Health Updates 2 April 2012

  • FDA rejects BPA ban: “The FDA has reportedly denied a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to ban the plasticizing agent bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging.  According to an Associated Press report, the agency found that the NRDC didn’t provide enough scientific evidence to justify a complete ban of the chemical, which ignited public concern in 2008 after being found in baby bottles, soup cans and other food items….Some research has linked the chemical with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver abnormalities, and on its website, the FDA says some studies have raised questions about is effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children.  Still, agency says the evidence generally supports the safety of current low levels of human exposure to BPA.” (Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today)
  • Dating violence common by 7th grade: survey: “Psychological and physical abuse is a common facet of dating for America’s adolescents, a new study reveals.  Researched who polled more than 1,400 seventh graders found that more than 37 percent of 11- to 14-year olds had been the victim of some form of psychological violence, and almost one in six said they had fallen prey to physical violence while in an ongoing relationship.  ‘Issues of dating abuse among young teens are much more pervasive than I imagine many families believe,’ said Peter Long, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation, which co-sponsored the survey with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the organization Futures Without Violence.  Long said he was startled to see that three-quarters of the students reported they had a boyfriend or girlfriend by their middle-school years.  ‘That’s a big number, and it means that this is the age when many kids are forming their views of what it is to have a relationship,’ Long said.  This indicates that this is the appropriate age to intervene,  he added, saying, ‘High school may even be too late’.  The finding that 31 percent of these middle school kids is ‘experiencing some kind of electronic aggression or pressure such as provocative or insistent texting should be a warning sign for us,’ Long said, ‘as is the fact that 15 percent have experienced some kind of physical abuse while dating’.” (HealthDay)
  • When paramedics suspect stroke, they’re usually right: “When paramedics say a patient’s symptoms indicate a stroke, they are usually right, a new study suggests.  Researchers at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago examined the records of 5,300 patients brought to the center’s emergency department by emergency medical services.  The analysis revealed that paramedics identified stroke patients with a 99.3 percent specificity. A high specificity rate indicates there’s a high probability the patient actually has the diagnosed condition.  ‘If a paramedic thinks a patient is having a stroke, that should be a reliable indicator that the hospital’s stroke team should be activated,’ study co-author Dr. Michael Schneck, a professor in the departments of neurology and neurological surgery of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine….However, the paramedics’ sensitivity rate in identifying strokes was only 51 percent.  This means that when paramedics suspected a patient was having a stroke, they were probably right, but they also missed many cases of stroke.  Of the 96 actual strokes, paramedics correctly identified 49 but missed 47.  They were most likely to miss strokes in patients younger than 45, the findings showed.  Improvement in this area would help reduce the length of time it takes before stroke patients begin to receive treatment, the researchers said.” (
  • Cancer docs often don’t notice family discord: “Doctors caring for lung cancer patients are often unaware when patients and their caregivers disagree about the best course of treatment, according to a new study.  ‘Unless you’re doing an assessment of conflict, which oncologists do not do, I’m not surprised that they wouldn’t perceive it,’ said Betty Kramer, who studies aging and family caregiving at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work but wasn’t involved in this research.  Primary caregivers are those people, usually a spouse or adult child, who take on responsibilities such as getting patients to appointments, following up on at-home care, providing comfort and meeting basic needs.  Laura Siminoff, from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, said she’s seen there’s often a disconnect between caregivers and patients about their goals and desires for cancer treatment.  ‘We then asked ourselves, are oncologists seeing what is happening between patient and family or is this hidden from them?'”  When conflict is present, oncologists often don’t recognize it.  Doctors should be aware of these tensions, which can cause dissatisfaction with care, complaints about inattentive doctors, greater emotional stress between patients and their caregivers and delays in treatment. (MedlinePlus)

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