17-15 Segment 1: Cancer Research Recruitment

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Clinical trials drive medical advancement, but cancer clinical trials seldom meet their goals in recruiting patients. Experts discuss causes, consequences, and actions being taken to meet needs.

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17-15 Segment 2: Why Taming Sleep Leaves Us Restless

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Sleep used to be natural, governed by darkness, light, and fatigue. Now it’s highly processed and scheduled. An author discusses his research on the ways this has led to a poorer night’s sleep.

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Medical Notes 17-15

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Medical Notes this week…

Here’s yet another reason for another cup of coffee. A study in the journal Scientific Reports finds that caffeine is one of 24 compounds that have the potential to protect against dementia. The compounds boost an enzyme in the brain that combats misfolded proteins. These proteins, called “tau,” accumulate in the brain as plaques. Misfolded proteins are linked to a variety of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases as well as ALS.

Birth control pills have always been available by prescription but a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health concludes that it would be safe to sell them over the counter. The study concentrated on teenagers, who researchers say wouldn’t have more sex but would have fewer pregnancies if the pill were available without a prescription. Surveys show more than half of girls age 15 to 19 have already used the pill.

And finally, most of us consider we’ve had a good night’s sleep based on how many hours we’ve slept. But a new study in the journal sleep concludes that the quality of sleep is a lot more important than quantity. Researchers even figured out how much better sleep is worth. They say consistently sleeping well brings mental and physical health improvements comparable to someone who’s won a $250,000 jackpot.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

17-14 Segment 1: Putting the Brakes on Environmental Regulation

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The President’s proposed 31 percent budget cut for the Environmental Protection Agency and the appointment of a prominent EPA critic as the agency’s head have raised fears that the nation’s air and water quality will be ignored. EPA critics say the agency needs cutting, as it’s been activist in pursuing “worthless” strategies to reduce unproven global warming. Experts on each side discus pro’s and con’s of EPA cuts.

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17-14 Segment 2: Plagues and Dreaded Diseases

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Plagues can wipe out entire populations and create fear and great mystery in how they spread. An author who has explored plagues and dangerous diseases explains.

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Medical Notes 17-14

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Medical Notes this week…

Some people will do almost anything to relieve their allergy symptoms but here’s an idea that works according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  It’s a probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria sold in stores under the name kidophilus.  Allergy suffers taking the supplement reported few or no symptoms and a higher quality of life compared to those who took a placebo.  Researchers think the probiotics work by increasing the immune symptoms T cells.

Millions of people rely on inhalers for medication for their lungs, but a new study finds that between 70% and 90% of the time patients make mistakes using them. The result is that those patients receive as little as 7% of the medicine they need.  The study in the journal Chest shows that the biggest mistake is in coordination of breathing with the activation of the inhaler.  Many patients inhale too late.

And finally, there’s a reason you feel better when you sit out in a grove of green trees.  A study in the journal Pain shows that green light helps mitigate chronic pain. A group of rats with neuropathic pain were bathed in green light and for the next four days they tolerated more thermal and touch stimulus than a control group. Another group of rats fitted with green contact lenses showed the same benefit compared to a group getting opaque lenses.  Scientists have no idea how green light works or whether the same effect holds for humans.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

17-13 Segment 1: Difficult Patients

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Patients used to accept doctors’ orders without question. Today, more are asking questions and challenging their doctors’ opinions. However, even those who do it politely are likely to be labeled “difficult.” A doctor whose late wife nearly made a career of being a difficult patient discusses how patients can do it respectfully and fruitfully.

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