. Hunter, of King’s College London in the UK.
Right now, hormone replacement therapy is considered the most effective treatment for bothersome hot flashes. But since hormones have been linked to increased risks of heart disease, blood clots and breast cancer, many women want alternative remedies.
Some antidepressants have been found to cool hot flashes. Natural” products — such as black cohosh, soy and flaxseed — have been studied but generally failed to stand up to the test of clinical trials.
Past research has shown that certain thoughts and reactions to hot flashes can make women feel worse, while other responses can help them feel better, Hunter told Reuters Health in an email.
We think that cognitive behavioral therapy works mostly by changing women’s perception and interpretation of the (hot flashes) — as well as countering overly negative beliefs about menopause,” Hunter explained.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment option for a host of health problems, from depression to sleep problems to digestive disorders. In general, it aims to change the unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors that can feed a person’s physical or mental symptoms.
When it comes to menopause symptoms, Hunter said, the therapy Âinvolves developing helpful, accepting approaches to hot flashes and also using breathing exercises to focus attention away from the flashes and negative thoughts.”
But in the real world, behavioral therapy specifically aimed at menopause symptoms is not widely available.
For now, it’s under study. For their trial, Hunter and her colleagues recruited 140 women who’d been having bothersome hot flashes and night sweats at least 10 times a week for a month or more.
They randomly assigned the women to either have group-based therapy, a self-help version or no treatment.
Women who had group therapy went to four sessions over a month. The self-help therapy was not completely independent; women had one meeting and a phone call with a psychologist who guided the therapy. But otherwise, they used a book and CD to teach themselves tactics for dealing with hot flashes.
After six weeks, Hunter’s team found, 65 percent of women who’d had group therapy reported a meaningful drop in how problematic their hot-flash symptoms were. The same was true of 73 percent of women in the self-help group.
That compared with 21 percent of women who’d had no treatment.
And the benefit, the study found, was still apparent after six months — though by then one-third of the untreated group had improved.
When it came actual numbers, women in the therapy groups said they were having fewer hot flashes. But women who’d gotten no treatment reported a similar drop.
Instead, the benefit seemed to come from changes in how women perceived their symptoms.
Women say that they might still have hot flashes but not notice them, and that they feel more confident about coping with them,” Hunter said.
She said she and her colleagues are publishing their self-help book and plan to train health professionals in different countries so that behavioral therapy for menopausal symptoms can become more widely available.
In the U.S., the cost of cognitive behavioral therapy varies based on the specific program, but a typical figure would be between $100 and $200 an hour.
SOURCE: bit.ly/yyB3cz Menopause, online February 14, 2012.
Posted by VicPlough on Mar 5, 2012 in Health
Story By: by NPR Staff
Dr. Robert Klitzman is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.
On deciding when to notify a doctor about a genetic discovery
“The problem is if you tell the doctor, the doctor will no doubt write it in the medical chart, and if you apply for life insurance or disability insurance or long-term-care insurance, the insurance company may well ask to see the chart and see that information there.
“There is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA. … It applies only to life insurance and does not apply to all life insurance. So it does not include disability insurance and life insurance and long-term-care insurance. So these are areas that I think we need to think together if we need to have more policy.”
On the future of genetic testing
“When you walk into your doctor’s office, at some point in the near future, your whole genome will be tested. And so we’ll each know information or have the possibility of knowing information about our mutations.
“And it is possible in the future, when you date someone, they may say, ‘Well, I know what my mutations are and what I’m a carrier for. What are you a carrier for? What are your mutations?’ “
Posted by VicPlough on Mar 4, 2012 in Health
Scientists believe they are closer to understanding how taking cannabis disrupts short-term memory.
They bred mice whose astrocytes could not be affected by THC, and found that their spatial memory was unaffected by the dose.
This discovery could help drug companies reduce the risk of unwanted side effects when using THC in their products, they suggested.
However, possibly more importantly, it could shed light on the brain's own chemical pathways, the "endocannabinoid" system.
Dr Xia Zhang, one of the researchers, said: "Just about any physiological function you can think of in the body, it's likely at some point endocannabinoids are involved."
Understanding how this system works could lead to ways to make it work better, he suggested.
"We may find a way to deal with working memory problems in Alzheimer's," he said.
Prof Heather Ashton, from the University of Newcastle, said that memory problems were an established feature of cannabis use, and understanding the mechanism behind them was "interesting".
She said: "When someone is taking cannabis, in some cases you find that they cannot even remember starting a sentence by the time they reach the end."
But she agreed that the practical benefits of such research might ultimately lie in a better understanding of the body's own endocannabinoid system, rather than the effects of cannabis itself.