On Medicine: Can Doctors Choose Between Saving Lives and Saving a Fortune?

Supported by Magazine Can Doctors Choose Between Saving Lives and Saving a Fortune? Photo Credit Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro. Syringe: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images. To understand something about the spiraling cost of health care in the United States, we might begin with a typical conundrum: Imagine a 60-something man — a nonsmoker, overweight, with diabetes — who has just survived a heart attack. Perhaps he had an angioplasty, with the placement of a stent, to open his arteries. The doctor’s job is to keep the vessels open. She has two choices of medicines to reduce the risk for a second heart attack. There’s Plavix, a tried-and-tested blood thinner, that prevents clot formation; the generic version of the drug costs as little as 25 cents a pill. And there’s Brilinta, a newer medicine that is also effective in clot prevention; it costs about $6.50 a pill — 25 times as much.
Brilinta is admittedly more effective than Plavix — by all of 2 percentage points. In a yearlong ..

Giving Babies Antibiotics or Antacids May Increase Allergy Risk

Supported by Well | Family Giving Babies Antibiotics or Antacids May Increase Allergy Risk Photo Babies given antibiotics or antacids in infancy may be at increased risk for allergies in childhood.
Researchers retrospectively studied 792,130 infants covered by a health insurance program. Of these, 131,708 received antibiotics, 60,209 got histamine-2 receptor antagonists and 13,687 were given proton pump inhibitors. Both H2 blockers and P.P.I.s are prescribed for gastroesophageal reflex, or GERD.
The study, in JAMA Pediatrics, followed the children for an average of four and a half years. It found that infants given H2 blockers or P.P.I.s were more than twice as likely to have a food allergy as those who were not; the risk was especially high for allergy to cow’s milk. Those given antibiotics were at a 14 percent increased risk for food allergy, a 51 percent increased risk for anaphylaxis (a potentially fatal type of allergic reaction), and more than double the risk for asthma.
Th..

Personal Health: The Value and Limitations of a Cardiac Calcium Scan

Supported by Well | Live The Value and Limitations of a Cardiac Calcium Scan Photo Credit Juliette Borda My brother returned from a calcium scan of his heart a few years ago with the happy news that his coronary arteries were free of hardened plaque that could suggest serious underlying heart disease.
Although the test was not covered by insurance, he thought the hundreds of dollars it cost at the time were well worth it. He is a negligence lawyer who was then nearing age 70. The result was a great relief, given his age, stress-filled profession, a not always heart-healthy diet and our family history. Three male blood relatives, including our father and grandfather, had suffered heart attacks in their 50s and all three had succumbed to heart disease by their early 70s.
Fortunately, my brother did not assume that calcium-free arteries meant he could throw caution to the winds, eat anything he wanted and forget about exercise, controlling his weight and taking medication to keep his..

At 12, His Science Video Went Viral. At 14, He Fears He Was Too Rude.

Science

At 12, His Science Video Went Viral. At 14, He Fears He Was Too Rude.
Marco Zozaya critiqued those linking vaccines and autism, but he struggles like many science communicators with social media platforms that may favor a style that inflames.

Marco Zozaya loves science. His bedroom wall is covered in photos of scientists. When he grows up, he wants to be a science communicator like Neil deGrasse Tyson. And for a moment at age 12, when he recorded a video about vaccines on an iPad in his backyard in northeast Mexico, it seemed like he was off to a good start.
“Every single bit of evidence there is in the observable universe that vaccines do cause autism is inside of this folder,” he says in the nearly two-year-old video. Then, in mock shock, he starts pulling out blank pieces of paper. “It’s nothing.”

The video got 8 million views on Facebook and was featured by HuffPost, CNN, Cosmopolitan and Latina.com. And that was when Mr. Zozaya started to discover that maybe it’s n..

