KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Harms Of Thyroid Cancer Screenings Outweigh Benefits, Task Force Says

Despite an industry-backed push for more people to be screened for thyroid cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has added the option to its don't-do-it category. In other public health news: pain relievers and heart risks, statins, syphilis, mental health care for children, and smoking.

NPR: Don't Screen For Thyroid Cancer, Task Force Recommends
If you hear rock star Rod Stewart's husky voice in a radio spot imploring you to get your thyroid checked for cancer, don't be seduced. An industry-backed foundation has been putting out that message, with Stewart as a celebrity spokesman, but it's not based on sound science. No major medical organization recommends mass screening for thyroid cancer. (Harris, 5/9)

The New York Times: Pain Relievers Tied To Immediate Heart Risks
The pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or Nsaids, are known to carry heart risks. A new analysis found that those risks can arise within a week of starting the drugs. Researchers did a systematic review of studies involving more than 446,000 people ages 40 to 79, of whom more than 61,000 had heart attacks. (Bakalar, 5/9)

The New York Times: Are Statin Side Effects ‘All In Our Heads’?
Statins, the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs, have well-known side effects, but some of the most common may be caused more by psychological factors than by the drugs themselves. Researchers looked at more than 10,000 patients who had been randomly assigned to take either atorvastatin (Lipitor) or a placebo. They tracked their reports of more than two dozen different side effects over an average of more than three years. (Bakalar, 5/9)

The Associated Press: Descendants Of Syphilis Study Subjects Emerging From Shadows
Decades later, it's still hard to grasp what the federal government did to hundreds of black men in rural Alabama — even if you're among their descendants, lighting candles in their memory. For 40 years starting in 1932, medical workers in the segregated South withheld treatment for unsuspecting men infected with a sexually transmitted disease simply so doctors could track the ravages of the horrid illness and dissect their bodies afterward. (Reeves, 5/10)

Boston Globe: Study: Many Parents In Need Can’t Find Mental Health Care For Their Children
Harvard researchers posing as the parent of a depressed 12-year-old called hundreds of child psychiatrists and pediatricians looking for appointments, and discovered what many actual parents know through bitter experience: Most of the time the calls were fruitless. The group phoned 913 doctors listed as network providers by Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations in Boston, Chapel Hill, N.C., Houston, Minneapolis, and Seattle. (Kowalczyk, 5/9)

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