Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines of the Week

By  //  September 10, 2014

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Topics Include: Adult Vaccinations; Obese America; Your Brain on Coffee – and More

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — Welcome to SpaceCoastDaily’s Healthcare Headlines.


According to a new Harris poll, Baby Boomers who remember the scourge of polio and who themselves may have suffered through childhood diseases such as measles, chicken pox and mumps are, not surprisingly, strong supporters of required vaccinations for children.

However, when it comes to their own health, adults over 50 years of age aren’t as enthusiastic about a shot that can prevent an excruciatingly painful condition called shingles, which is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes varicella (chickenpox).

There are more than a million new cases of shingles in America each year. It’s been eight years since the Food and Drug Administration approved Merck’s Zostavax shingles vaccine for people over 60, but only about 20 percent of Americans over 60, 99 percent of whom had chickenpox and are thus vulnerable to shingles, have had the vaccine. (Postrel, Bloomberg, 9/4)


Mississippi and West Virginia earned the dubious distinction of being the fattest states in the nation, with obesity rates exceeding 35 percent, according to a study by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. fotolia43021542m

Adult obesity rates increased in six states and fell in none over the last year, with 20 states sporting obesity rates above 30 percent, 43 with rates of at least 25 percent and every state above 20 percent.

Florida ranks 37th highest obesity rate among U.S. adults, with 26.4 percent of adult Floridians falling into the obese category. 

Colorado has the lowest rate at 21.3 percent. (Reuters/Yahoo, 9/4)


New research recently published in the journal, Psychological Science, suggests that the act of planning an experience—a trip, a concert, a lesson—will bring you more happiness than acquiring a new physical possession. image_large

The study concludes that there is more happiness derived from the anticipation of experiential purchases and that waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive or even owning material “stuff.”

The study’s lead author, Amit Kumar, says it may have something to do with “imagining” what may happen during the experience instead of knowing exactly what you are purchasing. (Singh, NPR, 9/3)


An article by Kristina Strain in Inside Philanthropy explores the motivation of contributors to health causes and presents new data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that shows a dismally low correlation between the health problems that kill the most people and those that attract the most money, begging the question: Are some causes better than others?

In recent weeks, the amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS) philanthropic campaign has used the enormous influence and reach of social media to raise over $90 million in donations with the Ice Bucket Challenge. However, ALS is relatively rare and kills only about 7,000 Americans annually.

The graphic below from Vox, based on the CDC data on the diseases that raised the most money in 2013 and those that caused the most deaths, shows, for instance, that heart disease is the leading cause of death, killing nearly 600 thousand people each year. However, philanthropic contributions to heart disease were only $54.1 million in 2013—much less than breast cancer, which raised more than $250 million and was responsible for slightly over 41 thousand deaths.

Strain notes that a person’s decision to give to a health care cause can be “intensely personal,” is often done in honor of a loved one, and is often made without strategic consideration of where the contribution might do the most good. (Strain, Inside Philanthropy, 8/27)

(Vox image)


A team of autism experts, led by Dr. Sally J. Rogers of the University of California at Davis Mind Institute, recently published the results of a study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that are very compelling and suggest that effective autism treatment is dependent on early detection, and that the sooner therapy begins, the better the chances are of preventing full onset of symptoms before the age of 3.

The early interventional treatment called Infant Start is provided in the home and focuses on parent-child interactions during the routines of everyday life.

In the UC Davis Mind Institute Youtube video below, Dr. Rogers discusses the benefits of the Infant Start program emphasizing that parents, who are “the experts” on their babies, are best positioned to identify early symptoms of autism and engage in daily ongoing therapeutic interactions. (McNamme, Medical News Today, 9/9)


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 our “Brain on Coffee.” 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.