KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Cancer Moonshot Ignites Long-Simmering Firestorm Over Data Sharing

The research community has been set asunder over how fast scientists should share data. In other public health news, concerns arise in Flint, Michigan, over children who have been affected by the water crisis, a program helps adults who were childhood cancer survivors as they face unique challenges, and a study finds fiber reduces breast cancer risk.

Politico: Biden’s Cancer Bid Exposes Rift Among Researchers
Joe Biden’s proposal for a cancer moon shot has struck a deep nerve in the research community, where cutting-edge scientists blame an entrenched medical establishment for hoarding the data needed to make breakthroughs. The tension boiled over this month when Jeffrey Drazen, editor of the New England Journal, and co-author Dan Longo, wrote in an op-ed that while sharing was all well and good, it had to be done collaboratively, not by “data parasites” who stole or misused work that might have taken bench scientists decades to assemble. The editorial did not mention Biden’s initiative, but many commenters noted its relevance. (Allen, 1/31)

The New York Times: Flint Weighs Scope of Harm to Children Caused by Lead in Water
Of all the concerns raised by the contamination of Flint’s water supply, and the failure of the state and federal governments to promptly address the crisis after it began nearly two years ago, none are more chilling than the possibility that children in this tattered city may have suffered irreversible damage to their developing brains and nervous systemsfrom exposure to lead. New concerns surfaced Friday when officials said that recent tests of unfiltered tap water in Flint had found levels of lead in some samples higher than what filters distributed to residents were designed to remove. (Goodnough, 1/30)

The Associated Press: Helping Childhood Cancer Survivors Become Healthy Adults
Young people who have survived cancer as children often face special challenges as they mature into adults. Their needs are a special interest of Jean M. Tersak, director of the cancer survivorship program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. There she leads pediatric hematology/oncology research to bring about cancer cures. At the same time, she sees the need for helping survivors wade through the demands of transitioning from having a pediatrician who is familiar with their cancer treatment to having a family doctor who may not understand their risk of health problems, caused by their cancer as well as their cancer treatment. (1/29)

NPR: A Diet High In Fiber May Help Protect Against Breast Cancer
If the advice to eat more fiber seems easy to ignore, you're not alone. Most Americans don't get the 25 to 38 grams a day that recommended, depending on age and gender. But if you're skimping on fiber, the health stakes are high, especially if you're a teenage girl. A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics concludes that eating lots of fiber-rich foods during high school years may significantly reduce a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. (Aubrey, 2/1)

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