Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fadi Ghanem MD: 5 Fatty Foods That Are Actually Healthy

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Fadi Ghanem MD Family Physician

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Insulin Pumps Give Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Better Blood Sugar Control

Study included almost 55,000 children and teens.

Insulin Pumps Give Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Better Blood Sugar Control

Nov. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Insulin pumps help improve blood sugar control in children and teens with type 1 diabetes, researchers are reporting.

People with type 1 diabetes no longer produce enough insulin — a hormone necessary for the body and brain to use the carbohydrates in foods as fuel. Before insulin pumps, the only way to replace the lost insulin was through multiple daily injections of insulin.

Insulin pumps use a thin tube that’s inserted under the skin to deliver the missing insulin. Insulin pump sites — that’s where the tubing goes into the skin — typically have to be changed every three days, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). People with diabetes still have to tell the pump to deliver insulin, and how much insulin to deliver. They are not fully automated.

For the new study, researchers looked at three diabetes registries in the United States, Germany/Austria and England/Wales that included 55,000 children and teens with type 1 diabetes. The researchers — led in the United States by Dr. Jennifer Sherr, at Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Conn. — compared hemoglobin A1C levels among youngsters with type 1 diabetes who used either insulin pumps or insulin injections.

The hemoglobin A1C test provides a two- to three-month average of blood sugar levels. An A1C level of 7.5 percent or less is generally recommended for children and teens with type 1 diabetes, according to the ADA.

The study revealed that mean A1C levels were 8 percent for those using insulin pumps. For those using insulin injections, the study found a mean A1C level of 8.5 percent.

The researchers also found that only 22 percent of kids in ethnic minorities had pumps, compared with 34 percent of non-minority children. In addition, the study authors discovered that girls were more likely to have pumps than boys — 34 percent versus 30 percent.

The study was published in the Nov. 7 online edition of the journal Diabetologia.

Experts say that most children with type 1 diabetes qualify for insulin pump use. But there are wide variations in the availability and use of the devices, the researchers said.

The study authors called for further research into expanding the use of insulin pumps among young patients regardless of age, sex, ethnicity or country.

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Knee Arthritis: Steroid Shots May Not Help Long-Term, Ozone Injections Promising

Two studies test out old and new treatments for the debilitating ailment.

Knee Arthritis: Steroid Shots May Not Help Long-Term, Ozone Injections Promising

TUESDAY, Nov. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Millions of aging Americans are plagued by arthritic knees, and two new studies offer insight into what might — or might not — help curb the condition.

Both studies were presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

One study found that a popular therapy, steroid drug injections, do nothing to slow progression of osteoarthritis in the knee. This type of treatment is common, but has never been specifically tested, and there are concerns about its safety, according to a team led by Dr. Tim McAlindon, chief of rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

His team tracked outcomes for 140 people — mainly overweight white women — with knee arthritis who averaged 58 years of age. The patients received either injections of the steroid triamcinolone hexacetonide, or placebo injections of saline, every three months for two years.

While the steroid injections were deemed to be safe, they did not improve long-term outcomes of pain, mobility or joint damage compared to the placebo, the Boston researchers reported.

But two experts who reviewed the findings said that steroid shots may still have a place in knee arthritis care.

“It is widely accepted that these injections do not alter the natural progression of knee osteoarthritis, but are used for symptom reduction,” noted Dr. Neil Roth, an orthopedic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

In fact, he said, there is no injection that halts progression of knee osteoarthritis. Presently, however, steroid shots “are helpful in alleviating the pain associated with arthritis inflammation,” Roth said.

Dr. Calin Moucha is chief of adult reconstruction and joint replacement surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He agreed with Roth that “steroid injections should continue to be used for temporary symptom relief in patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis who are trying to postpone knee replacement surgery.”

Moucha also believes that healthy weight loss and “low-impact aerobic physical activity” can help ease the discomfort of knee arthritis.

