A new study published in JAMA Oncology finds that for those people who develop a second cancer (meaning a new cancer, not a recurrence), it’s the older patients that are more likely to survive. Previous studies have been done to learn more about second cancers, but little has been done linking age as a factor to survival rate.
The study compared more than 1 million cancer patients from 1992 to 2008. It showed that younger people are more likely to survive just one cancer compared to older adults, but when a second one appears, it’s the opposite.
The research did not point out exactly why this is the case, but researcher have made several suggestions, including limitations on types of doses or treatment, reduced physical reserve, and social issues.
To read more about the study, please visit “Second Cancers Deadlier for Younger People: Study.”
Untitled by Brian Leaf is licensed under CC0.
This past week, I had the privilege of attending the 2017 Emergency Preparedness Conference in New Orleans. It was a brand new topic for me, covering the four phases of emergency response:
We heard from hospitals who served events like the Boston Marathon bombing, the Pulse Night Club incident, ransomware attacks, and and the recent flooding in August 2016. The focus of the conference, however, was on the the Joint Commission standards and, in particular, the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) final rule Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers that went into effect on November 16, 2016.
According to a 2016 press release, the existing requirements for providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid did not include:
“(1) communication to coordinate with other systems of care within cities or states;
(2) contingency planning; and
(3) training of personnel.”
Given these deficiencies amid recent disasters, the CMS concluded that it was important to create a consistent foundation among all providers and suppliers, not just hospitals, to meet best practices in terms of having an emergency plan, policies and procedures, a communication, plan, and training and testing programs. This all includes coordinating with other stakeholders such as public health officials, responders, and other area providers to better effectively respond to events.
I am still thinking about discussions regarding non-clinicians and information professionals specifically, but my hope is that if there’s interest, we can feature an emergency preparedness expert on a future SCR CONNECTion to explore these intersections. Please feel free to email me with any thoughts: email@example.com
Read more about this rule here.
A new study finds that as seniors get older, it is just generally harder for them to get a good, restorative night’s sleep, which in turn could worsen health problems. Many medical conditions may make it harder for a person to sleep well, but a poor night’s sleep can also contribute to disease.
The researchers used dementia as an example–dementia patients often have a difficult time sleeping, and these poor sleeping patterns also speed up their memory decline.
Recognize that good sleep is critical to good health, right along with a good diet and regular exercise…and regular exercise can generally help get you a good night’s sleep as well.
Seniors should talk to their doctors if they notice they are consistently sleeping less than six hours per night.
To read more about the study, please visit “Good Sleep Does Get Tougher With Age.”
SCR Regional Highlight: New YMCA and Library in San Antonio Team Up to Provide Wellness and Knowledge
Photo provided by San Antonio Public Library
Together, the San Antonio Public Library System and the YMCA of Greater San Antonio opened a new facility in the quickly growing northwest San Antonio last November. The new facility has a shared lobby making it easy to learn how to improve your health in the Potranco Branch Library on one side of the facility, and then put that knowledge into action on the other side at the Mays Family YMCA at Potranco.
“Obviously a lot of our goals are the same,” said Cheryl Sheehan, San Antonio Public Library branch coordinator, in a Rivard Report article. “(We want) to change people’s live with health and information.”
The area where the new facility is located is a perfect spot, populated with many young professionals and families, but was underserved by these major institutions previously.
The YMCA branch will have extended hours to cater to the lives of the individuals it serves, and the library branch is considering something similar. The library has already installed after-hours hold lockers accessible in the shared lobby for YMCA patrons to pick up books they requested. And there is a Redbox-like machine where library patrons can browse books to checkout after hours, similar to how someone can rent movies through a Redbox.
The new YMCA branch also isn’t limited to just exercise equipment and summer camps–they’ve adapted to fit the needs of the community and promote overall wellness by building a test kitchen, while also hiring a registered dietician (in conjunction, the library will have healthy cookbooks), a peaceful outdoor area, a teen corner that will provide more independence, and a children’s area that will allow kids to learn through playtime.
