Category Archives: Public Interest

Explosive Data: Fireworks Injuries Skyrocket on July 4th

It’s as predictable as taxes in April. Every year, the Fourth of July brings patriotic displays of color, smoke, and sound — and a slew of emergency room visits from burns and blast wounds.

Federal researchers track data on those injuries year-round using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a national probability sample of about 100 hospitals in the U.S. and its territories. Fireworks injuries don’t only happen in July, but they are, unsurprisingly, far more common in that month versus the rest of the year.

Even when fireworks are sold legally, they are still prone to safety recalls. 36,100 units of TNT Red, White & Blue smoke fireworks were recalled because the fireworks may explode unexpectedly.

Fireworks law varies widely
Where fireworks laws do exist, they vary wildly from state to state, or even from county to county. In Massachusetts and New Jersey, it’s illegal to buy or sell fireworks at all. In Ohio, fireworks are available for purchase, but consumers have to sign a document stating they’ll take them out of the state within 48 hours. And in spite of known hazards here’s a surprising fun fact: Four states (Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) allow residents to legally purchase fireworks at age 12.

So who gets hurt?
Legal fireworks or not, children are much more likely than adults to get hurt — 12-year-olds sustain more fireworks injuries than any other age group. But age isn’t the only factor playing into fireworks injuries: Men are more likely to be hurt than women.  So what about trends in the data? If you look at injury rates over the last two decades, you see that injuries to teenagers and children have dropped since 2005, but injuries among 20-40-year-olds are creeping up.  And what goes wrong most often? The most common type of injury is thermal burns. Sparklers are an unassuming culprit in the hands of any child.

The injuries span a wide range — from a 2-year-old boy who sustained a burn to his eye after his brother accidentally hit him with a sparkler to a 23-year-old who had a bottle rocket explode in his hands and needed a finger amputated.  Some of the data points are indirect injuries: One patient suffered bites after fireworks spooked a nearby dog. And a 10-year-old girl put two pieces of bathroom tissue in her ear to drown out the noise of fireworks.

See a full set of data graphs for this article at: STAT NEWS

Source: By Natalia Bronshtein, Displayed with permission courtesy of STAT News via Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Probiotics to Treat Symptoms of Depression?

A new study is the first to show improved depression scores with a probiotic. It adds to the whole field of microbiota-gut-brain axis, providing evidence that bacteria affect behavior.

In a study published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, researchers of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute found that twice as many adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) reported improvements from co-existing depression when they took a specific probiotic than adults with IBS who took a placebo. The study provides further evidence of the microbiota environment in the intestines being in direct communication with the brain said senior author Dr. Premysl Bercik, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster and a gastroenterologist for Hamilton Health Sciences.

“This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases,” he said. IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the world, and is highly prevalent in Canada. It affects the large intestine and patients suffer from abdominal pain and altered bowel habits like diarrhea and constipation. They are also frequently affected by chronic anxiety or depression.

The pilot study involved 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression. They were followed for 10 weeks, as half took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, while the others had a placebo. At six weeks, 14 of 22, or 64%, of the patients taking the probiotic had decreased depression scores, compared to seven of 22 (or 32%) of patients given placebo. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) showed that the improvement in depression scores was associated with changes in multiple brain areas involved in mood control.

“This is the result of a decade long journey — from identifying the probiotic, testing it in preclinical models and investigating the pathways through which the signals from the gut reach the brain,” said Bercik. “The results of this pilot study are very promising but they have to be confirmed in a future, larger scale trial,” said Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez, the first author and a McMaster clinical research fellow.

Displayed with permission from FARS News Agency via RePubHub, Image courtesy of Pixabay CC0 License

Millennials Face a New Threat: Blue Light from Tech Devices

A “Jacob Moses MD Memorial Lecture” offers a new perspective on Blue light and innovative technology to prevent disease while enhancing visual performance.

Millennials and technology users all face the dangers of over-exposure to blue light waves from devices

Melanin and Ocular Lens Pigment are natural defenses to filter Blue light in skin and eyes. Innovative external lenses using these derivatized compounds complement the human body to reduce glare, improve sleep, balance circadian rhythm to maintain overall health, and may prevent blindness.

