Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hard Choices, Prenatal Genetic Tests, Expectant Parents

Are We Prepared for the Hard Choices That Prenatal Genetic Tests Could Force on Expectant Parents? | MIT Technology Review: ".... Several companies have introduced genetic tests that use blood drawn from the mother. These tests can be performed earlier in pregnancy than amniocentesis is usually done, which means that if the results suggest an abnormality, women and their partners have more time to grapple with whether to have an abortion or prepare for a child with special needs. If the results are reassuring, the cloud of anxiety dissipates sooner.  Given that the risks of having blood drawn are minimal, the tests are likely to be widely used. While today fewer than 5 percent of pregnant women undergo amniocentesis, “I think we could see 50, 60, 70, 80 percent of American pregnancies getting genetic testing,” says Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford ...."

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Diet Drugs, Doctors, Obesity Medicine

It certainly is a growth industry --

Diet Drugs Work: Why Won't Doctors Prescribe Them? : The New Yorker: " . . . Obesity experts with whom I spoke tended to be more optimistic than other physicians about the possibility that obesity can be treated successfully and that the obesity epidemic will be curbed. They point to exciting new research—for example, the finding that an alteration in gut bacteria, rather than mechanical shrinking of the stomach or intestine, may be what causes weight loss after gastric bypass. This raises the possibility that the benefits of surgery might become available without the surgery itself. They also note that public-health efforts seem to be reducing childhood obesity, even in poor communities. But they remain concerned that despite such promising developments, many physicians still don’t see obesity the way they do: as a serious, often preventable disease that requires intensive and lifelong treatment with a combination of diet, exercise, behavioral modification, surgery, and, potentially, drugs. Louis Aronne thinks this will change as more physicians enter the field of obesity medicine, the physiology of obesity is better understood, and more effective treatment options become available. He likens the current attitude toward obesity to the prevailing attitude toward mental illness years ago. Aronne remembers, during his medical training, seeing psychotic patients warehoused and sedated, treated as less than human. He predicts that, one day, “some doctors are going to look back at severely obese patients and say, ‘What the hell was I thinking when I didn’t do anything to help them? How wrong could I have been?’... ” (read more at link above)

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Some Depression Just Goes Away on Its Own

But few Doctors or psychologists will tell you that --

Does Depression Go Away on Its Own? | Devil in the Data | Big Think: "The median duration of major-depressive episodes was 3.0 months for those who had no professional care, 4.5 months for those who sought primary care, and 6.0 months for those who entered the mental health care system. (It's not told what percentage of patients who sought care took meds, but for this discussion it doesn't matter. The point is, most people do get better, one way or another.) The differences in mean episode duration may reflect severity (no data were given for this). The people who recovered quickly on their own may have done so because they were less depressed. It stands to reason that those who sought help at the mental-health-system level were probably more depressed, hence took longer to recover. In any case, the point is that today, as in Kraepelin's time, many depressed patients recover, with or without medical intervention, because that's the nature of the illness. It comes and it goes." (read more at the link above)

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Martha Stewart, 10 Golden Rules for Aging

Martha Stewart tells how to live the 'Good Long Life': . . . Martha Stewart compares aging to a bonsai tree, which is revered in Japan and, with proper care, flourishes as it ages. Her "10 Golden Rules" for growing old beautifully, like the bonsai: • Eat well • Maintain a healthy weight • Stay physically active • Get quality sleep • Wear sunscreen • Collaborate with a good primary care doctor regularly • Find your passion • Connect with others • Stop complaining — change what you can, and accept what you cannot • Stay curious .... (read more at the link above)

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sleep Therapy, Aid for Depression

The first of four studies on the special relationship between sleep and depression suggests that when antidepressants and insomnia therapy are used together, recovery happens faster --

Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression - NYTimes.com: "....The therapy that Dr. Manber, Dr. Carney and the other researchers are using is called cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I for short. The therapist teaches people to establish a regular wake-up time and stick to it; get out of bed during waking periods; avoid eating, reading, watching TV or similar activities in bed; and eliminate daytime napping. The aim is to reserve time in bed for only sleeping and — at least as important — to “curb this idea that sleeping requires effort, that it’s something you have to fix,” Dr. Carney said. “That’s when people get in trouble, when they begin to think they have to do something to get to sleep ....” (read more at link above)

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Venezuela, beauty standards, results

Venezuela let a pageant 'king' set beauty standards. The results aren't pretty | Dariana Arias | Comment is free | theguardian.com:"The boost" is all the rage. Forget laptops and cell phones, Venezuelan girls are asking for breast implants for their special quinceañera gift. In the US, apparently girls wait a few more years and ask for it as a high school graduation gift because after all, they too have a right to happiness (pdf). (read more at link above)

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Doctors and Lucrative Industry Ties

Doctors "on the take"--

Doctors' Lucrative Industry Ties - NYTimes.com: " . . . gifts and payments to physicians from drug and medical device companies have been rampant in medicine for decades. Over a two-and-a-half-year period, device and drug companies shelled out over $76 million just to physicians licensed in Massachusetts, according to a study published online this month in The New England Journal of Medicine. That amount does not include outlays of less than $50, which are exempt from disclosure." (read more at link above)

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Depression and C. Difficile Infections

Body: Depression and C. Difficile Infections - NYTimes.com: "Two studies have found that depression and the use of certain antidepressants are both associated with increased risk for Clostridium difficile infection, an increasingly common cause of diarrhea that in the worst cases can be fatal. . . ." (read more at link above)

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