Overall, the facility is able to combine two important components for a person’s well being and bring them together in a cohesive unit.
To read more about the new facility, please visit “YMCA and SAPL United to Bring Wellness to Northwest San Antonio.”
Imagine you visit your doctor and get some shocking news. You have a rare disease with no cure or treatment and only have a few months left to live. After you come to terms with the news, you start making arrangements, perhaps work on some of those things on your bucket list. Then you get a call from your doctor; there’s been a mistake, you’ve been misdiagnosed, and now have a long life to look forward to.
While this may sound like the plot to a feel-good movie or a hypothetical philosophical debate, the issue of over diagnosis is a very real one. Over diagnosis is a side effect of screening tests, which are given to people who seem healthy to find unnoticed problems. While these screening tests can help catch chronic health conditions early, in some cases the results can be harmful.
Screening tests are not 100% accurate, so while they are helpful for finding hidden disease, they can also give inaccurate results. The situation described above might be the consequence of getting a false positive for a screening test, when the test results incorrectly indicate a disease. Also possible is a false negative, which means you’re told you don’t have the disease when you do, perhaps causing you to ignore symptoms that appear later on.
According to Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, a cancer prevention expert at NIH, “I wouldn’t say that all people should just simply get screening tests. Patients should be aware of both the potential benefits and the harms when they’re choosing what screening test to have and how often.”
When deciding whether to get a screening test, a number of factors should be considered, like your age, family health history, or lifestyle exposures like smoking. You should also consult with your healthcare provider to determine what screening tests are right for you and how regularly you should have them.
To find out more, you’ll soon be able to watch the archived recording of our recent webinar SCR CONNECTions – Over Diagnosis: Why Too Many Lab Tests are Bad for Your Health starting April 17 on our website.
Source: Adapted from NIH News in Health Article “To Screen or Not to Screen? The Benefits and Harms of Screening Tests,” March 2017 <https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Mar2017/feature2>
For native Texans, you may be well aware of the weather episodes that come with the warmer weather that spring brings–often tornadoes and floods. We want to know though, are you prepared if one of these were to happen right now?
There are three steps you need to take to be ready:
- Make a plan
- Build a kit
- Get informed
When making a plan, have one for every sort of disaster or weather even that could happen. Where should family members meet if they need to evacuate the house? Do you have a basement you can take shelter in during a tornado or hurricane? If not, what should you do?
When putting your kit together, make sure to include plenty of water and non-perishable food items. Make sure it’s in a portable container in case you need to take it with you. Also, don’t forget a first-aid kit in case someone is injured.
Finally, get informed by listening to the news to know when a severe weather event might occur. Also be aware of some basic statistics, like on average, how many tornadoes strike Texas each year and generally when can you expect the,?
Even if you don’t live in Texas, being prepared for an emergency is something anyone can do.
To find out more about how to prepare yourself for an emergency, please visit texasprepares.org.
Photo by Lisa Smith, NNLM SCR
This week is National Library Week, which we are proud to celebrate since we are a branch of the National Library of Medicine, and our program office is housed within the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Gibson D. Lewis Library in Fort Worth, Texas.
This year’s theme is “Libraries Transform.” The theme is perfect, particularly for Lewis Library, as we have been trying to transform the public’s perception that not all libraries are filled with tons and tons of books anymore now that we have moved into the digital age. In fact, in the Lewis Library there is only one small room that now has hard copies of books!
There are plenty of ways to get involved in this year’s National Library Week. See below for a couple of ideas.
- Participate in the #expertinthelibrary campaign. Share what your expertise is!
- Share your story through the 2017 video challenge. If you’re interested in learning about some of the librarians in the SCR region, check out our Meet Me Monday series.
- For those who aren’t a librarian, simply visit a library!
Having a cold, or being sick in any regard, is never fun. But new research is suggesting that if you’re lonely, a cold might feel even more miserable.