The Boston researchers agreed that steroid shots may have a place as a short-term method of pain relief. “Additionally, the dose was fairly small [40 milligrams], and we might have seen greater effects with a higher strength formulation,” McAlindon said in a meeting news release.

Other treatments for arthritic knees may be on the horizon, however. A second, small study found that injections of ozone gas into the joint reduced pain and improved movement for people with knee osteoarthritis.

The Brazilian trial included 63 patients who received injections of ozone gas into the knee and a control group of 35 who received injections of air. Previous research has suggested that ozone, a naturally occurring gas, may help reduce inflammation.

The patients who received the ozone gas showed significant improvements in pain, physical function, overall health and quality of life, compared to those in the control group, the researchers said. However, there were no major differences between the two groups in the amount of time it took them to stand up, walk, return and sit.

Researchers Carlos Cesar Lopes de Jesus and Virginia Fernandes Moca Trevisani, of Federal University of Sao Paulo’s Paulista School of Medicine, believe that the ozone injections may ease pain for patients and delay the need for joint replacement surgery.

However, they added that further research is need to confirm these findings and to determine whether ozone could offer an alternative treatment.

Roth agreed that the research is promising but preliminary.

The use of ozone injections is “interesting in concept,” he said, but the study did have some flaws.

“The authors do not differentiate the levels of osteoarthritis for these patients and it is difficult to know if they are testing predominantly lower levels of arthritis,” Roth said. The therapy “certainly needs further study to see what type of patients, if any, would truly benefit from the injection of ozone gas into the knee,” he said.

Experts note that data and conclusions presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Giving Birth, Breast-feeding May Help Women’s Long-Term Health

Researchers find link between childbirth and lower risk of death from cancer or heart disease

senior and baby

FRIDAY, Oct. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Having babies and breast-feeding may extend a woman’s life, new research suggests.

Other beneficial factors appear to include starting menstruation at a later age and using birth control pills.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 323,000 women in 10 European countries who were followed for an average of about 13 years. During that time, more than 14,300 of the women died. Nearly 6,000 died of cancer and more than 2,400 from circulatory system diseases.

The study found fewer deaths among women who gave birth between the ages of 26 and 30 than among those who were older or who gave birth at age 20 or younger. Women who breast-fed also lived longer than those who did not.

The risk of cancer death was lower in women who had given birth than among those who had not, and was lower among those who gave birth to two or three children than among those with one child. Among women who never smoked or were former smokers, those who used birth control pills were less likely to die of cancer than those who did not.

The study also found that women who had given birth, breast-fed and started menstruating when they were 15 or older had a lower risk of death from circulatory diseases, and those who had given birth and breast-fed had a reduced risk of death from heart disease.

While the study found an association between childbirth, breast-feeding and life span, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study was published Oct. 29 in the journal BMC Medicine.

Changes in hormone levels may explain the reduced risk of death among women who had children, breast-fed or used birth control pills, according to Melissa Merritt, a research fellow in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London in England, and colleagues.

However, more research is needed to determine how the reproductive factors identified in this study may extend life. That knowledge could lead to new ways to improve women’s long-term health, the investigators said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about women’s health.

Challenges for Extreme Preemies Can Last into Teens

But majority of very preterm or very small newborns do well, experts say.

Challenges for Extreme Preemies Can Last into Teens

MONDAY, Nov. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The complications and medical treatments that extremely preterm or extremely small newborns experience in their first weeks of life can have an impact years later, a new study reveals.

Preemies who had bleeding in their brain or who received corticosteroids were at particular risk for more difficulty with school or thinking skills, the researchers found, regardless of their environment growing up.

“The most surprising finding was that the effects of events occurring in the nursery had such long-lasting and persistent effects on thinking ability and academic performance, even into late adolescence,” said study author Dr. Lex Doyle. He is a professor of neonatal pediatrics at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Parkville, Victoria, in Australia.

