Teenagers used to experience rites of passage including getting a driver’s license, going out on dates, drinking, having sex, & getting a job. They’re engaging in these activities much less often today. It means less risk, but may leave adolescents less ready for adulthood and independence. Experts discuss.
Babies and Their Gut Bacteria
Children have up to five times as much asthma and allergies as their grandparents, and a new study shows that an imbalance of gut bacteria in the first year of life may be why. An expert pediatrician discusses why this occurs and ways to address the problem.
America’s opioid epidemic has taken 64,000 lives in 2016. While many people support prosecution and strict punishment for drug users, Vancouver in British Columbia has taken a different approach with their drug use policy of harm reduction. Travis Lupick, author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction, explains more about how harm reduction works and where it came from.
Harm reduction seeks to solve the problems of drug addiction by alleviating the harms caused by the prohibition of drugs, rather than the drugs themselves. In Vancouver, a supervised injection facility, established based on the recommendation of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), provides a safe and clean place for drug use, without providing drugs. This has resulted in the reduction of diseases caused by unclean needles, for example, and has even provided many with a lifeline to abstinence and detox from drugs.
Although counterintuitive, harm reduction has been met with resistance within Vancouver and in several cities in the US, as well. But, the effects of this program have been undeniably positive and have been supported by medical research. By providing a space where drug users feel safe, the city is providing drug users with the chance to use drugs safely and also to eventually transition into a drug-free life. Lupick calls for more American cities to consider the benefits of this program, as well as encouraging more doctors to enter the field of addiction medicine, where they are sorely needed.
For more information about Harm Reduction or to purchase a copy of Lupick’s book, visit the links below.
Travis Lupick, author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle With Addiction
On October 1, 2003, Dr. Christina Crosby’s life was changed by a bicycle accident. She was paralyzed and had to learn to re-navigate her life as a quadriplegic. As a Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, her life now may be considered a heroic triumph by some. But, Crosby says many don’t understand what it’s like to live with continuous pain. She explains more about her experiences and thoughts on living in agony.
Crosby describes the sensation she feels in her body as a continuous buzz of neurological pain. While she can feel physical touch, her body is still paralyzed, which is frustrating, to say the least. Crosby’s experiences are paralleled by those of millions of Americans in chronic pain, whether from an accident like Crosby’s or something as common as arthritis. Crosby points to one particular frustration in her life, found in the doctor’s office: the 1-10 pain scale. Feeling and pain can’t be quantified, she says, and require more comprehensive language to accurately address the subjectivity.
A life in pain not only involves constant frustration and suffering but also can alienate the individual from their loved ones and society. Because of pain’s invisibility and resistance to easy description, it gets in the way of many experiences and relationships. Furthermore, Crosby explains the struggle with loss, as the individual frequently grieves what they used to be. The desire to not forget has to be balanced with the need to move forward, Crosby says. There is still life while in pain, but it requires patience and understanding from the one suffering and those around them.
For more information about living in pain or about Crosby’s book, visit the links below.
Dr. Christina Crosby, Professor of English and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain
Patients with asthma who haven’t responded well to treatment may be greatly helped by injections of a drug for eczema. Two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine show that patients with moderate to severe asthma reduced flare-ups by half or more after getting an injection of dupilumab,, a drug approved by the FDA for eczema in 2017. Patients taking the drug cut their emergency room visits about in half and those taking steroids for asthma were also able to reduce their dose.
Scientists have developed a prototype early warning system for the four most common types of cancer that makes a dark mole appear on the skin when it’s activated. Researchers call it a “biomedical tattoo” and say it would be inserted under the skin, monitoring genetic changes in the body. Mutations associated with lung, colon, breast or prostate cancer would make the implant turn a dark color, which would be visible through the skin. researchers say in the journal Science Translational Medicine that the test is at least 10 years away.
Surviving a heart attack may be as simple as exercise. A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology tracked nearly 15,000 people for 40 years. It found that more than 10 percent of them eventually had a heart attack but those who had pursued a light exercise regimen were 32 percent less likely to die from it compared to people who had been sedentary. Those exercising at least moderately were nearly 50 percent less likely to die.
And finally, researchers say walking and chewing gum at the same time amounts to good exercise. A study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science shows that chewing gum while you walk raises heart rate over walking alone, and makes people walk faster and farther. For men over 40, that adds up to a significant additional calorie burn while for women it didn’t make as much difference.
As the opioid crisis continues, the city of Vancouver, BC, has found that a harm reduction approach helps addicts move to safer drug use and eventually getting clean. An author who’s watched the process discusses the controversial approach of officially allowing drug use, but in safer conditions.
Living Through Excruciating Pain
Pain is an often misunderstood reality for millions of people. A noted university professor who became a quadriplegic in a bicycle accident discusses her constant pain and the way it changes life.
High prescription drug costs are a problem that most Americans deal with. In response to this, President Donald Trump announced last month that his administration is introducing a 50-point plan to cut drug prices. Dr. David Hyman, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and co-author of Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Healthcare, talks through some of the major points of the plan and how effective they could truly be in the long run.
Two important parts of the plan are an attempt to ease the entry of generic drugs into the market and to make their prices more flexible. Eric Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, says branded drug companies must stop the “gamesmanship” that slows the creation of a competitive, free market for drugs. And, getting more drugs into “part D” allows Medicare to negotiate for lower prices through pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs).
But, the PBMs bring a problem of their own into the industry. President Trump says that these middlemen have been part of the problem by stopping the distribution of rebates and discounts to consumers and pocketing the money themselves, which also leads to artificially high list prices for drugs. Dr. Hyman says that PBMs are still important to the industry, because they structure the pharmaceutical market, but the plan will hopefully help to create a fairer market.
Another potentially influential part of the plan, announced by Alex Azar, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, will be to require drug companies to announce the list prices of drugs in their advertisements in the interest of transparency.
In his book, Dr. Hyman introduces several points that he believes would be beneficial in helping Americans pay less for drugs, although these points are not in President Trump’s recent plan. He suggests that allowing Americans to import generic drugs from foreign markets would help solve the generic drug price hikes. Dr. Hyman also stressed that high insurance costs are the biggest driver of high costs for prescription drugs.
For more information about the plan to lower drug prices or about our guests, visit the links below.
Dr. David Hyman, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and co-author of Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Healthcare
Eric Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services
In the midst of baseball season, an estimated 1,500 fans will go home from a major league baseball game each year with an unwanted souvenir – an injury from a foul ball. But, due to the “baseball rule,” which protects teams from liability for these injuries, the spectators will be unable to press charges. Eldon Ham, sports attorney and faculty member of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Nathaniel Grow, Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, explain the risks of injury and the laws that go along with them at baseball games.
In 1912, the “baseball rule” established that as long as teams take minimal precautions, like netting behind the home plate, then they cannot be held responsible for any injuries. In fact, fans attend baseball games at their own risk and are supposedly capable of assessing that risk for themselves. But, over the years, as the players get more skilled and the pitching speeds get faster, fans are left with mere seconds to react to a flying bat, foul ball, or home run headed for them at speeds as high as 100 miles per hour.
The rules may be changing though, as this year all 30 major league teams have extended the netting on their fields. There’s also an exception to the rule, which states that if a fan is distracted, as often happens at games, then the team can be held responsible. Meanwhile, fans are encouraged to keep their heads up while the baseball is flying at the game.
For more information about the “baseball rule” and safety at baseball games, see the links below.
Eldon Ham, sports attorney and faculty member at Chicago-Kent College of Law
Nathaniel Grow, Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University