Exercise Improves Bone Health

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A new research study from the University of North Carolina suggests that

  • There is fat in bone marrow. Higher levels are linked to weaker bone density and higher risk of fracture.
  • Exercise reduces marrow fat, and causes improvement in bone mass.
  • Exercise has a greater impact on the bones of obese people than those who are already lean.
  • The effects can show up in a matter of weeks.

“Obesity appears to increase a fat depot in the bone, and this depot behaves very much like abdominal and other fat depots,” said Styner. “Exercise is able to reduce the size of this fat depot and burn it for fuel and at the same time build stronger, larger bones.” (1)

The research is based on a study of mice, but establishes that the cells producing fat in mouse marrow are also found in humans.

Although research in mice is not directly translatable to the human condition, the kinds of stem cells that produce bone and fat in mice are the same kind that produce bone and fat in humans. (1)

Please excuse me while I go for a jog.


Sources:

  1. Maya Styner, Gabriel M Pagnotti, Cody McGrath, Xin Wu, Buer Sen, Gunes Uzer, Zhihui Xie, Xiaopeng Zong, Martin A Styner, Clinton T Rubin, Janet Rubin. Exercise Decreases Marrow Adipose Tissue Through ß-Oxidation in Obese Running Mice. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3159

How Safe Is Your Kitchen?

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An exploration of a sample of kitchens in Philadelphia by a research team at Drexel findsth that most have serious food safety violations that could affect the health of those who cook and eat there. How does yours compare?

The study: the researchers visited 100 homes with a visual checklist that inspectors use for health inspections for restaurants.

What they found:

  • In 97% of the homes, raw meat was stored improperly. In some cases, juice from the raw meet was dripping down on ready-to-eat food.
  • In 43% of the homes, raw meet was stored at an improperly high temperature, allowing bacteria to flourish.
  • Traces of pests were found in 65% of the kitchens.
  • Fecal coliform bacteria was present in 44% of the kitchens.
  • E. coli was found in 15% of the kitchens.
  • At least one foodborne pathogen was discovered in 45% of the kitchens, and 12 percent had more than one type. Listeria was found in 15%.

The key problem areas were sinks, sponges, dishcloths and refrigerators set to a too-high temperature.

Recommendations:

  1. Check the temperature setting for the fridge.
  2. Microwave your sponges for one minute each day.
  3. Disinfect the sink.
  4. Wash hands before handling food.

Common sense would be nice, too!

It’s hard to complain about healthcare costs when we’re making ourselves sick!

Disclosure: My son attended Drexel University; I’ve very impressed with that school.


Sources:

  1. Patricia A. Borrusso, Jennifer J. Quinlan. Prevalence of Pathogens and Indicator Organisms in Home Kitchens and Correlation with Unsafe Food Handling Practices and Conditions. Journal of Food Protection, 2017; 80 (4): 590 DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-354
  2. Drexel University. “Most home kitchens in Philadelphia study would earn severe code violations: Bacteria-laden sponges and poor raw meat storage main culprits.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170509132844.htm>.

ATVs, Children and ERs

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With summer temperatures hitting much of the US this week, this is a timely topic.

In the most recent year for which data is available (2013), there were 99,600 ATV accidents in the US that required treatment at an Emergency Room. One-quarter of these involved riders younger than 16. That’s approximately 25,000 kids.

Five states account for 80% of child deaths on ATVs: Texas, California, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission actually warns against having kids drive or ride as a passenger on an adult ATV. That and the lack of safety gear are what make this a public health nuisance and a contributor to health insurance rates.

ATVInfographicStates


Sources:

 

  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “ATV-related injuries in children remain large public health problem.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170415182157.htm>.
  • US Government Accountability Office, “All Terrain Vehicles,” April 2010.
    US Consumer Products Safety Comission, “ATV Safety Center.” https://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/ATV-Safety-Information-Center/
  • US Consumer Products Safety Comission, “Five States Account for 25 Percent of All Reported ATV-Related Deaths in the United States,” 17 Feb. 2017.

British Columbia bans mandatory high heels at work

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I’m sure there will be mixed comments on this, but it makes sense for several reasons:

  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Productivity
  • Gender equity

As noted in a previous blog, US emergency rooms treated an average of more than 12,000 injuries each year between 2002 and 2012, and the trend is increasing. (1)

Health insurance costs being what they are, how does requiring employees to wear heels make any sense?

So, one Canadian province has taken action. (2) The government of British Columbia has stipulated that employers can no longer require high heels as part of a work dress code.

Very intelligent.  No wonder people live longer in Canada.

This discussion calls to mind a classic issue that has arisen in relation to motor cycle helmets, seat belts, physical fitness, impaired driving, and vaccines — an individual’s actions affect others.

What do you do when one person’s choice can raise health insurance costs for everyone else? Each person who pursues a risky behavior adds a small increment to the costs borne by health insurers, and the little pieces add up. Of course, the health insurer response is to raise rates to cover these costs. Everyone who has insurance pays more. 

US public policy in this area is at best erratic. Some rules support individual liberty; some what is best for the majority. Very inconsistent.


