Today’s Headlines: Risk of Cancer Surgery Complications in People Over 75, the Debate on Tracking Employees’ Health Information, and How Tylenol Could Increase Your Child’s Risk For Asthma

Having surgery for cancer when you are 55 years old or older may pose post-operative health risks. While people 75 and over were the highest risk group, people 55 and older also have health issues after surgery.  “Overall, almost one in 10 adults age 55 and older had at least one post-operative issue like delirium, dehydration, falls, fractures, pressure ulcers or unusual weight loss, the study of nearly 1 million cancer surgery patients found. These setbacks were even more common when patients were at least 65 years old…But the odds were worst for people over 75 – about 46 percent of them had at least one complication…Complications were most likely when patients were having surgery for cancers of the bladder, ovary, colon, rectum, pancreas or stomach.” While many of the issues can be treated, the study may assist both doctors and their patients to make an informed decision on whether or not surgery is the best option. (Fox)

information to employers in regards to women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. By looking at claims and prescription history, health care companies are able to identify pregnant or potentially pregnant employees. “‘If [an employer] originally thought that 15% of the women in its employee base may become pregnant, but data shows it’s closer to 30%, that could lead an employer to say we cannot hire as many female employees this year because we can’t afford them being out for family leave,’ Hodge explains. And while this example is purely hypothetical, it shows the kinds of discriminatory arguments that this data could be used to make—regardless of whether an employer has access to individual employee names or not.” This information is readily available to employers and does not fall under HIPPA law, therefore what they are doing is legal—but the question remains, is it ethical? (Time)

Pregnant women who frequently use Tylenol may increase their unborn child’s risk for asthma. While the association to why this happens has not been made, there seems to be a correlation. “After controlling for various health and behavioral characteristics, they found that prenatal exposure to Tylenol was associated with a 13 percent increased risk for asthma at age 3. The more Tylenol the mother had taken during pregnancy, the higher the risk.” Since there is a marginally small risk, the researchers said it was acceptable to take Tylenol if necessary, but not to overuse it. (NYT)