“These events were as important or even more important than the effects of the environment, such as the mother’s education level and social class,” Doyle said. “These findings are contrary to conventional wisdom that the early effects from the newborn nursery would wane, and the environmental effects would dominate as children grow older.”

However, Doyle added that the majority of the infants in the study did well as they grew up. And another pediatric expert pointed out that the study looked at babies who were born almost two decades ago, and great strides have been made in the care of extreme preemies since the 1990s.

The findings were published online Nov. 9 in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers followed nearly 300 Australian children born at less than 28 weeks of their mother’s pregnancy or weighing less than 2.2 pounds at birth in 1991 and 1992. Typical pregnancies usually last about 40 weeks.

The researchers compared these children to more than 260 others with a birth weight of at least 5.5 pounds.

All underwent assessments of intelligence and thinking skills at ages 2, 5, 8 and 18. The researchers also compared their academic achievement when the children were 8 and 18 years old.

Those born very early or with a very low birth weight scored worse in academics and on the so-called cognitive assessments at all ages compared to the children born with an average birth weight. The longer the mother’s pregnancy had lasted for the preemies, the better their scores on mental abilities.

“The events in the uterus that lead to being born too early or too small, and all the complications that occur after birth to these fragile babies, set back their brain growth and development,” Doyle said. But individuals vary, and some grow and develop normally, too.

“Despite the fact that we identify more problems in children born too early or too small than in children born on time and of normal size, the majority do remarkably well,” Doyle said.

A pediatric specialist agreed.

Most of the preemies in this study did not have the worst outcomes, and most tested in the average range, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.

“Parents of children born extremely prematurely should not be overly concerned by the findings of this study,” Adesman said. “Poor developmental outcomes are relatively uncommon.”

The two factors linked to children’s poorer outcomes were brain bleeding or receiving corticosteroids. Some preemies receive synthetic steroids to help their lungs grow faster and to reduce their risk of respiratory problems, according to background information in the study.

“It is not completely possible to avoid treatment with corticosteroids because some babies will die without them,” Doyle said. “The decision to treat with corticosteroids is never taken lightly.”

He noted that fewer children receive corticosteroids today than in the early 1990s, and the doses tend to be smaller. In addition, giving mothers magnesium sulfate just before a preterm birth can improve children’s long-term outcomes, Doyle said.

Other improvements in care have come a long way as well, Adesman said.

“It is important to remember as well that these babies were born 20 years ago, and that the quality of perinatal care and neonatal care have likely both improved,” Adesman said. That suggests “that some of the outcomes in this study may be overall less likely for similarly premature babies born today.”

Regardless of how early children are born, parents play a significant role in supporting their growth and development, Doyle said.

“Parents should nurture their children, talk to them, read to them, play with them, love them and involve them in everyday family activities,” Doyle said. “Individual children may be identified with particular difficulties that need specific treatment, including at school, and ensuring their children receive such treatments is important.”

More information

For more about preterm birth, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Lex W. Doyle, M.D., professor, neonatal pediatrics, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Royal Women’s Hospital in Parkville, Victoria, Australia; Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; December 2015 Pediatrics

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Widely Used Antibiotics May Raise Heart Risks, Review Finds

Macrolides were linked to small, but significant, chances of sudden cardiac death.

Widely Used Antibiotics May Raise Heart Risks, Review Finds

MONDAY, Nov. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A widely used class of antibiotics is associated with a small but measurable increased risk of sudden cardiac death, researchers report.

These antibiotics — called macrolides — are used to treat infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and some sexually transmitted diseases.

In the new report, the investigators analyzed 33 studies that were conducted between 1966 and 2015, and included a total of more than 20 million patients. The studies compared patients who took macrolides, other types of antibiotics, or no antibiotics.

Macrolides include the antibiotics erythromycin, azithromycin (Zithromax), clarithromycin (Biaxin) and quinolone.

