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August 19, 2009, 6:55 AM CT

Retirees' health-care benefits at risk

Retirees' health-care benefits at risk
Photo by
L. Brian Stauffer

A nearly two-decade trend that is stripping away employer-provided health-care benefits for retirees in private business will likely continue and could soon hit an even deeper pool of government retirees, new research by University of Illinois elder law expert Richard Kaplan warns.

A nearly two-decade trend that is stripping away employer-provided health-care benefits for retirees in private business will likely continue and could soon hit an even deeper pool of government retirees, new research by a University of Illinois elder law expert warns.

Richard L. Kaplan says the steady erosion of private sector benefits stems largely from a 1992 change in accounting standards that requires employers to project future coverage costs, rather than just booking expenses when payouts are made years down the road.

This year, the same accounting requirements take effect for state and local governments, he said, adding hefty new financial obligations to balance sheets already out of whack amid the nation's worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

"When those future costs are disclosed, the pattern has been that stakeholders - in this case taxpayers - say, 'This is too much,' " Kaplan said. "There could be a big pushback from ordinary taxpayers who used to get these benefits and had them taken away or who never got them at all".

Private companies have increasingly scaled back retiree health-care benefits or eliminated coverage entirely to shore up bruised bottom lines and investor confidence, said Kaplan, whose research appears in the current issue of the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 18, 2009, 11:02 PM CT

Milk is safe after treatment for milk allergy

Milk is safe after treatment for milk allergy
Some children with a history of severe milk allergy can safely drink milk and consume other dairy products every day, as per research led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and reported in the Aug. 10 online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Investigators followed up with a subset of children who were part of an earlier Hopkins Children's-led study published in 2008 in which patients allergic to milk were given increasingly higher doses of milk over time. For a number of of them, continuous exposure to milk allergens the proteins that trigger bad reactions slowly and gradually retrained their immune systems to better tolerate the very food that once sent those systems into overdrive.

The follow-up of 18 children ages 6 to 16 whose severe milk allergies had eased or disappeared observed that all children were able to safely consume milk at home, and that reactions, while common, were generally mild and grew milder and milder over time. The follow-up varied from three to 17 months, depending on how long it took patients to increase their milk intake.

These findings also suggest that regular use of milk and dairy foods appears to be needed for children to maintain their tolerance.

"We now have evidence from other studies that some children once successfully treated remain allergy-free even without daily exposure, while in others the allergies return once they stop regular daily exposure to milk," says Robert Wood, M.D., the study's senior investigator and director of Allergy & Immunology at Hopkins Children's. "This may mean that some patients are truly cured of their allergy, while in others the immune system adapts to regular daily exposure to milk and may, in fact, need the exposure to continue to tolerate it," he adds.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 18, 2009, 7:58 AM CT

Ibuprofen is as effective as acetaminophen with codeine

Ibuprofen is as effective as acetaminophen with codeine
Children with arm fractures fared as well with ibuprofen to control their pain as acetaminophen with codeine, as per a newly released study by scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Children's Research Institute.

The study, which was led by Amy Drendel, D.O., assistant professor of pediatrics at the Medical College, will appear in the Aug. 18, 2009, issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine Dr. Drendel also is a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Up to this point, an evidence-based pain management regimen for children with simple arm fractures after discharge from the emergency department has not been identified.

"Our study calls into question the practice of using acetaminophen with codeine as a rescue medicine if ibuprofen fails to treat fracture pain for children," explains Dr. Drendel.

This study compared how children ages four to 18 years respond to therapy when prescribed ibuprofen or acetaminophen with codeine for pain. Overall, there was no difference in the number of children that failed therapy in the two groups but the children receiving ibuprofen reported better functional outcomes, higher satisfaction, and fewer adverse effects than those receiving acetaminophen with codeine.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 18, 2009, 7:57 AM CT

Work together for successful kids

Work together for successful kids
It is widely understood that, ideally, schools and parents should work together to ensure that children can succeed as students and citizens. But what is the right balance? And how much do teachers want parents involved in the classroom? A newly released study from North Carolina State University identifies ways that schools and communities can work with parents to give children the greatest chance of success.

