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.
7 More Substances Classified as Human Carcinogens
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its 14th Report on Carcinogens in November, including seven "newly reviewed" substances, bringing its total number of known human carcinogens to 248. Five viruses have been added to the list: Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), and Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV). Via CNN.
Walking for Transportation or Leisure among U.S. Women and Men
Physical activity confers considerable health benefits, but only half of U.S. adults report participating in levels of aerobic physical activity consistent with guidelines. Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities identified walking as an important public health strategy to increase physical activity levels. A previous report showed that the self-reported prevalence of walking for transportation or leisure increased by 6 percentage points from 2005 to 2010, but it is unknown whether this increase has been sustained. The CDC analyzed National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2005 (26,551 respondents), 2010 (23,313), and 2015 (28,877) to evaluate trends in the age-adjusted prevalence of self-reported walking among adults aged ≥18 years. Via CDC.
C. diff Infections Are Falling, Thanks to Better Cleaning and Fewer Antibiotics
The risk of getting a deadly, treatment-resistant infection in a hospital or nursing home is dropping for the first time in decades, thanks to new guidelines on antibiotic use and stricter cleaning standards in care facilities. The rate of new Clostridium difficile or C. diff infections climbed year after year from 2000 to 2010, researchers found. But an early look at 2011–2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infections Program suggests infection rates are improving. Via NPR.
Personalized Cancer Vaccines Vanquish Melanoma in Small but Encouraging Study
A small pilot study raises hopes that personalized cancer vaccines might prove safer and more effective than immune-based therapies already in use or further along in development. In a paper published online in Nature, scientists reported that all six melanoma patients who received an experimental, custom-made vaccine saw their tumors disappear. Researchers not involved in the study praised its results, but with caveats. The scientists “did a beautiful job,” said M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s Greg Lizee, an expert in tumor immunology, who called the results “very encouraging.” But because the study did not include a comparison group of patients who received standard treatment and not the vaccine, he cautioned, “it’s not completely proved yet that the lack of [cancer] recurrence was due to the vaccine.” Via STAT.
Disney’s Channels: Children Are Tuning out
Walt Disney Co.’s biggest business, cable TV, is stalling. And the problems go well beyond ESPN. The sports network’s struggle to adapt to a rapidly changing media landscape has garnered much of the attention from investors and analysts. Meanwhile, Nielsen data show ratings have fallen significantly at Disney’s biggest brands reaching children, teens, and young adults, led by Disney Channel and Freeform. Each of those two channels has lost about four million subscribers over the past three years, bringing them to about 90 million apiece, according to SNL Kagan, an industry consulting firm. Via Wall Street Journal.
Mayo Clinic News
Link between Parkinson's and Melanoma Runs Both Ways
A study published this week in Mayo Clinic Proceedings confirms that Parkinson's disease can, perhaps surprisingly, increase the risk of melanoma. The researchers also show that the link is a two-way relationship, with melanoma also suspected to increase the risk of Parkinson's. First author Lauren Dalvin, M.D., Mayo Foundation Scholar in ocular oncology, says, "Future research should focus on identifying common genes, immune responses, and environmental exposures that may link these two diseases." Via Medical News Today.
Slowing Memory Loss with Age
Sometimes as people get older, their memory starts to fade, but recent findings from the National Academies of Science show that certain techniques can change that. “I wish things could be where they were so that I could do things without worrying about anything," said Donna Ties who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's six years ago. "Some people benefit from these brain exercises," said Ron Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., with the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Center. Dr. Petersen, who was on the committee that wrote a recent report for the National Academies of Sciences, said there are ways to help with memory before a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. "The exercises that were done 10 years ago actually had an effect 2 years out, 5 and 10 years out at slowing down cognitive aging," Dr. Petersen said. Via KAAL.
Is Your Medication Helping or Hurting? DNA Tests May Be a Guide
What we’re trying to do is, determine ahead of time, who the drug is not going to work in and who might have a severe adverse response or simply a bad reaction to the drug, and avoid that,” said Dr. Richard Weinshilboum, co-medical director of the pharmacogenomics program at Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine. The Mayo Clinic, one of the leaders in this type of testing, is currently collaborating with the Baylor College of Medicine to sequence the DNA of 10,000 participants, to determine if it improves long-term health and can lower health care costs. Via NBC News.
Mayo Investigator Is Developing a Screening Test for Endometrial Cancer
Inspired by the patients she cares for each day, Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, M.D., is working to create a screening test for endometrial cancer that uses a tampon to collect vaginal fluid from a patient. The fluid is then analyzed to detect molecular and genetic changes could signal endometrial cancer. “Only 5% to 10% of women with symptoms of endometrial cancer, which include abnormal vaginal bleeding, actually have the disease. However, nearly all women with these symptoms undergo an invasive endometrial biopsy to rule out endometrial cancer.” Via HuffPost.
What's to Blame for Your Stomach Bug? Not Always the Last Thing You Ate.
What’s going on in your head has an enormous impact on your gut and vice versa. “The human brain and nervous system is very intimately mixed with another nervous system that is present in the walls of the intestine,” said Santhi Swaroop Vege, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic. “These nerve fibers, nerves, and plexuses are located continuously in the wall of intestine from the esophagus to rectum.” Via NY Times.