Sources:

  1. Mary Elizabeth Dallas, “Injuries from high heels on the rise,” Spectrum Health Healthbeat, 13 JUne, 2015. http://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/injuries-from-high-heels-on-the-rise/
  2. Jamie Feldman, “New Canadian Law Bans Mandatory High Heels At Work,” Huffington Post, 10 April 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/high-heels-at-work_us_58eba4b9e4b0c89f9120220c?arq&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Lifestyle%20041017&utm_content=Lifestyle%20041017+Version+A+CID_8acfd2db7513e868287551b794356c32&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Read%20more&%20041017

Environmental Causes of Illness

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The battle about whether environmental pollution causes cancer seems to mirror the long fight to establish acceptance of the link between cigarettes and lung cancer.   It wasn’t accepted  until we had documentation of the specific mechanics of cell transformation into cancer. Even with that documentation, there remain a few skeptics.

A new study from Lehigh university links birth defects and low birth weight babies to emissions from coal-powered power plants. The plant in question is now partially closed and has been converted to run on other fuels. However, the emissions from that plant appear to have injured newborns in four NJ counties. That is another demonstration of the broad reach of pollution from a single plant.

This raises an interesting quandary. Can one be pro-life and pro-coal?


Sources:

  1. Muzhe Yang et. al. “The Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Power Plant Emissions on Birth Weight: Evidence from a Pennsylvania Power Plant Located Upwind of New Jersey,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 4 April 2017, DOI: 10.1002/pam.21989. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pam.21989/full

More on Strep Throat

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This isn’t Halloween, and this story isn’t funny.  Here’s the short version:strepthroat_456px

  • Father contracts step throat in early March.
  • Family is tested for strep.
  • Six-year old daughter has bacteria even though she has shown no symptoms, and is given a ten-day course of antibiotics.
  • Daughter starts exhibiting flu-like symptoms on March 25th, and is misdiagnosed has having Influenza A.
  • On March 27th, she has pain and swelling on left leg, and is rushed to Arkon Children’s Hospital. She is now diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria.
  • Her leg is amputated below the knee.

Strep throat normally affects the tonsils and throat. The cause is Streptococcus bacteria. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, it can then cause necrotizing fasciitis, which is life threatening.

What the CDC says about how you get strep:

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by group A Streptococcusbacteria (called “group A strep”). Group A strep bacteria can also live in a person’s nose and throat without causing illness. The bacteria are spread through contact with droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these droplets on it, you may become ill. If you drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as a sick person, you could also become ill. It is also possible to get strep throat from touching sores on the skin caused by group A strep. (2)

This is the third published report in recent weeks about amputations related to strep.

What you need to consider:

  • Strep bacteria can live in the nose for weeks without symptoms. It’s possible that a saline nasal spray may help reduce the risk of infection or ease symptoms once infection starts.
  • If someone in your family gets it, everyone needs to be tested. Same for the workplace.
  • Don’t expose others to strep unnecessarily. Stay home from work or school.

Sources:

  1. Brian Zimmerman, “6-year-old loses leg after complication from strep throat,” Becker’s Infection Control and Clinical Quality, 5 April 2017. http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/6-year-old-loses-leg-after-complication-from-strep-throat.html
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Worried your sore throat may be strep?” https://www.cdc.gov/features/strepthroat/
  3. eMedicine Health, “Strep Throat: Home Treatment.” http://www.emedicinehealth.com/strep_throat_home_treatment-health/article_em.htm

Photo courtesy CDC website.

Lung Cancer and Women

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Media attention doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s most important to you.  Consider this comparison, based on 2016 statistics from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute:

Cancer type               Estimated number of new cases         Estimated number of deaths

Breast cancer                               252,710                                                 40,610

Lung cancer                                 222,500                                                155,870  (1)

Lung cancer accounts for just over 9% of deaths from all types of cancers.

Which should worry you more?

Understand that you don’t have to be female to contract breast cancer, and you don’t have to be a smoker to contract lung cancer.  Pollution is sufficient.

Early detection is best for both types of cancers. For breast cancer, you look for a lump. The test is easy. If you have a cat or dog, the animal may even paw at the area of the lump. You just need to look.

For lung cancer, the only early sign is a persistent dry cough — something that just doesn’t go away in a week or two, the way the cough associated with a cold should.  If the cough brings up blood, that’s a red flag, but the persistent cough by itself should prompt a visit to the doctor — sometimes visits to multiple doctors to get the diagnosis right.

Unfortunately, the dry cough is easy to ignore, and that’s when people get into trouble. By the time other symptoms appear, the cancer may have spread and be much more difficult to treat successfully. The five-year survival rate for Stage IV lung cancer is less than 10%. When one friend of mine finally was diagnosed, he lasted only a few months.

Listen to your body.


Sources:

  1. National Cancer Institute, “Common Cancer Types.” https://www.cancer.gov/types/common-cancers
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Statistics for Different Kinds of Cancers.” https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/data/types.htm
  3. Amy Marturana, “The one very subtle symptom of lung cancer you need to know,” Self, 20 May 2017. https://www.aol.com/article/lifestyle/2017/03/20/subtle-symptom-lung-cancer/21903320/
  4. LungCancer.org, “Symptoms of Lung Cancer.” http://www.lungcancer.org/find_information/publications/163-lung_cancer_101/266-symptoms