Gallery

Health Updates 11 September 2012

  • Does Romney favor preexisting condition ban?  “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s position on insurance coverage for patients with preexisting conditions became a matter of some confusion Sunday, and a spokesman’s clarification only muddied the waters further.  On NBC’sMeet the Press“, Romney was asked by program host David Gregory about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Romney emphasized that he would not just repeal the ACA — he would replace it with his own plan — and added, “I’m not getting rid of all the healthcare reform.  There are a number of things I like about healthcare reform that I’m going to put in place.  One is to make sure that those with preexisting conditions can get coverage.  However, according to the National Review Onlinea Romney spokesman clarified the governor’s response later in the day, saying, ‘Governor Romney will ensure that discrimination against individuals with preexisting conditions who maintain continuous coverage is prohibited’.  The spokesman then cited a speech made by Romney in June in which he said, “I also want to make sure that people can’t get dropped if they have a preexisting condition…So let’s say someone has been continuously insured and they develop a serious condition and let’s say they lose their job of they change jobs, they move and they go to a new place…We’re going to have to make sure that the law we replace Obamacare with assures that people who have a preexisting condition, who’ve been insured in the past, are able to get insurance in the future’.  The Washington Post noted that this position is similar to an already-existing provision in  a federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which says that an employer cannot deny health insurance coverage to a new employee with a previously existing condition, provided that the person has previously been continuously insured.  However, the report from the Commonwealth Fund issued in April found that about a quarter of surveyed adults (26%) – or 89 million people – went without health insurance at some point in 2011 because of losing a job, changing jobs, or losing Medicaid eligibility.  That would make them ineligible for the HIPPA protection, the Post noted, and, presumably, for coverage under a Romney plan.” (Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today)
  • Young children treated for cancer may be at risk for PTSD: Study “Nearly one in five young children with cancer suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a small new study.  Swiss researchers interviewed 48 mothers whose babies and young children had been diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment.  Nine of the children had all of the symptoms of PTSD and 20 others had at least some symptoms, the most common being anxiety and flashbacks.  Children older than 18 months had a much higher risk of developing PTSD than younger children.  The researchers also found that PTSD in the mother increased the risk of the disorder in the child.  There was no link between a child’s cancer  characteristics and the risk of PTSD, according to the researchers from the University of Zürich and the University Children’s Hospital Zürich.  At the time of the study, the children were between 8 months and 4 years old.  On average, it had been 15 months since their cancer diagnosis.  The most common types of diagnoses were solid tumors, leukemia, lymphomas and brain tumors.  Eighty-five percent of the children had received chemotherapy, 56 percent had undergone surgery, 17 percent had radiation therapy and 12.5 percent had received a bone marrow transplant.  Twenty-one (44 percent) of the children were still undergoing treatment at the time of the study.  ‘The results of our study show that cancer and its treatment can also have a traumatic impact in babyhood and infancy,’ Professor Markus Landolt said in a University of  Zürich news release.  ‘More care should be taken to ensure that potentially stressful procedures, such as bone marrow aspiration, are carried out as child-friendly and painlessly as possible,’ he recommended.  Further, he encouraged health professionals to take measures to improve a child’s sense of security in hospital and during the medical treatment to reduce their anxiety. …While the study found an association between early childhood cancer and PTSD, it did not establish that there was a cause-and-effect relationship.” (University of Zürich New Release/HealthDay)
  • Acupuncture does help for chronic pain: “Acupuncture provides more relief from various types of chronic pain than does usual care and should be considered a valid therapeutic option, the authors of a meta-analysis concluded.  For back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headache, pain scores among patients treated with acupuncture were 0.23 standard deviations below the scores for patients receiving sham acupuncture, according to Andrew J. Vickers…of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues.  But effect sizes were even larger when acupuncture was compared with no acupuncture…Acupuncture is recognized as having certain physiologic effects that can contribute to pain relief, but no plausible mechanism has been identified that could lead to long-term benefits for chronic pain, with the result that the treatment remains ‘highly controversial’, according to the researchers.  Many controlled studies of acupuncture for pain have been published, but quality has been inconsistent and reliability has been questioned.  To provide more clarity about the effects of acupuncture on pain, Vickers and colleagues conducted an individual patient data meta-analysis based exclusively on high quality randomized trials.  Included trials required pain of at least a month’s duration, with the primary endpoint being assessed at least a month after acupuncture treatment began.  The researchers were able to acquire the original raw data for 29 studies that included 17,922 patients.”  While all studies have their limitations, “the authors stated that their findings should be considered ‘both clinically and scientifically important’.  They noted that many clinicians would be unwilling to refer a patient for acupuncture if the effects derived only from the nonspecific belief on the part of the patient that the treatment would help.  But the finding that true acupuncture had significantly greater effects than the sham procedure indicates that the effects of the procedure do extend beyond placebo, they observed.  This is ‘of major importance for clinical practice,’ meaning that acupuncture should be considered ‘a reasonable referral option for patients with chronic pain,’ they observed. (Nancy Walsh, MedPage Today)
  • Health Tip: Smokeless tobacco isn’t safe either “Smokeless tobacco isn’t a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, the American Cancer Societysays.  According to the ACS, smokeless tobacco increases your risk of:
    • Cancer, including those of the mouth, tongue, throat, esophagus, stomach and pancreas.
    • Heart disease, incuding complications such as heart attack or a stroke.
    • Nicotine addiction.
    • Leukoplakia, which are sores in the mouth that can become cancerous.
    • Oral problems including receding gums, losing teeth, worn teeth, stained teeth and bad breath.
    • Losing bone surrounding the roots of the teeth.” (womenshealth.gov)
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