The death of Major League Baseball great Tony Gwynn has prompted public health organizations to once again push the league to ban chewing tobacco.
The 54-year-old San Diego Padre all-star died last month of cancer in his salivary gland. Gwynn’s death came after two surgeries to remove malignant growths inside his right cheek, where Gwynn said he chewed tobacco while he played, according to Bloomberg.
Gwynn’s death prompted nine major public health organizations to send a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and a representative of the players association. The letter urged Major League Baseball to ban all tobacco use by players and staff at games and on camera, according to CNN.
A few years ago, Selig proposed a total ban, but the players union negotiated restrictions that would allow players to continue to use chewing tobacco – just not where the public could see.
The labor contract, which runs through 2016, prohibits players from using smokeless tobacco during TV interviews and club appearances. It also orders players and staff to hide tobacco when fans are around and prohibits them from carrying the tobacco in their uniforms, according to CNN.
“You can’t go through a three-hour game, and not see players with a big wad of chew in their jaws,” Erika Sward, with the American Lung Association, told CNN. “It’s clear that the 2011 agreement did not go far enough, and what we really need to have with the agreement starting in 2017 is an end of smokeless tobacco use in general on the field.”
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year in the U.S.
Gregory Connolly, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Bloomberg the use of chewing tobacco began to increase among younger people in the 1980s and has increased again in the past several years.
As a result, the number of people in their 50s, like Gwynn, being diagnosed with the oral cancer later in life is on the rise, Connolly said.
“We do know your risk factor greatly increases with age,” he told Bloomberg. “It’s devastating. The 5-year mortality rate from oral cancers is about 50 percent, and if you don’t die, you’re left totally disfigured.”]]>
Want to avoid sunburn while at the beach?
There’s an app for that.
Smartphones are offering apps that predict how much UV exposure you’re getting and track when you may need to reapply your sunscreen.
The New York Times took a look at some of the sun exposure apps on the market and what they have to offer.
The iTanSmart app (for the iPhone, of course) allows users to select whether they want to avoid sunburn or get a tan. They then enter their skin type and the SPF of the sunscreen they’re using.
The app then looks up the UV levels for the given location and calculates safe exposure times. The app also has a timer to alert you to when you need to apply more sunscreen or head for the shade.
The Go Tanning Tan Timer UV Index for Android works in a similar fashion. This app also apparently has a timer to alert you when it’s time to flip over so you get an even tan.
Have you ever used a tanning app?]]>
Leaving kids in hot cars – or even warm cars – is never a good idea. Tragic stories of kids dying from heat stroke after being left in too-hot cars remind us of that all too often.
But, according to a new national survey, an alarming number of parents say they have left their children alone in a parked car, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
The online survey – conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Washington D.C. – found 14 percent of parents have intentionally left their infants, toddlers and kindergarteners alone in a parked vehicle. For kids 3 years old and younger, the rate increases to 23 percent.
In addition, 6 percent of parents are OK with leaving their young children in a parked, locked vehicle for more than 15 minutes, according to the survey.
About 11 percent of parents admit to forgetting their kid in a car (nearly 25 percent for those with kids 3 years and younger), according to the survey.
“Many people are shocked to learn that the temperature inside of a car can rise up to 20 degrees in 10 minutes and cracking a window doesn’t help,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Tragedies from heatstroke in cars happen far too often. They are heartbreaking and preventable, and this research is a reminder that we need to continue to raise awareness, particularly for dads and parents with children under three, to never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”
Heatstroke occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough, causing body temperatures to climb dangerously high. Young kids are at particular risk because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adult bodies, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
A child can die when his or her body temperature reaches 107 degrees, according to the organization.
This handy graphic from the National Weather Service in New York shows how quickly temperatures inside cars can rise. In just 20 minutes, an 89-degree car can become a 107-degree oven.
Since 1998, at least 606 children have died from heatstroke after being left unattended in a vehicle. Nearly 90 percent were 3 years old or younger, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
In 2013, 44 children from heatstroke in hot cars – one of the worst years on record, according to the organization.]]>
Nearly half of the people included in a nationwide survey said they’ve had a major stressful event in the past year, with most people pointing to health-related problems as the cause of the stress.
NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a poll on stress this spring, surveying more than 2,500 adults across the country.
Forty-nine percent of people surveyed said they’ve had a major stressful event in the past year. Among that 49 percent, about 43 percent cited health-related problems as the root cause of the stress.
About 27 percent pointed to illness and disease as the source of stress; 16 percent said the death of a loved one.
The health issues were followed by problems with work (13 percent), life changes or transitions (9 percent), family events or issues (9 percent) and problems with personal relationships (6 percent).
The top three groups of respondents who said they had experienced high stress levels in the previous month were people in poor health, disabled or have a chronic illness.
