Family inHome Caregiving Blog
Food allergies are often hard to detect and now some doctors are recommending that those who suffer from gastrointestinal problems keep a meticulous food journal. Although this can be tedious and time consuming, it’s one sure fire way to get to the bottom of a food allergy. Already in use by many vegans (to make sure they get enough protein in their diet) and diabetics (to keep track of sugar consumption), they can be a useful tool to correlate when you have gastrointestinal issues with what you have eaten. And it’s now easier to do than ever before with new tools that you can use online or with your cell phone such as MyFitnessPal, FatSecret, CalorieCount and Lose It! Or wearables like Jawbone’s UP which many on the Weight Watcher diet use regularly.
Although it’s obvious that there are differences for men and women in cancers like breast and prostate, other types of cancer behave very differently in men and women and often require different treatment options. A new study which was published in the journal Cancer found that there are important differences in the genetics of many tumors between men and women which can impact the development of the disease as well as how aggressive it will become. The findings are likely to result in new drug developments and new strategies for preventing and treating cancers for men and women. Previous to this study it was well known that men are more likely to get cancer and to die from it from women, however, “The gender effect in terms of molecular analysis is largely ignored in the field,” Han Lian, associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center,” told The Wall Street Journal. His study is likely to open up a whole new field of research.
Three million men will undergo a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test this year despite the fact that many insurance companies won’t pay for them. Of those, 20% are likely to find elevated PSA levels which signal prostate cancer may be present. Of those 6 million, 1 million will undergo a prostate biopsy and about 180,000 will get a prostate cancer diagnosis. Although the odds of actually having prostate cancer are fairly low at 180K out of 6 million (which is why many insurance companies refuse to pay the bill), it seems well worth the money if you could be one of those 180K people. About 26K of these 180K will die from aggressive forms of prostate cancer which weren’t caught and treated on time. Prostate cancer is very easy to treat if caught early so the risk reward payoff for this type of test seems well worth it.
Malpractice suits can be very expensive for physicians and their insurance companies but now the scientific community is trying to have some good come out of them. Researchers are mining data from malpractice lawsuits to find out what mistakes put patients at risk and expose hospitals and physicians to a legal liability. The data mining identifies the most common mistakes that are made and feeds this back to hospitals which, in turn, are using this data to develop new safety protocols and prevention strategies. At least all of those malpractice insurance premiums aren’t going to waste and hopefully that will make all of us feel safer when we have to go into the hospital. If malpractice suits can be reduced it will be a relief for those who could have been harmed as well as the medical community. Astonishingly, the average doctor spends over 50 months or 11% of their 40 year career with an unresolved malpractice case hanging over their head (according to a study which was published in the journal Health Affairs).
Pancreatic cancer has long been a difficult disease to treat but it’s also one of the most painful ways to die. Researchers, however, are hoping that they can starting using Artificial Intelligence to find a new way to treat this aggressive form of cancer, the third most common type of cancer killer in the United States. More than 53,000 people will receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, and of these, about 73% will die within a year. Berg, a biotech startup, thinks that they can use data analytics software and in-the-lab drug development to find a new treatment for this disease as well as diabetes and central nervous system disorders. It uses massive amount of biological data to find connections between healthy and sick patients which enables more efficient drug development. Let’s hope this new strategy will work. Many thousands of people could be saved by a new drug treatment.
Generic drugs used to be super cheap compared to their name-brand versions, but not anymore. Pharmaceutical companies have been raising the prices of popular drugs so dramatically that many generic producers are coming to market with similar drugs which are priced just slightly below their name-brand counterpart. Dubbed biosimilars, these knockoffs are hardly a bargain. Humira, for instance, one of the top selling drugs which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, has raised its list price eight times in preparation for its patent expiration on December 31. The drug has jumped by 73% and now costs $49,362 for one year’s treatment. It’s a sad situation and explains why the government is investigating drug price increases at many companies.
Many hospitals are starting to train young doctors in resilience as they struggle to deal with the seriously ill and dying patients as well as having to deal with their family. It’s traumatic for everyone, and many new physicians simply haven’t developed the skills to deal with it. The program is based on one currently in use for active-duty military personnel and their families by the U.S. Defense Department, as military personnel have to frequently deal with the seriously injured and those who die in the line of battle. Some hospitals are also calling weekly meetings with residents, fellows, nurses and social workers so they can discuss the most traumatic medical events that have happened in the hospital over the past week. This is a great program as the last thing we need is to put the psychiatric health of our doctors and nurses at risk.
The most comprehensive survey ever to be completed on the relationship between wealth and longevity was published in the journal JAMA. It found that there is a correlation between wealth and longevity, although there were some caveats. As the rich get richer, their lifespan does tend to increase, with the top 1% in income living 10-15 years longer than those at the bottom of the income rung. However, the variances in low income people were large. Those living in cities like New York or San Francisco that were low-income lived much longer than those in cities like Detroit and Tulsa. Researchers attribute this to things like smoking and unhealthy diets in areas that aren’t metropolitan.
Treating one health problem often results in side effects which can bring on another illness. A recent study which was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that long-term use of the heartburn and acid reflux drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prilosec and Nexium have been linked to a higher risk of bone fracture, pneumonia and heart problems. They also results in a 2-50% increase in the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. They can also bring on dementia. If you take these drugs regularly, talk to your physician.