The study looked at 159 individuals who were all single ages 18-55 that were all infected with the common cold through nose drops.
The study was unable to prove true cause-and-effect, however it did show a difference in the severity of symptoms.
“[Chris] Fagundes [psychologist] and [Angie] LeRoy, [study co-author] found that people who said they had less “social support” had cold symptoms that were more severe compared to people who felt more socially included,” according to the MedlinePlus article.
To read more about the study, please visit “A Lonely Heart Could Worsen a Cold.”
It’s National Public Health Week! This annual health observance is hosted by the American Public Health Association, which tries to promote public health so that the United States can become the healthiest nation in one generation (by 2030).
But just what exactly is public health? “Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play,” according to APHA’s website. An example of public health is how a doctor will treat you when you are sick, but public health advocates are trying to prevent you from getting sick in the first place.
There are plenty of ways to get involved this year. Here’s a few ideas:
- Join Generation Public Health, one of APHA’s initiatives that gives you ways to support better health in your own community.
- Follow National Public Health Week on Twitter and join the chat tomorrow. Just follow the hashtag #NPHWChat
- Attend an event. You can see where the closest even to you is by visiting NPHW’s website.
- Become an advocate for public health. APHA has a variety of ways you can get involved to show your advocacy for public health. Visit their website for a full list.
For more information on National Public Health Week, visit its website.
While diet, environment, habits and more are some of the reasons certain people develop cancer, chance plays a pretty big role as well. New research shows that most tumors develop simply because of a genetic “mistake,” also called DNA copying errors.
Johns Hopkins University investigators looked at abnormal cell growth in 32 different types of cancers and found that many cancer cases are the result of gene mutations that are purely random. These random mutations have generally been scientifically undervalued, according to study co-author Cristian Tomasetti in a MedlinePlus article.
It is important to note that while many cancer cases are random, and therefore unpreventable, many mutations are also caused by certain outside factors, and don’t just occur randomly. A good example is lung cancer–the majority of these mutations occur because a person has smoked.
Overall, the study could help shed light on cancer cases that doctors can’t determine the cause. They may seem random because they are.
To read more about the study, please visit “Most Cancers Caused by Random DNA Copying Errors.”
From winter into spring, the transition is beautiful. Trees are full of leaves and flowers are in full bloom. In Texas, the bluebonnets grace our highways. The sun is out, shining brightly. Suddenly, some of us start wheezing, coughing, and sneezing.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), allergens in the environment can trigger seasonal allergies and asthma. Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lung and is now the most common chronic disorder in childhood. The prevalence has increased over the years. According to CDC Vital Signs 1 in 12 people have asthma in the United States. Oxygen absorption in the lungs is a crucial function of the body. With asthma, the airway becomes inflamed, swollen, and narrow. Less air is able to get to the lung tissue. Some describe feeling as if an elephant is sitting on their chest.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s conducted an extensive survey, known as the National Survey of Lead Hazards and Allergens in Housing. The results were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It found that 46% of homes had dust mite allergens high enough to produce allergic reactions and one quarter of the homes had allergen levels high enough to trigger asthma symptoms in susceptible individuals. Nearly two-thirds of American homes have cockroach allergens.
Today is American Diabetes Alert Day, and did you know that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.–killing more than 75,000 people annually? In honor of this observance, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is encouraging Oklahomans to check their risk of developing diabetes, as well as sound the alarm for the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Oklahoma ranks number 9 in the United States for states with most adults with type 2 diabetes.
Finding out if you are at high risk for developing diabetes is simple; just go to diabetes.org/alertday to take the American Diabetes Association risk test, which is offered in both Spanish and English. If you determine that you or someone you know is at risk, there are plenty of other steps you can take, including becoming involved in the National Diabetes Prevention Program–there are dozens of programs offered through Oklahoma as well as across the nation.
To read more about American Diabetes Alert Day and Oklahoma, please visit “American Diabetes Alert Day: Find Out If You Are At Risk Today.”
