Week in Review: Feb. 24

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

A Stressed Life May Mean a Wider Waistline

Days filled with stress and anxiety may be upping your risk of becoming overweight or obese, British researchers say. The researchers said they found a link between high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and excess weight. "We don't know which came first, the greater body weight or the higher cortisol," said researcher Andrew Steptoe. He's the British Heart Foundation professor of psychology at University College London. For the study, Steptoe's team analyzed levels of cortisol in a lock of hair about three-quarters of an inch long, cut as close as possible to the scalp. This hair sample reflected accumulated cortisol levels over the previous two months, the researchers said. Via HealthDay.

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U.S. Life Expectancy Will Soon Be on Par with Mexico’s and the Czech Republic’s

Life expectancy at birth will continue to climb substantially for residents of industrialized nations—but not in the United States, where minimal gains will soon put life spans on par with those in Mexico and the Czech Republic, according to an extensive analysis released. South Korean women and Hungarian men are projected to make the largest overall gains (with South Koreans second among males). There is a better-than-even chance that South Korean women will live to an average of 90 years old by 2030, which would be the first time a population will break the 90-year barrier, according to the research published in The Lancet. Via Washington Post.

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No Drugs for Back Pain, New Guidelines Say

Skip the meds. Lower back pain—one of the most common reasons for a doctor’s visit—is best treated with alternative, natural ,and psychological therapies, say new guidelines from the American College of Physicians. Opioids—one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief and a source of increasing addiction and death—should only be considered for chronic back pain when other alternatives—natural and prescription—don’t work, say the guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Via Wall Street Journal.

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When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes

When you visit a doctor, you probably assume the treatment you receive is backed by evidence from medical research. Surely, the drug you’re prescribed or the surgery you’ll undergo wouldn’t be so common if it didn’t work, right? For all the truly wondrous developments of modern medicine—imaging technologies that enable precision surgery, routine organ transplants, care that transforms premature infants into perfectly healthy kids, and remarkable chemotherapy treatments, to name a few—it is distressingly ordinary for patients to get treatments that research has shown are ineffective or even dangerous. Sometimes, doctors simply haven’t kept up with the science. Other times, doctors know the state of play perfectly well but continue to deliver these treatments because it’s profitable—or even because they’re popular and patients demand them. Some procedures are implemented based on studies that did not prove whether they really worked in the first place. Via The Atlantic.

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As Presidents Live Longer, Doctors Debate Whether to Test for Dementia

At 70, Trump is the oldest American president to ever take office. Couple his age with a family history of dementia—his father Fred developed Alzheimer's disease in his 80s—and one could argue that the question of baseline cognitive testing for the U.S. head of state has taken on new relevance. An assortment of fairly simple tests exist that can establish a reference point for cognitive capacity and detect early symptoms of mental decline. One of the most common such screens is the Mini-Mental Status Examination, a series of questions that gauges attention, orientation ,and short-term memory. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Via NPR.

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Mayo Clinic News

First Look: Lab-Grown Voice Boxes Aim to Offer a New Option for Larynx Cancer Patient

It’s estimated that more than 13,000 new cases of laryngeal cancer will be diagnosed this year—some of which will cost patients all or part of the voice boxes—but new research using stem cells aims to save their speech by growing new larynges right in the lab. David Lott, M.D., and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine are leading the charge to change how laryngeal cancer is treated. “Tissue engineering really expands the number and types of patients we can treat,” he said. They would start by taking in-depth images of a patient’s larynx, which will be used to 3-D print a model that exactly matches the portion that will be resected during surgery. Via STAT.

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Plummer Building Illuminated to Spread Awareness of Encephalitis

On certian occasions, one of Mayo Clinic’s oldest buildings is lit in recognition of a person or event. On Wednesday evening, the Plummer Building was illuminated red for World Encephalitis Day. “Encephalitis can be deadly, and survivors often face brain injury and a long rehabilitation, making return to school or work difficult,” says Mayo Clinic neurologist Michel Toledano, M.D. “More awareness of the disease is needed by the public and health care providers.” Via KIMT.

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Wyoming Man Receives "Miracle" Face Transplant 10 Years after Suicide Attempt

Ten years ago, Andy Sandness tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the face. After miraculously surviving the horrific incident, the 31-year-old has received one the rarest surgeries in the world—a face transplant. On June 16, 2016, 60 surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and others came together for the gruelling 56-hour surgery—a first for Mayo Clinic. Via People.

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Doctors Who Find Meaning in Their Work Are Less Likely to Feel Burnout

Doctors who feel burned out or overwhelmed by the demands of work are less likely to view their work with patients as a “calling” that has meaning, according to a recent study. Burnout—characterized by emotional exhaustion, a loss of a sense of self-identity, and a reduced sense of accomplishment—can happen in any occupation, the researchers write in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Via Huffington Post.

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Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup

New findings about America’s heart health awareness, opinions, and behaviors have been uncovered as part of the Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup, which first launched in January 2016 and provides a quick pulse on consumer health opinions and behaviors at multiple times throughout the year. “The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup helps us to better understand the health knowledge and practices of all Americans, beyond the patients that walk through our doors,” says John Wald, M.D., Medical Director for Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. Via Kare 11.

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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.