New research shows link between high chili intake and dementia. Newswise — Think twice before adding that extra kick of chili sauce or chopped jalapeno to your meal. New research involving the University of South Australia shows a spicy diet could be linked to dementia. A 15-year study of 4582 Chinese adults aged over 55 found evidence of faster cognitive decline in those who consistently ate more than 50 grams of chili a day. Memory decline was even more significant if the chili lovers were slim. The study, led by Dr Zumin Shi from Qatar University, showed that those who consumed in excess of 50 grams of chili a day had almost double the risk of memory decline and poor cognition. “Chili consumption was found to be beneficial for body weight and blood pressure in our previous studies. However, in this study, we found adverse effects on cognition among older adults,” Dr Zumin says. UniSA epidemiologist Dr Ming Li, one of five researchers involved in the study, says chili intake included both fresh and dried chili peppers but not sweet capsicum or black pepper. “Chili is one of the most commonly used spices in the world and particularly popular in Asia compared to European countries,” Dr Li says. “In certain regions of China, such as Sichuan and Hunan, almost one in three adults consume spicy food every day.” Capsaicin is the active component in chili which reportedly speeds up metabolism, fat loss and inhibits vascular disorders but this is the first longitudinal study to investigate the association between chili intake and cognitive function. Those who ate a lot of chili had a lower income and body mass index (BMI) and were more physically active compared to non-consumers. Researchers say people of normal body weight may be more sensitive to chili intake than overweight people, hence the impact on memory and weight. Education levels may also play a role in cognitive decline and this link requires further research.
Credit: Rong Li and Hung-Ji Tsai Aneuploid yeast cells on the left have difficulty drawing in fluorescent molecules. Whereas, the normal yeast cells on the right are able to rapidly draw them in. Newswise — In a study using yeast cells and data from cancer cell lines, Johns Hopkins University scientists report they have found a potential weak spot among cancer cells that have extra sets of chromosomes, the structures that carry genetic material. The vulnerability, they say, is rooted in a common feature among cancer cells — their high intracellular protein concentrations — that make them appear bloated and overstuffed, and which could be used as possible new targets for cancer treatments. “Scientists are now thinking more about targeting the biophysical properties of cancer cells to make them self-destruct,” says Rong Li, Ph.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Cell biology and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. Further research is planned to confirm the findings in animal and human cancer cells, says Li. A report on the research, led by Li, is published in the June 6 issue of Nature. The new experiments focused on a chromosome number abnormality known as aneuploidy. Normal human cells, for example, have a balanced number of chromosomes: 46 in all, or 23 pairs of different chromosomes. A cell with chromosomes that have extra or fewer copies is called aneuploid. Li says, “aneuploidy is the #1 hallmark of cancer,” and is found in more than 90% of solid tumor cancer types. When cells gain chromosomes, Li says, they also get an extra set of genes that produce more than the normal amount of protein that a cell makes. This excess can give cells growth abilities they normally wouldn’t have, sometimes allowing them to overgrow and develop into a tumor. Because aneuploid cells have unbalanced protein production, they have too many free-floating proteins that are not organized into a complex. This increases the concentration inside of the cell compared to outside. To compensate for the increased concentration, the cells draw in water, a phenomenon that leads to hypo-osmotic stress. “Aneuploid cells tend to be bigger and more swollen than cells with a balanced number of chromosomes,” says Li. Li, who is a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, says she and her team set out to see if there was a common Achilles’ heel among aneuploid cancer cells, one that would make a powerful strategic target for cancer treatment. For the study, which took nearly five years to complete, Li and her colleagues, including first author and Johns Hopkins postdoctoral fellow Hung-Ji Tsai, Ph.D., looked at yeast cells, which have 16 chromosomes. In stressful environments, such as those with cold temperatures or inadequate nutrients, yeast cells adapt by altering the number of chromosomes, which allows them to survive better due to changes in the relative amounts of various proteins. Li and Tsai looked at gene expression levels of thousands of aneuploid yeast cells compared with normal ones. Specifically, the scientists looked for gene expression changes that were shared among the aneuploid cells despite their differences in chromosome copy number. Among the aneuploid cells, the scientists found that gene expression was altered in about 4% of the genome compared with normal cells. Next, the scientists compared the aneuploidy-associated gene expression with information from a database at Stanford University that