The results revealed a small, but statistically significant, association between taking macrolides and increased risk of sudden cardiac death. But the review did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between these medications and sudden cardiac death.

The study was published Nov. 9 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“The absolute risks of sudden cardiac death and cardiac death are small, so it should likely have limited effect on prescribing practice,” study author Dr. Su-Hua Wu, from the department of cardiology at First Affiliated Hospital at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, said in a journal news release.

“However, given that macrolides are one of the most commonly used antibiotic groups, and millions of patients are prescribed these drugs annually, the total number of sudden cardiac deaths or ventricular tachyarrhythmias and cardiac deaths may not be negligible,” Wu added.

An average of 80 cases of rapid heartbeat that can result in sudden cardiac death (or “ventricular tachyarrhythmias”) occurred per 1 million treatment courses among patients who were not taking macrolides, the investigators found.

But, current use of macrolides was associated with an additional 118 ventricular tachyarrhythmias or related sudden cardiac deaths per 1 million treatment courses. And there were 36 additional sudden cardiac deaths from causes other than ventricular tachyarrhythmia, and 38 additional heart-related deaths per one million treatment courses, the findings showed.

Past use of macrolides and use of other antibiotics were not associated with increased heart risk, the researchers found.

To put the findings into perspective, one in 8,500 patients treated with macrolides could develop a serious heart rhythm problem and one in 30,000 might die, Dr. Sami Viskin, from the Tel Aviv Medical Center and Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel, explained in an accompanying journal editorial.

Viskin said macrolides are a first-line treatment for a number of infections.

“Today, when antimicrobial resistance represents a major threat to global health and new treatment options are frighteningly few, losing an entire class of antibiotics would represent a major setback in the fight against infections. Furthermore, it takes years to fully understand the consequences of a drug’s disappearance,” Viskin wrote.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about antibiotics.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, news release, Nov. 9, 2015

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Even Easy Exercise May Lower Blood Pressure in Those With Diabetes

Study found just a few minutes of resistance training or walking helped.

Even Easy Exercise May Lower Blood Pressure in Those With Diabetes

MONDAY, Nov. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Just a few minutes of easy exercise daily can help lower blood pressure in overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes, researchers report.

“It appears you don’t have to do very much,” co-author Bronwyn Kingwell, head of metabolic and vascular physiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes in Melbourne, Australia, said in an American Heart Association news release.

“We saw some marked blood pressure reductions over trial days when people did the equivalent of walking to the water cooler or some simple body-weight movements on the spot,” she noted.

For the study, the researchers monitored blood pressure levels in 24 overweight and obese adults as they sat for eight hours. The average age of the study participant was 62. All had type 2 diabetes.

The study participants took brief breaks from sitting, and either walked slowly for three minutes or did three minutes of simple resistance exercises every half hour. Again, their blood pressure was monitored.

The resistance exercises included activities such as half-squats, calf raises, knee raises, or gluteal muscle squeezes.

Compared to uninterrupted sitting, light walking led to an average 10-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading). Simple resistance exercise led to an average 12-point decrease in systolic blood pressure, the study reported.

“Light activity breaks are not meant to replace regular, purposeful exercise. But they may be a practical solution to cut down on sitting time, especially if you’re at your desk all day,” Kingwell said.

The study was to be presented Monday at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Orlando. Fla. Until published in a peer-reviewed journal, findings presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 9, 2015

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Friday, November 6, 2015

#Drugmaker Recalls #Injectors Used to Treat #Allergic Reactions http://buff.ly/1RC9dI7

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Could #Brain Stimulation Be a Way to #Weight #Loss? http://buff.ly/1NUeVE9

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Drugmaker Recalls Injectors Used to Treat Allergic Reactions

Sanofi’s Auvi-Q injectors may not deliver right amount of life-saving drug


THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Hundreds of thousands of epinephrine injectors are being recalled by the drug company Sanofi because they may not deliver the correct amount of the life-saving drug to people suffering severe allergic reactions.

