Conditions

What diseases can arise from the lack of clean water in Haiti?

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Michael Smith, MedPage Today North American Correspondent

The lack of clean water in the stricken Haitian capital fosters conditions that may spawn an epidemic of enteric disease.

“Having large numbers of people in close proximity and not using appropriate sanitation can potentially spark those epidemics, particularly if people are forced to drink surface water,” said Rebecca Dillingham, …

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Why patients shouldn’t believe hospital cancer advertisements

Unlike drug ads that you find on television, cancer advertisements from hospitals aren’t subjected to the same data-based scrutiny.

And that could be a problem, since they arguably can have more influence on patients than pharmaceutical ads.

Cancer ads play on the emotions of patients, and frequently use words like “highest cure rates” and “lowest risk,” despite having little data to back up the claims.

Patients with cancer, along with their families, …

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Balancing the risks and benefits of cancer screening is an individual decision

by Abraham Verghese, MD

I can’t get over the incredible images generated by our latest CT scans and MRI’s. The details of organ anatomy and the 3D reconstructions they can do are just amazing. One side effect of getting such fine resolution, is that more and more we are stumbling onto abnormalities that we were not necessarily looking for–incidentalomas, we call them.

Sometimes the discovery is fortuitous and lifesaving. But often …

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How sleeping late can lead to depression in teenagers

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Todd Neale, MedPage Today Staff Writer

Later parent-set bedtimes and correspondingly shorter sleep durations appear to be related to the development of depression in adolescents, a cross-sectional analysis showed.

In addition to depression, adolescents with later bedtimes also had a greater risk of having suicidal thoughts, James Gangwisch, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City, and …

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National Influenza Vaccination Week: Time to take stock of our influenza vaccination efforts

The following is part of a series of original guest columns by the American Medical Association.

by Nancy H. Nielsen, MD

Back in September, I wrote in this space about ways physicians can prepare their practices to handle this challenging flu season and mentioned the importance of vaccination for all health care professionals. Today as National Influenza Vaccination Week begins, this is an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves, …

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Is erectile dysfunction associated with restless leg syndrome?

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Charles Bankhead, MedPage Today Staff Writer

Men with restless leg syndrome (RLS) had a significantly increased risk of erectile dysfunction compared with men who did not have the neurologic disorder, data from a large cohort study showed.

The likelihood of erectile dysfunction increased with the frequency of restless leg episodes, reaching an adjusted risk apex about …

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How to identify children at high risk for developing diabetes

Originally published in Insidermedicine

Standard measurements taken in doctors’ offices, such as height, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels can help predict which school-aged children will go on to develop type 2 diabetes, according to research published in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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How similar is pandemic H1N1 influenza to the seasonal flu?

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Todd Neale, MedPage Today Staff Writer

Pandemic H1N1 influenza behaved much like seasonal and previous pandemic flu viruses in an early, isolated outbreak at a New York City high school, researchers found.

Natural history and transmissibility characteristics were similar in an April outbreak that sickened about 800 students and staff members, according to Justin Lessler, PhD, …

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Why our health system doesn’t promote individualized cancer screening decisions

There have been plenty of posts debating the wisdom of the recent breast cancer screening guidelines.

The New York Times has some of the best stuff, explaining the rationale of the decision, with a good discussion on the math and statistics surrounding the issue. Here’s an example in an article entitled, Mammogram Math.

But it goes beyond the public not accepting empirical evidence.

Another piece from economist Richard H. Thaler again …

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Linking the USPSTF mammogram guidelines to their virtual colonoscopy recommendations

by Mark E. Klein, MD

“I think anytime you use science to kind of fundamentally change what people are used to, I think it’s a difficult thing to grapple with.” So spoke Ned Calonge, chair of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in explaining the reaction to that group’s recommendation to radically alter their previous guidelines for breast cancer screening. Regrettably the incorrect application of science, as in …

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How effective is CA 125 and other biomarkers to screen for ovarian cancer?

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Michael Smith, MedPage Today North American Correspondent

Rising blood levels of several biomarkers show the presence of ovarian cancer — just not early enough.

That’s the conclusion of a retrospective longitudinal case-control study of levels of half a dozen proteins linked to the disease, according to Garnet Anderson, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in …

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Despite no cure, progress in the treatment of HIV/AIDS

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Michael Smith, MedPage Today North American Correspondent

It’s 1984. A 20-year-old homosexual man walks into the clinic complaining of swollen glands.

It could well be a death sentence.

It is only three years since the first handful of cases of what would come to be known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) were described. Little is known about …

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How patients are dying from H1N1 infection

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Michael Smith, MedPage Today North American Correspondent

Brazilian researchers have found three distinct patterns of lung damage in patients who died of the H1N1 pandemic flu.

They also found evidence of a so-called “cytokine storm,” a runaway immune response associated with the lung damage, according to Thais Mauad, MD, PhD, of Sao Paulo University Medical School, …

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How can we stop the spread of unproven heart scans like CT angiography?

There’s no question that CT scans are among the most overused medical tests.

One newer application has been using CT scans to detect coronary artery calcification for primary prevention of heart disease. It’s a technology of unproven promise, with entities like the USPSTF recommending against it.

Worse, especially in light of the recent data suggesting significant radiation exposure from CT scans, it may even be harmful. Patients need to understand …

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What’s the most popular way to diagnose a pulmonary embolism?

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Chris Emery, MedPage Today Contributing Writer

Emergency physicians and radiologists overwhelmingly choose computed tomography (CT) imaging to diagnose pulmonary embolism, a potentially deadly blockage of lung arteries, a new study found.

Ninety percent of radiologists and 96% of emergency physicians use CT as their first-line choice for the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, according to a report …

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The politics of cancer screening make entrenched beliefs hard to change

With the recent changes in breast cancer screening, mammograms have increasingly used as a political tool.

Internist Robert Centor points to an article from Politco, which shows how far it’s gone. Not surprisingly, polls have shown that 76 percent of women disagree with the new USPSTF guidelines. And politicians are using this to their advantage. Any suggestion to rein in tests, gets re-framed as, in the case of …

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Why are women refusing an MRI to screen for breast cancer?

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Crystal Phend, MedPage Today Senior Staff Writer

Many women at elevated breast cancer risk may refuse MRI as part of their screening program, largely because of fear and inconvenience, researchers found.

Among eligible women with dense breasts who were at intermediate to high risk for breast cancer, 42.1% refused additional MRI screening as part of a …

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