Dr. Michael Tolentino MD delivered the prestigious “Jacob Moses MD Memorial Lectureship” to an audience of over 40 eye doctors in Columbus Ohio regarding the impact of naturally occurring and artificially generated sources of High Energy Visible (Blue) light on the primary optical tract and retinal-hypothalamic tract. “Blue light threatens our eyes, our vision, and circadian rhythm,” explained Dr. Tolentino. He detailed preventative measures to protect our visual and physiological systems using cost-effective external lenses to enhance natural defenses.

The human body produces Melanin and Ocular Lens Pigment, which were paradigms for Blue light protection, and patented by Dr. James Gallas of Photoprotective Technologies as derivatives that filter light in proportion to the Blue light wavelengths ability to cause damage.

“The combination of Melanin and Ocular Lens Pigment (OLPTM) provide more effective filtration of Blue light than anything I am aware of and I recommend using the lenses to reduce issues involving glare and damage to the retina and macula from prolonged or intense Blue light exposure. Further, the MPF lens promotes balanced Melatonin production, critical to proper physiological function to help mitigate chronic diseases including cardiovascular issues, depression, diabetes, obesity, and cancer,” explained Dr. Tolentino.

About Dr. Michael Tolentino: He is Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the University of Central Florida and co-founder of the Tolentino Eye Research Foundation (www.tolentinoeye.org) is recognized globally as a medical authority, whose qualifications include education or faculty at Brown University, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts and University of Pennsylvania. He co- invented the concept of intravitreal anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) injections, in particular, the drug Avastin. He is credited for determining that VEGF is sufficient and necessary for the development of diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and wet macular degeneration. He also co-invented Bevasiranib a siRNA against VEGF. As a clinical trialist, he has helped more than half a dozen drugs or treatments for the eye obtain FDA approval.  He is currently developing novel topical, nutritional, and preventative alternatives to prevent blindness.

TrueBlue Vision holds the exclusive production of lenses and products for both natural (outdoor) and artificial (indoor) blue light filtration. After an extensive review of product performance, TrueBlue was recently chosen by “IRIS The Visual Group” Canada’s largest network of Eyecare Professionals. To learn more about preventative strategies and novel therapies for retinal diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, please visit http://www.tolentinoeye.org.  To learn more about the Blue Light Threat and TrueBlue lenses, please visit http://www.truebluevision.com

Source: TrueBlue Vision, Displayed with permission from PRNewswire for Journalists

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Adding Friendly Bacteria to Skin Lotion Wards Off Bad Germs

Customized creams guarded five patients with a kind of itchy eczema against risky bacteria that were gathering on their cracked skin.

Bacteria live on everyone’s skin, and new research shows some friendly germs produce natural antibiotics that ward off their disease-causing cousins. Now scientists are mixing the good bugs into lotions in hopes of spreading protection. In one early test, those customized creams guarded five patients with a kind of itchy eczema against risky bacteria that were gathering on their cracked skin, researchers reported.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

“It’s boosting the body’s overall immune defenses,” said Dr. Richard Gallo, dermatology chairman at the University of California, San Diego, who is leading the work.

We share our bodies with trillions of microbes that live on our skin, in our noses, in the gut. This community  – what scientists call the microbiome  – plays critical roles in whether we stay healthy or become more vulnerable to various diseases. Learning what makes a healthy microbiome is a huge field of research, and already scientists are altering gut bacteria to fight diarrhea-causing infections.  The research sheds new light on the skin’s microbiome, suggesting that one day it may be possible to restore the right balance of good bugs to treat skin disorders, too.

Healthy skin harbors a different mix of bacteria than skin damaged by disorders such as atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema. Those patches of dry, red, itchy skin are at increased risk of infections, particularly from a worrisome germ known as Staphylococcus aureus.

Gallo’s team took a closer look at how microbes in healthy skin might be keeping that bad staph in check.  They discovered certain strains of some protective bacteria secrete two “antimicrobial peptides,” a type of natural antibiotic. In lab tests and on the surface of animal skin, those substances could selectively kill Staph aureus, and even a drug-resistant strain known as MRSA, without killing neighboring bacteria like regular antibiotics do, the team reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

But those good bugs are rare in the skin of people with atopic dermatitis, Gallo said.  “People with this type of eczema, for some reason that’s not quite known yet, have a lot of bacteria on the skin but it’s the wrong type of bacteria. They’re not producing the antimicrobials they need,” he explained. Would replenishing the good bugs help? “They’re normal skin bacteria, so we knew they would be safe,” Gallo noted.

