Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines of the Week
By Dr. James Palermo // September 25, 2014
Topics Include: Pharmacy Flu Shots; Baldness and Aggressive Prostate Cancer; Colorado Campaign To Dissuade Teens From Pot – and More.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccinations for almost everyone older than six months, and dozens of retail pharmacies across the United States are getting “creative” to secure consumers’ flu vaccination business.
Offering the vaccine every year is an important way for retailers to get people in the door and establish the concept that the store, many of which are now providing basic primary care clinics, is a good alternative for their health needs going forward.
Many retail pharmacies offer promotions and “deals” on flu vaccinations that represent minimal cost to the store because people who walk in for their immunization are likely to purchase other products in the store.
Flu season is upon us, so, whether you take advantage of the easy access to a flu vaccination at your local pharmacy or get the shot from your physician, be sure to GET VACCINATED! (Tuttle, TIME, 9/14)
According to a recent study into the Federal health exchange conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), healthcare.gov still faces significant security risks, even though there has been no publicly-reported breach of personal information.
Administrators of healthcare.gov are attempting to address the glitches and security questions raised by the GAO so that health insurance consumers can safely and successfully sign up for insurance at open enrollment Nov. 15.
CNN reports that in addition to the noted deficiencies, GAO’s Gregory Wilshusen complained before a House panel that, “health officials aren’t giving investigators enough access to spot problems.” (Pagliery, CNN, 9/19)
September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and Medical News Today takes a look at the core messages on dementia and risk reduction presented in Alzheimer’s Disease International’s (ADI) 2014 report.
Prof. Martin Prince from King’s College London in the UK was commissioned by ADI to produce the report as a part of World Alzheimer’s Month, and comments on the increasing appetite for information on how individual risk may be reduced and how that research is reflected in the growth of mainstream news media stories.
“One of the problems, it seems to me, is that a bewildering array of factors have been implicated but with varying degrees of evidence to support the claims. Often single studies have been over-hyped. The public is therefore understandably confused. In this year’s World Alzheimer Report, we have tried to cut through the thicket of evidence, claim and counter claim, to identify those areas where evidence is strongest. We have come up with just four factors – early life education, high blood pressure in mid-life and diabetes and smoking in late-life.”
The video below highlights the findings of the 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts & Figures report. (McNamee, Medical News Today, 9/21)
A retrospective analysis in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests a possible link between early onset baldness and a higher risk for developing aggressive prostate cancer, Forbes reported in detail.
According to Dr. Michael Cook, senior study author and an investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the link between this kind of balding and prostate cancer is probably not coincidental because the driving force most often behind male pattern baldness, which is a cumulative or lifelong exposure to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that the skin fails to process, has been linked with prostate cancer in previous studies (including in men who bald young).
Dr. Cook points out that while this is the biggest study showing the correlation between balding and prostate cancer, it’s still just that: a correlation, and not a direct cause-and-effect. More research is needed, but, if the research goes on to prove a direct cause-and-effect, it can help men get an earlier diagnosis. (Fortenbury, Forbes, 9/16)
According to a recently published study in Nature, consuming non- caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS), which are often found in things like diet beverages and sugar-free yogurt, may increase susceptibility to metabolic diseases like diabetes and glucose intolerance.
NAS consumption had been considered safe and beneficial owing to their low caloric content, but supporting scientific data remain sparse and controversial, and the findings of this study are expected to add to the existing debate about the use and safety of artificial sweeteners to prevent weight gain in an increasingly obese nation. (Kelland, Reuters, 9/17)
Recent reports show that fewer adolescents believe that smoking pot on a regular basis is harmful to health, and concomitantly are initiating cannabis use at younger ages, and more adolescents are using cannabis on a daily basis. Add to that disconcerting trend the legalization of recreational marijuana and it’s perfectly clear why Colorado is trying hard to convince its teenagers that smoking pot is bad.
There is a growing body of evidence that shows that marijuana isn’t good for the developing brain with recent studies showing very strong evidence that marijuana plays a causative role in mental health problems and subsequent drug abuse in heavy users, and links to lower IQs and anatomic brain changes.
The Colorado campaign, which launched last month, is designed to target kids in the 12 to 15 age group, includes a website with links to news stories about the negative effects of marijuana, and emphasizes the importance for everyone to educate themselves on the harmful effects of marijuana.
The TV ad below from Denver’s Sukle Advertising for the Colorado Governor’s Office “Don’t Be A Lab Rat” Campaign shows a group of teens lighting up inside a dark car as moody music plays in the background. The commercial cites a Duke University study that found a link between regular marijuana use and a lower IQ and appeals to the viewer to take heed of the findings and possible dire consequences of the use of marijuana. (Singh, NPR, 9/17)