Week in Review: Aug. 31

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

Scientists Blast EPA Effort That Would Discredit Health Research in the Name of  "Transparency"

When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a proposal this week to give states more latitude in regulating pollution from power plants within their borders, it came with a sobering forecast of its likely impact on Americans’ health. By 2030, adoption of the Affordable Clean Energy Rule could lead to 470 to 1,400 additional premature deaths each year because of an increase in tiny airborne particles. Children with asthma could wind up missing 21,000 extra days of school annually, and up to 48,000 more people could experience “exacerbated asthma” as air quality deteriorates. Those estimates were made possible by decades-old studies that linked the rise and fall of microscopic airborne particulates—smog and other emissions from automobile tailpipes, factories and other industrial sources—to predictable patterns of premature death. It’s the kind of analysis that federal regulators will be barred from considering if the EPA adopts a controversial plan ostensibly designed to enhance the quality of research. The Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science initiative would allow rulemakers to base their decisions only on studies whose raw data is available to the public. That way, anyone who doubts the findings can make their own attempt to validate, or discredit, them. Via Los Angeles Times.

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Study Sheds Light on How "Club Drug" Ketamine May Help Ease Depression

The anesthetic ketamine has drawn excitement in recent years as a fast-acting and effective treatment for severe depression. Now, a small, new study sheds light on exactly how the drug works to treat depression, with a surprising finding: Ketamine needs to activate opioid receptors in order to have anti-depressant effects. The new findings challenge previous views on how the drug works to treat depression, the researchers said. "It doesn't work like everyone thought it was working," co-senior study author Dr. Alan Schatzberg, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a statement. In light of the current opioid epidemic, the findings also underscore the need for caution against widespread and repeated use of ketamine for depression until more research is done on the drug's mechanism of action and its risk of abuse among patients, the researchers said. Via CBS News.

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"Mayo Magic": How Mayo Clinic Built Its Reputation as a Leading Hospital

During a recent appearance at the 22nd annual Wharton Leadership Conference in Philadelphia in June, Jeffrey Bolton, Vice President of Administration and Chief Administrative Officer at the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic, discussed the "Mayo magic" that has helped raised the institution's profile as one of the nation's top hospitals. Via Becker's Hospital Review.

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Noise Causes Stress. Here's Why You Need to Seek out Some Silence

It’s a noisy planet. So much so that research calls noise pollution a “modern plague” and a threat to our health and well-being. “Noisy, chaotic environments increase stress levels, and chronic stress has been shown to . . . suppress immunity, increase risk of heart disease and diabetes, while also increasing inflammation,” says Brent Bauer, M.D., Director of Research at the Mayo Clinic’s Integrative Medicine Program. Spending time in a tranquil environment can repair some of the damage, and may even aid cell regeneration. Via Los Angeles Times.

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What You Need to Know about Treadmill Desks

Even if you exercise before or after work and on the weekends, all of those hours sitting on the job are hurting your health. Chances are, you’re not going to change your career for that reason, but you can change how you work at it. Dan Gaz, Physical Activity and Assessment Program Manager at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minnesota, observes that our sedentary work lives need not be quite so sedentary. “Treadmill desks are a great way to incorporate more movement into normally sedentary scenarios or situations.” Your low metabolism may be caused by your job, rather than your genes, to the extent it has you sitting for hours on end, research shows. A treadmill desk can help you achieve more movement in your work day, Gaz suggests, with a word of caution: “Just as we weren’t meant to sit all day, we certainly can’t walk all day long.” He suggests using it periodically throughout the day, rather than continually. Via Forbes.

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Mayo Clinic News

The Scary Reason You Need to Know the Early Signs of Syphilis

Of all the STDs out there, syphilis doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should, even though it is on the rise. Caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum, overall reported cases of syphilis increased about 18% from 2015 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first sign of syphilis is usually a small painless ulcer (or a few of them), notes Pritish Tosh, M.D., an infectious disease physician at Mayo Clinic. It’s different from herpes in that these marks are painless, he notes. Sores pop up because of syphilis entering the body and causing infection in the area of the sore, usually around the vagina, anus, or mouth. Via Prevention.

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ASU, Mayo Research Collaboration Seeks Early Diagnosis for Parkinson's

Mayo Clinic neurologist and an Arizona State University professor—Charles Adler, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael Sierks, respectively—are hoping to identify blood-based biomarkers for Parkinson’s that would allow for earlier, more accurate diagnoses, the ability to track the progression of the disease and more targeted treatment options. The pair’s ongoing research was initially facilitated by the Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care’s Faculty Summer Residency Program. The program is designed to support long-term collaborations between research teams at Mayo Clinic and ASU faculty in areas that will impact clinical outcomes and enhance patient experiences. Other researchers in this year’s cohort collaborated on projects ranging from the development of a bioengineered artificial larynx to upgrading Mayo Clinic’s electronic health records. Adler and Sierks both have a family history of neurodegenerative diseases (Adler’s grandfather had Parkinson’s, and Sierks’ father has Alzheimer’s). “I always wanted to be a doctor and I always wanted to cure PD, so for me this has been a lifelong journey,” Dr. Adler said. Via ASU.

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Rochester Block Party, Screening Planned for Ken Burns Documentary About Mayo Clinic

As the debut of Ken Burns's Mayo Clinic documentary nears, city and hospital leaders announced that there will soon be an opportunity to celebrate. On September 10th, there will be a block party and screening of “The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope - Science” at the Mayo Civic Center. There will be a panel discussion after the documentary, featuring Burns, who is the executive producer and co-director of the film, co-directors Erik and Christopher Loren Ewers, and Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, M.D. Via KTTC.

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Mayo Clinic Doctor Initiates Program to Help African-Americans Deal with Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the nation, and it disproportionately affects African-Americans. LaPrincess Brewer, M.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, is using what began as a class project a decade ago, to make a change. “I had no idea this program would go from a class project in a public health course to now Rochester, Minnesota, and the Twin Cities area,” Dr. Brewer said. The program is called FAITH, which stands for Fostering African-American Improvement in Total Health. Via KAAL.

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Mayo Clinic Researchers Identify a Potential New Approach to Treat HER2 Positive Breast Cancer

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have identified an important new pathway by which HER2 positive breast cancers grow and have discovered that a dietary supplement called cyclocreatine may block the growth of HER2 positive breast cancer. Their findings were published today in Cell Metabolism. 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.