According to MedlinePlus, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. You may be more familiar with that rule of thumb to sing the “Happy Birthday” song at least two times through before turning off that faucet.
But while we’re admonished to do so, it’s difficult to say what’s actually put into practice even while we know it helps stop the spread of germs. In fact, it can even help stop the spread of superbugs!
How else is it important? The Center for Disease Control has put together some fast facts (and citations) on the importance of handwashing:
- It is estimated that washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50%.
- Researchers in London estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.
- A large percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks are spread by contaminated hands. Appropriate hand washing practices can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and other infections.
- Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%.
- The use of an alcohol gel hand sanitizer in the classroom provided an overall reduction in absenteeism due to infection by 19.8% among 16 elementary schools and 6,000 students.
Read more and find additional resources on the Germs and Hygiene MedlinePlus topic page.
Researchers have been working on an experimental blood test that could point out autism in children. So far, the test is 98 percent accurate in children ages 3 to 10 in diagnosing if they have autism.
“The test was able to predict autism, regardless of where on the spectrum an individual was,” according to study co-author Juergen Hahn in the MedlinePlus article. The test was also able to indicate the severity of the autism-related condition with good accuracy.
This new test is a stark contrast to the current approach of diagnosing autism, which entails a consensus from a group of medical professionals. The blood test, on the other hand, looks for key metabolism markers in the child.
The study was small, with less than 200 participants, so more research is planned to follow-up on the claims.
To read more about the study, please visit “Could a Blood Test Spot Autism in Childhood?”
According to the 2016 America’s Health Rankings report conducted by the United Health Foundation, Louisiana is the second most unhealthy state in the nation, just behind Mississippi. The report uses a number of factors to create these rankings, but it has become increasingly clear over the years that the state’s high diagnoses of new HIV cases is one factor.
According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report leading up to World AIDS Day in 2016, Baton Rouge ranks number one for newly diagnosed HIV cases; New Orleans ranks number three. In Baton Rouge, 44.7 out of every 100,000 people is diagnosed with HIV; in New Orleans, it’s 36.9.
HIV is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying the cells that fight infection and disease. There is no cure for it. AIDS is a condition that is considered the final stage of HIV. It is most commonly transmitted sexually or through sharing syringes, but can also be spread from mother to child through pregnancy as well as several other less common ways.
To combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic prevalent in the state, the Louisiana Department of Health launched the STD/HIV Program, designed to prevent transmission, ensure the availability of medical services and track the impact.
Unfortunately one of the biggest barriers health officials face is the stigma around the disease and an unwillingness to seek out treatment and report it. Timothy Young, head of the HIV/AIDS Alliance in the Baton Rouge area told The Advocate in a 2015 article “fear of being associated with HIV is so pronounced that more than 25 percent of those who are newly diagnosed with the disease in Louisiana have already progressed to AIDS.”
It’s important for these people to know that HIV/AIDS treatment has only continued to get better and it’s no longer the death sentence it used to be, if you get tested.
To read more about the SHP program, please visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website.
To read more general information about HIV/AIDS, please visit the CDC’s website.
When considering applying for a funding opportunity it is often helpful to know what types of projects that have been funded in the past. Every RML in the NNLM includes listings of the Past Funded Projects on their website for this reason. But did you know that you can also find this information for NIH, HHS, and all of the US government? These databases can be particularly helpful for postdoctoral students, junior faculty, and anyone who is beginning to search for external funding.
The NIH RePORTER database allows the user to search for funded grants throughout all of NIH. One interesting feature is the Matchmaker function. In this function, you can actually enter an abstract and the database will return a list of similar projects.
However it is not uncommon for health researchers to need to be aware of what other federal agencies outside of NIH are funding. To search funding throughout all of HHS you can search the TAGGS database. To expand even more you can search the Federal RePORTER or USA Spending.
These resources can not only help a potential applicant determine if a particular funding opportunity is a good fit for a project, but it can also help applicants know which agencies to watch for future funding. Federal health related funding can come from some unexpected sources and it is helpful to know which agencies are funding the types of projects that you want to do.