The survey also looked at how the sources of stress vary by age. Young adults (18-29 years) most often felt overwhelmed by too many responsibilities (65 percent). Older adults (65 years and older), however, cited their own health problems (60 percent).
The survey also looked at how stress affected people’s behavior, particularly in areas that can affect health.
Among the respondents who said they had a great deal of stress in the previous month, the most common behavior change was sleeping less than usual (70 percent).
Other behavior changes included eating less than usual (44 percent), exercising less than usual (43 percent), attending religious services or praying more than usual (41 percent), sleeping more than usual (41 percent) and eating more than usual (39 percent).]]>
A review of meals from the top restaurant chains found restaurants have decreased the amount of sodium in their meals slightly but progress has been slow and unsteady.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest reviewed 136 meals from 17 restaurant chains. On average, the restaurants reduced sodium by 6 percent between 2009 and 2013. That’s just 1.5 percent per year.
The biggest sodium reductions came from Subway, Burger King and McDonald’s. But KFC and Jack in the Box increased sodium by 12.4 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, according to the report.
Subway had the most dramatic progress between 2009 and 2013, reducing sodium in each of the 10 meals reviewed by the study. In addition, the four children’s meals reviewed had sodium amounts 29 percent lower, according to the study.
The three Burger King kids’ meals in the study were 40 percent lower in sodium on average, largely because the chain switched its default side dish from French fries to apple slices. The chain also reduced sodium in its cheeseburger, double cheeseburger and chicken nuggets, according to the study.
Despite the progress, 79 percent of the 81 adult meals in the study contained more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium – the upper limit of what most people should consume in a day.
At table-service chains such as Red Lobster, Chili’s and Olive Garden, it’s easy to find meals with 5,000 milligrams of sodium, according to the report.
Here five of the saltiest meals in America:
And here are five of the saltiest kids’ meals in America:
For the study’s complete list of the most and least saltiest meals, check out the “Stalling on Salt: Restaurant Meals Still Loaded with Sodium” report.]]>
Biting your fingernails doesn’t only make your nails look bad. It can also make you feel bad.
Time magazine readers asked whether biting your nails was dangerous or just gross. The magazine went to the experts, who said nail biting is dangerous for a number of different reasons.
Nails harbor germs, in particular a family of bacteria that includes salmonella and E. coli. The bacteria thrive in the crevice between the finger and the nail, Dr. Richard Scher, an expert on nail disorders at Weill Cornell Medical College, told Time.
When you bite your nails, those bacteria end up in your mouth and gut, where they cause gastrointestinal infections that come with all sorts of lovely symptoms.
Long-term nail gnawing can lead to tears or abrasions in the skin of your fingertips where strains of bacteria or yeast get inside. Both can cause swelling, redness and puss under the nail, which has to be drained surgically and treated with antibiotics or antifungal medication, Scher told Time.
Nail biting can also cause dental problems.
“Constant biting can lead to poor dental occlusion, so the biter’s teeth shift out of position or become oddly shaped,” Scher said.
Biters also suffer from higher rates of gum disease and infection, he added.
So for the sake of your nails – and your health – stop biting those nails.]]>
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found excessive alcohol consumption accounts for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults.
Excessive alcohol consumption includes binge drinking (five or more drinks on an occasion for men; four or more for women), heavy weekly alcohol consumption (15 or more drinks per week for men; 8 or more per week for women), and any drinking by pregnant women or those younger than 21 years.
Excessive alcohol use led to about 88,000 deaths per year from 2006 to 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by about 30 years, according to the report.
The deaths were due to the health effects from excessive drinking over time – such as liver disease, heart disease and breast cancer – and drinking too much in a short period of time – such as violence, alcohol poisoning and vehicle crashes.
The alcohol-attributed death rate ranged from 51 deaths per 100,000 people in New Mexico to 19.1 deaths per 100,000 in New Jersey.
The rate in Washington is 29.2 deaths per 100,000 people – slightly above the national rate of 27.9 deaths.
Nearly 70 percent of deaths due to excessive drinking involved working-age adults (those 20 to 64 years old) and about 70 percent were males.
“Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death that kills many Americans in the prime of their lives,” said Ursula E. Bauer, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in a news release. “We need to redouble our efforts to implement scientifically proven public health approaches to reduce this tragic loss of life and the huge economic costs that result.”
Excessive alcohol use is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States and cost $223.5 billion (or about $1.90 per drink) in 2006, according to the report.]]>
It’s no surprise that some kids’ cereals contain a lot of sugar.
But just how much sugar do they contain? According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, children’s cereals are, on average, 34 percent sugar by weight.