Scientists at NC State say that the formation of "child and family teams" (CFTs) appears to be extremely useful in helping young people who are having difficulty with grades or behavior become more engaged and do well in school and life. Dr. Jocelyn Taliaferro, an associate professor of social work at NC State and co-author of the study, explains that a CFT "takes a 'village' approach. A child and his or her family decide who would be on the team such as teachers, social workers, pastors or other community members and then work with the team to develop a plan for helping the child succeed both in school and in the broader community. One advantage of this approach is that it removes the 'us versus them' mentality, by bringing in a broad support group and giving the child and family some control over the situation".

However, the scientists found in their study that some school personnel and community members are ambivalent about the prospect of involving family members in the decision-making process at their schools. For example, Taliaferro says, teachers think parental involvement is important, but they also are often concerned that the parents appears to be contributing to a child's problem rather than being part of the solution.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 18, 2009, 7:54 AM CT

Video-game playing and health risks in adults

Video-game playing and health risks in adults
While video gaming is generally perceived as a pastime for children and young adults, research shows that the average age of players in the United States is 35. Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University and Andrews University analyzed survey data from over 500 adults ranging in age from 19 to 90 in the Seattle-Tacoma area on health risks; media use behaviors and perceptions, including those correlation to video-game playing; and demographic factors. In an article reported in the October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, they found measurable correlations between video-game playing and health risks.

Participants reported whether they were players or nonplayers, and weekly usage was collected. Internet usage was assessed, as was the relative importance of the Internet as a social support. The personal determinants examined in this study included self-evaluations of depression, personality, health status, physical and mental health, body mass index (BMI), and poor quality of life. Immersion in media environments was reviewed using the participants' estimates of the time they spent during a typical week surfing the Internet and watching TV, including videos and DVDs. The SeattleTacoma area was selected because of its size (13th largest US media market) and its Internet usage level is the highest in the nation.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 9:11 PM CT

Hazardous chemicals in smokeless tobacco

Hazardous chemicals in smokeless tobacco
This is a sample of smokeless tobacco.

Credit: Keith Lindsey

Attention all smokeless tobacco users! It's time to banish the comforting notion that snuff and chewing tobacco are safe because they don't burn and produce inhalable smoke like cigarettes. A study that looked beyond the well-researched tobacco hazards, nitrosamines and nicotine, has discovered a single pinch the amount in a portion of smokeless tobacco exposes the user to the same amount of another group of dangerous chemicals as the smoke of five cigarettes.

The research on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

(PAH) in smokeless tobacco was reported here today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). It adds to current evidence that smokeless contains two dozen other carcinogens that cause oral and pancreas cancers, the researchers say.

"This study once again clearly shows us that smokeless tobacco is not safe," said Irina Stepanov, Ph.D., who led the research team. "Our finding places snuff on the same list of major sources of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as smoking cigarettes." PAHs are widespread environmental contaminants formed as a result of incomplete burning of wood, coal, fat in meat, and organic matter. PAHs form, for instance, during the grilling of burgers, steaks and other meat.

The findings come in the midst of a rise in both marketing and consumption of smokeless tobacco, which a number of consumers regard as less dangerous than other forms of tobacco. Estimates suggest that sales of moist snuff in the United States have doubled since the 1980s.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 16, 2009, 8:52 PM CT

Up to 90 percent of US paper money contains traces of cocaine

Up to 90 percent of US paper money contains traces of cocaine
Traces of cocaine exist in up to 90 percent of banknotes in many large US cities, a new study reports.

Credit: The American Chemical Society

You probably have cocaine in your wallet, purse, or pocket. Sound unlikely or outrageous? Think again! In what scientists describe as the largest, most comprehensive analysis to date of cocaine contamination in banknotes, researchers are reporting that cocaine is present in up to 90 percent of paper money in the United States, especially in large cities such as Baltimore, Boston, and Detroit. The researchers found traces of cocaine in 95 percent of the banknotes analyzed from Washington, D.C., alone.

Presented here today at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, the newly released study suggests that cocaine abuse is still widespread and appears to be on the rise in some areas. It could help raise public awareness about cocaine use and lead to greater emphasis on curbing its abuse, the scientists say.

