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Monday, April 30, 2012

Top Medical News: Vaccines, Scorpion Sperm, Botox, Bird Flu, Diabetes & Cancer Treatment, Bullies, CVS Troubles & More...

Rather than navigating to a variety of websites to stay on top of the top daily medical news, try bookmarking the MedFriendly Blog and using this feature, where the day's top medical stories are compiled all in one place.


1. California, Vermont consider tougher vaccine-exemption rules: Physician organizations are concerned about the rising number of parents who skip immunizing their children for personal or philosophical reasons.

2. Botox may treat nighttime teeth grinding: Botox may help prevent teeth grinding at night, a small study suggests.

3. Sperm Viability Greatly Reduced in Offspring of Animals Treated With Common Antibiotic Tetracycline: Male pseudoscorpions treated with the antibiotic tetracycline suffer significantly reduced sperm viability and pass this toxic effect on to their untreated sons.

4. Dutch okays mutant bird flu study's publication: The Dutch government on Friday gave a top scientist the green light to publish a research paper in the United States on a mutant killer flu virus, following approval by a US panel of experts.

5. Newborns battle drug withdrawal: As more babies are born addicted to prescription painkillers, a hospital focuses on helping these tiny victims.

6. Chicken Scratches vs. Electronic Prescriptions: Studies show that errors are much less likely when doctors send prescriptions to the pharmacy via computer. But the move to such e-prescriptions has been relatively slow.

7. Kids With Type 2 Diabetes, Combo Treatment Best?:
Study Shows Early Aggressive Treatment May Result in Better Blood Sugar Control.

8. Bullied Children at Greater Risk for Self-Harm, Study Finds: Children who are bullied are three times more likely than others to self-harm by the time they are 12 years old, according to a new study.

9. Cancer Survivors Told To Exercise, Eat Healthily, And Maintain Ideal Bodyweight:
If you are a cancer survivor and you want to minimize your risk of that cancer recurring, or another cancer developing, you should eat a healthy diet, do plenty of exercise, and maintain a healthy body weight, says the American Cancer Society in its new guidelines.

10. Feds weigh pulling drug licenses for two CVS stores:
A federal hearing began on Wednesday on whether to bar two CVS Caremark Corp drugstores in Florida from selling potentially addictive painkillers as part of a government crackdown on prescription pain pills, especially oxycodone.

11. Heavy teens have trouble managing diabetes: New research sends a stark warning to overweight teens: If you develop diabetes, you'll have a very tough time keeping it under control.

12. Chef fights rheumatoid arthritis with ‘Hero Foods’: Seamus Mullen, a chef and owner of the New York City-based restaurant Tertulia, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2007. He wrote Hero Foods: How Cooking With Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better, which discusses the foods you should eat if you are dealing with an autoimmune disease.

13. Best and worst paid doctors survey: More and more U.S. doctors are regretting their career choices.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Top Medical News: KFC, Viagra, Fruit Flies, Salty Food, Meat Glue, Insomnia, Glaucoma, Pain, & More

Rather than navigating to a variety of websites to stay on top of the top daily medical news, try bookmarking the MedFriendly Blog and using this new proposed daily feature, where the day's top medical stories are compiled all in one place.

1. KFC ordered to pay $8.3 million to Australian girl: Fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken has been ordered to pay Aus$8 million (US $8.3 million) to an Australian girl who suffered severe brain damage and was paralysed after eating a Twister wrap.

2. Soft drinks: Public enemy No.1 in obesity fight?: Would cutting sweetened drinks help America's fight against weight or diabetes? About 25% of Americans gets at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks. Beverage makers say their products are part of a sensible diet.

3. Loyal Companion Helps a Veteran Regain Her Life After War Trauma: Tori Stitt is among a growing group of war veterans finding that service dogs can offer relief from some of the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

4. High Reps With Low Weights Builds Muscle, Too: Study shows that lifting a ton is not the only way to bulk up.

5. Research Gets Closer to Genetic Roots of Glaucoma: Two genetic variations are linked to a common form of glaucoma, known as primary open-angle glaucoma, according to new research.

6. Denosumab (Xgeva) Not Approved For Metastasis Prevention: Amgen's application for expanded indications for denosumab (Xgeva) were turned down by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) - the expanded indications were to include bone metastases prevention in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer.

7. High salt intake linked to higher stroke risk: Older adults with salty diets may have an increased risk of suffering a stroke, a new study suggests. 

