Those with the mutation have an 85 percent chance of developing some type of cancer. But a dietary supplement might help them beat those odds. In other public health news: ovarian cancer, autism, pain, masculinity, pancreas health, and more.
The New York Times: A Rare Genetic Mutation Leads To Cancer. The Fix May Already Be In The Drugstore.
When Kelley Oliver Douglass got breast cancer, a genetic counselor posed an odd question: Do you and your children have trouble finding hats that fit? They did, and that gave the counselor a clue to the source of the cancer: a mutation in a gene called Pten. In addition to increasing head circumference, this rare mutation markedly raises the risk for several cancers, including prostate and breast cancer (the lifetime risk in carriers is 85 percent), as well as autism and schizophrenia in some individuals. (Kolata, 5/17)
The Washington Post: ‘This Terrible Disease’: Ovarian Cancer Is Deadly, But New Tests, Treatments Start To Emerge
For the past few years, as part of the University of Chicago Pritzker medical school obstetrics-gynecology rotation, med students at an optional lunchtime seminar hear from ovarian cancer survivors who share stories about the shock of diagnosis, painful treatments and constant worries about whether their cancer will come back. Last year, listening to the women’s experiences became a mandatory part of their medical education. The hope is that by humanizing the disease, this relatively rare cancer will be on the radar of a new generation of doctors and will change this common patient narrative: “My doctor didn’t take my symptoms seriously until it was too late.” (Richards, 5/18)
The Wall Street Journal: Robots Take A Turn Leading Autism Therapy In Schools
Two third grade students sit slumped in an office at Robert Waters Elementary School, a 2-foot robot named Milo on the table before them. Milo moves his hands and eyebrows, blinks and makes eye contact during a session that is used as part of their autism therapy. “Today we’re going to talk more about conversations between two people,” says Milo in a computer generated boy’s voice that’s 20% slower than normal. “A person in a conversation may ask the other person a question and then listen for their answer and then say something else.” (Reddy, 5/20)
NPR: Why Does The Brain Connect Pain With Emotions?
When Sterling Witt was a teenager in Missouri, he was diagnosed with scoliosis. Before long, the curvature of his spine started causing chronic pain. It was “this low-grade kind of menacing pain that ran through my spine and mostly my lower back and my upper right shoulder blade and then even into my neck a little bit,” Witt says. The pain was bad. But the feeling of helplessness it produced in him was even worse. (Hamilton, 5/20)
NPR: Redefining Manhood: Men Look To Men For Healthier Norms
Sean Jin is 31 and says he’d not washed a dish until he was in his sophomore year of college. “Literally my mom and my grandma would … tell me to stop doing dishes because I’m a man and I shouldn’t be doing dishes.” It was a long time, he says, before he realized their advice and that sensibility were “not OK.” Now, as part of the Masculinity Action Project, a group of men in Philadelphia who regularly meet to discuss and promote what they see as a healthier masculinity, Jin has been thinking a lot about what men are “supposed to” do and not do. (Yu, 5/18)
Bloomberg: Patient Hurt By Do-It-Yourself Pancreas Prompts FDA Warning
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned diabetics against building their own artificial pancreas system to help control blood sugar levels after a patient using one suffered an accidental insulin overdose. A large community of diabetics has been using hacked-together, do-it-yourself systems to control their disease. The systems connect glucose monitors to insulin pumps using computer algorithms. They work around the clock, testing blood sugar and infusing insulin. Once the system is set up, they’re meant to require little effort by the patient. (Cortez, 5/17)
KQED: Gold Standard Asthma Treatment May Not Be Effective For Most Patients With Mild Asthma
Steroid inhalers commonly used by asthma patients to prevent and reduce asthma attacks may not work any better than placebo, according to a new study published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine. …Synthetic corticosteroids mimic the steroid hormone cortisol, reducing inflammation in the airways. But the drug targets a type of inflammation that may be found in far fewer patients than previously thought. (Demboksy, 5/19)
The Washington Post: Living Longer Doesn’t Mean Living Better
In 1900, the average life expectancy in the United States was just 47.3 years. Today, it is 78.6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many people will outstrip that average. But is that advance really worthwhile if it only means more time feeling old and infirm? In a feature article online and in the May 20 edition of the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik talks to researchers and innovators trying to make old age feel younger. (Blakemore, 5/18)
The New York Times: Is ‘Digital Addiction’ A Real Threat To Kids?
As we worriedly watch our children navigate the ever-changing digital landscape, there’s a great deal of talk these days about “digital addiction.” But several experts say we should teach kids to think of screens as something to handle in moderation, like food, rather than something without any healthy place in our lives, like meth or heroin. Children’s use of devices ranges along a continuum from healthy to compulsive to addictive, said Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, the director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. “I think the phenomenon of tech addiction is quite real,” he said. (Klass, 5/20)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Source : Kaiser Health