contains changes in gene expression among normal yeast cells exposed to different stressful environments. They found that both the aneuploid cells and normal cells under hypo-osmotic stress share certain gene expression characteristics. They also share the problem of being bloated, affecting their ability to internalize proteins located on the cell membrane that regulate nutrient uptake. Li’s team continued its work to see if it could exploit aneuploid cells’ vulnerability in properly controlling the intake of nutrients. They screened the yeast genome and found a molecular pathway involving two proteins called ART1 and Rsp5 that regulate the cells’ ability to draw in nutrients such as glucose and amino acids. When the scientists inactivated these proteins in the aneuploid yeast cells, they lacked the proper intracellular nutrient levels and were less able to grow. The human equivalent of the molecular pathway involves proteins called arrestins and Nedd4. “It’s possible that we could find a treatment that targets this or another pathway that exploits the vulnerability common to aneuploid cancer cells,” says Li. Funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health (R35-GM118172, R01-HG006677, R01-GM114675 and U54-CA210173), the Prostate Cancer Foundation (16YOUN21) and the National Science Foundation. In addition to Tsai and Li, scientists who contributed to the research include Anjali Nelliat, Mohammad Choudhury, Andrei Kucharavy, Jisoo Kim, Devin Mair, Sean Sun, and Michael Schatz from Johns Hopkins and William Bradford and Malcolm Cook from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.
Carrie Esopenko Newswise — Data on every consenting Rutgers athlete who experiences a concussion is helping to inform a large-scale, nationwide study aimed at making sports safer for student-athletes. Rutgers is part of the Big Ten-Ivy League Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research Collaboration, comprised of the nation’s most elite athletic and academic universities, and is participating in its Big Ten-Ivy League Epidemiology of Concussions study. Rutgers School of Health Professions researcher Carrie Esopenko, assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences and an expert on head trauma, enrolled the university in the groundbreaking study. “This provides an invaluable opportunity for ongoing collaboration between physicians, athletic trainers, researchers, and administrators to understand who’s at a higher risk of injury, and how we can reduce that risk,” Esopenko said. The multi-institutional effort broadens the sports concussion data registry to all documented concussions sustained by athletes in varsity sports at 18 participating Ivy League and Big Ten schools. At Rutgers, that has meant creating a form for every concussion sustained by a Division One athlete. “We want to know the mechanisms of how it occurred. Was it contact to a helmet? Was it an elbow to the head? Was it during practice, a scrimmage? What type of play was it? What position was the athlete playing? Was a foul called?” said Kyle Brostrand, Rutgers assistant athletic trainer and coordinator of concussion management and research. Within the TBI collaboration, Esopenko is the principal investigator for Rutgers, while Brostrand manages data collection. The partnership of research and sports medicine is what makes the TBI Collaboration unique in its approach to studying the effects of sports-related concussions and how to better prevent, detect and treat them, according to Martha Cooper, assistant director of the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Its work has literally been a game changer. When data from the Epidemiology of Concussions study showed that a disproportionately high number of concussions occurred on kickoffs, the Ivy League athletic conference implemented a change in rules on kickoffs and touchbacks. The change led to a 68 percent drop in concussion rates, according to findings released in October, and those findings sparked new NCAA kickoff rules. Now in its sixth year of data collection, the study has produced “a robust database yielding novel opportunities to better understand the epidemiology of concussion among university student-athletes participating in a variety of sports,” according to a report on methods and findings published in April in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. “These findings add to our understanding of SRC (sports-related concussions) and are the first of many that will be generated over the coming years.” This week Esopenko and Brostrand are taking part in a two-day annual Traumatic Brain Injury Summit in Rosemont, Illinois. Researchers, clinicians, and administrators from the 22 member universities are discussing their research and clinical practice as it relates to concussion. The annual summits provide a platform for Big Ten and Ivy League affiliates to present their work, identify best practices and develop research partnerships within and across the conferences that will ultimately lead to improved health and safety for student-athletes. “Through this collaboration, we are at the forefront of understanding what increases risks of concussions and reducing the risks and prevalence of concussion,” said Esopenko. “We have a duty to the student-athlete to make the sport safer,” adds Brostrand. "The more universities work together, the better for all of our athletes."
