Week in Review: Aug. 25

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

Alcohol again Tied to Lower Death Risk

Light-to-moderate drinking was once again associated with reduced odds of mortality in a large U.S. retrospective analysis, researchers found, recovering the protective effect of alcohol consumption that was challenged by other recent studies. Compared with those who had fewer than 12 drinks in their life, light drinkers had lower mortality rates on multivariable adjustment (HR 0.79, 95% CI 0.76-0.82), as did moderate drinkers (HR 0.78, 95% CI 0.74-0.82). In particular, these two groups also had fewer cardiovascular-related deaths. Via MedPage Today.

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The Brain Cancer That Keeps Killing Baseball Players

Since Darren Daulton succumbed to brain cancer on August 6, heartfelt tributes have honored the way he led a raucous Phillies team to the World Series in 1993. And unanswered questions have surfaced about the way he died. Daulton and several prominent contemporaries in baseball—including at least three other Phillies who played at Veterans Stadium, the team’s home from 1971 to 2003—have died of glioblastoma, according to news media accounts. It is considered the most aggressive and frequently diagnosed form of malignant brain tumor. Researchers who have examined the baseball cases for years say there is insufficient evidence to determine whether they represent anything more than coincidence. Possible cancer clusters are notoriously hard to prove. Most of the time, upon rigorous examination, no cause can be identified, and the cases are considered random. “There is almost never an explanation for them,” said Timothy Rebbeck, a cancer epidemiologist at Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who has studied the Phillies cases. Via NY Times.

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Scientists Report Progress on "Liquid Biopsies" for Cancer Screening

Scientists have the first major evidence that blood tests called liquid biopsies hold promise for screening people for cancer. Hong Kong doctors tried it for a type of head and neck cancer and boosted early detection and one measure of survival. The tests detect DNA that tumors shed into the blood. Some are used now to monitor cancer patients, and many companies are trying to develop versions of these for screening, as possible alternatives to mammograms, colonoscopies, and other such tests. The new study shows this approach can work, at least for this one form of cancer and in a country where it's common. Via CBS News.

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Scientists Develop Blood Test That Spots Tumor-Derived DNA in People with Early-Stage Cancers

In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to accurately identify more than half of 138 people with relatively early-stage colorectal, breast, lung, and ovarian cancers. The test, the scientists say, is novel in that it can distinguish between DNA shed from tumors and other altered DNA that can be mistaken for cancer biomarkers. A report on the research, performed on blood and tumor tissue samples from 200 people with all stages of cancer in the U.S., Denmark, and the Netherlands, appears in the August 16 issue of Science Translational Medicine. Via Hopkins Medicine.

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Many Nurses Lack Knowledge of Health Risks to Mothers after Childbirth

In recent months, mothers who nearly died in the hours and days after giving birth have repeatedly told ProPublica and NPR that their doctors and nurses were often slow to recognize the warning signs that their bodies weren't healing properly. A study published in MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing substantiates some of those concerns. Researchers surveyed 372 postpartum nurses nationwide and found that many of them were ill-informed about the dangers mothers face after giving birth. Via NPR.

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Mayo Clinic News

New Prostate Cancer Biomarkers Can Improve Precision Therapy

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have uncovered a new cause of treatment resistance in prostate cancer that may improve future therapy. "These findings have important implications for prostate cancer treatment because SPOP mutation or elevated BET protein expression can now be used as biomarkers to improve outcomes of BET inhibitor-oriented therapy of prostate cancer with SPOP mutation or BET protein overexpression," Haojie Huang, Ph.D., molecular biologist with the Mayo Clinic's Center for Biomedical Discovery, said in a press release. Via UPI.com.

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Super-Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Made Possible by Brain Scans

It might be time to categorize Alzheimer's in a new way, suggests Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and lead author of a brain-imaging study presented at a recent conference. A new categorization could provide a more objective, biological basis for scientists working to discover treatments versus relying largely on behavioral symptoms or mental-function tests. Unlike other research on higher-risk adults who have Alzheimer's disease in their family history, the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging involves people chosen at random from the general population, Dr. Petersen notes. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Asthma, on Rise in Older Adults, Tends to Be Ignored

As the prevalence of asthma climbs in people 65 or older, more seniors will grapple with its long-term impact. Estimates vary, but up to 9% of older adults are thought to have asthma—a respiratory condition that inflames the lungs and interferes with breathing. Physicians can be slow to recognize asthma as well. "In the elderly, sometimes the only manifestation of asthma is shortness of breath and a cough," said Kaiser Lim, M.D., a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "But some primary care doctors kind of shrug off these symptoms." Via CNN.

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Mayo Clinic: Gut Bacteria May Lead to Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

A human gut microbe discovered by researchers at Mayo Clinic may help treat autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), according to findings published in the journal Cell Reports. While many people have eaten probiotics to improve digestion, this study goes beyond the digestive system. The Mayo research team, including researchers from the University of Iowa, tested gut microbial samples from patients on a mouse model of MS. Of three bacterial strains, they found one microbe, called Prevotella histicola, effectively suppressed immune disease in the preclinical model of MS. Via KMSP.

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Discovery’s Edge: Hope for Patients with a Genetic Neurological Disease

Life with an inherited disease sometimes brings unexpected twists and turns. Five-year-old Gus Erickson has navigated the gyrations with the help of Mayo Clinic’s Neurofibromatosis Clinic. Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.