Week in Review: Nov. 6


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.

Industry News

Medical Students Crunch Big Data To Spot Health Trends

Medicine, meet Big Data. For generations, physicians have been trained in basic science and human anatomy to diagnose and treat the patient immediately in front of them. But now, massive stores of data about what works for which patients are literally changing the way medicine is practiced. "That's how we make decisions; we make them based on the truth and the evidence that are present in those data," says Marc Triola, an associate dean for educational informatics at New York University's medical school. Via NPR.

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Could Soda Break Your Heart?

While food accounts for a large portion of the added sugar in our diet, many experts recommend cutting back on sugary beverages to reduce daily intake. Consumption of sugary drinks might lead to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide, according to research published in the journal Circulation, an update of a 2013 American Heart Association conference presentation. In the following slides, we compare the amount of sugar found in some of America's top-selling beverages -- according to Beverage Industry magazine's 2013 State of the Industry Report -- to the sugar found in common sugary snacks. Via CNN. 

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Gains Funding, And Controversy 

People who suffer from the condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome are accustomed to being dismissed by health care professionals and to only occasional mentions of their condition in the media. These past few weeks have been a notable exception, but with quite different conversations going on in the United States and the United Kingdom. Last week, the National Institutes of Health announced that it is "strengthening its efforts to advance research" on the illness, which has been known as chronic fatigue syndrome in the United States and myalgic encephalomyelitis in the UK, It's increasingly referred to as ME/CFS. Via NPR.

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Rx for America: Nearly 6 in 10 Adults Take Prescription Drugs

Americans have become increasingly medicated since the turn of the century, according to a new study. Fully 59% of U.S. adults were on at least one prescription drug in the years 2011 and 2012, and 15% took five or more. A dozen years earlier, 51% of adults filled at least one prescription and 8% filled at least five, federal survey data show. The researchers who crunched these numbers said there was no single explanation for the striking rise in prescription drug use. The graying of America and the advent of Medicare Part D contributed to the increase, but the nation’s obesity crisis was probably a bigger factor, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical AssnVia LA Times.

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Cholesterol Medication: Do We Need It? Maybe Not, According To One Study

If you could avoid taking medicine, would you? A new study suggests many who are taking medicine for their hearts may not actually need it. It’s estimated around 50 percent of Americans over 40 have considered or decided to take cholesterol-lowering drugs. But a new study involving a local cardiologist suggests their chances of having a heart attack are actually minimal. Cholesterol: It’s been a buzz word for the past few decades. Dr. Mike Miedema, a cardiologist with the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern, says it may have been blown out of proportion. Via WCCO CBS.

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Mayo Clinic News

Case for Testing Cancer in Blood Builds, One Study at a Time 

Two new studies published of patients with breast and prostate cancers add to growing evidence that detecting bits of cancer DNA circulating in the blood can guide patient treatment. Enthusiasm is building for "liquid biopsies," which offer a non-invasive alternative to standard tissue biopsies and are expected to be a multibillion-dollar market. But a key question remains: Do they really work? Keith Stewart, an oncologist who heads Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine, believes liquid biopsies are the future, but it may take three to five years to fully understand how useful they will be. "I'm very confident liquid biopsies will become a routine part of clinical practice in cancer," he said. Via Reuters.

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CA 19-9 Tumor Marker Test Can Help Predict Early-Stage Pancreatic Cancer Patient

Only 1 in 5 U.S. pancreatic cancer patients receive a widely available, inexpensive blood test at diagnosis that can help predict whether they are likely to have a better or worse outcome than average and guide treatment accordingly, a Mayo Clinic study shows. "This is another argument for giving chemotherapy before surgery in all pancreatic cancer patients and ending the old practice of surgery followed by chemo," says senior author Mark Truty, M.D., a gastrointestinal surgical oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Via News-Medical.

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In Unsettling Case, CDC Says Tapeworm May Have Infected Man With Cancerous Cells

The presence of cancerous cells in tapeworms also raises numerous questions about where the mutant cells originated — from something in the environment? — and whether other organisms that live inside or on people that could transmit cancer cells. In recent years, many scientists have emphasized that the human body's ecosystem is only made up of 10 percent human cells but 90 percent microbial cells. "We didn’t believe that cells from a human parasite could become malignant and then invade human tissue. … It's just very unusual that the parasite’s cells became cancerous inside a human and then invaded into human tissue," Bobbi Pritt, director of clinical parasitology at the Mayo Clinic, said in an interview. Via Washington Post.

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Searching for High-Risk Myeloma Precursors 

Evolving definitions of multiple myeloma could lead to a substantial increase in the number of patients requiring evaluation and treatment, studies of monoclonal gammopathies suggested. The fundamental approach to the disease process has changed considerably as a result of new data high-risk conditions and disease characteristics, Shaji Kumar, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said during the Society of Hematologic Oncology meeting. Via MedPage Today.

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Mayo Clinic Human Resources Donates 79 Blankets to the Ronald McDonald House 

Children at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester can snuggle up with something warm, thanks to some Mayo Clinic helpers. Members from the Clinic's Human Resources Department distributed 79 blankets to children. This is a part of Mayo Clinic's Wellness Champion Program, and gets people from different departments to do good deeds in the community. For the last six weeks, they've been sewing and stitching 45 of the 79 blankets donated for kids at the Ronald McDonald House. Via KTTC. 

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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.