New Nurses Study Needs Participants

More research with nurses will give us more insight into how people age.
from Health Day, March 1, 2012

Researchers are looking for 100,000 female nurses and nursing students to join the long-running Nurses’ Health Study, which has yielded insight into a wide range of health issues, such as the benefits of physical activity and whole grains and the dangers of tobacco and trans fats.

The study is open to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing students between the ages of 20 and 46 who live in the United States or Canada. More than 25,000 have signed up and recruitment will remain open until the study reaches the target of 100,000 new participants. It’s the first time nursing students have been eligible.

Read the rest of the article at Health Day

National Library of Medicine Director’s Podcasts

The view in iTunes.

I’ve become quite a fan of the weekly Director’s podcasts from the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

These mini radio programs are a terrific resource for people of all ages, but adult children and their parents will find they  provide a helpful introduction to the National Library of Medicine and Medline Plus. The podcasts used to be narrated by NLM director Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D. but now they are read by NLM staff member Rob Logan, Ph.D., a member of Dr. Lindberg’s library staff. Users encounter the image above when they search for the “casts” in iTunes.

The NLM podcasts are short, informative, easy to understand, and simple to download to a listening device, via iTunes. It’s not uncommon for a program to cite current research and explain its importance and relevance, so a listener can easily locate the research after listening.

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What is a Meta-Analysis and How Does It Help Find Better Information?

If you are researching a course of treatment or a cause of disease for an aging parent, family member, or friend, the chances are that you will read scientific studies. Perhaps you will check PubMed, the National Institutes of Health site that has abstracts of all published scientific research. You can visit the National Library of Medicine online or in person, or maybe arrange to go to your local hospital library and check out medical journals.

What’s confusing about searching for information in this way? Well, for one thing, if you are looking for research that examines a particular treatment, disease, or intervention, you are as likely to find studies that describe the success as you are to find reliable research that identified failures.

What should you do in your search? To get a much bigger picture, try to locate a study that’s a meta-analysis.

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Apropos of Distracted Driving, Children, and Cell Phones

In light of my previous post about the apparent extra protective layer that grandparents have when they drive their grandchildren around, I decided to post this BMW distracted driving advertisement. I believe that telephones and texting play a big role in parents’ accidents these days.

I wrote a longer post about the this BMW video on my other blog, MediaTechParenting.

Medical Histories Support Aging Parents and Their Families

What is more important for the personal health of an individual –a family history taken by a physician or genetic testing?

According to an Associated Press article published in the Washington Post, while genetic testing has important uses, people should be aware that a thorough family history taken by a physician is what Cleveland Clinic geneticist, Charis Eng, MD, calls “the best kept secret in health care.” The article, Family Health History: Best Kept Secret in Health Care, by AP health reporter Lauran Needgaard, points out that knowing and understanding a family’s medical history contributes mightily to the health of family members. In fact, medical histories are still the gold standard, even thought all sorts of amazing scans and genetic tests are available.

At the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Washington, DC, four genetics

Page from the Surgeon General's Family Medical History Site Printable Version

researchers, including Dr. Eng, described how family histories help to assess an individual’s risk for disease. The four conference presenters also participated in a panel press briefing (links to conference abstracts are also available at this link), describing their experiences with genetics testing and medical histories.

Dr. Eng explained how she and her colleagues conducted research with 22 cancer patients using their 22 spouses as a control group. Researchers compared the information in 44 medical histories with results of personal genome scanning assessing the cancer risk for three common cancers — that of colon, breast and prostate. Her team found a low measurement of agreement between the medical histories and the genetic tests. Both identified risks but seldom agreed on what those risks were.

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An Alzheimer’s Statistic I Did Not Know

Writing in the October 27, 2010 New York Times, three prestigious AIDS advocates, including retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, call for a “man-on-the-moon” effort, setting a goal to stop Alzheimer’s, by the year 2020. Justice O’Connor, writing on the op-ed page along with medicine Nobel Prize winner, Stanley Prusiner (read his Nobel Price acceptance speech), and psychologist Ken Dychtwald, point out that the country has previously organized itself in a similar ways to counter polio and AIDS. The Age of Alzheimer’s points out that an economic effect of the development of AIDS medicines is the addition of nearly 1.4 trillion dollars to the American economy.

No stranger to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, Justice O’Connor helped to care for her late husband when he developed the degenerative disease.

The Times piece gives a health funding statistic that I had not heard before: “…for each penny the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends on Alzheimer’s research, we spend more than $3.50 on caring for people with the condition.”

This is currently one of the Times’ most e-mailed articles.