Today’s Headlines: Diabetes Risk Could Start Developing During Adolescence, Household Chemicals Particularly Dangerous For Children, And Efforts To Improve US Outpatient Care Fall Flat

New research suggests that adults who were overweight during their teenage years are more likely to have type 2 diabetes. “Overall, elevated BMI at adolescence, including values within the currently accepted ‘normal’ range, strongly increase risk of diabetes mortality later in life,” explained Hagai Levine, one of the study’s leaders. In analyzing long-term data of more than 2 million people, researchers found that adults who had a BMI of 22.4 or higher as teenagers, were more likely to die from diabetes–and the higher their BMI as a teenager, the greater their risk as an adult. A member of Duke University’s Clinical Research Institute, Ashley Skinner, who was not involved with the study, pointed out a potential limitation: “It’s possible that obesity as a teen itself is not the problem, but rather that teens with obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity.” (REUTERS)

One new study indicates that chemicals commonly found in food containers and cosmetics might play a role in causing a variety of medical conditions–and researchers believe that children are the most vulnerable to such chemicals. The leader of the study, Dr. Leonardo Trasande, who’s a professor at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, urged families to avoid plastic bottles with the numerical markers 3,6, and 7. Otherwise, families should “air out their homes every couple of days,” Trasande said. The potential harm comes, specifically, from endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which, at toxic levels, can interrupt the normal functioning of hormones. Ultimately, this means a greater risk for neurobehavioral disorders, reproductive disorders, and diabetes. (CNN)

After a decade of regional and national efforts to improve the quality of outpatient care, the US is hardly better off, according a new report published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers believe that the quality of outpatient care has remained largely flat, having gotten better in some areas and worse in others. The study’s lead author, Dr. David Levine of Harvard University, said the findings reveal a clear take-home message for patients: “There is likely recommended care that you are not receiving but should, and there is likely extra care that you are receiving and could be harmful to you.” A critic of the study said that “the take-home message for patients is that they should take an active role in identifying the important components of their are and advocating for themselves.” (NBC)




Today’s Headlines: Your Genes Might Be Responsible for Hot Flashes, Getting Surgery on Friday is Probably Safe After All, and How to Maintain a Strong Sexual Bond in Long-Term Relationships

A study published this week in the journal of Menopause suggests that a woman’s susceptibility to hot flashes may be determined by her genes. As part of the U.S. government’s Women’s Health Initiative, researchers studied the DNA of more than 17,000 women. Among these women, those most sensitive to hot flashes shared a variation of genetic code that plays a role in estrogen production. One of the doctors involved in the study, JoAnn Manson, speculated that “there may be something among women with these variants that influence estrogen receptors.” That’s why this research marks progress, says Carolyn Crandall, the study’s leader: “It may have therapeutic options if we can understand the role of this (genetic) pathway.” (CNN)

New findings challenge a medical care phenomenon referred to as “the weekday effect”–that surgeons who perform operations on Fridays are less experienced, and therefore, patients receive lower-quality care. In the study, patients who had an operation on Friday had the same risk of death within 30 days of their procedure as patients who had operations on any other weekday. The lead author of the study, Dr. Luc Dubois, an assistant professor at Western University in Ontario, said the findings indicate “that people are getting consistent care across the week.” The takeaway, Dubois says, is that patients should rest assured they’re going to be receiving good care if they show up on Friday. (CBS)

According to new research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, if partners in long-term relationships are responsive to each other, then both are more likely to maintain a strong sexual desire. Partners are responsive by taking care to understand what each other is saying, offering validation for the other’s beliefs and most prized goals, and expressing warm feelings toward them. Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist who led the small study, said that “responsiveness creates a deep feeling that someone really knows and understands you. It makes you feel unique and special, and that is very, very sexy.” (WSJ)


Today’s Headlines: CDC Warns of Infection Risk During Heart Operations, Benefits of Mammograms Overstated, And Scientists Detail New Method To Prevent Harmful Drug Combinations

The CDC has asked doctors to warn patients set to undergo open-heart surgery that devices commonly used to regulate the temperature of a patient’s blood and organs throughout the procedure, might have been contaminated during manufacturing. Health officials are concerned about mycobacteria, usually found in soil and water, and they worry that the number of patients who’ve been exposed to this bacteria is larger than initially estimated. For patients with a weakened immune system, the bacteria could lead to a potentially deadly infection. The CDC noted that, while some patients in the investigation died, “it is unclear whether the infection was a direct cause of death.” Dr. Michael Bell, who directs the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, urged “clinicians and their patients to be aware of this risk so that patients can be evaluated and treated quickly.” (CBS)

