Week in Review: Feb. 3

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

Not Safe for Children? Football’s Leaders Make Drastic Changes to Youth Game

U.S.A. Football, the national governing body for amateur football, intends to introduce a drastically altered youth football game in response to declining participation and increasing public belief that the game is not safe for children to play. The organization has created a new format that brings the game closer to flag football and tries to avoid much of the violence in the current version. Among the rule changes: Each team will have 6 to 9 players on the field, instead of 11; the field will be far smaller; kickoffs and punts will be eliminated; and players will start each play in a crouching position instead of in a three-point stance. Via NY Times.

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Flu Spike Prompts Hospital Restrictions

Allina Health will restrict visitor access at its hospitals to reduce the risk of vulnerable patients catching the flu after an announcement by state health officials that the virus is active across much of Minnesota. The precautionary step occurs whenever the Minnesota Health Department declares that influenza is widespread across the state, said Allina spokesman Tim Burke. The department made that announcement late last week as part of its weekly tracking of the flu, which so far has been relatively mild in Minnesota. Allina officials are asking that people who are ill and children younger than five years of age refrain from visiting patients at its 13 hospitals. Visitors with sore throats or coughs should wear masks to prevent the spread of germs. The Health Department has reported 329 flu-related hospitalizations in Minnesota as of Jan. 21—a relatively low number compared to prior seasons. No flu deaths in children have been reported so far this year. Via Star Tribune.

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After Decades of Anti-Smoking Campaigns, 1 in 4 Americans Still Use Tobacco

Fifty-three years after the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking launched countless anti-tobacco laws and campaigns, new challenges have emerged in the fight against nicotine use, according to a new study that tracks use of not just traditional cigarettes, but a dozen tobacco products. More than 1 in 4 American adults and nearly 1 in 10 youths still use tobacco, according to findings from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Habits study. The findings come from the first wave of the study, a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products, survey corporation Westat, and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Via Yahoo! News.

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Mysterious Cluster of Amnesia Cases, Possibly Tied to Opioids, Alarms Health Officials

Public health officials said they had detected a bizarre cluster of cases in which patients in Massachusetts developed amnesia over the past few years—a highly unusual syndrome that could be connected to opioid use. The officials have identified only 14 cases so far. But officials said it’s possible that clinicians have simply missed other cases. The patients were all relatively young—they ranged in age from 19 to 52, and 13 of the 14 patients identified admitted to having a substance-use disorder, with the 14th patient testing positive for opioids and cocaine on a toxicology screen. Via STAT.

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The 24 Most Valuable Brands in the World

Consultancy firm Brand Finance released its annual list of the most valuable brands in the world, and there’s a new name at the top of the pile. Google (GOOGL), which came in second last year, overtook Apple (AAPL) to take the top spot. The search giant added a staggering $21 billion to its value over the past year, taking its total value to $109 billion. It last ranked as the most valuable brand in 2011. Via Yahoo! News.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic Seeks Patent on Non-Invasive Drug Delivery for Brain Cancer, Alzheimer’s

Research interest is building over the possibility of using viruses to transport drugs and genes across the “blood-brain barrier” to non-invasively treat brain cancer and other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases, and a Mayo Clinic research team is staking out an intellectual property position in the field. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a semipermeable blockade of tightly packed cells that is crucial to keep pathogens and potentially harmful chemicals circulating in the blood from entering the brain and spinal cord. Its existence assures that the central nervous system functions property. Via Twin Cities Business.

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Hospitals Feeling the Early Effects of Trump Immigration Ban

Hospitals and health care systems are feeling the effects of President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Representatives from the Mayo Clinic said they were aware of 20 patients whose travel to or from the clinic for treatment may be affected by the ban. They said roughly 80 staff members, including physicians and scholars associated with the clinic, have ties to the seven countries listed on the executive order, but at this point, they were not aware of anyone who was directly affected in terms of barred entry into the U.S. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Busy Minds May Be Better at Fighting Dementia

Mentally stimulating activities can protect your brain against aging, even if you're genetically predisposed toward dementia or Alzheimer's disease, a new study reports. Activities that keep the brain busy—using a computer, crafting, playing games, and participating in social activities—appear to lower the risk of age-related mental decline in people 70 or older, the Mayo Clinic study found. "These kind of commonly engaged-in, stimulating activities actually reduce the risk of people developing mild cognitive impairment," said co-author Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., who is Director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Rochester. Via HealthDay.

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Mayo Clinic: 20 Patients Affected by President Trump's Travel Ban

Mayo Clinic is assessing the affects on staff and patients from President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning refugee resettlement and immigration from some countries. According to a statement released by Mayo Clinic, the hospital knows of 20 patients who may be affected by the travel ban. Additionally, Mayo Clinic says nearly 80 staff, physicians, and scholars have ties to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and Libya, which are the seven countries included in the 90-day immigration ban. "We are not aware of any Mayo Clinic staff traveling for Mayo Clinic business who are currently affected," Ginger Plumbo, spokesperson for Mayo Clinic said in a statement. "We are not aware of any Mayo-sponsored non-immigrant visa holders who have been immediately affected. We are still unsure of how Mayo staff and their families who are traveling for personal reasons may be affected." Via KAAL.

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New Treatments to Extend Life for Multiple Myeloma Patients

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that reside inside bone marrow. Plasma cells produce certain proteins that build up the immune system. In abnormal quantities, these proteins damage the body and compromise the immune system. Historically, patients with multiple myeloma did not survive more than a couple of years after diagnosis. Now, patients with this type of cancer are living more than three times as long thanks to new, more effective treatments. 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.