What’s New in Health Care Reform: Sept. 19

What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.

U.S. News Added a "Social Mobility" Factor to Its College Rankings and the Change Makes a Statement on Class in America

U.S. News and World Report has added two measures of "social mobility" to their annual college rankings based on graduation rates for students from lower-income backgrounds. The change comes at a time when income inequality remains a topic of hot debate in America. Via Business Insider.

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Cancer Expected to Kill More Than 9 Million People Globally This Year, Report Finds

The World Health Organization's cancer research arm estimated in a report released that there will be about 18 million new cases of cancer globally this year and 9.6 million deaths. The numbers published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer were slightly higher than those in the last world-wide update in 2012, when officials expected 14 million new cancer cases and 8 million deaths. Experts said the increase could be partly attributed to population growth and aging, but that individuals could do more to reduce their chance of getting sick. "A lot of those (cancer cases) could be prevented, with key prevention efforts focusing on some of the main risk factors which we have heard about: tobacco consumption, alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, and improper diet," said Dr. Etienne Krug, director of WHO's department of non-communicable diseases. Via CBS Health.

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With Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Use, Risks May Outweigh Benefits, New Research Says

It's one of the most well-known tenets of modern medicine: An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away. But according to a trio of studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a daily low-dose aspirin regimen provides no significant health benefits for healthy older adults. Instead, it may cause them serious harm. The primary study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial -- considered the gold standard for clinical trials. Researchers at Monash University in Australia recruited nearly 20,000 people in that country and the United States, with a median age of 74. All of the participants were considered healthy at time of enrollment, with none known to suffer from heart disease, dementia or persistent physical disability. Half of the study participants received 100 milligrams of aspirin a day; the other half received a placebo. (A typical "low dose" aspirin contains 81 milligrams of the drug). After nearly five years, the researchers did not observe a difference between the two groups when it came to "disability-free survival." They did, however, document a higher rate of bleeding in the group that received aspirin, compared to the group that received a placebo. Via CNN.

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Extra Folic Acid Taken During Pregnancy Doesn’t Prevent Pre-Eclampsia, Study Finds

Taking high-dose folic acid during pregnancy does not prevent pre-eclampsia in women at elevated risk for the potentially deadly condition, a Canadian-led international study has found. Linda Szymanski, M.D., Ph.D., a maternal and fetal medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic, said she was not surprised by the finding and that high-dose folic acid is not something she or her colleagues would have prescribed to prevent pre-eclampsia. “I would hope if that people were prescribing it for pre-eclampsia prevention that this study would change their practice because it is a well-done randomized controlled trial, with a lot of subjects,” Dr. Szymanski, who was not involved in the research, said from Rochester, Minnesota. “I think that if I were prescribing it for pre-eclampsia, this would have affected my practice.”  Via Globe and Mail.

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As More Minnesota Kids Smoke and Vape, Health Department Issues Advisory on Dangers

Tobacco use among Minnesota high school students increased for the first time in 17 years and state health officials attribute the rise to the popularity of e-cigarettes. The Minnesota Department of Health has now issued a health advisory regarding the latest evidence that early nicotine use increases the risks of addiction for youth now and later in life. Via Faribault.com.

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Coca-Cola Analyzing Cannabis in Wellness Drinks

The Coca-Cola Company said it is "closely watching" the expanding use of a cannabis element in drinks, another sign cannabis and cannabis-infused products are getting more acceptance in mainstream culture and a harder look from long-established pillars of American business. The statement came after reports the beverage giant was in talks with a Canadian cannabis company to create a health drink infused with cannabidiol. Via AP.

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Pediatricians Group Recommends "Affirmative Care" for Transgender Youth

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a policy statement that calls for gender-affirming health care for all transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) youth. The policy, which was posted online and will be published in the next issue of the journal Pediatrics, is aimed at pediatricians who “are focused on promoting the health and positive development of youth that identify as TGD while eliminating discrimination and stigma.” Noting that the field is “rapidly changing,” the AAP said in a statement that its new policy aims to address the disproportionate health risks faced by trans youth, like “high rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use, self-harm and suicide.” Via NBC News.

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Vaccines for Adults: The Ones You Really Need and Why

Vaccines are not just kids’ stuff. Of course, children have a regular schedule of vaccines that shouldn’t be missed. But adults need vaccines too, especially if they’re planning to travel, have an active sex life or are suffering from a chronic illness. Here are the must-have adult vaccines—plus some for adults with specific conditions. Who Should Get the Flu Shot? Well, everybody. Really. “Everybody six months and older should get an influenza vaccine every year,” says Gregory Poland, M.D, the Mary Lowell Leary Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Vaccine Research Group at Mayo Clinic. Via Parade.

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Are Doctors "Burnt Out"?

JAMA publishes two major studies on a hot topic: physician burnout. Burnout is a buzzword that's been in the news, but what is it? How does it affect doctors and their patients? It turns out, nobody really knows. Via NPR.

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Four People Get Cancer from Donated Organ in "Extraordinarily Rare" Case

Four European patients developed breast cancer after receiving organs from the same donor, a case report explains. The patients developed breast cancer years after their transplants, with three of them dying of the disease. Dr. Frederike Bemelman, professor of nephrology at the University of Amsterdam and author of the report, stressed that this is an "extremely rare" case, the first she has encountered in 20 years in the field of transplantation immunology. "There is always a small risk" of something going wrong during a medical procedure, she said. "Even if you undergo a simple gallbladder procedure, you also have a small chance of something happening to you during the procedure." The 53-year-old donor had no known medical conditions, and the malignancy was unknown when her kidneys, lungs, liver and heart were harvested. Three of the organ recipients died after the cancer metastasized, or spread from their place of origin to new areas in the body. The fourth survived after a series of treatments, including removal of the donated right kidney, stopping of immunosuppression medication—standard drugs after transplants to avoid a rejection of the new organ—and chemotherapy. Via CNN.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.

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