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How Much Does Healthcare Influence Longevity?

May 15, 2019

(Medscape) – Healthcare is only one of several factors that affect longevity in the United States, a new study reaffirms. Behavioral and social factors have much more influence.Robert Kaplan, PhD, and Arnold Milstein, MD, MPH, from Stanford University School of Medicine’s Clinical Excellence Research Center in California, tested how much healthcare affects the risk for premature death using four different research methods and data sets. All four methods yielded the same conclusion: Healthcare accounts for between 5% and 15% (roughly 10%) of variation in premature death, whereas behavioral and social factors account for 16% to 65%.

The Hidden World of the Doctors Cuba Sends Overseas

May 14, 2019

(BBC) – Cuba has long been renowned for its medical diplomacy – thousands of its doctors work in healthcare missions around the world, earning the country billions of dollars in cash. But according to a new report, some of the doctors themselves say conditions can be nightmarish – controlled by minders, subject to a curfew and posted to extremely dangerous places, James Badcock reports.

New Liver Transplant Rules Begin Amid Fight Over Fairness

May 14, 2019

(ABC News) – Where you live makes a difference in how sick you have to be to get a transplant, or if you’ll die waiting. Now the nation’s transplant system is aiming to make the wait for livers, and eventually all organs, less dependent on your ZIP code. New rules mandating wider sharing of donated livers went into effect Tuesday despite a fierce and ongoing hospital turf war in federal court.

Why the Government Pays Billions to People Who Claim Injury by Vaccines

May 14, 2019

(The Atlantic) – As America enters the worst measles outbreak since the disease was declared eradicated two decades ago, it is worth examining this rarely talked about element of vaccination requirements. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has long percolated at the heart of misinformation and misunderstanding. It also raises questions about where large sums of tax money are flowing.

Few Black Patients Get Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction

May 14, 2019

(Reuters) – While the number of Americans getting drug treatment for opioid addiction is on the rise, a new study suggests that gains may be concentrated among white patients and people who can pay cash or have private health insurance. Researchers examined nationwide survey data on clinic visits for opioid addiction from 2004 to 2015. Their analysis focused on patients receiving prescriptions for buprenorphine, one of three drugs typically used to treat patients with opioid use disorder. 

Long-Term Studies Will Track Indelible Marks of First Flu

May 14, 2019

(Nature) – The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded two major grants to fund the first large-scale, long-term studies of how infants’ first exposures to influenza shape their immune systems. Researchers will follow the children for several years, starting at birth, to decipher how these early imprints affect an individual’s ability to fight off different strains later in life.

How Public Health Outreach Ended a 1990s Measles Outbreak and What’s Different Now

May 14, 2019

(NPR) – This year’s measles outbreak is the largest since the 1990s. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that 75 more measles cases were confirmed last week in 23 states, bringing the U.S. total to 839 so far this year. The outbreak from 1989 through 1991 was much larger than today’s, with more than 27,000 cases in 1990 alone. But the conditions that lead to that outbreak and what it took to end it are dramatically different from the ones the U.S. is seeing today.

Google Has Given $150,000 in Free Ads to Deceptive Anti-Abortion Groups

May 14, 2019

(The Guardian) – Google has given tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising to an anti-abortion group that runs ads suggesting it provides abortion services at its medical clinics, but actually seeks to deter “abortion-minded women” from terminating their pregnancies. The Obria Group, which runs a network of clinics funded by Catholic organisations, received a $120,000 Google advertising grant in 2015, according to a public filing. In 2011, it received nearly $32,000. Such grants are designed to support and expand the reach of non-profits around the world.

How Biotech Went from “No Way” to Payday in the Cannabis Business

May 14, 2019

(MIT Technology Review) – Melo isn’t alone. As biotechnology embraces the legal cannabis industry, not a few of its executives are grappling with a dilemma: what will it mean if they make the drug much easier to get? So far, 33 US states have legalized medical marijuana, and 10 of these also permit recreational use. In October 2018, Canada permitted pot sales nationally. Health Canada expects that its citizens will consume 926,000 kilograms of cannabis this year, or one to two billion joints’ worth. Most will be consumed by daily pot smokers, who make up about 5% of Canada’s adult population, according to the agency.

Stem Cell Treatments Flourish with Little Evidence That They Work

May 14, 2019

(New York Times) – Many people have become captivated by the idea of using stem cells to fix their damaged joints, and some claim to have been helped. But there is no clear evidence that these treatments work, and their safety has yet to be established. Most researchers, including those at the National Institutes of Health, think that efforts to sell therapies involving adult stem cells, which can develop into different types of cells to replenish tissue, have gotten way ahead of the science.

Injured Lungs Can Be Regenerated for Transplant: Study

May 14, 2019

(U.S. News & World Report) – Severely damaged lungs can be regenerated to be suitable for transplantation, researchers say. A transplant is the only lifesaving treatment for people with end-stage lung disease, but donor organs are in short supply. Up to 80 percent of donor lungs are rejected due to serious but potentially reversible injuries. Researchers hope to increase the supply of lungs available for transplant by recovering lungs that are now unsuitable for clinical use.

