Public Health Roundup: Obesity Epidemic Hurts American Longevity; Unsafe ‘Safe’ Food
Other public health developments related to good gut bacteria, treating breast cancer in pregnant women, Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and the Mark Zuckerberg disease initiative make headlines.
Are We Reaching The End Of The Trend For Longer, Healthier Lives?
American lives have been getting steadily longer, and since the 1960s that trend has been driven mostly by a remarkable reduction in heart disease. But those improvements have slowed dramatically. Scientists are now wondering whether we're approaching the end of the trend of longer, healthier lives. That's because the steady decline in heart disease is fading. Most people alive today don't remember the days when many people in their 40s and 50s would simply drop dead of a heart attack. (Harris, 9/23)
Food That Is 'Generally Recognized As Safe' Is Not Good Enough
Most of the chemicals added to food and beverages — from cheese to chips to chicken soup — are never reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before those products are sold in grocery stores. Sometimes the FDA may not know such chemical ingredients exist unless a company chooses to voluntarily disclose that information. In fact, the FDA may never have even heard of an estimated 1,000 or more chemicals that have been added to foods and beverages, let alone reviewed them for safety. (Markey, 9/23)
Good Gut Microbes: Studies Explore How 'E. Faecium' Fights Off Infection
Two papers just out in Science journals dig in to the virtues of what sounds like a helpful microbe: E. faecium, a bacterium that can actively protect our guts from infection. The research pinpointed a key enzyme in cultures of the microbe, called SagA, and found it boosted resistance to a nasty Typhoid-like pathogen in mice and worms. (Goldberg, 9/22)
Breast Cancer And Pregnancy: How To Treat Mom Without Harming Baby
Little is known about breast cancer in pregnant women. One out of every 3,000 pregnant women is diagnosed with breast cancer either during pregnancy or within the first year of delivery, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s a diagnosis that’s often delayed because the symptoms of pregnancy can mask the symptoms of breast cancer. (Cochrane, 9/22)
The Star Tribune:
Hopkins Outbreak Is Part Of A Rising Tide Of Legionnaires' Cases In U.S.
The ongoing outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Hopkins, which rose to 17 cases Thursday, is part of a dramatic national increase that so far has baffled doctors and epidemiologists. The three new cases reported Thursday involved patients over 50 — an age group most likely to be susceptible to the pneumonia-like infection, the Minnesota Department of Health said... Health officials said more cases could emerge in the coming week because the infection has an incubation period of 10 days, and it could take a few more days for patients to see a doctor and have their cases reported. (Marcotty, 9/22)
Taking The Long View With Facebook Founder's $3 Billion
The Facebook founder and his physician-wife’s $3 billion commitment for research to cure and prevent disease, announced Wednesday by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will stand out from other medical philanthropies by cross-pollinating diverse fields and taking a long view — aiming to solve tough medical problems over generations — the project’s scientific leader said in an interview. “What’s unique here is the combination of engineering and biology” to solve long-range problems, said Cori Bargmann, the Rockefeller University neuroscientist who heads the scientific projects underwritten by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. (Piller, 9/22)