All packs of the Auvi-Q injectors are being recalled in the United States, the French drug maker said in a news release. Most packs contain two injectors. It’s believed that about 200,000 people in the United States have the injectors.

Sanofi said it has received 26 reports from the United States and Canada of inaccurate dosage delivery from the injectors, but none resulted in patient deaths.

The injectors are used to treat severe allergic reactions triggered by insect bites or stings, foods, medications, latex, and other causes. If a patient having a serious allergic reaction — called anaphylaxis — did not receive the intended dose, serious health problems could ensue, including death, the company said.

The recall covers all Auvi-Q injectors, including the 0.15 milligram and 0.3 milligram strengths for hospitals, retailers and consumers. The products have lot numbers 2299596 through 3037230 and expiration dates of March 2016 through December 2016.

To learn how to return the injectors and to get more information, Sanofi said consumers can call 1-866-726-6340 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, or email cs@sanofi.com. The company’s website External Links Disclaimer Logo has additional information.

Patients with Auvi-Q injectors should immediately contact their doctor for a prescription for another epinephrine auto-injector, Sanofi said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about epinephrine injection for anaphylaxis.

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Could Brain Stimulation Be a Way to Weight Loss?

Small study suggests promise, but one expert finds the idea ‘alarming.’

Could Brain Stimulation Be a Way to Weight Loss?

FRIDAY, Nov. 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Electrical stimulation of the brain might hold potential as a weapon against obesity, a small study suggests.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health study found that stimulating the brain’s prefrontal cortex caused people to eat less, consume fewer calories from soda and fat, and lose more weight.

“Brain stimulation appears to be a useful tool for modifying activity of the prefrontal cortex, indicating the importance of mental processes in the development and treatment of obesity,” said lead researcher Marci Gluck. She is an investigator at the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Gluck said previous studies from her lab found lower levels of brain activity in the left prefrontal cortex of obese people after a meal, compared with lean people.

This brain region has been linked to behavioral regulation, taste and reward, she said.

“It is possible that disruption of this area in people who are obese might impair regulation of eating behavior and food choice, so this region might be a potential target for intervention in obesity,” Gluck said.

However, a preventive health expert said thinking that brain stimulation might be a viable treatment for obesity is “absurd.”

“I find the notion that as a culture we might be willing to continue spending money on junk foods that make us overeat, get fat, and get sick, and then spend more money on electrical jolts to our brains to help us resist that junk food alarming and absurd,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

For the study, nine obese volunteers were randomly assigned to either three sessions of brain stimulation or phony stimulation over nine days. Immediately after each session, the study participants had unrestricted access to food and beverages in vending machines.

The same experiment was repeated over another nine days. There were no significant differences in side effects reported by either group.

The findings could lead to new treatment options, Gluck said.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t any gold standard brain-based interventions for obesity and weight loss, but we hope that findings from our study will encourage further research in this area,” she said.

The stimulator used is a small, portable device with sponge electrodes.

“If future studies show promising results, this technique could be used outside of a medical setting,” Gluck said. “Just as the light box became a home intervention for treating seasonal affective disorder, this device could potentially be used at home to treat weight-related disorders.”

The findings of this “proof of concept” were presented Wednesday in Los Angeles at Obesity Week, a meeting hosted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the Obesity Society. The study was also published in the Nov. 4 online edition of the journal Obesity.

Currently, the researchers have a larger study in progress, Gluck said.

Katz said the idea that electrical stimulation of brain regions can influence food intake and weight is interesting, but not surprising.

“All decisions and perceptions are products of the mind, which are in turn products of the brain. Decisions about food are among them,” said Katz, who is also president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

But Katz believes that changing your lifestyle by eating a healthful diet and keeping physically active is the way to reduce obesity.

“While there may be rare applications of this technology, I would encourage those seeing any kind of public health solution here to change their minds,” Katz said.