A new study suggests that, in the US, more than half of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer after a mammogram were misdiagnosed. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the study concludes that, contrary to the belief that widespread screening has played a primary role in the lowering of mortality rates for those diagnosed, such advances are due primarily to improvements in treatment. Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor at Dartmouth University who led the study, said that the medical community and the media “quite simply have overstated the value” of widespread screening. Still, the researchers note that mammography can be lifesaving. In 20% of cases in which a small tumor was detected by a mammogram, those small tumors were dangerous, and would’ve grown had they gone undetected. (LATimes)

Scientists at Columbia University have successfully used a data-oriented approach to identify dangerous drug combinations. Using this method, the scientists found that Rocephin, a common antibiotic, and Prevacid, a common heartburn medication, can be deadly when taken together. Nicholas Tatonetti, who led the project, explained why this methodology marks a step forward for the medical community. “What’s most surprising,” Tatonetti said, “is that you can go from a database of billions of data points to making a prediction that two molecules together can change the function of a protein in a single heart cell.” Tal Lorberbaum, the lead author, hopes that this data-centric approach will preclude researchers from having to “evaluate every possible combination of drugs,” and thereby save them time and money. (FOX)


Today’s Headlines: Light-Headedness and Low Blood Pressure Linked To Dementia, Calcium Supplements Might Be Harmful To The Heart, And Certain Implantable Heart Devices Have Fatal Malfunction

New research suggests that both sudden drops in blood pressure and dizziness when standing up could cause lasting damage to brain cells over time, putting an individual at risk for dementia. Dr. Arfan Ikram, one of the researchers involved in the study, suggested, “‘If people experience frequent episodes of dizziness on standing, particularly as they get older, they should see their GPs for advice.’ But he added that young people, who have one-off episodes of dizziness when standing up because of dehydration for example, should not be unduly worried.” Dementia experts believe that this comprehensive study indicates a need for further research. (BBC)

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found evidence that taking calcium supplements might be harmful to the heart. The danger is related to arterial plaque buildup. Compared to people who did not take calcium pills, those who did had a 22 percent greater risk of developing such blockages. John Anderson, an expert on nutrition who worked on the study, pointed out the difference between dietary calcium and calcium in supplement form. “There is clearly something different in how the body uses and responds to supplements versus intake through diet that makes it riskier,” he said. The researchers do not have a definitive explanation as to why this difference exists. (NBC)

St. Jude Medical, a company that manufactures medical devices, has warned of a potentially fatal defect in some of its heart devices — specifically in its Fortify, Quadra, and Unify devices. These devices, used to treat cardiac arrhythmia, are powered by batteries, which can deplete prematurely. St. Jude confirmed that the malfunction has caused two fatalities. The company noted that the malfunction is rare: “the vast majority of devices sold worldwide have not experienced premature battery depletion.” (CBS)

Today’s Headlines: Hospitals Are Not Equal Following A Heart Attack, Herbal And Dietary Supplements Might Be Damaging to Your Liver, and Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Less Likely Among Women

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that those who receive care in a top-rated hospital following a heart attack live a year longer, on average, than those treated in a low-rated hospital. Researchers analyzed Medicare records to determine if a certain standard of care has enduring benefits long after someone has suffered a heart attack. “A year of life from high-quality care is a big deal; consider that some cancer drugs won approval for adding a few months or weeks. But if you’re having possible heart attack symptoms, don’t delay getting help because you’re worried about which hospital to go to, said [one of the researchers], Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz. ‘Just call 911. Too many people wait at home too long,’ and any delay means more risk of permanent heart damage.” (NBC)

Herbal and dietary supplements might pose a risk for liver damage. Researchers found that supplements caused about 1 in 5 cases of chemical-induced liver damage. The study’s leader, Victor Navarro of the Einstein Healthcare Network, said that, when “used for very prolonged periods or in combination with conventional medications, [supplements] may become harmful.” However, he did point out, “Overall, liver injury from supplements is rare.” The study could not determine which ingredients are best to avoid; supplement labels do not always provide a complete list of ingredients in the product. (FOX)

Alzheimer’s disease might go undetected in women longer than in men. The gender disparity in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has to do with verbal memory (the ability to recall words), researchers suggest. “Women perform better than men on tests of verbal memory through life…so women may not be diagnosed until they are further along in the disease,” said Erin Sundermann, who led the research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Sundermann went on to suggest that, if this research holds up, it might be necessary to adjust memory tests accordingly. (CBS)