8. Should you be grossed out by 'meat glue?': Still reeling from the specter of "pink slime," beef industry officials on Friday fought off another culinary creep-out: “meat glue.” Reports say some restaurants are sticking together scrap meat and calling it prime steak, but experts contend that's not quite the case.

9. Thirty percent of US workers don't get enough sleep: Nearly a third of workers in the U.S. aren't getting enough sleep, according to a new government report.

10. Study reveals direct correlation between negative thinking about pain and poor sleep: Chronic pain sufferers who learn to dwell less on their ailments may sleep better and experience less day-to-day pain, according to results of research conducted on 214 people with chronic face and jaw pain.

11. More physicians calling the shots in latest round of ACOs. Most of the new accountable care organizations approved by Medicare are led by doctors, who can share bonuses for keeping patients healthy and cutting costs.

12. D.C. Week: Hospital Payment Update Proposed. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a slight pay hike for hospitals for 2013, and the Government Accountability Office said the Obama administration should cancel a Medicare bonus program.

13. Fruit Flies Provide New Knowledge About Uninhibited Cell Growth: In a new study, scientists at the University of Copenhagen show that a specific type of carbohydrate plays an important role in the intercellular signalling that controls the growth and development of the nervous system.

14. FDA Backs New Rival For Viagra: The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new drug from Vivus Inc. to treat erectile dysfunction.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Fat Naked Guy on Ft. Lauderdale Beach: Society's Abandonment of the Mentally Ill

A few weeks ago, I took a trip back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a place where I used to live from 1998 to 2002. I loved living there at the time and was excited to return. While I found some things the same, I noted that the area was generally run down. People had told me that and I did not want to believe it, but it was true. For example, in my formerly beautiful apartment complex, a dog was swimming in the pool and many residents had their personal belongings packed onto their balconies making it look like a scene from A&E’s hit TV show, Hoarders. The formerly spacious and pristine Fashion Mall was abandoned. The spacious Sawgrass Mills Mall was strewn with litter between the rows of palm trees. Many of the downtown shops on the famous Las Olas Riverfront were gone, partly due to hard economic times. The beautiful downtown Riverfront area was also non-functional, with no working escalators and sections cordoned off by police tape.

Thankfully, my graduate school alma mater, Nova Southeastern University was in great shape and the campus was gorgeous. The Davie Ale House was still terrific and the famous Zingers were a delicious accompaniment to lunch. Dinner at The Oasis Café was nice on the famous swing tables along the beach.

But it was what I saw after dinner that completely ruined my entire day and return to the Ft. Lauderdale area. After dinner, I decided to take a walk with my family along the beach walkway. Across the street from the Route 66 Rock Bar on A1A, my wife and I noticed a large dark object on the beach wobbling from side to side and making strange noises. At first, we did not know what it was, but upon closer inspection, it became clear that this was a morbidly obese naked man rolling around in the sand who was barking at times and aggressively talking gibberish to people walking by.

I could not believe what I was seeing. Never, when I used to live there, would something like this be permitted.  Fortunately, we were quick enough to be able to shield our young children’s eyes from this scene but other families were likely not so lucky. Having moved past him, we took one picture for documentation purposes which is shown above. Then, we saw three young adults standing over him, laughing, apparently taunting him, and snapping pictures of him. This was equally disturbing. No one seemed to be trying to rectify the situation and there were no police officers were in sight.

So, I walked over to the Beach Place open mall area which was about a block away (and also run down). I walked up to a security guard and described what I saw. He instantly knew who I was talking about, smiled, and laughed, as did the person who was standing next to him. They told me that the man had been coming there for years and he is sometimes taken away when enough people complain but that he always finds his way back there somehow. They showed absolutely no interest in trying to have the man removed again. In speaking with a clothing store worker across the street from where he was laying, she stated that he has been coming there for about four years and that there have been times when he actually has stopped traffic due to rolling out onto the road. She seemed frustrated but did not seem to believe she could fix the situation. Before I left for the night, someone had thrown a towel on him.

When I got home, I began to do some research on this situation and discovered that his name is Kelvin (Kelvin Lamar Willaims to be exact). In some of the Youtube videos, he is shown singing incoherently. It is clear that he is mentally ill. He apparently has some ability to walk and had been seen getting to the beach by bus. One person noted that he was a frequent patient in a local mental health facility, a problem known to many health professionals as the revolving door syndrome. In all of the videos I found, Kelvin had his clothes on so his nakedness appears to be something new. One such video is here:







The situation I saw led me to reflect about:


1. How society has failed to properly care for many people with chronic severe mentally illness. Kelvin is just one example but his case is portrayed here to highlight the problem. While the police can take Kelvin to a mental health facility, they do not have funds to keep him there forever. He claims to be a former military member and if true, the Veteran’ Administration should bear some responsibility for his care. Kelvin needs to be taken to a mental health facility when needed and eventually brought to some type of supervised living situation designed to care for such individuals. One of the core functions of government is to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable members of society. If Kelvin does not qualify, I do no not know who does.

