- -001 Hard Questions From Judges Over Health Insurance (New York Times)
"The legal question for the justices was whether Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority in requiring most Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty. The practical question was whether Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement would survive."
"The law is the most ambitious piece of social legislation in generations. In attempting to deliver health care to tens of millions of Americans without insurance, it relied on a controversial mechanism at the center of Tuesday’s arguments -- requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty." 03-12
- -01 New Preventive Health Services Now Free (Time.com)
"From birth control to breast-feeding support, American women are now eligible for eight additional preventive health care benefits without copay under the Affordable Care Act."
"Comprehensive preventive care coverage will now be provided for insured women enrolling in new health care plans or renewing their existing policies on or after Aug. 1, 2012." 08-12
- -02-24-12 Health Depicted in the Movies (PBS News)
"Dr. Howard Markel assesses the accuracy of the health themes explored in some of the 2012 Oscar nominees." 02-12
- -03-29-12 A Single Antibody May Cure Multiple Cancers (Time.com)
"A single treatment to cure all cancers? Scientists may be one step closer."
"In a recent study, scientists reported that they successfully tested an antibody treatment that shrank human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumors transplanted into mice. The antibody blocks a protein called CD47, which normally sits on the cell surface and issues a 'don’t eat me' signal that prevents the body’s immune system from attacking it."
"The researchers started by exposing tumor cells to macrophages, and the CD47-blocking antibody treatment, in a petri dish. When the antibody wasn’t present, the tumor cells survived. But when the antibody bound itself to CD47 and blocked its 'don’t eat me' signal, the macrophages destroyed the cancers." 03-12
- -04-04-12 Diagnosis of Autism Through Mutant Genes (New York Times)
"Teams of scientists working independently to understand the biology of autism have for the first time homed in on several gene mutations that they agree sharply increase the chances that a child will develop the disorder, and have found further evidence that the risk increases with the age of the parents, particularly in fathers over age 35."
"There are probably hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand, gene variations that could disrupt brain development enough to result in social delays. An intensified search for rare mutations could turn up enough of these to account for 15 percent to 20 percent of all autism cases, some experts say, and allow researchers a chance to see patterns and some possible mechanisms to explain what goes awry."
"In one of the new studies, Dr. Matthew W. State, a professor of genetics and child psychiatry at Yale led a team that looked for de novo mutations in 200 people who had been given an autism diagnosis, as well as in parents and siblings who showed no signs of the disorder. The team found that two unrelated children with autism in the study had de novo mutations in the same gene — and nothing similar in those without a diagnosis.
“ 'That is like throwing a dart at a dart board with 21,000 spots and hitting the same once [sic] twice,' Dr. State said. 'The chances that this gene is related to autism risk is something like 99.9999 percent.' " 04-12
- -06-12-12 Insurers: Some Health Care Provisions Will Stay (PBS.org)
"UnitedHealthcare, one of the country's largest health insurers, said Monday it would keep several provisions of the federal health reform law intact, whether the Supreme Court rejects it or not."
"Well, the ones that United said today it was keeping and that other insurers echoed are exactly those that have already gone into effect, first of all, for example, coverage of certain preventive measures, mammographies, colonoscopies without any cost-sharing or co-payments or deductibles by individuals, coverage of dependents, adult children, up to the age of 26, another very popular provision that most insurers have already implemented."
"In addition to that, a requirement that there be a very expedited, very clear appeals process. Abolition of lifetime limits on insurance policies, so you can't max out at a million dollars of total coverage and then have no insurance -- in fact, no more lifetime limits. And then, in addition, a rule against rescissions of policies, so that, for example, if you sign up for a policy, you testify that you're healthy, but then it's suddenly discovered that you have cancer, it used to be the case that insurers could actually rescind the policy."
"Now many of them have essentially decided not to do that. And, in fact, under the law, they don't do that, they cannot do that. And instead they will only basically cancel a policy if it's found that you somehow applied for it on a fraudulent basis. So, those are the core provisions that are already in effect and that these insurers have said that they will continue." 06-12
- -07-03-12 Three Different Views on the Affordable Health Care Act (PBS.org)
"It's far from a representative sample, but the NewsHour recently profiled three ordinary Americans whose opinions of health care reform have been shaped by events in their lives. We caught up with each of them after the ruling, and, like almost everyone else in the U.S., their thoughts on the matter haven't shifted a bit." 07-12
- -07-11-12 Melinda Gates Launches Global Effort for Contraception (Time.com)
"Decades of research shows, conclusively, that improving access to contraception is good for women, good for children, good for countries. Yet over the last 15 years, support for family planning programs has plummeted. The redirection of development funds to HIV/AIDS programs explains some, but not all, of the drop. Coercive campaigns like China’s one-child policy and forced sterilizations in India have fostered suspicion about state-backed population programs. Conservative religious groups, particularly in the United States, have tried to link family planning to forced abortion. In 2002, President George W. Bush cut funding to the United Nations Population Fund completely, turning birth control into a bad word. The cause has yet to recover. Support from Gates, a Catholic who enjoys support from conservatives and liberals alike, could turn this around." 07-12
- -07-12-12 Study: Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease Found (BBC - EIN News)
"Scientists have assembled a 'timeline' of the unseen progress of Alzheimer's before symptoms appear."
"It's likely that any new treatment for Alzheimer's would need to be given early to have the best chance of success."
"The ability to detect the very earliest stages of Alzheimer's would not only allow people to plan and access care and existing treatments far sooner, but would also enable new drugs to be trialled in the right people, at the right time." 07-12
- -08-31-12 Study: Low-Carb Diet Excels (USA TodayCNN News)
"A review of 17 different studies that followed a total of 1,141 obese patients on low-carb eating plans — some were similar to the Atkins diet — found that dieters lost an average of almost 18 pounds in six months to a year.""