Today’s Headlines: Caution Urged for Women Considering Surgery to Prevent Ovarian Cancer, Painkillers Found To Present Significant Heart Risk, and A Game-Changer for Individuals With Type 1 Diabetes

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that premenopausal women who undergo an oophorectomy—specifically those who have both ovaries removed—age faster. The research team studied over 3,300 women, half of who underwent this type of procedure. “Then, wecompared how fast these…women aged over an average follow-up period of 14 years,” Dr. Walter Rocca, who led the research, explained. Rocca and his team concluded that women younger than 46 who undergo a bilateral oophorectomy are more likely to develop coronary artery disease, depression, and arthritis, among other chronic conditions. Women who receive estrogen therapy after surgery might be more likely to fend off these chronic health conditions. (CNN)

A new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that those who take common painkillers do so at a significant risk. “The most frequently used [painkillers],” researchers conclude, “are associated with an increased risk of hospital admission for heart failure.” Peter Weissberg, the medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said “this applies mostly to those who take them on a daily basis rather than only occasionally” but nevertheless, emphasized the need for patients and consumers to exercise caution in taking these drugs. (The Guardian)

On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a medical device that could transform the way patients with type 1 diabetes manage their condition. The MiniMed 670G—which acts like an “artificial pancreas”—will automatically measure (with a needle that sits underneath the skin) a patient’s glucose levels, and deliver insulin accordingly. Currently, many patients use insulin pumps, which achieve the same effect but only with manual adjustment. Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, who directs the FDA’s medical device division, said that this new device will allow patients “to live their lives without having to consistently and manually monitor baseline glucose levels and administer insulin.” Even though the device has been approved, it will not be available for another six months. (Reuters)

Today’s Headlines: Stress Can Cancel Out Healthy Diet, Exercise Helps Seniors Recover from Injury, and “Hidden Hearing Loss” Presents New Medical Challenge

A new study, published this week in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry, suggests that stress can cancel out the benefits of a healthy diet for women. A chaotic afternoon after a healthy breakfast might be akin to a candy bar after a workout. The reason: inflammation. Inflammation is “not an innocent bystander,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, who led the research. Chronic inflammation caused by stress is a risk factor for heart disease, cancer, depression, and dementia. The study, authored by Kiecolt-Glaser and her team, is a small one. Nonetheless, it serves as a useful reminder to take a holistic approach to healthy living. (LATimes)

For seniors, physical exercise might do more than to prevent injuries. New research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that those who regularly exercise tend to recover better from injuries. Dr. Thomas Gill, who teaches at Yale University’s School of Medicine, hopes that these findings will encourage family members to discuss the importance of exercise with their parents and older relatives. Exercise, Gill says, is “probably the single best mechanism for [seniors] to maintain their independence.” (TIME)

Those who struggle to understand speech in noisy environments might be suffering from a kind of hearing loss that is different from the kind caused by old age. A new paper in the journal PLOS One suggests that this type of hearing loss, called “hidden hearing loss,” can affect young and middle-aged individuals. “We believe this is the first evidence of hidden hearing loss in humans—but it is just a first step,” said Stéphane Maison, who led the study. “Hidden hearing loss” results from a specific type of damage (called cochlear synaptopathy), which researchers don’t fully understand yet. (WSJ)

Today’s Headlines: Falls Are Leading Cause of Death Among Older Americans, States Team Up To Fight Drug Company That Sabotaged Heroin Treatment, and Bad News for Those Who Swear By Fitness Trackers

A report published by the CDC on Thursday shows that falls are the top cause of death among Americans over 65. These fatal falls might be on the rise because older Americans are unlikely to report preceding, nonfatal falls that result in serious injury. “’Elderly patients tend to not report falls to their families, or even doctors. A fall is a very frightening thing that you keep quiet about. They think if they mention it that it’ll start the ball rolling – the move to a nursing home, or the need for aides to help out in the house – and that they’ll lose their independence,’ said Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein, the director of geriatric education at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York.” Doctors emphasize that these falls are preventable. They urge those over 65 to visit their health care providers, who’ll be able to screen for low blood pressure and dizziness. Doctors also suggest that older Americans get enough vitamin D, which contributes to healthier bones, muscles, and nerves. (CBS)

35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia are suing Indivior, a British pharmaceutical company, which allegedly tried to keep generic, more affordable reproductions of Suboxone unavailable. Suboxone has been heralded as an effective medication for those addicted to heroin. Kamala Harris, California’s Attorney General, strongly criticized such harmful practices: “When prescription drug companies unlawfully manipulate the marketplace to maximize profits, they put lives at risk and drive up the cost of health care for everyone,” she said. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has warned that the U.S. is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. In 2014, according to the HHS website, “more than 15,000 people died from heroin.” The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has called on doctors and health care providers to join the fight against addiction. (FOX)