Newswise — PITTSBURGH – Death rates from sepsis fell faster in New York than expected—and faster than in peer states—following the introduction of the nation’s first state-mandated sepsis regulation, according to an analysis led by University of Pittsburgh researchers and published today in JAMA. The policy requires all New York hospitals to quickly implement certain protocols when the deadly condition is suspected. The finding is good news for the nearly dozen other states in varying stages of adopting similar policies to reduce deaths from sepsis, the leading cause of death in hospitalized patients. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. “Rarely in the U.S. do we force hospitals to implement specific clinical protocols. Typically, quality improvement is achieved through financial incentives and public reporting,” said lead author Jeremy Kahn, M.D., M.S., professor in the Department of Critical Care Medicine at Pitt’s School of Medicine and the Department of Health Policy and Management at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. “For the first time, state officials are enshrining in regulations that hospitals must follow certain evidence-based protocols when it comes to sepsis. And our study finds that, at least in New York, it seemed to work.” Rory’s Regulations were issued by the New York State Department of Health in 2013 after 12-year-old Rory Staunton died of undiagnosed sepsis. The regulations require that hospitals in New York follow protocols for sepsis that include giving antibiotics within three hours and intravenous fluids within six hours of hospitalization. The hospitals also are required to regularly train staff in the protocols and to report adherence and clinical outcomes to the state. Kahn and his team analyzed records of more than a million sepsis admissions in 509 hospitals in New York and four control states without a sepsis regulation: Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The team looked at dates from two years before Rory’s Regulations were adopted, and two years after. In the years before the regulations went into place, 26.3% of the people diagnosed with sepsis in New York died while hospitalized, compared to a rate of 22% in the control states. Following the regulations, New York’s sepsis mortality rate dropped 4.3% to 22%, but the death rate only fell 2.9% to 19.1% in the control states. After accounting for patient and hospital characteristics, as well as pre-existing sepsis trends in the states, New York’s sepsis death rate was 3.2% lower following the regulation than would have been expected, relative to the control states. This comparison was crucial to estimating the improvement and sets this study apart from prior work. Sepsis outcomes are known to improve over time—a study just looking in New York would not be able to differentiate the effects of the regulations from underlying trends. Because these improvements occurred more quickly in New York compared to other states, the researchers are more confident that the regulations are the source of the improvement. “Sepsis is a tremendous global health burden, so developing proven ways to quickly recognize and treat people who have it is a top public health priority,” said senior author Derek Angus, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chair of Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine and director of Pitt’s Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness (CRISMA) Center. “While every state should consider their specific population and needs when developing regulations, our analysis reveals that policies enforcing evidence-based clinical protocols for the timely recognition and treatment of sepsis saves lives.” Additional authors on this research are Billie S. Davis, Ph.D., Jonathan G. Yabes, Ph.D., Chung-Chou H. Chang, Ph.D., and Tina Batra Hershey, J.D., M.P.H., all of Pitt; David H. Chong, M.D., of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center; and Grant R. Martsolf, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., of Pitt and the RAND Corporation. This research was funded by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality grant R01HS025146. To read this release online or share it, visit http://www.upmc.com/media/news/071619-kahn-ny-sepsis
Newswise — DURHAM, N.C. -- Efforts by the FDA and some cities to limit the availability and appeal of e-cigarettes to young users could drive some existing users to smoke more tobacco cigarettes to get their fix, according to new research from Duke Health. The findings, from a survey of 240 young U.S. adults who use both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco cigarettes, are scheduled to be published July 15 in the journal Substance Use & Misuse. “The FDA now has regulatory authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and we know that some communities have taken action to ban flavored e-cigarette products,” said Lauren Pacek, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke. “We wanted to take a first pass at seeing what users’ anticipated responses to new regulations might be,” Pacek said. “Our findings suggest that while some regulations, such as banning certain flavors to limit appeal to adolescents, might improve outcomes for those young users, the new regulations might have unintended consequences with other portions of the population.” The online survey asked participants aged 18 to 29 to predict their use of two products they already used -- e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco cigarettes -- in response to hypothetical regulations to limit e-cigarette flavors, limit the customizability of e-cigarettes or eliminate the nicotine in