Devices to Quit Smoking Become the Devices Teenagers Can’t Quit

Supported by Health Devices to Quit Smoking Become the Devices Teenagers Can’t Quit Photo Liz Blackwell, a school nurse in Boulder, Colo., showed a collection of vape pens that had been confiscated from students during a presentation at Nevin Platt Middle School in March. Credit Nick Cote for The New York Times The student had been caught vaping in school three times before he sat in the vice principal’s office at Cape Elizabeth High School in Maine this winter and shamefacedly admitted what by then was obvious.
“I can’t stop,” he told the vice principal, Nate Carpenter.
So Mr. Carpenter asked the school nurse about getting the teenager nicotine gum or a patch, to help him get through the school day without violating the rules prohibiting vaping.
E-cigarettes have been touted by their makers and some public health experts as devices to help adult smokers kick the habit. But school officials, struggling to control an explosion of vaping among high school and middle school students ..

Is This Tissue a New Organ? Maybe. A Conduit for Cancer? It Seems Likely.

Supported by Health Is This Tissue a New Organ? Maybe. A Conduit for Cancer? It Seems Likely. Photo Does interstitial tissue deserve to be classified as a new organ? Researchers disagree. Credit Zoltan Balogh/European Pressphoto Agency Researchers have made new discoveries about the in-between spaces in the human body, and some say it’s time to rewrite the anatomy books.
A study published in Scientific Reports this week described a fluid-filled, 3-D latticework of collagen and elastin connective tissue that can be found all over the body, in or near our lungs, skin, digestive tracts and arteries.
It’s a hard thing to describe, and the New York University School of Medicine did it in several ways in a news release on Tuesday: a “series of spaces,” a “highway of moving fluid” and “a previously unknown feature of human anatomy.”
It said the study’s authors referred to the system as “an organ in its own right,” though not all researchers agree with that characterization.
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Global Health: Bologna Blamed in Worst Listeria Outbreak in History

Supported by Health Bologna Blamed in Worst Listeria Outbreak in History Photo In early March, Enterprise Foods issued a recall of some processed meat products in South Africa, where a yearlong, deadly listeria outbreak was finally traced to a type of bologna. Credit Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters WASHINGTON — The world’s largest known listeria outbreak has spread throughout South Africa for 15 months, killing 189 people. Health officials believe they have identified the source: bologna.
Since January last year, 982 confirmed cases of listeriosis had been recorded, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa reported on Thursday. The infection, caused by food that has been contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is often lethal.
A cluster of gastroenteritis cases among toddlers in a Johannesburg hospital this January led authorities to the sandwich meat in a day care center’s refrigerator — and in turn, to a meat production facility in the northern cit..

Are Today’s Teenagers Smarter and Better Than We Think?

Supported by Well | Family Are Today’s Teenagers Smarter and Better Than We Think? Photo Emma González, center, is among the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students leading the movement against gun violence. Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Today’s teenagers have been raised on cellphones and social media. Should we worry about them or just get out of their way?
A recent wave of student protests around the country has provided a close-up view of Generation Z in action, and many adults have been surprised. While there has been much hand-wringing about this cohort, also called iGen or the Post-Millennials, the stereotype of a disengaged, entitled and social-media-addicted generation doesn’t match the poised, media-savvy and inclusive young people leading the protests and gracing magazine covers.
There’s 18-year-old Emma González, whose shaved head, impassioned speeches and torn jeans have made her the iconic face of the #NeverAgain movement, which developed after the 17 shooting death..

Coffee Industry Mulls Options After Ruling Requires Cancer Warnings

Supported by Business Day Coffee Industry Mulls Options After Ruling Requires Cancer Warnings Photo Coffee companies would be required to provide customers with a cancer warning label, according to a decision this week by a California state judge. Credit Richard Vogel/Associated Press The coffee industry is mulling how to fight back against a California judge’s ruling that would require the beverage to be branded with cancer warning labels.
The National Coffee Association, whose members include Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, said in a statement on Thursday that it was “currently considering all of its options, including potential appeals and further legal actions.”
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, a nonprofit group based in Long Beach. The group charged that Starbucks and other companies — a group that eventually included 91 defendants — did not warn consumers that ingesting coffee would expose them to acrylamide, a ..