More information

For more on obesity, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Marci Gluck, Ph.D., investigator, Obesity and Diabetes Clinical Research Section, U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Phoenix, Ariz.; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn., and president, American College of Lifestyle Medicine; Nov. 4, 2015, presentation, Obesity Week, Los Angeles

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Poll: Americans Want Bold Action to Keep Health Care Costs Down

Suggestions include price controls on drugs and hospitals and doctors, importing drugs from other countries.

Poll: Americans Want Bold Action to Keep Health Care Costs Down

THURSDAY, Nov. 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Most Americans now support aggressive regulation to keep health care costs in check — including price caps on drugs, medical devices and payments to doctors and hospitals, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll has found.

Nearly three of every four Americans (73 percent) want price controls placed on manufacturers of drugs and medical devices, the poll revealed. That’s up from 64 percent who favored such controls in a 2014 poll.

A majority also said they’d favor importing cheaper drugs from other countries and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

“Most people want to see a lot of different actions taken to contain health care costs, including government price controls of providers, drugs and devices, and two controversial actions which are currently prohibited — allowing the importation of drugs from other countries and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of The Harris Poll.

Taylor said public opinion likely has been influenced by recent news of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the drug maker that sparked outrage when it tried to hike the cost of the generic anti-infection drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent — from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

On Wednesday, a Senate committee began an investigation into huge drug price hikes by Turing and three other pharmaceutical companies, the Associated Press reported.

“Every new headline about big drug prices increases the likelihood that Washington will revisit the issues of drug importation and Medicare negotiating drug prices — policies fiercely opposed by the industry but strongly favored by the public,” Taylor said.

Pharmaceutical companies received the lion’s share of blame for the cost of health care, with 65 percent of people blaming them “a lot,” the poll found.

About 62 percent put significant blame on insurance companies, and 53 percent put substantial blame on the health care system as a whole.

Only 36 percent put a lot of blame on the Affordable Care Act for health care prices, but responses differed widely based on political party. About 65 percent of Republicans blame the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making the federal health care reform law their top target. Just 13 percent of Democrats blame the ACA, sometimes called Obamacare.

“While many people have seen, heard or read recent reports about large drug prices, and most people think drug companies are to blame for the high cost of care, they also believe that there is a lot of blame to be shared,” Taylor said. “The system as a whole, the way providers are paid, doctors, hospitals, and the Affordable Care Act are all seen to be partly responsible.”

Regarding specific proposals for containing the cost of care, the poll found that:

  • 73 percent support price controls on drug and device manufacturers.
  • 70 percent would like price controls placed on hospitals.
  • 66 percent want to authorize Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
  • 63 percent support price controls on payments to doctors.
  • 56 percent want to be able to import less expensive drugs from other countries.

Ron Pollack is founding executive director of Families USA, a national health care consumers advocacy group. He said the poll “really confirms the two groups that most consumers are concerned about are pharmaceutical companies and insurers.

“Insurers in years past were often considered the group that people were most worried about and felt badly about. But, it’s clear that given the big price tags for medicine, the pharmaceutical industry is becoming a big target for voters, irrespective of party affiliation,” Pollack said.

About 71 percent of Democrats polled blame drug companies “a lot” for the high cost of health care, making the industry their main culprit. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans put significant blame on drug companies, their second choice right after the Affordable Care Act at 65 percent.

The drug industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America did not respond to repeated requests from HealthDay for comment on the poll results.

The poll asked whether people had heard of three recent reports involving big increases in drug prices. Most people said they had heard of them, and between 27 percent and 39 percent were either extremely or very familiar with them.

The HealthDay/Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between Oct. 14-16 among 2,072 adults. Figures for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

More information

To learn more about retail drug prices, visit the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

For more details on the poll, visit The Harris Poll External Links Disclaimer Logo.