e-cigarettes. About 47 percent of respondents said if regulations eliminated the nicotine in e-cigarettes, they wouldn’t use e-cigs as much and would increase their use of traditional cigarettes. About 22 percent said if regulations limited the customizability of devices, such as features allowing users to adjust nicotine dose or vapor temperature, they would use e-cigs less and smoke more tobacco cigarettes. About 17 percent said if e-cigarettes were to be limited to tobacco and menthol flavors, they wouldn’t use e-cigs as much and they would smoke more tobacco cigarettes. According to other research on e-cigarette use, about a third of people who use e-cigarettes also use other tobacco products, Pacek said. For instance, some smokers might use an e-cigarette where tobacco smoking is not allowed, such as at work or a restaurant. The survey was small and not designed to predict the behavior of e-cigarette users across the U.S., Pacek said. However, the data suggest that when considering changes to e-cigarettes, such as limiting fruity flavors proven to appeal to youth, that regulators also consider the downstream effects of new regulations on other users. “It’s likely some potential new regulations on e-cigarettes will result in a net good for the whole population, such as limiting flavors that might entice young users, improving safety standards, or mandating that liquids come in child-proof containers,” Pacek said. “However, our findings suggest that there should also be thoughtful consideration to potential unintended consequences that could affect other subsets of users of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.” Pacek and other researchers at the Duke University Center for Addiction Science and Technology are continuing research on e-cigarette use, including an in-depth study tracking participants’ use of various tobacco products in response to potential regulations such as those posed by the online survey. In addition to Pacek, study authors include Olga Rass, Maggie M. Sweitzer, Jason A. Oliver, and F. Joseph McClernon. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (K01DA043413, K23DA039294 and K23DA042898). The authors did not disclose any potential conflicts of interest.
Newswise — NEW YORK/GENEVA, 15 July 2019 – 20 million children worldwide – more than 1 in 10 – missed out on lifesaving vaccines such as measles, diphtheria and tetanus in 2018, according to new data from WHO and UNICEF.Globally, since 2010, vaccination coverage with three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) and one dose of the measles vaccine has stalled at around 86 percent. While high, this is not sufficient. 95 percent coverage is needed – globally, across countries, and communities - to protect against outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. “Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “While most children today are being vaccinated, far too many are left behind. Unacceptably, it’s often those who are most at risk– the poorest, the most marginalized, those touched by conflict or forced from their homes - who are persistently missed.” Most unvaccinated children live in the poorest countries, and are disproportionately in fragile or conflict-affected states. Almost half are in just 16 countries - Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.If these children do get sick, they are at risk of the severest health consequences, and least likely to access lifesaving treatment and care. Measles outbreaks reveal entrenched gaps in coverage, often over many years. Stark disparities in vaccine access persist across and within countries of all income levels. This has resulted in devastating measles outbreaks in many parts of the world – including countries that have high overall vaccination rates.In 2018, almost 350,000 measles cases were reported globally, more than doubling from 2017.“Measles is a real time indicator of where we have more work to do to fight preventable diseases,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Because measles is so contagious, an outbreak points to communities that are missing out on vaccines due to access, costs or, in some places, complacency. We have to exhaust every effort to immunize every child.” Ukraine leads a varied list of countries with the highest reported incidence rate of measles in 2018. While the country has now managed to vaccinate over 90 percent of its infants, coverage had been low for several years, leaving a large number of older children and adults at risk.Several other countries with high incidence and high coverage have significant groups of people who have missed the measles vaccine in the past. This shows how low coverage over time or discrete communities of unvaccinated people can spark deadly outbreaks. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine coverage data available for the first timeFor the first time, there is also data on the coverage of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects girls against cervical cancer later in life. As of 2018, 90 countries – home to 1 in 3 girls worldwide - had introduced the HPV vaccine into their national programmes. Just 13 of these are lower-income countries. This leaves those most at risk of the devastating impacts of cervical cancer still least likely to have access to the vaccine.Together with partners like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and UNICEF are supporting countries to strengthen their immunization systems and outbreak response, including by vaccinating all children with routine immunization, conducting emergency campaigns, and training and equipping health workers as an essential part of quality primary healthcare.
