Does Publication Bias Make Antidepressants Seem More Effective at Treating Anxiety Than They Really Are?

By Craig Williams, Professor of Pharmacy at Oregon State University

In scientific literature, studies with “good” results are more likely to be published than studies with results that are unclear or negative. A study with a new, exciting finding (a positive result) is likely to see the light of day, even if the finding is not in line with the authors hypothesis. But a study that doesn’t have a new finding (a negative result), or has an unclear finding is far less likely to be published. [Read more…]

New Dietary Guidelines: What Are We Supposed to Eat?

By Elena Carbone, Associate professor, Nutrition at University of Massachusetts Amherst

Since 1980, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have been providing information to Americans on how to make choices to reach a healthy weight, prevent disease and promote overall good health.

The Dietary Guidelines provide recommendations on food and physical activity for Americans aged two and older and are the driving force behind federal nutrition policy, education, outreach and food assistance programs, including school breakfast and lunch programs. The Guidelines are used by both the public and industry, and by a wide variety of nutrition educators, health professionals and government agencies. [Read more…]

Studying Down Syndrome Might Help Us Better Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

By Elizabeth Head, Associate Professor at University of Kentucky

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in older adults. At the moment there is no cure, but many clinicians feel that the earlier one is diagnosed, the better the possibilities are for treatment or slowing the disease.

But developing treatments or prevention approaches for Alzheimer’s disease is difficult. There is no biomarker (for example a blood test) or definitive medical test for it and there is no set age where people develop memory impairments and dementia. [Read more…]

Why Too Much Iron Can Be Dangerous

By Richard Stevens, Professor, School of Medicine at University of Connecticut

Iron is a most versatile element. It is essential to many of the enzymes that are the engines for life, and in mammals is also used to carry oxygen on hemoglobin in blood. Remember Popeye and his spinach: all that iron made him strong.

But the very quality that makes iron so useful also makes it dangerous. Iron can easily lose or gain one electron going from the ferrous (Fe++) to the ferric (Fe+++) state, back and forth indefinitely. This is how it carries oxygen, for example. [Read more…]

Understanding the Link between Bullying and Suicide

By Melissa Holt, Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology at Boston University

Bullying and suicide are both significant public health concerns for children and adolescents, and we need to understand the link between the two. Bullying, most of us probably know, can be a tremendously painful experience for a young person. Stories about teens like Phoebe Prince or Amanda Todd who killed themselves after experiencing bullying have driven this point home. All 50 states have some kind of anti-bullying law, and schools are increasingly being called upon to implement bullying prevention programs. [Read more…]

A Measles Mystery: How Could the Vaccine Prevent Deaths from Other Diseases Too?

By Michael Mina, Postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and MD/PhD candidate at Emory University

If infectious diseases were a monarchy, measles might be king. Not only does measles reign among the most contagious diseases known to man – likely to infect any non-vaccinated individual who stands in the same room as an infected person – measles has long been known to be one of the great killers of children. Before vaccination, measles was responsible for millions of childhood deaths. Today it remains a cause of great illness and death in low-resource countries, killing over 140,000 children worldwide every year. [Read more…]

The Epidemic of Burnout, Depression and Suicide in Medicine: One Doctor’s Story

By James W Lynch, Professor of Medicine at University of Florida

The suicides of two medical residents in New York City last fall have thrown a spotlight on a real problem among health care professionals, particularly physicians. Medical students, residents and practicing physicians commonly report symptoms of burnout and depression. Rates vary depending on the group, but range from 20-60%. [Read more…]

The Ebola outbreak highlights shortcomings in disease surveillance and response – and where we can do better

By Grant Hill-Cawthorne, Lecturer in Communicable Disease Epidemiology at University of Sydney

At this time last year, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was rapidly spreading through West Africa, and the outbreak is rightly a major item on this year’s assembly agenda. Attention will be paid to the decisions made in response to the outbreak and what this tells us about how best to respond to the next one, including for advance preparation and early warning. [Read more…]

Medicaid Expansion Helps Cut Rate Of Older, Uninsured Adults From 12 To 8 Percent

The health law’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes over the poverty line was key to reducing the uninsured rate among 50- to 64-year-olds from nearly 12 to 8 percent in 2014, according to a new analysis.

“Clearly most of the gains in coverage were in Medicaid or non-group coverage,” says study co-author Jane Sung, a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute, which conducted the study with the Urban Institute. [Read more…]