A summary of important health news from the past week.
How States Are Using Medicaid Funds to Help the Homeless
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage to cover families living below the poverty line. States are creatively using the federally backed funds to help change lifestyle issues that lead to poor outcomes, including helping homeless individuals and families find permanent housing, who often need housing to access medical and psychiatric care.
Over the span of the past 15 years, deaths from AIDS in adolescent children have tripled, despite the increased efforts to help manage and educate about the disease. The study found that 26 people are infected every hour, while only 1 out of 10 children in sub-Saharan Africa actually get tested for the disease. Girls are more likely to be infected, and most of the teens who die from the disease were infected as infants, and adolescents account for the only age group with an increase in mortality from AIDS.
E. coli infections linked to Costco chicken salad
19 confirmed cases of E. Cole in a total 7 states have now been linked to chicken salad from Costco. Most of these cases have been reported in Western states, with four in Colorado and with a total of five hospitalizations and two cases of kidney failure. The E. Coli was linked to the Celery and Onion Diced Blend ingredient, in which the celery from Tracy Farms Pacific Inc., potentially carries the bacteria.
Breast-Feeding Is Good for Mothers, Not Just Babies, Studies Suggest
Recent studies have found that benefits of breastfeeding go beyond infant health. Women who breastfeed their babies have a decreased risk of a certain type of breast cancer, which could cause 5,000 fewer breast cancer diagnoses per year if every woman breastfed her babies. Additionally, breastfeeding is coming to be viewed as an important biological phase in the reproductive cycle; breastfeeding can "reset" the metabolism following pregnancy, which can decrease the persistence of gestational diabetes because it improves glucose tolerance and burns calories.
Sugar-free sodas may not be as safe for teeth as previously thought. The acidic components in these beverages, such as citric acid and phosphoric acid is responsible for softening the enamel of the tooth. The dental damage associated with sugar-free beverages is equally as damaging as that of sugary beverages. To protect your teeth from damage after drinking acidic beverages, rinse your mouth with water, chew sugarless gum to increase saliva flow, and avoid brushing your teeth for an hour.
A summary of important health news from the previous week.
By: Nicholas Bakalar
A large study with over 200,000 participants has found that coffee consumption is linked with a reduced risk of mortality from causes such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and neurological diseases. Although cancer rates are not decreased, the results show that increasing coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk. The maximum benefits were achieved through consumption of three to five cups a day, which resulted in 15% less risk. Of note, participants who smoked failed to experience the same health benefits, which researchers attribute the overwhelming negative effects of smoking. Although the study was not causal, it provides strong evidence that drinking this controversial caffeinated beverage has significant benefits.
By: Nicholas Bakalar
Recent research is showing that it may not be a good idea to shift your sleeping patterns on weekends. A greater "mismatch in sleep timing between weekdays and weekends" is linked to "lower HDL (good) cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher insulin resistance and higher body mass index."
By: John Henning Schumann
In this op-ed, a physicians presents a discussion on whether doctors should abandon the white coat. Although they are an important signal to other physicians, research shows they can be unhealthy and covered in bacteria, especially is not laundered frequently. But, the author asks, what could be the consequences of getting rid of this hallmark of the medical profession?
Two months after Liberia was declared free of the virus that took plight months ago, three deadly and additional cases have been reported. Two high risk patients have tested positive for the virus, and are currently being treated, and with over 4,800 deaths from the disease, the fight against ridding the West African nation from the disease is still ongoing.
By: Margarethe Goetz
Individuals living in Southeastern United States have long suffered from higher rates of death due to stroke in comparison to their counterparts living elsewhere in the U.S. This dubious distinction has earned this region of the U.S. the name, the “Stroke Belt.” The states that are included in the stroke belt are not strictly defined, though typically include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Unfortunately, residents of the Stroke Belt also shoulder a greater burden of heart disease and chronic kidney disease than those who live elsewhere in the U.S. Chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular diseases share many risk factors and each appears to lead to the progression of the other.
Demographic differences, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle factors are among a few of the potential causes of regional disparities in stroke, heart disease, and progression of chronic kidney disease. Demographic differences, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle factors are also associated with regional disparities in traditional cardiovascular risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, traditional risk factors do not fully explain the regional disparities in disease, leading public health researchers to examine whether other factors which influence health such as regional dietary differences, may further explain observed disparities.