Newswise — Adults who were born pre-term (under 37 weeks gestation) are less likely to have a romantic relationship, a sexual partner and experience parenthood than those born full term. The meta-analysis by researchers at the University of Warwick with data from up to 4.4 million adult participants showed that those born preterm are 28% less likely to ever be in a romantic relationship. A meta-analysis conducted by researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick has published ‘Association of Preterm Birth/Low Birth Weight with Romantic Partnership, Sexual Intercourse and Parenthood in Adulthood: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’ in JAMA Open today, 12th of July. They have found that adults who were born pre-term are less likely to form romantic relationships than full-term peers. In the analysis 4.4 million adult participants those born preterm were 28% less likely to form romantic relationships and 22% less likely to become parents, when compared to those born full term. Those studies that looked at sexual relations of pre-term children found that they were 2.3 times less likely to ever have a sexual partner when compared to full terms. Those adults who were born very (<32 weeks gestation) or extremely preterm <28 weeks gestation) had even lower chances of experiencing sexual relationships, finding a romantic partner or having children at the same age as those born full term, with the extremely pre-term born adults being 3.2 times less likely to ever having sexual relations. Close and intimate relationships have been shown to increase happiness and well-being both physically and mentally. However, studies also show that forming those relationships is harder for pre-term born adults, as they are usually timid, socially withdrawn and low in risk-taking and fun seeking. Despite having fewer close relationships, this meta-analysis also revealed that when preterm born adults had friends or a partner, the quality of these relationships was at least as good in pre-terms compared to full term born adults. First author of the paper, Dr Marina Goulart de Mendonça from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick comments: “The finding that adults who were born pre-term are less likely to have a partner, to have sex and become parents does not appear to be explained by a higher rate of disability. Rather preterm born children have been previously found to have poorer social interactions in childhood that make it harder for them to master social transitions such as finding a partner, which in turn is proven to boost your wellbeing.” The senior author, Professor Dieter Wolke, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick adds: “Those caring for preterm children including parent’s health professionals and teachers should be more aware of the important role of social development and social integration for pre-term children. As preterm children tend to be more timid and shy, supporting them making friends and be integrated in their peer group will help them to find romantic partners, have sexual relationships and to become parents. All of which enhances wellbeing.”