The study suggested that poor diets are caused not only by not avoiding certain things–like trans fat and salt–but also not incorporating other foods, like vegetables, nuts and seeds. Cardiovascular disease is the number one leading cause of death in the U.S., and a poor diet is the top risk factor, according to Dr. Ashkan Afshin, lead researcher from the University of Washington.
“The study results suggest that nearly half of heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease) deaths in the United States might be prevented with improved diets,” according to Afshin in the MedlinePlus article.
The study results stress that a healthy diet is not only avoiding certain foods–you have to take care that you are making sure to eat others. The study was even able to estimate what percent of the deaths were from too much or too little of certain foods, like 12 percent of the deaths probably could have been avoided had the people eaten more vegetables.
The good news is it’s never too late to change your diet.
To read more about the study, please visit “Bad Diets Tied to 400,000 U.S. Deaths in 2015.”
This week is Patient Safety Awareness Week hosted by the National Patient Safety Foundation! And while this week awareness is particularly high, the National Patient Safety Foundation encourages all healthcare professionals to treat every day like Patient Safety Day.
Patient safety is a public health issue according to the National Patient Safety Foundation’s United for Patient Safety campaign–1 in 10 patients will develop a health care acquired condition during hospitalization, and 44,000 to 98,000 patients per year will die due to a medical error.
National Patient Safety Week is the start of a yearlong effort highlighting important patient safety issues through information dissemination, discussions and events. One initiative during this week is for healthcare professionals to wear a patient gown in order to step into the role of a patient. You can also tune in tomorrow at 2 p.m. PST for a complimentary webcast of “The Voice of the Patient and the Public.”
SCR’s Brian Leaf wrote a post on the importance of patient safety and questions to ask a doctor; read it here.
To find out more about Patient Safety Awareness Week, please visit United for Patient Safety’s website.
Recently, I taught a class on how to help older adults find health information. One of the issues that came up during the class was patient safety, which has been a trending topic for us this past year.
Unlike the patient-doctor relationship of the past, patients today are encouraged to be active partners in the healthcare team in order to, in part, reduce the errors that occur in routine processes. According to Sir Liam Donaldson, named by the World Health Organization as the Envoy for Patient Safety, these errors occur in 10% of hospital admissions and sometimes lead to fatal outcomes.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “develops the knowledge, tools, and data needed to improve the health care system and help Americans, health care professionals, and policymakers make informed health decisions” as stated on their profile.
One of these tools is a set of questions that patients can ask their doctors. They also have additional information on what one might ask pre- and post-appointment, along with a guide on building your own set of questions. The basic set includes:
- What is the test for?
- How many times have you done this procedure?
- When will I get the results?
- Why do I need this treatment?
- Are there any alternatives?
- What are the possible complications?
- Which hospital is best for my needs?
- How do you spell the name of that drug?
- Are there any side effects?
- Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?
One of the participants in the course suggested an additional question to ask the doctor that resonated with the other professionals in the class:
“What happens if I do nothing?”
Asking the right questions is an important part of taking care of one’s health. Find more on AHRQ’s Questions to Ask Your Doctor.
According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, hearing loss among the U.S. population could jump from 44 million in 2020 to 73.5 million by 2060; the 2060 number would comprise 23 percent of the adult American population, compared to 15 percent in 2020. And in 2060, 55 percent of adults with hearing loss will be over 70.
This sort of growth for this health condition is unprecedented, according to Neil DiSarno, chief staff officer of audiology at American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
The most common cause of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. To prevent this, it is recommended that people should lower their earphone volume and to limit exposure to firearms, fireworks and loud noises you may hear at work.
And besides just not being able to hear as well, hearing loss has other effects on a person as well. Older adults who have hearing loss are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, and have a higher risk of falling. There also appears to be evidence between hearing loss and mental decline.
To read more about hearing loss increasing, please visit “Hearing Loss May Double in United States by 2060.”