Monthly Archive for June 2009

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June 30, 2009

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Posted by: Staff on June 30, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

Race origins and health disparities

An article out of the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science tries to connect the dots between race origins and health disparities.

Efforts to simplify the complexities of race— including genetic, cultural and socioeconomic variations—have made race-related research “a minefield of often premature and ultimately wrong conclusions,” [lead author Nina T. Harawa said.]

To understand health disparities in the various population groups, she said, researchers need to understand how today’s racial categories evolved from the negative assumptions made hundreds of years ago to justify slavery.

The article appears in Ethnicity and Disease Journal and a pdf version of the first page can be found here.

Posted by: Staff on June 30, 2009
Category: Health Disparities; Health Inequality; Health Inequities; Minority Health; Race; Racial Health

June 29, 2009

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Posted by: Staff on June 29, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 26, 2009

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Posted by: Staff on June 26, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 25, 2009

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Posted by: Staff on June 25, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 24, 2009

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  • Aboriginal children are among the most marginalized children in Canadian society. Despite some advances, in almost any measure of health and well-being, Aboriginal children – including First Nations, Inuit and Métis -- are at least two or three times worse off than other Canadian children. As children, they are less likely to see a doctor. As teens, they are more likely to become pregnant. And in many communities, they are more likely to commit suicide.
  • Huge geographic differences exist in cancer risk
  • Almost 2.2 million people lived in neighborhoods where pollution raised the risk of developing cancer to levels the government generally considers to be unacceptable. There, toxic chemicals were significant enough that people who breathed the air throughout their lives faced an extra 100-in-1 million risk of getting cancer.
  • The team of more than 30 researchers found that low-income women not only have more chronic diseases -- such as hypertension, arthritis and diabetes -- than their higher income sisters, but that their condition degenerates more quickly.

Posted by: Staff on June 24, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

Blogging and Tweeting about donating a kidney

Pamela Paulk, the VP of Human Resources at Johns Hopkins is keeping a blog about her experience donating a kidney.

She writes:

I am writing this blog in hopes of bringing more attention and awareness to the need for kidney donors … and to show that ordinary people can be donors. My hope is that maybe one person who reads this will hear about someone else needing a kidney and will say, “Hey, I can do that. I can give my kidney.”

Her most recent blog post was made prior to the day of the surgery. However she updated her Twitter feed up to and after the surgery.

Click on the image for a full sized version or click here.

Twitter is becoming an important tool for getting information out to friends and family members. Last month a transplant team used Twitter to keep a family updated while their 3 year-old received a new kidney.

Posted by: Staff on June 24, 2009
Category: Blog; Health Care; Organ Donation; Social Media; twitter

June 23, 2009

links for 2009-06-23

Posted by: Staff on June 23, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

Racial disparities in health care (CNN Video)

Tony Harris and Elizabeth Cohen talk about health disparities.

EXTRA: The Center for Reducing Health Disparities in now on Facebook. You can become a fan here.

Posted by: Staff on June 23, 2009
Category: Health Disparities; Racial Disparities

June 19, 2009

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Posted by: Staff on June 19, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 18, 2009

links for 2009-06-18

  • Researchers found that black children with high blood pressure are more likely than other children to develop a thickening of the left chamber of the heart. Known as left ventricular hypertrophy, or LVH, the condition can lead to heart failure, rhythm abnormalities and death.
  • Executives of three of the nation's largest health insurers told federal lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite withering criticism from Republican and Democratic members of Congress who decried the practice as unfair and abusive.
  • Gov. Ted Strickland has floated roughly $2 billion in cuts to help close a $3.2 billion shortfall in the two-year state budget, a plan that would slash health care and other safety-net services for Ohio's poor.
  • People are afraid of losing their insurance in coming year. Nearly one in four people (23.6%) fear losing their health insurance at some point in the next 12 months.

