Week in Review: Sept. 11

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The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

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Online Doctor Visits Are Set to Surge

According to a recent study released by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), online doctor visits are going to skyrocket in the coming year. Last year, 48 percent of 140 large employers surveyed by NBGH made telehealth options available. In 2016, that number will jump to 74 percent. It is part of a booming industry that is attracting venture capital and is expected to save U.S. companies more than $6 billion a year in healthcare costs, according to consultant Towers Watson. Via Time.

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Diabetes Nation? Half of Americans Have Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes

About half of all Americans have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to a new report. And experts in the field say that's good news. That's because the study finds that after two decades of linear growth, the prevalence of diabetes in the United States has finally started to plateau. In a paper published in JAMA, the authors write that their findings are consistent with other studies that show the percentage of people with diagnosed diabetes remained steady from 2008 to 2012. Via LA Times. 

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Surgeon General Calls For Steps to Promote Healthy Walking

Take a walk: That's the U.S. surgeon general's prescription for sedentary Americans — but communities will have to step up, too, and make neighborhoods easier and safer for foot traffic. Only half of adults and just over a quarter of high school students get the amount of physical activity recommended for good health, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said in a "call to action" being issued. Via AP.

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Study: Alzheimer’s Pathology Might Be Transmissible Via Medical Procedure

A new study suggests that the precursor of an abnormal protein that triggers Alzheimer’s disease could perhaps be transmitted from person to person through the transfer of tissue or certain specialized medical or surgical procedures, its authors said. Just as some rogue proteins can cause additional rogue proteins to form in the brain, such as the prions that produce mad cow disease, the new findings suggest that there may be a seed that carries the abnormal protein that drives Alzheimer’s disease. Via Washington Post.

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New Class of Cholesterol Drugs Should Cost Much Less

A powerful new class of cholesterol-lowering injections should cost about 85 percent less than what is charged per patient for the treatments in the U.S., according to a nonprofit research group flush with new philanthropic funding to target high prescription-drug costs. The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review in Boston issued a report saying the new drugs—Praluent from Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and Amgen Inc.’s Repatha—would be cost-effective if priced at about $2,180 a year per patient. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Pathway Launches 'Liquid Biopsy' to Find Cancer in Healthy People 

 Pathway Genomics, a company known for pushing the boundaries of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, will launch a cancer screening test designed to detect bits of cancer DNA in the blood of otherwise healthy people. The test represents a first in the rapidly developing field of "liquid biopsies," which use gene sequencing technology to screen blood samples for trace amounts of DNA associated with different cancers. "For any given test, the rate of false positives causing unnecessary alarm and false negatives that provide false security should be known," said Dr. Keith Stewart, an oncologist who heads Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine. Via Reuters.

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What Your Weird Health Symptoms Mean

If you break a bone or feel a lump in your breast, deciding to visit the ER or your doctor is a no-brainer. But life often tosses us ambiguous signals—a racing heart, ringing ears, twitching eyes—and unless you have a medical degree hanging on your wall, you probably have a hard time distinguishing what’s meaningful from what’s mundane. More magazine polled some of the country’s best medical experts to learn which conditions you should ignore, which you can treat on your own and which demand a doctor’s attention ASAP. Via More magazine.

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Is Thyroid Cancer the ‘Good’ Cancer?

Thyroid cancer has one of the highest survival rates of all cancers — 97.9 percent five years after diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Institute. This gives thyroid cancer a reputation as being a “good” cancer. These estimates are based on data from thousands of people, and as with all statistics they can’t gauge the actual risk for a particular individual. What the rosy survival outlook glosses over is the impact of thyroid cancer on a person’s quality of life, which studies have shown can be significant. Via Washington Post.

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Fighting Peanut Allergies with Desensitization Therapy

New therapy to help kids with peanut allergies is being researched. Up to 8 percent of children in the United States have food allergies, and many of those kids are allergic to peanuts. Mayo Clinic Children's Center pediatric allergist Dr. Nancy Ott says up to 20 percent of children outgrow peanut allergies, but others don't. Researchers are studying what's called desensitization therapy to help children who are allergic to peanuts tolerate eating them. "We can do what's called an oral challenge. Under very safe conditions we can expose children to peanuts by having them eat very small amounts. Over time, they may become desensitized and able to eat them," she says. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Increased Detection of Low-Risk Tumors Driving Up Thyroid Cancer Rates

Low-risk cancers that do not have any symptoms and presumably will not cause problems in the future are responsible for the rapid increase in the number of new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed over the past decade, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the journal Thyroid. According to the study authors, nearly one-third of these recent cases were diagnosed when clinicians used high-tech imaging even when no symptoms of thyroid disease were present. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.