2. Law enforcement is apparently not dealing with the problem effectively. I am not saying that Kelvin should be put in jail, but he cannot be allowed to stay there. Public nudity is not allowed on the beach, is not appropriate for children to see, and it is scary for people to see someone aggressively yelling at people who pass by on what should be a relaxing beach. Regardless of the fact that he keeps coming back after being taken away, since when is that an excuse not to enforce the law? Again, this does not mean he should be imprisoned, but there needs to be better coordination between law enforcement, mental health facilities, and social services to keep him in the proper setting.

3. The apparent lack of concern of many in society towards the severely mentally ill. It was clear that many in the area viewed the situation as comical or have just become so used to it that they have given up.    

4. How this typified the degradation of the Ft. Lauderdale area. What is the Chamber of Commerce thinking? Do they think this is a scene that endears tourists to the area? I would never go back there, particularly with children, until some massive changes take place. It pains me to say this because I have great memories and love for the Ft. Lauderdale area.

Plan of Action:

1. Since no one on the beach seemed to want to address this situation or felt helpless to address it, I decided I would try to bring some attention to the matter by writing a blog entry about it, especially since I could not find any local news articles written about this situation via an internet search. This is remarkable considering that he has been there for years.

2. I am going to send a copy of this blog entry to the two local newspapers (Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel) to see if either is willing to bring more public attention to this matter.

3. Posting this to the Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. They will probably delete it but you can go there and demand they use their influence to try to do something about the situation. I will email them the blog post as well.

4. Contact the Mental Health Association of Broward County at info@mhabroward.org

5. Contact the state Senator’s and local legislator’s for that area. 
    A. Senator Bill Nelson can be contacted here.
    B. Senator Marco Rubio can be contacted here.
    C. Congressman Allen West can be contacted here.  

6. Contact the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

7. Contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

8. Contact the local Channel 7 news channel. 

9. Spread the word on social medial sites.

Update on 6/1/12: Not a single one of the above sources responded to my email inquiries and as predicted, the Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce deleted the Facebook post about this matter. Also, as further evidence of the decline of the Ft. Lauderdale area, Ft. Lauderdale resident Rudy Eugene recently had the distinction of becoming the person who chewed a man's face off in broad daylight on the Miami Causeway.

Update on 6/25/12: I found out that Kelvin Williams was arrested for cocaine possession shortly after I saw him on the beach. Here is his mug shot.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Providing Independence and Safety

As family members grow older, the risk of being alone increases. If you have a loved one who is living by himself at home, a medical alert system might be his only way to communicate in an emergency. These lifelines are a must for any senior who desires to remain independent without sacrificing his safety.


Moving into an assisted living center signals the end of independence for a senior, which can be emotionally devastating. If a senior can still take care of herself and conduct daily activities without help, there is no need for her to move. Remaining in her own home can prevent the trauma of losing her independence. Medical alert devices are used to let the senior stay in her home, which may make improve her happiness level by staying independent.

A medical alert device gives even the most independent senior citizens a safety net. Should the senior fall and cannot reach a phone, she only has to touch the button on the medical alert device she wears to send a signal to the the system's dispatcher who may contact the family, an ambulance, or a doctor. This method is the preferred option as the dispatch center acts as a control to determine the level of assistance the senior needs. Sometimes the signal goes straight to the local 911 dispatcher, but such 911-direct systems pose the risk of triggering too many false alarms with 911.

Most alert systems are designed for simple use, even for a senior who may have difficulty with moving their hands or seeing. Such simplicity makes these devices a better alternative to a home telephone or cell phone in an emergency because phones require remembering and dialing several numbers. A senior in an emergency situation may not recall the phone number of those she needs to reach. With a pendent alert, a single button gets the senior in touch with a person who will get help.

While there are a variety of medical alert systems available to choose from, the important thing is to find one for your senior loved one. Giving them an alert device can give you peace of mind knowing that your relative will be able to get help in an emergency. Such a device also gives the senior the ability to remain independent while maintaining her personal safety. There can be no better gift for every member of the family.

The above is a guest blog entry.