Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines: Don’t Drink and Toke

By  //  June 6, 2015

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Topics Include: Don’t Drink and Toke; Coming Soon – Your Virus History; Know How To Drink Your Coffee — and More.

CANNIBIS AND ALCOHOL SHOULDN’T BE MIXED

A couple of people pass a joint.

Recent research out of the Alcohol Research Group found that drinkers who smoke marijuana as they imbibe are twice as likely to drive drunk compared with people who stick to alcohol alone.

Recent research out of the Alcohol Research Group, which has conducted epidemiological studies of alcohol and health services since 1959 and is focused on better understanding the public health implications of alcohol use patterns and associated problems, found that drinkers who smoke marijuana as they imbibe are twice as likely to drive drunk compared with people who stick to alcohol alone.

The findings also showed that simultaneous users of both alcohol and marijuana are three times more likely to face social troubles, such as drunken brawls, broken marriages, damaged relationships and ruined careers among them. (Dennis Thompson, HealthDay.com, 4/14)

NEW BLOOD TEST SCREENS FOR ALL 206 VIRAL SPECIES KNOWN TO INFECT HUMANS

According to research recently published in the journal Science, A DNA-based blood test called VirScan, which requires less than a drop of blood and costs as little as $25, can reveal nearly every virus a person has ever been exposed to.

viral_load_testAlthough the test is still considered experimental, researchers believe that it could become an important research tool for tracking patterns of disease in various populations, as well as be used to try to find out whether viruses, or the body’s immune response to them, contribute to chronic diseases and cancer.

Most lab tests for viral diseases are designed to look for one specific virus at a time. VirScan screens for the entire 206 species of viruses known to infect humans. (Brady Dennis, Washington Post, 6/4)

OUT-OF-POCKET HEALTHCARE EXPENSES CREATING LEGION OF ‘UNDERINSURED’

According to a poll by Gallup, nearly nine out of 10 Americans now have health insurance, a sharp improvement from two years ago before the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) was put in place, and the lowest percentage of Americans without coverage since Gallup started tracking the figure in 2008.

out of pocket healthcare paymentThat’s great, but recent reports suggest that Obamacare has also ushered in an era of complex new health insurance products featuring legions of out-of-pocket coinsurance fees and high deductibles that nullify some of the concept of “coverage.”

In other words, more people are “insured,” but many are underinsured, and, in some scenarios in which they need healthcare, paying for care is out of reach due to steep deductibles and co-pays.

Recently released data suggests that millions of Americans, who are now on the rolls of the “insured,” are in just that situation.

A disproportioned number of the underinsured are poor and sick, the very people who needed the protection and were supposed to benefit most from health insurance provided by Obamacare, but are still facing high medical bills for which they are responsible but cannot pay. (Jonathan Cohn, HuffingtonPost.com, 5/20)

CONTROVERSIAL FEMALE LIBIDO PILL BACKED BY FDA ADVISORY COMMITTEE 

The controversial pill flibanserin – purported to be the first treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) or “low libido” in premenopausal women – has been recommended for Food and Drug Administration approval by an advisory committee.

Hypoactive sexual desire disorderPreviously, advisory committees have twice voted against approving the drug – dubbed by some to be “the female Viagra” – due to safety and efficacy concerns.

There is still some misgiving with reports that several committee members voted “yes,” but had qualms about the approval because of the low efficacy of the drug reported in trials and its potential side effects. (Shannon Firth, MedPageToday.com, 6/5)

INTERNATIONAL CANCER AGENCY SAYS MAMMOGRAMS OF LIMITED VALUE IN WOMEN IN 40s

Writing in a Special Report in the June 3, 2015 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), including researchers from 16 countries, reviewed its 2002 position on breast cancer screening, concluding that after balancing the benefits and harms of mammographic screening for breast cancer, there is a net benefit to inviting women ages 50 to 74 to be screened.

mammogram-mainThe IARC concluded that the evidence that screening reduces mortality is sufficient for women ages 50 to 69 and 70 to 74, but it is limited for women ages 40 to 44 and 45 to 49, findings that will doubtless reignite the bitter debate on how early to screen for breast cancer.

The group also reported that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that screening results in overdiagnosis.

The IARC findings and recommendations are consistent with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendation in April, which triggered loud protest through out the medical and patient advocate communities. (Richard Harris, NPR.com, 6/3)

VIDEO SPECIAL: ARE YOU CONSUMING YOUR COFFEE CORRECTLY?

ASAPSCIENCE is the creative brainchild of two Canadians, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, who, after graduating from the University of Guelph with biology degrees, recognized the power of YouTube to inform and entertain.

Their very popular YouTube channel produces three-minute lessons that bring logic, reason, and scientific evidence to some of the most common of questions.

In the video below they help us look introspectively at how we consume our coffee and the facts behind optimizing that consumption so that we receive the maximum benefit of our caffeinated beverages.

Whether we high roll with a Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato at $4.95, blue collar with a McDonald’s large premium roast at $1.69 or brew our favorite home blend at a few cents a cup, we’re indulging in the world’s favorite drug, and it’s a good idea for us to understand how it affects us.


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