Recently, a handful of studies using data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study, have investigated the association between different dietary patterns and the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke and death in those with existing chronic kidney disease. The REGARDS study, which began in 2003, uses longitudinal data from over 30,000 non-Hispanic black and white participants in the continental United States. The main advantage of studying dietary patterns rather than specific dietary components like the amount of fat or sugar consumed is that study participant diets are instead considered in their entirety. Foods and nutrients are not eaten in isolation and dietary pattern analysis addresses this common limitation in dietary studies. For example, if those who eat large amounts of red meat are found to also have more heart disease, it is not clear whether all of that red meat is detrimental to heart health or if meat eaters consume too few fruits and vegetables which could be detrimental to heart health… or perhaps the combination of both too much meat and too few fruits and vegetables is detrimental. Dietary pattern analysis, as was conducted in these studies, takes into consideration both the meat intake and the fruit and vegetable intake as well as other dietary factors.
In three different studies, researchers considered five distinct dietary patterns from the dietary survey data reported by a subsample of about 17,000 REGARDS study participants. By identifying patterns within the diverse REGARDS study population, authors hoped to identify social or cultural dietary patterns in food selection. Each participant’s diet was scored based on how much it adhered to each diet pattern. Five different dietary patterns emerged from participant reporting:
The results from the three studies found that those whose diet adhered most to a Southern dietary pattern tended to be male, non-Hispanic black, had incomes less than $20,000, and had not completed high school. In addition, high blood pressure, unfavorable blood cholesterol levels and diabetes mellitus were more frequently seen in those with high adherence than those with low adherence to a Southern diet pattern. Mirroring the increase in cardiovascular risk factors, those with diets highly conforming to a Southern dietary pattern had a 30% higher risk of first stroke compared to those with diets that did not highly conform to a Southern dietary pattern. Similarly, eating a Southern diet was associated with a 56% higher risk of an acute coronary heart disease event, such as heart attack. Finally, study participants who were diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and ate a Southern diet were at a 50% greater risk of death than those with chronic kidney disease who did not eat a Southern style diet. The associations between Southern style diets and disease outcomes persisted after adjusting statistical analyses for demographic factors, lifestyle factors and total energy intake. Surprisingly, other dietary patterns were not strongly associated with disease outcomes.
While it is possible that eating a Southern style diet is simply a marker for other unhealthy lifestyle habits, the results of these studies suggest that added fats, fried foods, processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to poorer health. Though these studies did not find any dietary pattern to be protective against cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, other studies have found that higher consumption of plant-based foods is associated with lower risk of heart attack, stroke and progression of chronic kidney disease. Gradually shifting diet away from one heavy in fried foods, processed meats, and sugar sweetened beverages by replacing unhealthy choices with plant-based foods, grilled or baked meat and avoiding added sugars may benefit overall well-being, especially cardiovascular and kidney health.
Gutierrez OM, Muntner P, Rizk DV, McClellan WM, Warnock DG, Newby PK et al. Dietary patterns and risk of death and progression to ESRD in individuals with CKD: a cohort study. American journal of kidney diseases : the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation. Aug 2014;64(2):204-213.
Judd SE, Gutierrez OM, Newby PK, et al. Dietary Patterns Are Associated With Incident Stroke and Contribute to Excess Risk of Stroke in Black Americans. Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation. Oct 24 2013.
Shikany JM, Safford MM, Newby PK, Durant RW, Brown TM, Judd SE. Southern Dietary Pattern is Associated with Hazard of Acute Coronary Heart Disease in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study. Circulation. Aug 10 2015.
Physicians at the Cleveland Clinic have begun trials for uterus transplants to help women suffering from infertility conceive. The process is highly similar to a typical transplant surgery, which requires intensive screenings and follow up care, and has a high financial cost. The benefits outweigh the risks for many women featured in the story; babies are typically born healthy and the uterus will come from an organ donor, leaving the potential mother with the most risk. With the success of pregnancies following transplants in Sweden, there is hope that uterus transplants could begin if the Cleveland Clinic trials are successful.
By: Carine Storrs
Researchers are testing a new experimental device for patients with kidney failure- the Wearable Artificial Kidney, or WAK. Instead of having a dialysis treatment several times a week, the patient wears the WAK 24/7, and it filters the blood continuously. The WAK filtrates almost exactly like an actual kidney and patients have not reported side effects.
By: Lynne Shallcross
A recent study in The BMJ compared the use of traditional cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) with a human to computer-based CBT programs. The study found that the computer programs, which are thought to be easier to access and more cost-effective, were no better than in-person CBT. Researchers note there is still something important about person-to-person contact in the treatment of depression.
By: CBC News
Researchers revived the long debate over whether BMI(body mass index) is an appropriate measurement of body fat. In a study conducted by Mayo Clinic, participants with the highest risk of dying were patients with normal BMI, but carried most of their fat in their abdomen. The explanation is that central obesity is linked to fat infiltrating the pancreas and liver.
Dieters don't have to banish junk food and soda, study suggests
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