""Low-carb eating plans slash the consumption of breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, cakes, cookies and some fruits and starchy vegetables while beefing up intake of fish, chicken, beef, eggs, butter, cheese and some vegetables and fruits." 08-12
- -09-05-12 High Blood Pressure Associated With Brain Shrinkage (CBS News)
"You may be at risk for shrinkage in areas of your brain that have been linked to dementia even if your blood sugar is just on the high end of the normal range." 09-12
- -09-05-12 Some Fit Obese Individuals Not at a Greater Risk (CBS News)
"Usually being obese means a higher chance of developing health problems. But, a new study shows that it is possible to be fat and fit - and also to be at no greater risk for some chronic diseases."
"People who were deemed 'metabolically healthy' obese individuals - meaning they had no insulin resistance, diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure issues - had a lower risk of death than unfit obese individuals. They had no greater risk of death than normal weight fit people." 09-12
- -09-14-12 Stem Cells Restore Hearing in Animals (Time.com)
"In a promising early study, researchers from the U.K. restored hearing in deaf gerbils by using human embryonic stem cells. It’s an encouraging finding for some of the millions of people who suffer from hearing disorders."
"Stem cells can be coaxed into any type of cell in the body, and while they have been turned into auditory nerve cells before, this is the first study to show that such transplanted cells can actually restore hearing." 09-12
- -09-15-12 Brain Implant Improves Thinking in Monkeys (New York Times)
"Scientists have designed a brain implant that sharpened decision making and restored lost mental capacity in monkeys, providing the first demonstration in primates of the sort of brain prosthesis that could eventually help people with damage from dementia, strokes or other brain injuries."
"The device, though years away from commercial development, gives researchers a model for how to support and enhance fairly advanced mental skills in the frontal cortex of the brain, the seat of thinking and planning." 09-12
- -09-19-12 Study: Arsenic in Rice (ABC News)
"According to a sobering report released to 'Good Morning America' by Consumer Reports magazine this morning, rice eaten just once a day can drive arsenic levels in the human body up 44 percent. Rice eaten twice a day can lead to a 70 percent increase in arsenic."
" 'We think that consumers ought to take steps to moderate their consumption,' said Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports." 09-12
- -09-24-12 Cancer Progress (CNN News)
"Doctors at MD Anderson believe that dying from cancer can eventually be as rare as dying from pneumonia. And DePinho believes this can happen sooner rather later for patients suffering from the following five types of cancer:"
"-- lung cancer
-- triple negative breast cancer and ovarian cancer (which are very similar on the molecular level)
-- prostate cancer
-- acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome & chronic lymphocytic leukemia (blood cancers)" 09-12
- -09-24-12 Pediatricians Warn Against Children Using Trampolines (Time.com)
"Parents should be discouraged from letting kids bounce on trampolines at home, according to an updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)."
"Overall, fractures and sprains make up the bulk of the harms in any age group, while falls from the apparatus, which can be catastrophic, cause 27% to 39% of all injuries. The statement notes that failed attempts at somersaults and flips frequently cause cervical spine injuries, resulting in permanent and devastating consequences." 09-12
- -10-09-12 Home-Testing Kit for H.I.V. Released (New York Times)
"The first rapid home-testing kit for H.I.V. has just gone on sale for $40, marketed as a way for people to find out privately if they have the virus that causes AIDS." 10-12
- -10-18-12 Mississippi Rejects Expansion of Medicaid (ABC News)
"Mississippi has long been one of the sickest and poorest states in America, with some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease and more than 1 in 7 residents without insurance. And so you might think Mississippi would jump at the prospect of billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid."
"You'd be wrong."
"Leaders of the deeply conservative state say that even if Mississippi receives boatloads of cash under President Barack Obama's health care law, it can't afford the corresponding share of state money it will have to put up to add hundreds of thousands of people to the government health insurance program for the poor."
"That's $1 from the state for every $23 from Uncle Sam."
"Supporters of the expansion say turning down the money for doctors' visits, prescriptions and other care would itself be foolish fiscal policy, not only hurting the poor but jeopardizing the jobs of thousands of people at hospitals and other institutions that rely on Medicaid money."
"Ultimately, pressure from politically powerful health care groups might make it difficult for Mississippi leaders to reject the money. Hospital administrators worry that without a Medicaid expansion, they could be saddled with rising costs from treating uninsured patients." 10-12
- -11-30-12 Study: How Do People Age Well? (Science Matters Bookclub)
" 'We all need models for how to live from retirement to past 80--with joy,' writes George Vaillant, M.D., director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. This groundbreaking book pulls together data from three separate longevity studies that, beginning in their teens, followed 824 individuals for more than 50 years. The subjects were male Harvard graduates; inner-city, disadvantaged males; and intellectually gifted women."
"We also learn what makes old age vital and interesting. Vaillant discusses the important adult developmental tasks, such as identity, intimacy, and generativity (giving to the next generation), and provides important clues to a healthy, meaningful, satisfying old age. Health in old age, we learn, is not predicted by low cholesterol or ancestral longevity, but by factors such as a stable marriage, adaptive coping style (the ability to make lemonade out of life's lemons), and regular exercise." 11-12
- -12-12-11 Ways to Prevent Diabetes (RealAge.com)
"The bigger your belt is, the higher your chances are of developing metabolic syndrome and prediabetes -- two blood sugar problems that are rising faster than gas prices. Don't brush 'em off as 'not my problem.' Instead, take the proactive route by asking your doctor for a fasting blood sugar test." 12-11
- -12-13-12 Health Insurance Costs Set to Rise Greatly (NBC News)
"If trends continue at their historical rate, the average premium for family coverage will reach nearly $25,000 by 2020." 12-12