Week in Review: Dec. 9

shutterstock_167773898-1The 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

Vegetarian Diets Best for Health and the Environment, Say Nutritionists

A new position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlights the health benefits of vegetarian diets, claiming they can reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer, compared with non-vegetarian diets. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say vegetarian diets pose a wealth of health benefits. Updating their 2009 position on plant-based diets, the Academy say an "appropriately planned" vegetarian or vegan diet is suitable for "all stages of the life cycle," and adopting such diets in childhood can reduce the risk of chronic disease later in life. Via Medical News Today.

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Immune System, Unleashed by Cancer Therapies, Can Attack Organs

So-called immunotherapy drugs have been hailed as a breakthrough in cancer treatment, attracting billions of research dollars and offering new hope to patients out of options. But as their use grows, doctors are finding that they pose serious risks that stem from the very thing that makes them effective. An unleashed immune system can attack healthy, vital organs: notably the bowel, the liver and the lungs, but also the kidneys, the adrenal and pituitary glands, the pancreas and, in rare cases, the heart. Doctors at Yale believe immunotherapy is causing a new type of acute-onset diabetes, with at least 17 cases there so far, Mr. Peal’s among them. In cancer clinics around the world, and in drug trials, myriad other side effects are showing up. Studies are finding that severe reactions occur nearly 20 percent of the time with certain drugs, and in more than half of patients when some drugs are used in combination. Via NY Times.

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Smartphone Health Apps Often Miss Real Medical Emergencies

Don’t count on smartphone health apps to help when you’re having a serious medical emergency, warn the authors of a new review of the technology. The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found problems even with apps considered to be among the highest-quality offerings on the market. There’s been a proliferation of health apps for mobile phones. According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, there are more than 165,000 health apps out there. “The state of health apps is even worse than we thought,” said Dr. James Madara, chief executive of the American Medical Association, who was not involved in the study. Via CBS News.

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Surgeon General Calls Youth Vaping a Public Health Threat

E-cigarette use among young people is a major health concern, according to a new report from the U.S. Surgeon General. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said in the report that not enough research has been conducted to prove that use of e-cigarettes among youth are harmless "My concern is e-cigarettes have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine," Murthy told AP. "If that leads to the use of other tobacco-related products, then we are going to be moving backward instead of forward." Via USA Today.

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U.S. Life Expectancy Falls, as Many Kinds of Death Increase

A decades-long trend of rising life expectancy in the U.S. could be ending: It declined last year and it is no better than it was four years ago. In most of the years since World War II, life expectancy in the U.S. has inched up, thanks to medical advances, public health campaigns, and better nutrition and education. But last year it slipped, an exceedingly rare event in a year that did not include a major disease outbreak. Other one-year declines occurred in 1993, when the nation was in the throes of the AIDS epidemic, and 1980, the result of an especially nasty flu season. In 2015, rates for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death rose. Even more troubling to health experts: the U.S. seems to be settling into a trend of no improvement at all. Via USA Today.

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Mayo Clinic News

3D Printing Improving Surgery Outcomes at Mayo Clinic

For nearly ten years, Rochester’s Mayo Clinic has been creating life-like models of people’s organs, vascular systems, and bones to help with surgery. This is all done using a three dimensional printer, which Mayo Clinic says says the demand for is only growing. The very first model surgeons created was a liver, and neuroradiologist Jonathan Morris, M.D., says the rest was history. "So then we went into spine models, complex congenital scoliosis cases, from there we went into tumor, and then after we went into tumors we went into cancer, and then there was no turning back," Dr. Morris said. Via KAAL.

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Noncardiac Mortality Risk Higher after PCI in Patients with STEMI, Cancer

In a contemporary registry of patients who underwent PCI for STEMI, one in 10 had a history of cancer, and those with cancer had elevated risk for noncardiac mortality but not cardiac mortality, according to new findings. “We’ve watched cancer survivorship increase over the past 2 ½ decades, which is wonderful, but it has led to new challenges, such as handling of downstream illnesses and side effects to an extent never encountered before,” Joerg Herrmann, M.D., interventional cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, said in a press release. “In particular, as cardiologists, we wanted to know if cancer and its therapies left these patients debilitated from a [CVD] standpoint.” Via Healio.

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Study Highlights Importance of Achieving CR after Intensive Therapy for AML

Patients with acute myeloid leukemia who achieve complete remission have improved overall survival compared with those who achieve complete remission with incomplete marrow recovery, according to a study presented at the American Society of Hematology 58th Annual Meeting and Exposition. "The results of the E2906 study strongly support the use of intensive therapy for patients aged 60 years or older who are fit for such treatment," said principal investigator James Foran, M.D., a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. Via Cancer Therapy Advisor.

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Cancer Breakthrough Aids One Patient, Raises Hopes for Many

National Cancer Institute researchers have produced an immune-cell therapy that for the first time successfully targeted a genetic mutation involved in causing tens of thousands of gastrointestinal cancers . . . . This is truly exciting,” said Axel Grothey, M.D., a Mayo Clinic oncologist. “At this point in time, I consider the presented data as an intriguing proof of principle that cellular immune therapy can be used to target cancer cells with specific molecular alterations. That alone is important and could represent a game-changer in the future.” Via Wall Street Journal.

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Mayo Clinic Minute: 3 Tips to Prevent the Flu

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu season has been mild so far this year, but the number of cases is expected to increase over the coming weeks. If you haven't gotten vaccinated yet, now is the time to do so. Mayo Clinic experts say the best way to protect yourself from contracting the flu is to get the flu vaccine. But there are other precautions you can take to increase your odds of staying healthy during flu season. In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Vivien Williams talks to Vandana Bhide, M.D., about how to prevent the flu. 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.