SOURCES: Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus, The Harris Poll; Ron Pollack, founding executive director, Families USA; Nov. 5, 2015, HealthDay/Harris Poll; Associated Press

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Junk Food Not to Blame for America’s Obesity Epidemic: Study

People just eat too much, researchers suggest.

Junk Food Not to Blame for America's Obesity Epidemic: Study

THURSDAY, Nov. 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Despite their bad reputation, junk food, fast food and soda aren’t the root cause of America’s obesity epidemic, Cornell University researchers contend.

While these sugary and salt-laden foods may not be good for your health, the scientists found no significant difference in how much of these foods either overweight or normal weight people consumed.

The real problem, according to the researchers: too many Americans eat too much.

“These are foods that are clearly bad for you and if you eat too much of them they will make you fat, but it doesn’t appear to be the main driver that is making people overweight and obese,” said lead researcher David Just, co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics, in Ithaca, N.Y.

“For 95 percent of the country, there is no relationship between how much fast food and junk food they’re eating and their weight,” Just said. “Because of the bad habits we have, with all our food, just eliminating junk food is not going to do anything.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to eat junk food. “These foods aren’t good for you,” he said. “There is no good argument for soda in your diet.”

Just said a broader approach is needed to fight the obesity epidemic. “We are eating too much generally. We need to cut back on our total consumption. We need to be better about exercising,” he recommended.

Diet and exercise are the key to losing weight, Just said. “There is nothing flashy about that advice,” he said. “It’s not magic, there is no silver bullet here.”

The report was published Nov. 5 in the journal Obesity Science & Practice.

For the study, Just and his colleague Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, used the 2007-2008 National Household and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyze a sample of about 5,000 adults in the United States.

The researchers found that consumption of soda, candy and fast food was not linked to weight gain for 95 percent of the population. The exceptions are people who are on the extreme ends of the weight spectrum — those who are very underweight and those who are severely obese. These folks ate more fast food and fewer fruits and vegetables, the study revealed.

Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City, said, “One must be careful not to misinterpret the findings of this study to mean that eating fast food, candy and soft drinks does not affect the health of children and adults.”

Research has linked fast food, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages with heart disease, weight gain, type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of dying from heart disease, she said.

“Anecdotally, the diets of the patients I see who are struggling with being overweight or obese are often high in fast and junk foods and sugar,” Heller said.

Highly processed foods tend to trigger cravings for more of the same because of their chemical make-up and the body’s physiological response, Heller explained. These kinds of diets can result in a vicious cycle of eating and craving less healthy foods, she added.

“As a registered dietitian, my goal is to encourage people to be healthy, not skinny,” Heller said. “So instead of only recommending cutting calories, we want to also focus on making healthy and affordable food choices, creating strategies for eating out and on the go and enjoying less processed foods.”

More information

For more on obesity, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: David Just, Ph.D., professor and co-director, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics, Ithaca, N.Y.; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., senior clinical nutritionist, New York University Medical Center, New York City; Nov. 5, 2015, Obesity Science & Practice

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Breast-Feeding May Not Help Prevent Allergies in Kids, Study Claims

But at least one pediatrician is skeptical of the finding, and urges mothers to breast-feed.

Breast-Feeding May Not Help Prevent Allergies in Kids, Study Claims

THURSDAY, Nov. 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Breast-fed children are just as likely to develop allergies as children who were formula-fed, preliminary new research suggests.

But the study, which analyzed medical records from nearly 200 children aged 4 through 18, compared those who were “ever” breast-fed — regardless of duration — with those who had consumed only formula. The results conflict with conventional wisdom indicating that breast-feeding might protect children from a host of infections and other ailments, including allergies.

“We think breast-feeding prevents a lot of allergies, but surprisingly, we found that kids [in both groups] had similar numbers of allergies,” said study author Dr. Quindelyn Cook, a resident physician in pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

“Mothers should definitely continue to breast-feed,” Cook added. “Definitely this would need to be studied on a larger scale.”

