Monday, April 16, 2012

Obese Workers May Have Greater Healthcare Costs Than Smokers.

HealthDay (4/13, Preidt) reported, "Obese workers have even higher health costs than smokers," according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. "Researchers examined data from more than 30,000 Mayo Clinic employees and retirees who had continuous health insurance from 2001 to 2007" and found that "both obesity and smoking were associated with higher health care costs." Specifically, "average yearly health costs were $1,275 more for smokers than nonsmokers and $1,850 more for obese people than those with normal weight."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Obesity Spending Accounts For Nearly 21 Percent Of US Healthcare Spending.

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/13, Preidt) reports "obesity accounts for nearly 21 percent of US health care spending, which is more than twice as high as previous estimates," according to a study published in the Journal of Health Economics. One researcher said that "the findings strengthen the case for government intervention to prevent obesity." The investigators "found that an obese person's medical costs are $2,741 a year higher (in 2005 dollars) than if they were not obese," which "works out to $190.2 billion a year nationally, or 20.6 percent of total US health spending."

Meta-Analysis: Metformin May Have No Effect On Mortality In Type 2 Diabetes.

MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/13, Smith) reports, "Metformin, the gold standard for treating type 2 diabetes, may not be so golden after all," according to a meta-analysis Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published in the PLoS Medicine. After examining some 25 studies encompassing "9,560 patients given metformin and 3,550 given conventional treatment or placebo," researchers found that metformin "had no effect on all-cause or cardiovascular mortality in people with diabetes."

Phthalates May Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risk In Older Adults.

HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/13, Reinberg) reports, "High blood levels of...phthalates, which are found in soaps, lotions, plastics and toys, may double the risk for type 2 diabetes among older adults," according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published online April 12 in the journal Diabetes Care. After examining data on some 1,000 70-year-old seniors in Sweden and performing blood tests on them, researchers found that for "people with high phthalate levels, the risk of developing diabetes was about double compared to those with lower levels." In addition, "some phthalates were...linked to disrupted insulin production, the researchers said."

Traditional Chinese Medicine Increasingly Popular, But With Some Risks.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/13, Nuwer) "Green" blog reports, "For more than 3,000 years, traditional Chinese medicine has been an integral part of Chinese culture and the predominant medical treatment for a large part of the population. In recent decades, the practice has gained popularity in countries around the world, creating a multimillion-dollar global industry." The blog post adds, "Despite the popularity if a given traditional Chinese medicine, the actual contents -- frequently in the form of a pill, powder or tea -- are often hard to ascertain. Undeclared or mislabeled ingredients can pose serious health risks, however, and traces of allergens, toxic plants and heavy metals sometimes find their way into the treatments."
        As an example of some of the health risks associated with some medicines, HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/13, Mozes) notes that "DNA analysis of traditional Chinese medicines that were seized by Australian customs officials revealed that many contained plant ingredients in quantities and combinations that could have produced allergic or even toxic reactions among consumers." The audit's findings are reported in the April issue of the journal PLoS Genetics.
        Herbal Remedy Component Associated With Cancer, Kidney Failure. HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/13, Preidt) reports that aristolochic acid, a component of herbal remedies containing Aristolochia, may "cause kidney failure and upper urinary tract cancer," according to a study published online April 9 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. After studying 151 Taiwanese patients with cancer of the upper urinary tract, "researchers found that 83 percent of the patients had evidence in their kidneys of DNA changes that are related to the plant toxin and associated with the development of cancer." A previous study "linked the ingestion of Aristolochia clematitis (commonly known as birthwort) to widespread kidney disease in the Balkans."

FDA Announces New Rule For Antibiotics Use In Livestock.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, A19, Harris, Subscription Publication) reports, "Farmers and ranchers will for the first time need a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in farm animals, in hopes that more judicious use of the drugs will reduce the tens of thousands of human deaths that result each year from the drugs' overuse."
        The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Elboghdady) reports, "The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday finalized a plan that would ask drug companies to voluntarily limit the use of certain antibiotics in animal feed, citing long-held concerns that their overuse in livestock promotes the development of drug-resistant bacteria that can infect people."
        The Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Brown) "Booster Shots" blog reports, "The FDA's recommendations included guidelines to help the industry phase out the antibiotics for "production use" and transfer oversight of the drugs for therapeutic work to veterinarians (that is, require a prescription)." The agency "also offered draft guidance to drug companies for labeling their products to require a prescription and draft regulations to allow veterinarians to authorize the use of 'certain drugs' in feed."
        However, "skeptics fear the animal pharmaceutical industry will make only cosmetic changes and the meat producers will continue using feed with antibiotics," USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Weise) reports. Steve Roach with the Food Animal Concerns Trust in Chicago, said, "They'll just stop marketing drugs as growth promoters and instead market them for disease prevention at exactly the same doses and same period of use."
        The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Perrone) reports, "The FDA hopes drugmakers will phase out language promoting non-medical uses within three years." However, "some public health advocates said they do not trust the drug industry to voluntarily restrict its own products." But "FDA officials said that a formal ban would have required individual hearings for each drug, which could take decades."
        The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Pecquet) "Healthwatch" blog reports, "The agency released three documents as part of an effort FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg called 'critical' to protect public health." Hamburg said, "The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective." She added, "We are also reaching out to animal producers who operate on a smaller scale or in remote locations to help ensure the drugs they need to protect the health of their animals are still available."
        The National Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Sanger-Katz, Subscription Publication) quotes Michael Taylor, the FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Foods, who said, "We can make changes more quickly than if we had to rely slowly on a cumbersome regulatory process that would require us to seek change drug by drug." In addition, "Taylor said that the guidance was finalized in consultation with the meat industry, and said FDA expects significant reductions in antibiotic use within three years." However, "not everyone in the meat industry was cheering the guidelines."
        The NPR Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Charles) "The Salt" blog says "the issue has been contentious for decades." In March, "a federal judge ruled that the FDA had to go ahead with a plan it proposed in 1977 that would ban the use of some antibiotics as a growth promoter in animals. For years, the FDA has been saying that practice is both unnecessary and dangerous."
        "According to the FDA, the three documents being issued include guidelines for industry to assist in phasing out the use of antibiotics and increasing the oversight by veterinarians," HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Reinberg) reports. "The second document is a proposal to help drug companies phase out recommendations on using antibiotics for farm animals. And the third proposal outlines how veterinarians can use animal drugs in feed." HealthDay adds, "The US Department of Agriculture is also involved with the new initiative."
        Also covering are the Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, A2, Tomson, Subscription Publication), Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Yukhananov), Bloomberg News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Armour, Edney), the CNN Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Bonifield) "The Chart" blog, WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, DeNoon), and MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Gever).

Incidence, Progression Of Coronary Calcium Accelerated In Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes.

MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (4/12, Neale) reports, "Patients with metabolic syndrome and diabetes are more likely to develop detectable levels of coronary artery calcium and to have greater progression of calcification compared with patients without those conditions," according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published in the April issue of JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging. "Compared with individuals with neither condition, those with either or both of the conditions had a significantly greater risk of developing calcification in between cardiac CT scans (RRs 1.6 to 2.0)," researchers found. What's more, "among those with detectable levels of calcium at baseline, progression was significantly greater in patients with either or both of the conditions (P<0.01 for all comparisons)."