Reach of tobacco industry corrective statements even lower among certain groups with higher smoking rates Newswise — The tobacco industry’s court-ordered anti-smoking advertisements reached just 40.6% of U.S. adults and 50.5% of current smokers in 2018, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Exposure to the advertisements was even lower among certain ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups historically targeted by tobacco industry marketing. The findings, published today in JAMA Network Open, should be considered when planning future anti-smoking ads to reach youth and at-risk populations, explained senior author Sanjay Shete, Ph.D., professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and deputy division head of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences. “When compared to other nationally funded anti-smoking campaigns, the reach and penetration of these industry-sponsored ads were suboptimal,” said Shete. “Our hope, as cancer prevention researchers, is for more people to see these ads and to avoid tobacco or consider quitting. Based on our findings, future efforts in this space need to be more targeted to reach key populations.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., claiming an estimated 480,000 lives each year. Tobacco use also is the leading preventable cause of cancer, responsible for roughly 30% of all cancers and 90% of all lung cancers. The ‘corrective statements’ were mandated in a 2006 judgment by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, and began to run on prime-time television and in 50 key U.S. newspapers in November 2017. MD Anderson applauded these advertisements as an important step to inform Americans about the harms of tobacco use. The current study assessed data from 2018 Health Information National Trends Survey, a nationally representative, population-based cross-section survey of U.S. adults sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The study analyzed responses from 3,484 adults, including 450 current smokers, collected between January and May 2018 on self-reported exposure to the anti-smoking advertisements. Exposure was lowest among adults 18-34 (37.4%), those with a high-school or lower education (34.5%) and those with a household income less than $35,000 (37.5%). Among current smokers, exposure was lowest in the Hispanic population, at just 42.2%. “Historically, certain ethnic groups and those of lower socioeconomic status have been targets of tobacco industry marketing, which has led to high rates of tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases in these populations,” said first author Onyema Greg Chido-Amajuoyi, M.B.B.S., a postdoctoral fellow in Epidemiology. “These at-risk groups should, ideally, have had the most exposure to these advertisements, but on the contrary, they have had the least.” The researchers did find that exposure rates increased as the campaign’s duration increased, with 41.3% exposure reported in February 2018 and 46.8% exposure reported in May 2018. This underscores the need for sustained advertising to see long-term public-health impact, explained Shete. The authors recognize certain limitations in the study inherent to using a survey of this type. Responses were self-reported and therefore prone to recall and certain biases. Also, the survey is cross-sectional, so a causal link between exposure and cessation attempts cannot be made. Finally, there was no distinction between exposure to television or to print advertisements, which may have enabled further insight. Co-authors with Shete and Chido-Amajuoyi are Robert K. Yu, of Biostatistics; and Israel Agaku, D.M.D., Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA. The authors report no conflicts of interest. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (P30CA016672), the Barnhart Family Distinguished Professorship in Targeted Therapy, the Cancer Prevention and Researcher Institute of Texas (RP170259), the Mrs. Harry C. Wiess Cancer Research Fund, and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, PA — An online training program called HeadCoach increases managers' confidence in their ability to prevent and manage mental health issues among their staff, reports a trial in the July Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. HeadCoach offers "a suite of both responsive and preventive strategies to help managers better understand and support the mental health needs of their staff," according to the report by Aimée Gayed, MCrim, of University of New South Wales, Sydney, and colleagues. In the study, 87 managers at Australian companies were assigned to the online training program; another 123 managers were assigned to a waiting list control group. About 37 percent of managers assigned to HeadCoach completed all modules of the program. This group had increased confidence in their ability to create a workplace that supported the mental health needs of their direct-report employees. The improvement remained significant at four months after training. Managers who completed training also used more responsive and preventive behaviors to create a mentally healthy working environment. The study wasn't able to show a significant impact on employees' psychological symptoms, based on follow-up questionnaires in 173 employees. Mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders are a major contributor to work absences and disability. Factors in the workplace may precipitate mental health conditions. Managers can play a key role in reducing the impact of work-related mental health risk factors, but they are uncertain of how to do so. "HeadCoach online mental health training is an effective and scalable way to improve managers' confidence and workplace practices around mental health," Ms. Gayed and coauthors conclude. They acknowledge the need for more research to show an impact on employees' mental health symptoms, including studies comparing online and face-to-face training programs.
