Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garlic: Effective against Vampires … and Cancer?

A small pilot study in Analytical Biochemistry — and reported on recently by Science Daily — suggests a possible link between the amount of garlic that a person consumes and a lowered potential risk for cancer.

The researchers (led by Dr. Earl Harrison), Professor of Human Nutrition at Ohio State University) were exploring how some substances found in foods or contaminated water are converted into carcinogens. By testing the presence of in urine of two separate compounds (one related to cancer risk, the other to garlic consumption), they discovered that the more they found the marker for garlic consumption in their subjects, the less there was of the marker for the risk of cancer. Vitamin C had a similar effect.

Ultimately, the scientists hope to find that a nutritional intervention could be a way to stop the process that encourages the development of these carcinogens.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is Nothing Private in Today’s High-Tech Environment? Apparently Not.

Crisis management, public relations, investor relations, financial communications and technology consultants, like those in our New York City PR firm, often talk about the ways in which the Internet has opened a window on private lives. There was a perfect example of this phenomenon this week on the Apple website, where Steve Jobs addressed a new flurry of rumors about his health.

In his open letter, Jobs wrote: “… my doctors think they have found the cause — a hormone imbalance that has been ‘robbing’ me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. … The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. … I will continue as Apple’s CEO during my recovery.”

In 2004, the media breathlessly followed Jobs’ successful battle against pancreatic cancer. In June 2008, his gaunt appearance gave rise to new speculation about his health. More questions were raised when Apple announced a few weeks ago that, for the first time ever, Jobs wasn’t planning to deliver the keynote address at Macworld.

While there are clear standards for disclosure of material financial information, disclosure concerning matters of health has typically been left to the discretion of the company’s board of directors. Not any more, apparently. According to Henry Blodget, co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Silicon Alley Insider, “Steve's health is NOT just a ‘private matter.’” He adds, “Steve Jobs is arguably Apple's single most valuable asset. If he's seriously ill, shareholders have every right to know this.”

Technorati Tags: makovsky, Crisis management, public relations, investor relations, technology, Internet, Steve Jobs, Apple, health focus, Silicon Alley Insider, financial communications, business, communications, public relations

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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Sorry State of the Nation’s Health Care

Did you know that 67 percent of Americans are overweight? That 40 percent get no exercise? Or that a whopping 96 percent of Americans don’t eat enough vegetables? Even more frightening is the fact that the current generation of American children may be the first ever to have a shorter life span than their parents.

Americans paid out a record 16 percent of our GDP (or $2 trillion) for health care in 2008 … making us the world’s biggest healthcare spender, on a per capita basis, according to a recent article by TIME reporter Alice Park. Notwithstanding the huge sums we throw at the problem of health care, the U.S. is ranked 19th — last! — among industrialized nations when it comes to preventable deaths.

The biggest problem with the U.S. health-care system, Park reports, is that it has been designed to respond to illness rather than prevent it: fully half of U.S. adults in 2005 did not receive recommended preventive care. “When we do get our cardiac health checked, too often it's because we've been rushed to the emergency room suffering from chest pains. When we do get a cancer evaluation, too often it's a diagnosis of advanced disease that has spread beyond the initial tumor site,” she writes.

If our ailing healthcare system is to recover, more attention needs to be paid to education, prevention and early treatment. It’s a strategy which has been shown to deliver promising results — for example, half of adults ages 50+ and older received a colon scan, meeting the colon cancer screening targets established by the Department of Health and Human Services in its Healthy People 2010 report.

President-elect Obama is said to rank health-care reform third on his list of top priorities, just behind addressing the financial crisis and passing an energy bill. From his mouth to our legislators’ ears.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Early Ends to Positive Oncology Trials? Not Always Good News.

According to a study published recently in the Annals of Oncology, there is a growing tendency for pharmaceutical manufacturers and clinical investigators to call a premature halt to cancer drug trials the moment a benefit appears, in order to beat their competitors to market.

The Italian group analyzed 25 randomized controlled trials of oncology drugs between 1997 and 2007 — all of which were stopped early after showing some patient benefits. More than half of the trials were stopped in the past three years. Five had enrolled less than 40% of the target number of patients. The researchers warn that “the risk of overestimating treatment effects increases markedly when the sample is small.”

Paul S. Mueller, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic— who wasn’t involved with the Annals of Oncology study — concurs, saying, “Decisions are being made on some fairly shaky evidence.”

We agree with Dr. Mueller’s conclusion: “Trials should be carried out long enough in order to obtain data about outcomes important to doctors and patients.” It’s not just good public relations; it’s good public health.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Ten Most Useful Health Websites for Consumers

I’ve just run across a news bite that I want to share with everyone interested in obtaining accurate and reliable healthcare information for themselves and their families. It’s also a great resource for those of us who work in healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing.

The Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association has published its list of the most useful websites for healthcare consumers. Listed in alphabetical (not ranked) order, the “top ten” are:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
HIV InSite
Medem Medical Library
Medline Plus
National Cancer Institute
New York Online Access to Health (NOAH)
All of the healthcare websites were evaluated on the following criteria: credibility, sponsorship/authorship, content, audience, currency, disclosure, purpose, links, design, interactivity and disclaimers.

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