|July 29, 2019
This Week's Public Health Updates from the AMA
Reuters (7/19, Carroll) reported research indicates “each year two to three hundred women in the U.S. become pregnant while taking” the acne medication isotretinoin, which can cause severe birth defects. This trend continues despite a program implemented by the FDA in 2006, iPLEDGE, which “requires women who want a prescription for isotretinoin to use birth control or promise to abstain from intercourse and to take a pregnancy test before starting the drug and every month thereafter.” The study “found reports of 6,740 pregnancies among women taking isotretinoin between 1997 and 2017, which peaked at 768 pregnancies in 2006 and then began to decline, plateauing in 2011 at 218 to 310 per year.” The findings were published in JAMA Dermatology.
Reuters (7/19, Rapaport) reported researchers found that “complications after skin cancer surgery may be more common in smokers and former smokers.” The findings were published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
The AP (7/20, Knickmeyer) reported, “Federal regulators are sorting out how to handle health risks from a group of widely used nonstick and stain-resistant compounds.” The AP adds that reading labels “may not be enough to guide consumers who want to limit their exposure to the manmade industrial material, known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.” Scientists said there are several steps that can be taken in order to minimize exposure to the compounds, including “checking on the safety of your drinking water or buying different pots and pans.” Some steps “require spending and lifestyle changes – for example, passing up fast food or other takeout because the containers the food may be packaged in.”
Newsweek (7/19, Georgiou) reported a study indicates “mothers living near oil and natural gas wells in Colorado have a higher chance of giving birth to children with heart defects.” Specifically, “the team found that mothers in these areas were between 40 and 70 percent more likely to have children with congenital heart defects.” The findings were published in Environment International.
USA Today (7/19, Stanglin) reported that the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention “notes that thousands of responders and survivors of the 9/11 attack continue to suffer adverse health effects from toxic contaminants, risks of traumatic injury, and physically and emotionally stressful conditions.” New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, “It is almost incomprehensible that after losing 343 members on September 11, we have now had 200 more FDNY members die due to World Trade Center illness.” The recent deaths “come as legislation remains stalled in Congress to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund that provides financial help to victims of the attack in exchange for their agreement not to sue the airline corporations involved.”Increasing number of U.S. teens trying to lose weight, data indicate
TIME (7/17, Ducharme) reports, “From 2013 to 2016, almost 38% of American adolescents ages 16 to 19 said they had tried to lose weight during the past year...a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics” indicates. The NCHS data brief (pdf) “showed that more than three-quarters of adolescents with obesity tried to lose weight,” but “weight-loss attempts outpaced increases in adolescent obesity,” as “obesity rates among adolescents ages 12 to 19 climbed from 18.4% to almost 21% from 2009-2010 to 2015-2016.” Experts caution, however, that “even seemingly healthy behaviors, like working out and cutting back on calories, can quickly spiral into unhealthy territory, especially for” adolescents for whom “eating disorders are thought to be most common.”
Reuters (7/17, Mathias) reports, “Men who experience domestic violence and abuse often don’t seek help until the problem becomes a crisis,” researchers concluded after reviewing “12 previous studies of male victims of domestic abuse or violence.” Investigators found that “men tend to worry they would not be believed, or that they would be perceived as less masculine if they reported abuse.” The review’s findings were published online in the BMJ Open.
Reuters (7/17, Rapaport) reports, “Even if they were inactive during their younger years, middle aged and older adults who get at least the minimum recommended amount of exercise each week may live longer than their sedentary counterparts,” research indicated. The findings of the 14,599-participant study were published online in the BMJ.
On its website, NBC News (7/17, Charles) reports a study revealed that one in six “people with broken heart syndrome had cancer, and that these patients in particular were more likely to die within five years, compared with broken heart syndrome patients without cancer.” Of the participants with cancer and broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, “nearly 90 percent were women,” and “the most frequent type of cancer was breast, followed by the gastrointestinal system, respiratory tract, internal sex organs, skin and other areas.” The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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