Gallery

Health Updates 5 October 2011

  • Physicians defend so-called ‘controversial’ procedure of circumcision: “If a vaccine were available that reduced HIV risk by 60%, genital herpes risk by 30%, and HR-HPV [high-risk human papillomavirus] by 35%, the medical community would rally behind the immunization and it would be promoted as a game-changing public health intervention,’ Drs. Aaron Tobian and Ronald Gray write in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.  Those are just some of the proven benefits of circumcision, and if parents would like their sons to have them, ‘it would be ethically questionable to deprive them of this choice’, they write.” (Booster Shots/LA Times)
  • NFL plans broader concussion research: “The NFL’s first attempt at a long-range study on the effects of concussions was riddled with problems from the manner in which data was collected to conflicts of interest for those overseeing it.  After criticism from outside experts and even members of Congress, the study was shut down by the league in late 2009.  Nearly two years later, however, the NFL’s committee on concussion research is planning a considerably broader study – an effort that could begin gathering data as soon as next season, according to one of the doctors involved.”  The new study is designed not just to evaluate, but to track subjects as well.  It will include about 1,400 participants, aged 45 to 59 and is divided into three groups: retired NFL players; those who played college football but never professionally; and a control group of nonathletes who have some medical commonalities with the first two groups.  (Sam Borden, NY Times)
  • Researchers find oral sex may cause more throat cancer than smoking in men: “Researchers examined 271 throat-tumor samples collected over 20 years ending in 2004 and found that the percentage of oral cancer linked to the human papillomavirus, or HPV, surged to 72 percent from about  16 percent, according to a report released yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. By 2020, the virus-linked throat tumors –  which mostly affected men – will become more common than HPV-caused cervical cancer, the report found.” (Bloomberg)
  • Living Will‘ effects vary with local norms: “In parts of the country where medical treatment for terminal patients tends toward the aggressive side, advance care directives appeared to reduce end-of-life treatment costs modestly but significantly, researchers said.  But in areas where such costs were low to begin with, so-called living wills appeared to have little effect on the care given to terminal patients, according to Lauren Hersch Nicholas, PhD, MMP, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues.”  In higher-spending areas, living will and advance care directives were associated with increased use of hospice care.  “It may be that putting limits on treatment ‘required an explicit statement’ from patients in areas where the default is to treat aggressively…but less so when the local culture already prefers palliative care.  Some data in the study indicated that advance care directives limit treatment in ways not envisioned when these were first introduced.  Initially, their purpose was to prevent mechanical ventilation or tube feeding in patients who indicated beforehand that they did not want such artificial-life prolonging measures.” (John Gever, MedPage Today)
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