His team tested five volunteers with atopic dermatitis who had Staph aureus growing on their skin’s surface  – what’s called colonization, but didn’t have an infection. Researchers culled some of the rare protective bacteria from the volunteers’ skin, grew a larger supply and mixed a dose into an over-the-counter moisturizer. Volunteers had the doctored lotion slathered onto one arm and regular moisturizer on the other.

A day later, much of the staph on the treated arms was killed – and in two cases, it was wiped out, compared to the untreated arms, Gallo said.  “We’re encouraged that we see the Staph aureus, which we know makes the disease worse, go away,” he said.

The study couldn’t address the bigger question of whether exposure to the right mix of protective bacteria might improve atopic dermatitis itself, cautioned Mount Sinai’s Guttman-Yassky. Next-step clinical trials are underway to start testing effects of longer-term use.

Source: By Lauran Neergaard, AP, Displayed with permission from STAT via RePubHub

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This Is Why Red Peppers Could Reduce Lung Cancer Risk In Smokers

In a new study, researchers from Tufts University in Massachusetts have uncovered the molecular reasoning for beta-cryptoxanthin pigment’s powerful cancer-fighting skills.

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Red Bell Peppers — Image courtesy Pexels PIXABAY CC0 Lic

Researchers discovered in 2004 that beta-cryptoxanthin (BCX), a natural pigment which gives many fruits and vegetables their bright red and orange colorings, was able to reduce smokers’ risk of developing lung cancer — although exactly why remained unclear.

Tufts cancer researcher Xiang-Dong Wang and his team found that BCX has the opposite effect of nicotine on lung cells in mice and is able to decrease erratic cell growth in the lung and limit the cancer from spreading. While more research is needed, Wang predicts that understanding BCX’s effect on lung cells could lead to new chemoprevention techniques and could be implemented in dietary recommendations for patients undergoing lung cancer treatment, and for lung cancer survivors.

Read More:  3 Reasons Why Non-Smokers Get Lung Cancer

“For smokers, tobacco product users or individuals at higher risk for tobacco smoke exposure, our results provide experimental evidence that eating foods high in BCX may have a beneficial effect on lung cancer risk,” said Wang in a statement.

Nicotine binds to lung cells, triggering a biochemical response that may lead to erratic cell growth, and new blood vessel development — the perfect storm for lung cancer. However, Wang and his team discovered that BCX is able to counteract this response by inhibiting lung cell growth and preventing cancer cells from spreading to different parts of the body.

In the study, the team observed that mice that had purposely been given a nicotine-derived carcinogen, and which were treated with BCX had fewer lung tumors than those who were not given BCX. According to Wang, the greatest benefit in mice was equivalent to a daily human dose of about 870 micrograms, or the amount contained in one sweet red pepper or a couple of tangerines a day. Also, human lung cancer cells in a petri dish treated with BCX migrated less than those that were not.

The researchers emphasized that their study does not show that BCX has the ability to prevent or cure lung cancer in humans. Still, the results are promising and the team hope to take their research further to better understand the cancer-killing capabilities of red and orange fruits and veggies.

Source: WAng XD, Iskandar AR, Miao B, et al. β-Cryptoxanthin Reduced Lung Tumor Multiplicity and Inhibited Lung Cancer Cell Motility by Downregulating Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor α7 Signaling.  Cancer Prevention Research .2016

By Dana Dovey; Displayed with permission from Medical Daily via RePubHub

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New Study Shows Spinal Cord Stimulation Reduces Opioid Use For Chronic Pain

ONE YEAR AFTER IMPLANT, 93 PERCENT OF PATIENTS WHO CONTINUED SCS THERAPY HAD LOWER AVERAGE DAILY MORPHINE-EQUIVALENT DOSES THAN PATIENTS WHO HAD THEIR SCS SYSTEM REMOVED

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Image courtesy of geralt CC0 PIXABAY

New research has found spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy can be key to reducing or stabilizing the use of opioids in patients battling chronic pain. In a new study, researchers examined opioid usage data from more than 5,400 patients both prior to and after receiving an SCS system implant. In an SCS system, an implanted device similar to a pacemaker delivers low levels of electrical energy to nerve fibers, interrupting pain signals as they travel to the brain to reduce the sensation of pain. Researchers have found that average daily opioid use declined or stabilized for patients receiving a successful SCS system compared to patient use of opioids prior to an implant.

In addition, while opioid usage was not different for the two groups at time of implant, patients who underwent a successful SCS implant had significantly lower opioid use one year after their implant. Patients who had their SCS system removed saw their opioid use increase again over time.