Cambodian Surrogates Face an Impossible Choice–Forced Motherhood, or Years in Prison

May 13, 2019

(Australian Broadcasting Co) – The circumstances are anything but conventional: Phalla was a surrogate paid to carry the baby for a couple in China. Now, due to stop-gate measures enacted by Cambodian authorities late last year intended to act as a deterrent to the practice of surrogacy, Phalla is among dozens of women forced to raise the child they bore. If she doesn’t, she faces up to 20 years in prison for human trafficking.

One-Off Injection May Drastically Reduce Heart Attack Risk

May 13, 2019

(The Guardian) – Doctors in the US have announced plans for a radical gene therapy that aims to drastically reduce the risk of heart attack, the world’s leading cause of death, with a one-off injection. The researchers hope to trial the therapy within the next three years in people with a rare genetic disorder that makes them prone to heart attacks in their 30s and 40s. If the treatment proves safe and effective in the patients, doctors will seek approval to offer the jab to a wider population.

Ten Ethical Flaws in the Caster Semenya Decision on Intersex in Sport

May 13, 2019

(The Conversation) – Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya will need to take hormone-lowering agents, or have surgery, if she wishes to continue her career in her chosen athletic events. The Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) decided last week to uphold a rule requiring athletes with certain forms of what they call “disorders of sex development” (DSD) – more commonly called “intersex” conditions – to lower their testosterone levels in order to still be eligible to compete as women in certain elite races. The case was brought to CAS by Semenya, as she argued discrimination linked to a 2018 decision preventing some women, including herself, from competing in some female events. This ruling is flawed. On the basis of science and ethical reasoning, there are ten reasons CAS’s decision does not stand up.

Treating a Patient with a Nightmarish Condition

May 13, 2019

(The New York Times) – She was young and strong, fought hard no matter what we did, tried to pull the breathing tube from her throat each time she approached sufficient consciousness to permit purposeful movement. Her eyelids were sewn shut to protect her eyes from desiccation, but this did not prevent tears from rolling down her face. In the burn surgery intensive care unit, she lived out this nightmare in a heated cage made of what looked and felt like plastic wrap: a necessary intervention, for she had lost every last bit of her skin.

Czech Lawmakers Are Finalizing Draft Amendment to the Organ Transplant Law

May 13, 2019

(The Epoch Times) – Czech lawmakers are finalizing a new law amendment intended to address organ transplant surgery practices in China. The law is the latest in a growing movement against involuntary organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China and human trafficking on a global scale. The new law amendment is intended to allow the prosecution of an organ transplant patient who obtains an organ from an involuntary donor. It is also intended to identify the countries to be banned from participating in organ transplantation, particularly China.

Experimental Drug for Huntington’s Disease Jams Malfunctioning Gene

May 10, 2019

(NPR) – Scientists are gearing up a major study to find out whether a drug can silence the gene that causes a devastating illness called Huntington’s disease. This development follows the discovery that the experimental drug reduced levels of the damaged protein that causes this mind-robbing ailment. The new study will determine whether that drug can also stop progression of the disease. It is also another sign that drugs built with DNA, or its cellular collaborator RNA, can be powerful tools for tempering diseases that until now have seemed out of reach.

Is It a Feminist Right to Want More Sex? One Company Thinks a Pill Is the Answer.

May 10, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – The effort, called a “disease awareness” campaign, troubles critics because it attempts to define low sexual desire as a widespread disease that is treatable with a pill. Although doctors recognize that there is (perhaps) a condition called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, many of the studies defining HSDD were sponsored by the drugmaker. Almost all doctors on the 2016 consensus panel that defined HSDD were consultants or on Sprout’s advisory board. To further complicate matters, in the studies that led to Addyi’s approval, results were not terribly impressive. And, for those who would simply like a little more sex in their lives, is it worth a $400-a-month pill?

My Liver, Your Kidney: the World’s First Non-Identical Organ Swap

May 10, 2019

(New Scientist) – So Deveza came up with a different plan. In 2017 she instigated the world’s first paired exchange of different organs between living donors, swapping half her liver for someone else’s kidney. A case study of the organ swap has now been published, and the surgeons who were involved are calling for more exchanges like this. “You can imagine the enormous impact for mixed organ extended chains,” says John Roberts, a surgeon at University of California, San Francisco.

Gilead Will Donate Truvada for HIV Prevention, But Reaction Is Mixed

May 10, 2019

(STAT News) – Seeking to blunt criticism of its pricing, Gilead Sciences (GILD) is donating enough of its HIV prevention pill to cover as many as 200,000 patients over the next 11 years. The donation will cover both the existing Truvada pill, which has been the subject of battles with AIDS activists, and still another drug the company hopes will also win regulatory approval to prevent the virus.

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