Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
The American Cancer Society said this week that exercise and a healthy diet may help people live longer after cancer treatment. Three government reports also made news this week. One found that 2 out of 3 people who abuse painkillers begin with pills they get from friends or family. Another report said that only 13% of Americans have high cholesterol. Drug treatment may be the reason. Other officials reported this week that a dead dairy cow in California had so-called mad cow disease. The cow was at a rendering plant to be turned into products other than human food. The disease was found by a routine test. The brain tissue tests are done on a random sample of dead cows.
This Issue: Report: Painkiller Abuse Often Starts at Home Exercise, Healthy Diet Urged for Cancer Survivors 'Mad' Cow Found, Called No Risk to Food Supply Only 13% in U.S. Have High Cholesterol
In the News:
Report: Painkiller Abuse Often Starts at Home
About 2 out of 3 people who abuse painkillers got their start with pills they received (or took) from friends or relatives, a study finds. The study focused on the growing problem of addiction to prescription opiod (narcotic) drugs. These pills include oxycodone, hydrocodone and others. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released the study this week. It was based on a government survey from 2009 and 2010. Among new abusers, 68% said friends or relatives gave them pills, or they took them without asking. About 66% who used pain relievers once a week also got their pills in this way. Just 17% of these groups got pills with a doctor's prescription. The pattern was different for long-term abusers. About 41% got pills through friends or relatives, and 26% through doctors. The DEA has scheduled its 4th National Take Back Day for Saturday, April 28. More than 5,000 centers will be open to collect unused or expired medicines. The Associated Press wrote about the DEA study.
Exercise, Healthy Diet Urged for Cancer Survivors
Exercise and healthier eating may help to keep cancer from returning after treatment, the American Cancer Society said this week. The society said the new advice was based on dozens of studies published in the last five years. The studies found lower rates of cancer return (recurrence) and longer survival for people with better diet or exercise habits. The studies were mostly observational. The cancer survivors were not randomly assigned to one program or another. So the studies can't prove that exercise or diet caused the better outcomes for these patients. But the cancer society said the number of studies made their results worth trusting. Most involved prostate, breast or colon cancer survivors. The new guidelines urge doctors to talk to cancer patients about moving more, eating healthier foods and losing weight, if needed. The guidelines recognize that 2 out of 3 Americans live at least 5 years after a cancer diagnosis. They note that the advice does not apply to everyone. For some people, it's more important to get enough to eat and avoid weight loss. Some also may be too weak or tired for strenuous exercise. But even mild exercise may help. The Associated Press wrote about the new guidelines.
'Mad' Cow Found, Called No Risk to Food Supply
A dairy cow brought to a California rendering plant was found to have mad cow disease, officials said this week. But they stressed that the animal never was intended to be sold for meat. Rendering plants process animal parts into soap, animal feed and other products. The World Health Organization says it's not possible to get the human form of the disease from milk. The case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, was found as part of a U.S. testing program. Random samples of brain tissue are tested from 40,000 dead cows each year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the animal developed BSE from a random mutation of a protein in the body. It did not eat feed containing meat or brain matter from infected animals, USDA said. The United States bans such materials from animal feed. Random mutations are extremely rare, the Associated Press (AP) said. No cases of the human form of the disease have ever been linked to eating U.S. beef. Experts said U.S. beef eaters should not worry about getting mad cow disease. They said E. coli and salmonella are much more important risks. These and other food-borne infections kill 3,000 Americans every year, they said.
Only 13% in U.S. Have High Cholesterol
Though Americans have high levels of obesity, only 13% have high total cholesterol. That's the finding of a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The numbers come from a survey of 6,000 adults in 2009 and 2010. They also had blood tests taken. The group was chosen to represent the variety of U.S. adults. The 13% with high total cholesterol is less than the U.S. government goal of 17%. Women met that goal about 5 years ago and men about 10 years ago. The CDC did not find out why cholesterol has dropped. But officials said they believed it was related to more people taking drugs to lower cholesterol. The CDC released the report this week. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved. The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.