Environmental Working Group analyzed 1,556 cereals on the U.S. market. The group found that 92 percent of cold cereals in the U.S. come preloaded with added sugars, and every single cereal marketed to children contains added sugar.
In 40 of the cereals, a single serving exceeds 60 percent of the daily amount of sugar suggested by health organizations. And that’s just for one serving – many children eat multiple “servings” in a single sitting, according to the report.
In addition, children’s cereals contained, on average, more than 40 percent more sugars than adult cereals.
The group found that more than 60 percent of children’s cereals contain a spoonful or more of sugar in every three spoonfuls of cereal.
Only a dozen cereals contained a teaspoon of sugar (4 grams) or less per serving. Less than 25 percent of cereals contained fewer than 2 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Here are the 13 most sugary children’s cereals, according to the report:
-Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, 56 percent sugar by weight
-Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs, 56 percent
-Post Golden Crisp, 52 percent
-Kellogg’s Apple Jacks with Marshmallows, 50 percent
-Kellogg’s Froot Loops with Marshmallows, 48 percent
-Food Lion Sugar Frosted Wheat Puffs, 56 percent
-Krasdale Fruity Circles, 53 percent
-Safeway Kitchens Silly Circles, 53 percent
-Food Club Honey Puffed Wheat, 50 percent
-Key Food Apple Wheels Cereal, 48 percent
-Shur Saving Apple Whirls, 48 percent
-Safeway Kitchens Apply Orbits, 48 percent
-Essential Everyday Golden Corn Nuggets, 48 percent
And here are the 10 least sugary children’s cereals, each containing 1 teaspoon of sugar (4 grams) or less per serving:
-Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, gluten-free, 3 percent sugar by weight
-General Mills Cheerios, 4 percent
-Post 123 Sesame Street, C is for Cereal, 4 percent
-Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, 11 percent
-Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, 12 percent
-Kellogg’s Crispix Cereals, 14 percent
-Springfield Corn Flakes Cereal, 7 percent
-Valu Time Crisp Rice Cereal, 9 percent
-Roundy’s Crispy Rice, 12 percent
-Shop Rite Scrunchy Crispy Rice, 12 percent
The average 6- to 11-year-old boy in the U.S. consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day. The average girl that age consumes 18 teaspoons.
A child eating one serving per day of a children’s cereal containing the average amount of sugar would consume nearly 1,000 teaspoons of sugar in a year, according to the report.]]>
Nearly 60 percent of people who purchased health plans through insurance exchanges were uninsured prior to purchasing their plan, according to a new survey.
The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted the survey from early April to early May, after the close of the open enrollment period. The survey includes people who purchased plans inside and outside the exchange, as well as those who did and did not have coverage prior to the Affordable Care Act.
The survey found 57 percent of people who purchased plans in the exchange were previously uninsured. Most of them reported going without coverage for two or more years.
About 70 percent of those who were previously uninsured said they decided to purchase a plan because of the ACA. About a quarter said they would have gotten it anyway, according to the survey.
Nearly half of those who had prior insurance coverage say their current plan premium – taking into account government subsidies – is lower than their previous plan’s premium. About 40 percent say it’s higher, according to the survey.
Here are some other interesting findings from the survey:
-About half of individual plan enrollees have coverage purchased from an exchange.
-Nearly half of those enrolled in plan say they’re not confident they would be able to afford to pay for a major illness or injury.
- About 40 percent of enrollees said it’s difficult to afford their monthly premiums. More than 60 percent are worried their premiums will become unaffordable in the future.
-Those most likely to feel they have benefited from the ACA are people receiving government financial assistance for plan premiums.
-Those most likely to feel they have negatively affected by the law are people who had a plan canceled in the past year.]]>
The U.S. health care system ranks last – not an unfamiliar position – among industrialized countries, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.
The 2014 report looks at the health care systems in 11 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
The U.S. came in dead last, just as it did in the previous four editors of the report (2010, 2007, 2006 and 2004).
The report incorporates patients’ and physicians’ survey results on care experiences; information on the most recent three Commonwealth Fund international surveys of patients and primary care physicians; and information on health care outcomes.
“The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance,” according to the report.
“The most notable way the U.S. differs from other industrialized countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage,” according to the report. “Other nations ensure the accessibility of care through universal health systems and through better ties between patients and the physician practices that serve as their medical homes.”
While the Affordable Care Act is increasing the number of Americans with coverage, the data used in the report are from years prior to the full implementation of the law, according to the Commonwealth Fund.
The report found that the U.S. ranks behind most other countries on many measures of health outcomes, quality and efficiency.
The U.S. also spends the most per capita on health care at $8,508, according to the report.
The U.K. ranked No.1 in the report, with Switzerland a close No. 2.
This chart, included in the Commonwealth Fund report, shows the breakdown:]]>