Posted by: Staff on June 18, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 17, 2009

links for 2009-06-17

  • Reacting to a rising tide of anger from gay and lesbian supporters at a series of slights and deferred promises, President Obama will tomorrow extend some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
  • Despite the overwhelming evidence that men are being left behind, the U.S. government has never made a concerted effort to address male health issues. Right now, there are seven (seven!) offices of women's health in the U.S. government: six in the Department of Health and Human Services and one in the Department of Agriculture. And the Pentagon makes huge investments in women's health research. Yet there is not a single federal organization that encourages and disseminates physical and mental health research for and about men.
  • Residents in the poorest neighborhoods of Los Angeles County continue to face living conditions that are significantly more unhealthy than more affluent areas.
  • Executives of three of the nation’s largest health insurers told federal lawmakers Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite criticism that the practice is unfair and abusive.

Posted by: Staff on June 17, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 16, 2009

links for 2009-06-16

Posted by: Staff on June 16, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

New effort hopes to reduce the disparity in pneumococcal disease

A joint effort launched this week hopes to improve vaccination rates for pneumococcal disease in developing countries. The need is pressing.

Pneumococcal disease takes the lives of 1.6 million people each year – including up to one million children before their fifth birthday. More than 90 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. Pneumonia, the most common form of serious pneumococcal disease, accounts for one in every four child deaths, making it the leading cause of death among young children.

Access to vaccines will be via an Advance Market Commitment. Donations will be used to help stabilize the price of vaccines once they enter the market. In theory, the promise of stable prices will motivate vaccine producers to invest resources for not only manufacture but also research and development.

The long term price (in a developing country) for a pneumococcal vaccine will be $3.50 if these AMCs are successful. In the U.S., the cost is around $70 per dose.

Posted by: Staff on June 16, 2009
Category: AMC; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Flu; Health Disparities; Health Inequities; Vaccines

June 15, 2009

links for 2009-06-15

Posted by: Staff on June 15, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 11, 2009

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Posted by: Staff on June 11, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 10, 2009

links for 2009-06-10

Posted by: Staff on June 10, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 09, 2009

links for 2009-06-09

Posted by: Staff on June 09, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

Changing the world with yogurt

A pilot project in Mabatini hopes to empower women, stimulate the local economy, and provide nutritional food to HIV patients. All with yogurt.

From the journal Nature:

[Elizabeth] Gabeal and the nine other 'yogurt mamas' who work alongside her spend the day transforming local farmers' milk—delivered each morning by bicycle—into a probiotic yogurt. In addition to selling 200 servings a day to community residents for a profit, they also give free cups away to 125 people with HIV/AIDS in the hopes that the yogurt might make them healthier.

EXTRA: Research shows that when young people read the labels on alcohol, they do so to "help them choose the strongest drinks for the lowest cost."

Posted by: Staff on June 09, 2009
Category: Africa; HIV; Health Disparities; Yogurt

June 06, 2009

One organization strives to help cancer survivors heal through yoga

(Yoga Bear at Relay for Life '08)

I was made aware of Yoga Bear from an email sent last year by their founder Halle Tecco.

Halle had noticed a blog entry I posted on one of our research projects. She wanted me to know she had posted about the study on her personal website.

Her email contained a link to the Yoga Bear site and I was instantly pulled in by their work. Yoga Bear is a non-profit organization that helps cancer survivors find yoga classes in their community free of charge.

Among the challenges cancer survivors face are the side effects of chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society provides more information on these side effects which include fatigue, muscle problems, and nausea. There is some research that says yoga can reduce these negative effects. In the November 2007 issue of the European Journal of Cancer Care researchers reported that using yoga to reduce stress could help chemotherapy-related nausea.

Nicoleigh Gamble, PhD, talks more about the science and how yoga can improve circulation and boost the immune system.


Aside from the practice of yoga, Yoga Bear provides a way for cancer survivors to connect with each other via several social media sites. They have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and they maintain an excellent blog.

