The high cost of genetic testing
Angelina Jolie and her preventive mastectomies are still making news, as is the business of genetic testing.
On May 14, the day Ms. Jolie revealed her story, Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patents on both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene sequences, saw its share price rise by 4% to the highest point in its history.
How happy the company’s board must have been when Ms. Jolie wrote in her New York Times op-ed piece that “every woman” should have access to such information. She did acknowledge, however, that the $3,000+ price tag … Continue reading
Being prepared makes a difference
I taught first aid classes for the American Red Cross for many years. I liked to use a statistic that I found in an obscure study done by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the professionals that respond to aviation and other disasters.
According to their data, how people – not including trained personnel – respond to an emergency pretty much falls along a typical bell curve: 10% aid in evacuation and helping others; 10% totally freak out and are useless, if not actually making matters worse; and 80% stand around and do nothing.
Why … Continue reading
Ready, Set, . . .
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fast approaching, and summer deadlines for insurance companies that want to offer plans on the new insurance exchanges, this week has seen a lot of news stories related to Obamacare.
California revealed its new exchange plans and the first look seems to indicate that premiums will be much lower than anticipated, even though several of the largest insurance companies opted out of participating in the exchanges.
But a closer look at the plans reveals two important considerations:
- The plans are “narrow-network” plans. To keep costs
… Continue reading
Types of burns
Burns are very common injuries that can be caused by heat (fires, hot liquids), electricity (wires, lightning), chemicals or the sun.
First-degree burns only involve the upper layer of skin. The skin will be red and painful, but will typically heal within a few days. Most sunburns are first-degree burns.
Related reading: First aid for sunburns
Second-degree burns are also red and painful, but slightly deeper and blisters may appear.
Third-degree burns go through all layers of the skin down to the bone and muscle. Such burns may be black or even white rather than red. And … Continue reading
ADHD? Start counting your calories
A 40-years-long (so far) study evaluating the effect of having attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood reported that the disorder seems to be connected to adult obesity, at least in men. The study actually brought the 40-something-year-old men back to look at their brain imaging, and just happened to notice that many were too big for the scanners!
The researchers don’t know why. One theory is that the impulsive behavior common in ADHD makes it difficult to control eating patterns, suggesting that more needs to be done to counsel young ADHD patients … Continue reading
Being a responsible consumer
There is a growing trend in health care for patients – consumers – to take more control of their own health care.
This trend is not really new. Ever since drug companies have been allowed to advertise their products on TV (1997), they have urged consumers to “talk to your doctor about [whatever the latest and greatest drug is].” They have been able to continue this practice because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) actually believes them when they say their only goal is to empower “consumers to interact with physicians more effectively.”
Of course the Food … Continue reading
Preventing eye injuries
Vision is important, so nature created several levels of protection for our eyes. First, they are surrounded by bone. Second, our eyelashes prevent dust and dirt from entering the eyes. Third, our tears effectively wash away any small bits that get past the eyelashes.
The eye tissue is very delicate and easily injured, and prevention of eye injuries is key.
Wear protective glasses whenever small particles, objects or chemicals could accidentally enter the eye. The wraparound style are best as they offer side protection, as well.
Woodworking is especially risky because of splinters, sawdust, staple guns and … Continue reading
Beware false advertising
As often happens on the internet, while looking for information about one thing, I stumbled across something else I found interesting.
In 2011, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Procter & Gamble for “false labels” on one of their toothpastes. The toothpaste, Crest Sensitivity Treatment & Protection, advertised “relief within minutes” from sensitive tooth pain.
The label promised that users did not “have to wait to enjoy all [their] favorite hot and cold foods.”
Who filed the claim against Procter & Gamble? Colgate-Palmolive, the makers of the line of Colgate toothpastes, including Colgate Sensitive.
The lawsuit … Continue reading
Tech takes a toll on eyes
I’ve done it again. For way too long I’ve sat hunched in front of my computer without taking a break, and now my eyes burn, my vision blurs, my head aches, and my neck . . . ouch!
Of course I know better. Prolonged use of your eyes, such as working at a computer, reading, driving or playing “Words With Friends,” can cause eyestrain. And in our technology-centric world, eyestrain is pretty hard to avoid.
Symptoms of eyestrain include:
- Sore, tired, burning, itching, dry or watery eyes
- Blurred vision, difficulty focusing
… Continue reading
Stock up on DEET?
Any report that contains the word “deadly” gets the attention of the media, and this report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was no exception. Last year 5,674 cases of the mosquito-borne virus were reported, and 286 people died. In comparison, only 43 deaths were recorded in 2011.
Weather conditions that favored the mosquito – warm and humid – were probably factors in last year’s increase in cases.
This news reminds me that I want to spend some time researching insect repellents and then write a post about them. Does anything work as well as … Continue reading
Cancer and bankruptcy
A large study looking at the cost of cancer was released yesterday by the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research in Seattle. It offers a somber but perhaps not surprising conclusion that cancer patients are “2.5 times as likely as others [non cancer patients] to file for bankruptcy.”
The highest rates are seen among young women, largely because young people are often uninsured, have little savings, and have part-time or entry-level jobs. But as the study points out, even those with insurance can face “financial distress” because of the high cost of deductibles, co-pays and other non-covered … Continue reading
When an object breaks through the skin, the injury is called a puncture wound. Stepping on a tack is a minor puncture wound; being stabbed or shot are more deadly examples.
Luckily, most of us don’t need to worry about being shot or stabbed.
But puncture wounds are not uncommon (your mother taught you not to run with sharp, pointy objects, didn’t she?), and there are a couple special things to remember when treating them.
Typically, first aid for puncture wounds is similar to that for cuts and scrapes. Clean the wound well with soap and water, and bandage … Continue reading
My belief as a frugal nurse is that each of us has the power to improve our health and lower our health care costs. Prevention is key, and in my posts I advocate such preventive actions as vaccinations, hand washing, adequate sleep, drug safety, exercise and a healthy diet.
Diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and, I think, is crucial to cancer prevention.
Therefore, I read with keen interest a recent post by David Katz, MD, on the HuffPost Healthy Living Blog.
Dr. Katz interviewed a one-time student, Nicole Larizza, a nutritionist currently … Continue reading
Health and Fitness Apps
I recently upgraded to a smartphone, and I’ve been having fun trying out a bunch of different apps (the free ones, of course!).
Coming somewhat late to the whole app thing, I’m amazed at how many there are, and especially how many health and fitness apps are available for free.
I’ve seen different numbers, but there are somewhere between 15,000 and 35,000 and the number is growing all the time.
Apps can be patient-centric, used for keeping track of diet, exercise, symptoms, health records, or doctor-centric, used for aiding in diagnosis, research, scheduling, and so on.… Continue reading
I’ve finally realized there are just too many health-related news stories every week for me to comment on in a timely manner. And some news tidbits are interesting or funny, but really not worth a whole post.
But I would still like to share with you the stories that caught my eye over the week, so on Fridays I will start posting a weekly summing up, or “rounds” to use health care lingo, of what I have found of interest.
Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry. Really?
In the did-we-really-need-a-study-to-tell-us-this? file, a research letter published in Journal of the American … Continue reading