Week in Review: Nov. 20


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

Fresh Voices: Researchers Grow New Vocal Cords From Cells 

Researchers say they've grown new sets of vocal cords from just a few cells, and think they might be able to create custom-grown replacements for people who have lost their own voices. The highly specialized cells — taken from living people and from a cadaver — assembled themselves into the right structure, the team at the University of Wisconsin reported. Via NBC News.

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Coffee Tied to Lower Risk of Dying Prematurely 

More good news on coffee: A large study has found that drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of dying from heart disease and certain other causes. Researchers followed more than 200,000 doctors and nurses for up to 30 years. The participants had periodic physical examinations and completed questionnaires on diet and behavior, including their coffee habits. The study was published in CirculationVia NY Times. 

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Early Prostate Cancer Cases Fall Along With Screening 

Fewer men are being screened for prostate cancer, and fewer early-stage cases are being detected, according to two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The number of cases has dropped not because the disease is becoming less common but because there is less effort to find it, the researchers said. Via NY Times.

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For The Most Accurate Read, Where Should You Put That Thermometer? 

To get the most accurate measurement of the body's temperature, a rectal thermometer works best, a study finds. Less invasive methods to measure body heat on the outside of the skin such as on the forehead or under the arms just aren't as precise. Now does this mean everyone should rush out and restock their medicine cabinet with rectal thermometers? Probably not, says Dr. Daniel Niven, an intensive care physician with the Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary, who headed a review of the effectiveness of different types of thermometers. He says the oral thermometer and ear thermometer are reasonably accurate options. Via NPR.

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A Genetic Map Hints At What Makes A Brain Human

Patterns of gene expression in human and mouse brains suggest that cells known as glial cells may have helped us evolve brains that can acquire language and solve complex problems. Scientists have been dissecting human brains for centuries. But nobody can explain precisely what allows people to use language, solve problems or tell jokes, says Ed Lein, an investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. Via NPR.

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Mayo Clinic News

New Nerve Drugs May Finally Prevent Migraine Headaches

Now a new chapter in the long and often curious history of migraine is being written. Neurologists believe they have identified a hypersensitive nerve system that triggers the pain and are in the final stages of testing medicines that soothe its overly active cells. These are the first ever drugs specifically designed to prevent the crippling headaches before they start, and they could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next year. “It completely changes the paradigm of how we treat migraine,” says David Dodick, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona and president of the International Headache Society. Whereas there are migraine-specific drugs that do a good job stopping attacks after they start, the holy grail for both patients and doctors has been prevention. Via Scientific American.

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Failing Sense of Smell Might Be Alzheimer's Warning

Losing your sense of smell may mark the start of memory problems and possibly Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests. Researchers found that older adults who had the worst smell test scores were 2.2 times more likely to begin having mild memory problems. And if they already had these memory problems, they were more likely to progress to full-blown Alzheimer's disease, said lead researcher Rosebud Roberts, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Via HealthDay.

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U.S. Heart Groups to Weigh New Data for Hypertension Treatment Guidelines 

U.S. heart organizations drafting new treatment guidelines for hypertension will consider new research showing that aggressively lowering blood pressure can ward off death and other cardiac problems, but top cardiologists advised caution in how the information is applied to wide practice. The Sprint findings suggested one death would be prevented for every 90 patients treated to a target of 120. "That's enough to change guidelines," but the potential side effects must be considered, said Dr. Raymond Gibbons, a former AHA president from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The ACC considers a systolic blood pressure level of 140 and a diastolic level of 90 to be its standard, based on government-issued guidelines released in 2003. Via Reuters.

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How Previous Pill Use Affects Ovarian Cancer Outcomes

According to a study by Mayo Clinic researchers, patients who develop ovarian cancer appear to have better outcomes if they have previously taken oral contraceptives. Findings were published in the current issue of the journal BMC Cancer. In this study, Aminah Jatoi, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic and co-author Ellen Goode, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at Mayo Clinic, examined the outcomes of ovarian cancer patients who were seen at Mayo Clinic from 2000 through 2013. Of the 1,398 patients who filled out a risk factor questionnaire about prior oral contraceptive, 827 responded that they had previously taken birth control pills. Via Monthly Prescribing Reference.

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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center experts are available to discuss this often fatal illness, risk factors, treatments, and advances in research. Pancreatic cancer accounts for only 3 percent of all cancers but is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, by the end of the year, 49,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and an estimated 41,000 will die from the disease. 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.