LIVING WITH CHRONIC DISEASE
• Huffpost Investigates Exploitative Hospice Care: “Nearly half of all Medicare patients who die now do so as a hospice patient — twice as many as in 2000, government data shows. But mounting evidence indicates that many providers are imperiling the health of patients in a drive to boost revenues and enroll more people, an investigation by The Huffington Post found.” The article includes a map providing information about the 866 hospices that have not been inspected in the last six years.
• Under Obamacare’s “Closed Formularies” Patients with Chronic Disease Like MD Do Not Get Access to Vital Medicines: Americans who sign up for insurance under Obamacare are finding many of these plans offer very narrow options when it comes to their choice of doctors and drugs. To get a sense of how restrictive the formularies are, and its impact on patients, Forbes looked at drugs used to treat two different chronic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. “We examined the drug coverage offered by lower cost silver health plans offered in the most populated counties in ten different states, and focused on ten disease-modifying drugs that are widely prescribed for these patients. We found that none of the plans provided coverage for all of the drugs, or covered any of them without significant cost sharing that would tap out most peoples’ annual deductibles and out-of-pocket limits on spending.” Forbes
• Long-Term Care in America: Expectations and Reality: A sample of 1,419 adults over 40 years of age found that many rely on their families for long term care; caregivers experiences are mostly positive; those with experience as a caregiver are more concerned with planning for long term care and less likely to think they can rely on family as they age; and only 3 in 10 say they feel prepared to be a caregiver.
• Cancer Survivors Face Mounting Costs of Continuing Care:According to the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, male and female cancer survivors incur annual medical costs that are almost two times greater than those of people who haven't had cancer. "Throughout their lifetime, they will still be going through treatments and checkups and long-term side effects and late effects that can come as a result of survival." June 13, MMWR
• Sleeping Pill Use Tied to Poorer Survival for Heart Failure: A new study suggests that the use of sleeping pills greatly increases the risk of serious heart problems and death in people with heart failure. European Society of Cardiology
• What to Know About Sunscreen Before Buying It: Consumer Reports tested 20 sunscreens and found that only two provided the SPF protection promised on their packages after water immersion. Consumer Reports. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a Sun Safety Campaign website that provides information about the safety of sunscreens
• Multiple 60 Minute Massage Per Week Offer Relief for Chronic Neck Pain Results of an NCCAM-funded study found that multiple 60-minute massages per week were more effective than fewer or shorter sessions for people with chronic neck pain, suggesting that several hour-long massages per week may be the best “dose” for people with this condition. Researchers from Group Health Research Institute, University of Washington, The University of Vermont College of Medicine, and Oregon Health and Science University published their findings in the Annals of Family Medicine.
• Pain pilot explores hand shiatsu treatment as sleep aid: Researchers at the University of Alberta are exploring the traditional Japanese massage practice called shiatsu as a potential treatment to help pain patients find slumber—and stay asleep. A small pilot study followed nine people living with chronic pain as they self-administered shiatsu pressure techniques on their hands at bedtime. Participants, who reported falling asleep faster—sometimes even while administering treatment—and slept longer after two weeks and eight weeks of treatment, compared with a baseline measurement. Journal of Integrative Medicine June 17, 2014
FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION WARNINGS
• Novel Home Cleaning Method to Reduce Asthma: Researchers received two patents for a new method to rid carpets, mattresses and other furniture of harmful allergens and pests that cause asthma. The method uses carbon dioxide to "freeze clean" home fabrics. The process deactivates proteins found in pet dander and can remove smoke residue and other allergy-causing substances. Science Daily, 27 May 2014.
• E-Cigarette Use for Quitting Smoking is Associated with Improved Success Rates: People attempting to quit smoking without professional help are approximately 60% more likely to report succeeding if they use e-cigarettes than if they use willpower alone or over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum, finds a large UCL (University College London) survey of smokers in England. Addiction
• Healthy Aging into Your 80s and Beyond: 5 Keys to a Long, Healthful Life: From Consumer Reports.
• Maintaining Mobility in Older Adults Can be as Easy as a Walk in the Park: With just a daily 20-minute walk, older adults can help stave off major disability and enhance the quality of their later years, according to results of the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) Study, conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine in collaboration with seven other institutions around the country. The study is published in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
•Stress hormone linked to short-term memory loss as we age: A new study at the University of Iowa reports a potential link between stress hormones and short-term memory loss in older adults. The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, reveals that having high levels of cortisol -- a natural hormone in our body whose levels surge when we are stressed -- can lead to memory lapses as we age.
• Can TaiChi Slow the Aging Process: Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese martial art and sport, has been found to be beneficial in raising the numbers of an important type of cell when three groups of young people were tested to discover the benefits of Tai Chi, brisk walking or no exercise. The group performing Tai Chi saw a rise in their cluster of differentiation 34 expressing (CD34+) cells, a stem cell important to a number of the body's functions and structures. Cell Transplantation
• 6,000 Steps a Day Keeps Knee Arthritis at Bay: Walking the equivalent of an hour a day may help improve knee arthritis and prevent disability, new research suggests. Every step taken throughout the day counts toward the total. The key is to wear a pedometer. Arthritis Care and Research June 12
• Regular Exercise Beneficial in Suppressing Inflammation in Rheumatic Disease: Research shows that exercise transiently suppresses local and systemic inflammation, reinforcing the beneficial effects of exercise and the need for this to be regular in order to achieve clinical efficacy in rheumatic disease. European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014)
• The Earlier the Cigarette, the More Likely to Develop Lung Cancer: A research team, led by Dr. Fangyi Gu of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, interviewed more than 3,200 current and former smokers in the United States and Italy. People who started smoking within an hour of waking up had a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer than those who lit up more than an hour after waking up. Journal of the National Cancer Institute June 19
• Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements Lower Chronic Disease Risk: A review of randomized controlled trials and observation studies reveals multivitamin/mineral supplementation moderately yet significantly reduces total and epithelial cancer in male physicians (Physicians’ Health Study II). Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
• Vitamin D: A key to a longer life? Higher levels of vitamin D may protect people from an earlier death, particularly from cancer and heart disease, suggests a new analysis of existing research. And, the opposite may also be true -- low levels of vitamin D may be linked to a higher risk of premature death. But the researchers acknowledge that the review's findings aren't definitive. Still, the research published online June 17 in BMJ does hint at the possibility that vitamin D may benefit people across genders, ages and Western countries, including the United States. The findings are "compellingly consistent."
• Eating These 41 “Powerhouse” Fruits and Vegetables Can Prevent Chronic Disease: The study appears in the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease. For the list check out the list from Consumerist.