Cook’s study is to be presented Thursday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting, in San Antonio, Texas. Research presented at scientific conferences typically hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published, and results are considered preliminary.

Food, skin and respiratory allergies are among the most common medical conditions affecting children in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Occurring when the immune system reacts to environmental substances normally considered harmless, skin and food allergies among children increased substantially between 1997 and 2011, according to the CDC.

Cook and her colleagues reviewed medical charts for 194 patients at a pediatric allergy and immunology clinic over four years who were diagnosed with hay fever allergies confirmed by a skin prick test. The children were split into two groups, including 134 who had ever been breast-fed and 60 who had exclusively consumed formula.

Both groups had similar numbers of kids with hay fever, asthma, the skin condition eczema and food allergies.

But one pediatrician said comparing children who had “ever” been breast-fed with formula-fed children was not valuable when analyzing the link between allergies and infant feeding.

“Many moms breast-feed in the [hospital] nursery and at home for awhile and then switch out to formula, so there’s no way you can make any conclusions from this study at all,” said Dr. Charles Shubin, director of pediatrics at Mercy Family Care in Baltimore. “This study doesn’t help clarify matters because it was so poorly done. There’s a big difference between ever breast-fed versus exclusively breast-fed.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breast-fed for at least the first 12 months, and fed only breast milk for the first six months of life.

At his inner-city pediatrics practice, Shubin said, “there’s very little exclusive breast-feeding” among new mothers. And, he doesn’t have enough information to know whether exclusive breast-feeding would significantly alter a child’s risk of developing allergies.

“Our dilemma is that we still haven’t convinced people that exclusive breast-feeding is the way to go. The percentages are not where they need to be,” he said. “I encourage mothers to breast-feed as much as they’re comfortable doing.”

More information

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health talks about breast-feeding benefits.

SOURCES: Quindelyn Cook, M.D., medical resident, pediatrics, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago; Charles Shubin, M.D., director, pediatrics, Mercy Family Care, Baltimore; Nov. 5, 2015, presentation, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting, San Antonio, Texas

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Don’t Assume Siblings Will Have Food Allergies, Too

Study found only 1 in 10 was allergic to same things; experts advise against routine testing for them.

Don't Assume Siblings Will Have Food Allergies, Too

THURSDAY, Nov. 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Only about one in 10 siblings of children with food allergies also has such allergies, a new study finds.

“Too often, it’s assumed that if one child in a family has a food allergy, the other kids need to be tested for food allergies,” said lead author and allergist Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

The study included 1,120 siblings of children with a diagnosed food allergy. Patient histories and testing revealed that while 53 percent of the siblings had a food sensitivity, only 13 percent had an actual food allergy, the researchers found.

The study was scheduled for presentation Thursday at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, in San Antonio. The findings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

The study authors said their findings suggest that food allergy testing in siblings of children with food allergies should be limited to reduce the harmful impact of possible misdiagnosis.

“Testing for food allergies if a reaction hasn’t taken place can provide false-positives, as we saw in our research,” Gupta said in a university news release. “More than half the kids in the study had a sensitivity to a food, but they weren’t truly allergic. Kids who have a food sensitivity shouldn’t be labeled as having a food allergy.”

The risk of food allergy in one sibling, based on the presence of food allergy in another, has never been completely clear, study co-author and allergist Dr. Matthew Greenhawt said in the news release. He is an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine and the department of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan.

“This perceived risk is a common reason to seek ‘screening’ before introducing a high-risk allergen to siblings. But screening a child before introducing a high-risk allergen isn’t recommended,” he said. “Food allergy tests perform poorly in terms of being able to predict future risk in someone who has never eaten the food before.”

This new study showed that testing should be used to help confirm a diagnosis, rather than as a sole predictor to make a diagnosis, Greenhawt said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about food allergies External Links Disclaimer Logo.

SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Nov. 5, 2015

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