In 5,400-patient study, average daily opioid use declined or stabilized in patients receiving SCS system, while patients who had SCS system removed had higher opioid use over time.  The study, which the researchers believe makes a compelling case for considering SCS therapy earlier in the chronic pain care continuum, were presented at the 2017 North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) annual meeting by Ashwini Sharan, M.D., director of Functional and Epilepsy Surgery at Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson and president of NANS.  The study was sponsored by Abbott (NYSE: ABT), a global leader in the development and manufacture of SCS systems and therapy options, such as the company’s proprietary BurstDR™ stimulation.

Currently, more than 2.1 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance abuse related to opioid pain relievers, while worldwide an estimated 15.5 million people are now classified as opioid dependent. Chronic pain is often a driver of opioid use as patients seek relief and improvements to their quality of life. Fortunately for patients, SCS therapy has been clinically proven to offer meaningful relief to patients suffering from chronic pain.  There is potential to improve outcomes by implanting SCS systems earlier, before chronic opioid use, according to authors.

“Given the epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse, these findings are important and confirm that spinal cord stimulation therapy can offer strong benefits for patients struggling with chronic pain,” said Sharan. “Based on these results, we concluded it may be possible to improve outcomes by offering our patients spinal cord stimulation earlier, before opioid dependence and addiction can occur.”

ABOUT THE STUDY:
For their analysis, the research team assessed private and Medicare insurance claims data from 5,476 patients who received an SCS system to treat chronic pain associated with a host of conditions (excluding pain related to cancer). The data were collected between January 2010 and December 2014. The data confirmed that many patients are often prescribed increasing dosages of opioids prior to receiving an SCS system. The researchers also found:
• SCS therapy is effective for patients at any level of opioid usage prior to implantation.
• Opioid use declined or stabilized in 70 percent of patients who received an SCS system.
• Among patients who had their SCS system explanted, opioid use was higher at one year compared to those who continued with SCS therapy.

The researchers further suggested patient outcomes could be improved if SCS were implanted earlier in recognition of the clinical practice to provide increasing dosages of opioids over time. These conclusions help build upon prior research, such as results of a large multicenter randomized controlled trial in patients with failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) that showed trends in opioid reduction or cessation among SCS patients. In addition, new technologies released in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016 hold promise to improve outcomes further and may reduce common complications resulting in explant such as the undesired changes in paresthesia, issues with charging, pain at the implantable pulse generator (IPG) site, and loss of pain relief.

SOURCE: Displayed with permission from PRNewswire for Journalists

Ingredient In Red Bull Helps Treat Psychotic Episodes

Many of us have relied on energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster to pull all-nighters in college, alleviate hangovers, or as a pick-me-up before hitting the gym. These 20-ounce sugar-laden drinks are not the healthiest beverages to consume, but researchers now suggest they may possess medicinal properties. A study presented at the annual meeting of the International Early Psychosis Association found taurine, an additive in energy drinks, can significantly help with psychosis.

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Image courtesy PIXABAY CC00 Lic

“Although taurine supplementation did not improve cognition, it appears to improve core symptoms and depression in patients with FEP,” concluded the authors. (FEP is an individual’s first episode of psychosis.)

Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body that aids a variety of functions. It helps control cardiovascular function, and has been found to both protect the paths of neurons in the brain, and help stimulate the creation of new neurons via neurogenesis. The amino acid is also known to have a calming effect on the brain.

Keeping this in mind, the team of researchers sought to observe if taurine could be utilized to stabilize the neurological activity occurring in people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. A total of 86 participants, aged 18 to 25, who had been previously diagnosed as suffering from a mental disorder with psychosis as a symptom, were recruited for the study. Every day for 12 weeks, half of the participants got four grams of taurine along with their antipsychotic medication, while the other half got a placebo.

Signs of early or FEP include hearing, seeing, tasting or believing things that others don’t; sudden decline in self-care; and trouble thinking clearly or concentrating, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. These warning signs often point to a person’s deteriorating health, requiring a physical and neurological evaluation to help identify the problem. The severity of the participants’ symptoms was measured using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia (CDSS). The researchers also used a scale called the MATRICS consensus cognitive battery (MCCB) to measure changes in cognition.

