Raising Taxes On Cigarettes Is Working, Which Is Why Industry Is Swarming On State Capitols
“I’d never seen this amount of money being poured into a session in my 17 years here," says the American Cancer Society's Kristin Page-Nei of the failed effort in Montana to increase the state's cigarette tax. In other public health news: peanut allergies, labor, memory training, ankle replacements, UTIs, and more.
The Washington Post:
Cigarette Taxes Are The Best Way To Cut Smoking, Scaring Big Tobacco
For more than a decade, Kristin Page-Nei begged Montana lawmakers to raise cigarette prices. As a health advocate for the American Cancer Society, she watched year after year as other states increased their cigarette taxes and lowered their smoking rates. “What they’re doing is saving lives,” she kept saying. Finally, this spring, she helped persuade state senators to raise cigarette taxes for the first time in 12 years. Then came the tobacco lobbyists. (Wan, 10/21)
A New Peanut Allergy Vaccine Failed In A Trial, But The Company Wants It Approved Anyway
An experimental vaccine meant to combat peanut allergy came up short on Friday in a large clinical trial, but the company developing it blames the failure on a surprising placebo effect — and believes it still might win Food and Drug Administration approval. The treatment, called Viaskin Peanut, is a patch designed to gradually train a patient’s immune system to tolerate peanuts. In a trial on more than 300 children with peanut allergies, about 35 percent of patients responded to Viaskin, but the overall results didn’t beat placebo by enough to meet the study’s primary goal. (Garde, 10/20)
The New York Times:
During Labor, Lie Down
Many doctors recommend that women in labor sit upright or walk to speed things along. But a randomized trial suggests the best bet may be to lie on your side. British researchers randomly assigned 3,093 first-time mothers with a low-dose epidural in the second stage of labor to either an upright position (walking, kneeling, standing or sitting up straight) or to a lying-down position (up to 30 degrees inclination). (Bakalar, 10/20)
Epidurals May Not Slow Down Birthing Process.
Giving pregnant women epidural spinal anesthesia to ease their pain during the late stages of labor and delivery may not prolong the birthing process, a new experiment suggests. “Many obstetric providers believe that the numbness and weakness in a woman’s legs from epidural medications may affect a woman’s ability to push out a baby,” said senior study author Philip Hess, an anesthesiology researcher at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. (10/22)
Brain Training Can Improve Memory, But Won't Make You A Genius
When it comes to brain training, some workouts seem to work better than others. A comparison of the two most common training methods scientists use to improve memory and attention found that one was twice as effective as the other. The more effective method also changed brain activity in a part of the brain involved in high-level thinking. (Hamilton, 10/23)
Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner And Sicker In-Between
Data released last week suggest Americans’ health is declining and millions of middle-age workers face the prospect of shorter, and less active, retirements than their parents enjoyed. Here are the stats: The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate—a measure of the number of deaths per year—rose 1.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Society of Actuaries. That’s the first year-over-year increase since 2005, and only the second rise greater than 1 percent since 1980. (Steverman, 10/23)
The Washington Post:
Total Ankle Replacement Becomes More Common As Treatment Improves
Once disparaged as borderline quackery, the total ankle replacement is gaining acceptance as a treatment for crippling arthritis and serious injuries. For years, doctors discouraged patients from getting the procedure — called ankle arthroplasty — because of persistent controversy over the earliest techniques, which involved cementing metal ankle reconstruction devices to bone. Sometimes the parts loosened prematurely or caused infections, leaving patients in worse shape than before. (Pianin, 10/22)
Water Helps Reduce Risk Of Recurring Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections cause painful urination and are unfortunately widespread. Scientists estimate that somewhere between 40 percent to more than 50 percent of women will get a UTI in their lifetime, and one in four will get a repeat infection. Left untreated, they can lead to kidney problems. (Jochem, 10/20)
Should A Disability Affect Who Gets Organ Transplants?
A 2008 survey by researchers at Stanford University found that 85 percent of pediatric transplant centers consider neuro-developmental status in the eligibility process at least some of the time, [Courtney] Hansen said. And in the same study, 62 percent of the centers said eligibility decisions based on disability tended to be made informally, making discrimination difficult to show. (Price, 10/22)