The researchers tested banknotes from more than 30 cities in five countries, including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, China, and Japan, and found "alarming" evidence of cocaine use in a number of areas. The U.S. and Canada had the highest levels, with an average contamination rate of between 85 and 90 percent, while China and Japan had the lowest, between 12 and 20 percent contamination. This is the first reported study about cocaine contamination in Chinese and Japanese currencies, they say.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 14, 2009, 7:15 AM CT

Active ingredients in marijuana pread and prolong pain

Active ingredients in marijuana pread and prolong pain
Imagine that you're working on your back porch, hammering in a nail. Suddenly you slip and hit your thumb instead hard. The pain is incredibly intense, but it only lasts a moment. After a few seconds (and a few unprintable words) you're ready to start hammering again.

How can such severe pain vanish so quickly? And why is it that other kinds of equally terrible pain refuse to go away, and instead torment their victims for years?.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston scientists think they've found at least part of the answerand believe it or not, it's in a group of compounds that includes the active ingredients in marijuana, the cannabinoids. Interestingly enough, given recent interest in the medical use of marijuana for pain relief, experiments with rodents and humans described in a paper reported in the current issue of Science suggest these "endocannabinoids," which are made within the human body, can actually amplify and prolong pain rather than damping it down.

"In the spinal cord there's a balance of systems that control what information, including information about pain, is transmitted to the brain," said UTMB professor Volker Neugebauer, one of the authors of the Science article, along with UTMB senior research scientist Guangchen Ji and collaborators from Switzerland, Hungary, Japan, Gera number of, France and Venezuela. "Excitatory systems act like a car's accelerator, and inhibitory ones act like the brakes. What we found is that in the spinal cord endocannabinoids can disable the brakes".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 11, 2009, 11:19 PM CT

Taking dex can improve high altitude exercise capacity

Taking dex can improve high altitude exercise capacity
Taking dexamathasone prophlyactically may improve exercise capacity in some mountaineers, as per Swiss researchers. Dexamathasone, known popularly to climbers as "dex," has been used for years to treat altitude-related symptoms in mountaineers, but has never been tested for its ability to improve exercise capacity at high altitude.

"We have known that both tadalafil and dexamethasone are good for preventing high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and dex for treating symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS). But we did not know whether they could also improve exercise capacity at altitude by reducing pulmonary hypertension, one of the important factors in altitude- related exercise limitations," said main authors Manuel Fischler, MD, of the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, and Hans-Peter Brunner-La Rocca, of the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland.

The results were reported in the August 15th issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the journal of the American Thoracic Society.

The scientists recruited 23 mountaineers with a history of HAPE and administered baseline cardiopulmonary exercise tests a low elevation (490 meters, or 1607 feet). Subjects were tested for oxygen uptake kinetics by pedaling a stationary bike at a constant rate for six minutes, and then for exercise capacity by pedaling at 50 percent of their predicted maximum workload for one minute, then increasing output by 25 percent each additional minute until exhaustion, commonly after 8 to 12 minutes.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 11, 2009, 11:13 PM CT

Oxygen treatment hastens memory loss

Oxygen treatment hastens memory loss
A 65-year-old women goes into the hospital for routine hip surgery. Six months later, she develops memory loss and is later diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Just a coincidence? Scientists at the University of South Florida and Vanderbilt University don't think so. They suspect that the culprit precipitating Alzheimer's disease in the elderly women appears to be a routine administration of high concentrations of oxygen for several hours during, or following, surgery a hypothesis borne out in a recent animal model study.

Dr. Gary Arendash of the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at USF and Dr. L. Jackson Roberts II at Vanderbilt University used mice genetically altered to develop abnormal levels of the protein beta amyloid, which deposits in the brain as plaques and eventually leads to Alzheimer's-like memory loss as the mice age. They observed that young adult Alzheimer's mice exposed to 100-percent oxygen during several 3-hour sessions demonstrated substantial memory loss not otherwise present at their age. Young adult Alzheimer's mice exposed to normal air had no measurable memory loss, and neither did normal mice without any genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's disease.

The authors suggest that people genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's disease or with excessive amounts of beta amyloid in their brains are at increased risk of developing the disease earlier if they receive high concentrations of oxygen, known as hyperoxia. Their study is published online this month in NeuroReport........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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