After 12 weeks, those who received taurine has significantly improved scores on the BPRS, indicating a reduction in psychotic symptoms. They also experienced a significant decrease in depression, although there were no notable changes in cognition. The researchers suggest taurine could potentially act as an effective nutritional therapy in treating FEP.  However, they caution: “The use of taurine warrants further investigation in larger randomised studies, particularly early in the course of psychosis.”  Previous research supports taurine’s ability to aid symptoms in mental disorders. Its been used as an alternative to lithium, by blocking the effects of excess acetylcholine that contributes to bipolar disorder.

Researchers are still a long ways away from prescribing taurine to help with psychosis. It clear that the substance could potentially play an influential role in treating mental illness. But the dose used in the experiment is equivalent to drinking about four 250-millimeter cans of Red Bull in one sitting every day: This is not recommended, and for most people, it’s likely to lead to more problems than it would solve.

Source: Trial finds Red Bull additive taurine improves symptoms of young people suffering first episode psychosis. International Early Psychosis Association Meeting in Milan, Italy. 2016.

By Lizette Borreli, Displayed with permission from Medical Daily
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Most Women Are Confused About Cancer Screenings

A new survey courtesy of Planned Parenthood finds that many women are unfortunately in the dark about the basics of breast and cervical cancer screenings.
FREE PIXABAY question banner-1090830_1280 CC0 LICThe nonprofit organization teamed up with an independent research institution, NORC at the University of Chicago, to survey over 1,000 adult women across the country this past March. Among other questions, the women were asked about the age they should first get screened for either type of cancer and how often they should return for a follow-up. When it came to cervical cancer, around 70 percent of women said they knew the correct answer to each question, but only nine percent actually got it right for either. For breast cancer, it was even worse, with more than 80 percent saying they understood the correct time frames, but only four percent getting the first question right and 10 percent the second.

For both breast and cervical cancer, the age that an average woman should get their first screening is 21. With cervical cancer, follow-up screenings should happen every three years for women in their 20s, and every three to five years for women ages 30 to 64; with breast cancer, the rate of screenings should be every one to three years, depending on your family history. In particular for breast cancer, women often confused mammograms as the primary form of screening rather than physical breast exams. Thirty percent guessed the first screening should happen at age 40, which is actually the recommended age of the first mammogram, and 55 percent guessed that women under the age of 40 should receive both types of screenings.

“The survey shows that not enough women have accurate information about their recommended cancer screenings,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. The survey is the first of its kind commissioned by the organization, which wanted to understand how much women understood about cancer screenings given the updated recommendations issued by health agencies in recent years, according to Planned Parenthood spokesperson, Catherina Lozada.

Additionally, the survey demonstrated that a significant chunk of women haven’t gotten screened at all. Nineteen percent said they hadn’t been checked for cervical cancer, compared to 16 percent who said the same about breast cancer. And 39 percent and 23 percent of women said they weren’t sure when they should next get screened for cervical and breast cancer, respectively. These gaps were especially pronounced among Black and Hispanic women, who were not only less likely to get screened, but expressed facing more barriers to proper health care.

For instance, 42 percent of Hispanic women and 32 percent of Black women said that financial cost made them wary of cervical cancer screenings, compared to only 18 percent of white women. Similarly, these women felt more fearful of the test and of the potential results than their white counterparts. The findings only reaffirm a steady stream of research showing the disparities of cancer care experienced by people of color.

“The unfortunate reality is that women of color in the U.S. face more barriers to accessing health care than white women, and so are less likely to get preventive screenings, more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, and more likely to experience worse health outcomes when it comes to breast and cervical cancer,” explained McDonald-Mosley. Sadly, less than half of the women were aware that the Affordable Care Act has now made all insurance policies cover both types of screening completely free of charge.

“The survey revealed that almost half of women have never encouraged other women in their lives to get screened for cervical cancer, one of the most preventable cancers when caught early,” said McDonald-Mosley. “We hope more women will talk with their loved ones — mother, siblings, aunts, cousins, partners, and friends — about the importance of getting screened for breast and cervical cancer. You can simply ask when the last time they had a check-up was — and if they aren’t going in for screenings, ask what’s preventing them from getting care.”

Read More:  For Cancer Screenings, When Do The Benefits Outweigh The Risks? Read here
Ovarian Cancer Screening May Soon Be Conducted With A Simple Blood Test. Read here

Source:  National Survey of Women’s Knowledge of Recommended Screenings for Breast and Cervical Cancer. Planned Parenthood. 2016.

By Ed Cara; Displayed with permission from Medical Daily.  Read full article online at RePubHub:RePubHub Banner

 

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