The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.
Stanford Develops Wireless Sensors That Stick to the Skin to Track Our Health
We tend to take our skin's protective function for granted, ignoring its other roles in signaling subtleties like a fluttering heart or a flush of embarrassment. Now, Stanford engineers have developed a way to detect physiological signals emanating from the skin with sensors that stick like band-aids and beam wireless readings to a receiver clipped onto clothing. To demonstrate this wearable technology, the researchers stuck sensors to the wrist and abdomen of one test subject to monitor the person's pulse and respiration by detecting how their skin stretched and contracted with each heartbeat or breath. Likewise, stickers on the person's elbows and knees tracked arm and leg motions by gauging the minute tightening or relaxation of the skin each time the corresponding muscle flexed. Via EurekAlert.
Breast Cancer Guidelines Say More Women May Need Gene Test
More women may benefit from gene testing for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, especially if they've already survived cancer once, an influential health group recommended Tuesday. At issue are genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2. When they're mutated, the body can't repair damaged DNA as well, greatly increasing the chances of breast, ovarian and certain other cancers. Gene testing allows affected women to consider steps to lower their risk, such as when actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventive mastectomy several years ago. Most cancer isn't caused by BRCA mutations—they account for 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers and 15 percent of ovarian cancers—so the gene tests aren't for everyone. But mutations cluster in families, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has long recommended that doctors screen women who have relatives with BRCA-related cancers and refer those who might benefit from gene testing to a genetic counselor to help them decide. Via Fox News.
Mayo Clinic News
Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Telerehab Program Boosts Quality of Life
A six-month telerehabilitation program yielded improvements in advance-stage cancer patients’ pain and function. The gains in these areas reduced hospital lengths of stay and the need for post-acute care, demonstrating the effectiveness of easily scalable, high-impact technology interventions. “Our finding of reduced hospital use among participants in the telerehabilitation arms adds to growing evidence that proactively addressing functional impairment among vulnerable patients reduces hospital utilization,” wrote Mayo Clinic researchers in a JAMA Oncology report. Via American Medical Association.
Does Taking Zinc Actually Do Anything to Help Kick a Cold?
If zinc for colds sounds too good to be true, that's because there's a good chance it is. “Study results are mixed, but the short answer is that zinc probably doesn’t prevent or treat a cold,” says Tina Ardon, M.D., a family medicine doctor at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. For adults, the evidence is pretty clear that zinc does nothing to prevent a cold. And there’s limited evidence (science speak for “maybe, but we don’t have proof”) that zinc can shorten a cold, but if so, it’s only by about a day, she says. Via Women's Health.