Newswise — PHILADELPHIA -- Nearly a million Americans live with thyroid cancer and doctors will diagnose more than 50,000 new cases this year. Fortunately, the survival rate for this kind of cancer is one of the best. Five years after diagnosis, more than 98 percent of patients are survivors. Now a team of researchers led by Alliric Willis, MD, a thyroid surgeon in the Department of Surgery in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University and researcher with the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health, finds nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessary. The practice carries potential long-term risk to the patient and added financial costs. The discovery could help to shift how doctors treat thyroid cancer patients. “Just as a patient can be at risk of under treatment, a patient can be at risk of over treatment,” says Dr. Willis, who published the work in the journal Surgical Oncology. “Our research really shines light on the fact that we are not treating all patients the same.” The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits over the airway in the neck. The gland makes hormones that help to control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and how the body uses energy. When cells grow out of control in the thyroid, cancer develops. Typical treatment for thyroid cancers that have not spread to other parts of the body begins with surgical removal of the gland. After completing surgery, patients can then go on to receive a second therapy known as radioactive iodine ablation. Radioactive iodine ablation is therapy taken as a pill. Because iodine is preferentially taken up by the thyroid gland, which relies on iodine to produce hormones, the radiation dose becomes concentrated there. The high amount of radioactivity in the iodine kills off any lingering cancer cells. Historically, patients have had fantastic results with radioactive iodine ablation treatment, Dr. Willis says. But the therapy does not come without costs. Experts estimate the financial cost of radioactive iodine ablation exceeds $9 million dollars per year across the country. Additionally, for several days to weeks after surgery, patients who receive the radioactive iodine treatment must stay away from small children and pets. “They’re virtually in isolation because the radioactivity will be on their clothing and on their sheets,” Dr. Willis says. The dose of radioactivity in the treatment is so high that airport security has picked up radioactivity from patients as well as their spouses. The treatment also carries the risk of permanent long-term side effects such as altering patients’ perception of taste and the development of other cancers, particularly leukemia. Yet patients who have low-risk thyroid cancer—cancers that are small and have not spread to other parts of the body—do not benefit from the additional treatment. “Low-risk thyroid cancer patients have a five-year survival rate that is greater than 97 percent, whether they receive radioactive iodine ablation after appropriate surgery or not,” Dr. Willis says. In 2015, the American Thyroid Association released guidelines for thyroid cancer treatment that indicated radioactive iodine ablation is not always necessary for patients with low-risk thyroid cancer. Based on the guidelines, Dr. Willis and team sought to identify groups of patients that are most at risk of being overly treated for thyroid cancer. “This is really important when we're talking population health and managing the increasing cost of health care by more effectively and efficiently using our resources,” says Dr. Willis. The researchers analyzed more than 32,000 thyroid cancer cases identified through the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER) database. They found more than half of patients were low-risk. About 25 percent of the low-risk patients received radioactive iodine ablation treatment, the researchers report. Patients younger than 65 years old were most at risk of overtreatment, according to the study. Men were also more at risk of over treatment as were Hispanic and Asian patients. “Young healthy patients are certainly going to be willing to receive whatever treatment may benefit them, but again we're talking about something that's been demonstrated to be over treatment,” Dr. Willis says. Some low-risk patients had their lymph nodes removed in addition to the thyroid gland, even when the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes. These patients were more likely to go on and have radioactive iodine ablation treatment. “That's particularly interesting because that tells you they may be in a setting where people are more aggressive in their approach to surgery and subsequent treatments,” Dr. Willis says. “This is where guidelines such as those outlined by the American Thyroid Association, can really help. The guidelines can say this more extensive treatment is unnecessary. You will not have better outcomes because of it.” Dr. Willis hopes that his team’s research will make people more aware of the fact that some patients are at risk of over treatment. “I think it will make people more mindful of following recommended guidelines with all patients so that we can give each patient the most effective treatment and get the best outcomes possible,” he says. Article reference: Ambria S. Moten, Huaqing Zhao, Alliric I. Willis, “The overuse of radioactive iodine in low-risk papillary thyroid cancer patients,” Surgical Oncology, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.suronc.2019.05.011, 2019.