Week in Review: May 13

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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.


Industry News

Clues to How Popular Heartburn Drug Might Harm Arteries

A popular over-the-counter heartburn medication accelerated aging of blood vessel cells in lab tests, raising red flags about its long-term effect on heart health, researchers say. Faster aging of blood vessel cells exposed to the antacid Nexium (esomeprazole) might potentially hinder the tasks these cells perform to prevent heart attack and stroke, the new study suggests. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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The Case Against Artificial Sweeteners is Getting Stronger

In a report published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers led by Meghan Azad, assistant professor in pediatrics and child health at University of Manitoba in Canada, studied more than 3,000 pregnant women and their infants. The expectant moms answered questions about what they ate, and their babies were followed for a year after birth. Moms who reported consuming more artificial sweeteners—such as Equal (aspartame), Splenda (sucralose), and Sweet’n Low (saccharin)—in beverages were twice as likely to have children that were overweight or obese at one year, compared to women who reported using artificial sweeteners less. Via TIME. 

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So Many People Are Dying of Drug Overdoses that They’re Easing the Donated Organ Shortage

America's opioid epidemic has had far-reaching and generally devastating consequences. Now, the impact is being seen in organ donations. Coinciding with a rise in drug-related deaths, the number of organ donors who died of drug overdoses has sharply increased in recent years—"a silver lining to what is absolutely a tragedy," Alexandra Glazier, president of the New England Organ Bank, recently told U.S. News & World Report. Last year, 848 organ donors died of drug intoxication, according to Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network data. And while such organ donors have become more common over the decades, the recent numbers show a staggering jump. Via Washington Post.

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Pesticides, Military Service May Be Tied to ALS Risk

People with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, are more likely to have been exposed to toxic pesticides or to have served in the military than similar people without the condition, according to a new study. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a degenerative disease in which nerve cells break down over time. ALS affects fewer than 20,000 people in the U.S. each year, according to the Mayo Clinic. Via Reuters.

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New Medical Schools Aim to Fix America’s Broken Health Care System

New medical schools are launching across the country to address a projected physician shortage. They’re promising innovative curriculums that let aspiring doctors spend time doing research, working in community health settings, and following the same patients for months. But they face big obstacles, starting with the challenge of recruiting students and faculty when they’re not yet accredited—and won’t be, even in the best-case scenario, for several years. An equally big challenge: raising the tens of millions it takes to build and then run a top-tier medical school. And yet, over the next few years, a crop of medical schools will open on campuses at Washington State University, City University of New York, Seton Hall University, and elsewhere—all in an effort to create a new breed of American doctor. Via STAT.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Strikes Multi-Product Licensing Agreement with Exact Sciences

The Mayo Clinic and a company that produces a home colorectal cancer-screening kit based on its patents have deepened their financial and research ties, according to the newly filed SEC documents. Exact Sciences Corp. (NASDAQ: EXAS) of Madison, Wisconsin, maker of the Cologuard multi-target stool DNA test, revealed in a quarterly report filed last week that it has amended its licensing agreement with Mayo to cover not only Cologuard but also future products based on the clinic’s know-how. Via Twin-Cities Business.

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'Bag of Pills': Is it Necessary?

Polypharmacy is a difficult problem for many physicians who treat older patients, but there are steps they can take to cut down on their patients' medications, Amit Shah, M.D., said at the American College of Physicians annual meeting. "I do a lot of medical student and resident teaching, and whenever I teach this topic, I like to say, 'As a geriatrician, I have cured more disease by stopping medications than starting them,'" said Dr. Shah, who is at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. "It's a bit of an overstatement but it gets people's attention" because they never thought about fixing problems by taking medications away rather than adding things on." Via MedPage Today.

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Study: Swaddling Babies May Increase Risk of SIDS

Babies who are swaddled and placed on their stomachs or sides may have an increased risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome, according to an analysis of four studies. Researchers found that babies who were swaddled, or wrapped tightly in a blanket or cloth, were twice as likely to die from SIDS, if they were laid on their stomachs or sides, according to the report, published in the journal Pediatrics. The likelihood of SIDS was low for those placed on their backs. Via USA Today.

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What is Drawing Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Other AMCs to Florida?

Some of the biggest names in health care are competing for patients in Florida, according to a Star Tribune report. Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic is injecting $100 million into its Jacksonville, Florida, campus through the construction of a center designed to address complex cancer, neurologic, and neurosurgical care. Construction on the 150,000-square-foot facility will begin this summer. In the last year, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore have also announced plans to grow their respective operations in southeast Florida and St. Petersburg, Florida, according to the report. Via Becker's Hospital Review.

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FDA Reconsiders 'Healthy' Labels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reconsidering its definition for which foods should be labeled “healthy.” According to a USA Today report, existing regulations were crafted more than 20 years ago during the dawn of low-fat diets, allowing products like fat-free pudding cups and sugary cereal to be labeled as “healthy,” but not whole foods, such as nuts, avocados, and salmon.Via Mayo Clinic News Network. 

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.