Public Health News Roundup: October 30
Hurricane Sandy Kills 16, Leaves 7 Million Without Power
Hurricane Sandy left 16 people dead and more than 7 million without power when it slammed into the U.S. East Coast Monday night. However, the effects are far from over, as those without power face cold weather while repair crews work to fix outages and rescuers assist people endangered by server flooding. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, where the hurricane made landfall, said the damage was “incalculable.” Read more on the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and read a post on the public health role in preparedness and response.
Smoking Bans Cut Hospitalizations for Severe Conditions
“Smoke-free laws” significantly reduce the number of hospitalizations for severe cardiovascular and breathing problems, according to a new study in the journal Circulation. Researchers found a 15 percent drop in hospitalizations for heart attack; a 16 percent drop for strokes; and a 24 drop for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory issues. The meta-analysis study looked at 45 studies on smoking bans across the globe and demonstrates the public health benefits of not just stopping people from smoking, but also from protecting people from secondhand smoke, according to HealthDay. "Smoke-free laws have dramatic and immediate impacts on health and the associated medical costs," said Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. “More comprehensive laws have bigger effects. Less comprehensive laws were associated with more hospitalizations." Read more on tobacco.
Despite Over-diagnosis, Breast Cancer Screening Saves Lives
Despite the fact that it can sometimes lead to unnecessary surgery and other risky treatments, breast cancer screening saves lives, according to a new study in The Lancet. Research by the charity Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Britain's Department of Health found that approximately 1,300 British deaths are prevented each year because of early screening, though about 4,000 women receive treatment for cancers that would not actually have caused them problems. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer for British women and health outcomes can be dramatically improved through early detection. "Screening remains one of the best ways to spot the very early signs of breast cancer, at a stage when treatment is most likely to be successful," said Harpal Kumar, chief executive of CRUK. Read more on cancer.