A new study published in JAMA suggests that those who depend on fitness trackers do not have a greater chance of achieving their diet and exercise goals. Research subjects were divided into two groups—both were instructed to diet and exercise more, but only one group was given fitness trackers. Over the course of two years, those who used fitness trackers were no better off; in fact, they lost, on average, less weight than the other group. Dr. John Jakicic, who led the study, speculated that having clear information about increased exercise might cause an individual to indulge in unhealthy snacks: “You might think to yourself, ‘I’m being so active I can eat a cupcake now,’” he said. Manufactures note that such technology has since advanced. In future studies, researchers hope to find out if certain people—people who are goal-driven, for example—are more likely to benefit from fitness devices. (BBC)

Today’s Headlines: Long Naps Might Indicate Risk for Diabetes, Drug Researchers To Face Stronger Regulations, and Older Americans Not Getting Enough Exercise

In a presentation at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes this week, researchers argued that those who take long naps are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (which is often referred to as a lifestyle-related disease). The researchers reviewed 21 studies, which involved more than 300,000 people in total. “Their research found there was a link between long daytime naps of more than 60 minutes and a 45% increased risk of type-2 diabetes, compared with no daytime napping – but there was no link with naps of less than 40 minutes.” Researchers have yet to distinguish whether long naps are a cause or symptom of type 2 diabetes. (BBC)

Soon, drug companies and researchers will be required to reveal negative clinical findings. Government agencies announced the change in policy as a measure to ensure that all data, positive and negative, is released. “The rules will apply to most studies of drugs, biological products and medical devices regulated by the FDA. In addition, scientists conducting NIH-funded behavioral studies and phase 1 clinical trials – where a new drug or treatment is given to a small group of people for the first time to evaluate safety, safe dose range and side effects – will also now have to share information.” The agencies responsible for ensuring that researchers comply with the new policy intend to build a substantial online database for the public—the database will be housed at, which currently lacks important information about clinical trials because of existing regulation policies. (CBS)

In a new study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers suggest that up to 31 million Americans over the age of 50 lead sedentary lives. Researchers reached this estimate by analyzing surveillance data. “Other findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study are that geographically, people in the South were the least active—39% of adults in Arkansas were inactive, more than in any other state—followed by the Midwest. People in the West were the least inactive.” If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, incorporate light movement into your daily routine and build up more physical activity as your body adjusts. Get started with the beginner-friendly No Excuses: Workout Series. (Time)

Today’s Headlines: New Eye Implants Approved by The FDA, Studies Funded by Sugar Industry Downplayed Sugar Role, and Scientists Rethink Statins

The FDA has approved two new eye implants that are designed for people with presbyopia or age-related vision loss. These devices fill a void in eye care; they offer a solution to middle-aged Americans who have trouble reading but whose eyes are not yet cloudy enough to warrant cataract surgery. “The most recent [device] to receive approval, the “Raindrop”, is made mostly from water and works by reshaping the cornea helping the eye to focus better on close-up objects. Both of the new implants, Raindrop and KAMRA, go into only one eye. The other eye will be for seeing distance…” After receiving an implant, a patient is able to see better almost immediately afterward. Unfortunately, insurance or Medicare doesn’t yet cover the implants. The procedure is expensive, with a current price tag of $4,000 to $5,000. (NBC)

In two new papers published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researches reveal that the sugar industry funded studies that masked the link between sugar and heart disease. The papers show that the Sugar Research Foundation (now called the Sugar Association), paid large sums of money to researchers in the 1960s and 1970s who conducted studies on behalf of the foundation. US policymakers relied, in part, on these studies to enact policies that pointed to fat, not sugar, as the primary cause of heart disease. “Our findings are a wake-up call…that the sugary industry, like the tobacco industry, seeks to protect profits over public health,” one of the authors notes. Both papers in JAMA argue that the sugar industry continues to engage in similar deception. (NBC)

A new report published in Lancet suggests that concerns about statins — inexpensive drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease — are largely misplaced. “There seemed to be a lot of confusion, particularly around the alleged side effects of statins,” says the researcher who led the study. Those who warn of statins’ adverse side effects often refer to statin intolerance, which can lead to severe muscle damage and, in turn, kidney damage. But when researchers reviewed studies with the highest standards of protocol, they found that subjects who were given statins reported no more problems than those who were given a placebo. While adverse side effects from statins are a real concern, the paper concedes, these effects are rare. The greater risk is for those who decide to do without them. (Time)