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

Posted by: Staff on June 06, 2009
Category: Cancer; Cancer Survivors; Yoga

June 05, 2009

links for 2009-06-05

  • Tourette syndrome occurs in 3 out of every 1,000 school-aged children, and is more than twice as common in white kids as in blacks or Hispanics
  • The issue of asthma in Puerto Rican Hispanics is critical. They are affected at a greater rate than any other group and no one is sure why. Potential causes include: lack of Spanish speaking health care providers, a genetic disposition, stress from living conditions, cultural practices, or simply sub-standard care.
  • In a study of 41 young people who received a liver transplant, receiving text message reminders helped improve medication compliance. Researchers measured the amount of anti-rejection drugs in the patient's blood. 49% of patients had low levels of anti-rejection medication in the year prior to the study. After they started receiving text messages that number dropped to 15%.
  • An increasing stream of uninsured patients into community health centers throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky has extended waiting times and cut hours at some locations.

Posted by: Staff on June 05, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

Nurses help to reduce the gap in immunizations

In Mississippi, a state program hopes to reduce the gap in immunization rates by using nurses to help mobilize the community. The need is pressing, African-Americans in Mississippi receive a pneumonia vaccine at a rate of only 27%, compared to 69% for Caucasians.


“Instead of the state and the CDC coming out into these people’s communities and telling them they need to get the flu shot, what we are doing is mobilizing the community to work in the community,” explains [program manager Marilyn Douglas, RN.] “You need community-based organizations to do that and you really need to give people the information necessary to make an informed decision.”

Reducing the gap in immunizations is one of the goals of Healthy People 2010 and will hopefully lead to a reduction in health disparities.

Posted by: Staff on June 05, 2009
Category: African-American Health; Community Activism; Health Disparities; Healthy People; Healthy People 2010; Immunizations; Minority Health; Minority Nursing; Nursing; Vaccines; community health

June 04, 2009

links for 2009-06-04

Posted by: Staff on June 04, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

June 03, 2009

links for 2009-06-03

Posted by: Staff on June 03, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

The Childhood Roots of Health Disparities

The current issue of JAMA has an interesting article on the childhood roots of health disparities.

In the article, the authors provide ample evidence that when chronic, stressors like nutritional deficiencies and maltreatment have life-long health impacts. They argue new health policy initiatives "may be a more appropriate strategy for preventing adult health disease than the off-label administration of statins to school-aged children."

According to the article, there may be two ways early childhood experiences affect adult health. One theory states experiencing chronic stress has a cumulative affect on the body. The other theory says when exposed to stress (poor living conditions for example) at an early age the body establishes 'set points' that may be harmful later in life.

The result, the article says, of a childhood filled with chronic stressors, may be the inability "to completely reverse the neurological and health consequences of growing up poor."

The authors also make the point that adversity during childhood is both normal and helpful in building resilience. However, when adversity is persistent without any aid from a stable adult environment, lifelong health can be adversely affected.

Looking forward, the authors offer three examples of how policy and practice can work together to reduce stress in early life, thereby improving adult health:

1. Focus on reducing harmful stress in early life.
2. Increase the capacity of early childhood programs to deal with children who experience toxic stress.
3. Greater utilization of child welfare programs in health promotion.

The article is available at JAMA.

Shonkoff JP, Boyce WT, McEwen BS. Neuroscience, molecular biology, and the childhood roots of health disparities: building a new framework for health promotion and disease prevention. JAMA. 2009;301(21):2252-2259.

EXTRA: You can't even trust the labels these days.

Video available on YouTube.

Posted by: Staff on June 03, 2009
Category: Children's Health; Childrens Health; Disparities; Health; Health Care; Health Disparities; Health Equity; Health Inequities; JAMA; Social Determinants of Health; Socioeconomic Status; Youth Health

June 02, 2009

links for 2009-06-02

Posted by: Staff on June 02, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading

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Posted by: Staff on June 02, 2009

June 01, 2009

links for 2009-06-01

Posted by: Staff on June 01, 2009
Category: Lunch Break Reading