Public Health News Roundup: November 8
CDC Anti-smoking Campaign Put Real Faces on Health Dangers
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Tips From Former Smokers” media campaign effectively raised awareness about the health dangers of smoking, according to a post-campaign assessment. The campaign featured about a dozen former smokers in television, radio, online and print ads discussing the health issues they faced—and continue to face—because of smoking. "What we decided to do was essentially try to give the American people more of a real feeling of what's behind the statistics," said Tim McAfee, MD, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "Not helpless, pathetic victims, but people who want their stories told about what's been happening over the last 50 years, and who don't want to see this happen to anybody else." The campaign contributed to a 132 percent increase over the previous year’s time frame in calls to CDC’s 1-800-QUIT-NOW information line—up to 365,000 total calls—while visits to www.smokefree.gov increased 428 percent to approximately 630,000. Read more on tobacco.
Study: Statins Cut Death Rates in Cancer Patients
Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may decrease the likelihood of death by 15 percent for people with cancer, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers noted that the drugs cut the rate of death from all causes, not just from cancer. Stig Bojesen, MD, of the University of Copenhagen and the study’s lead researcher, compared the improvement in mortality rates to that of chemotherapy. "The benefit of receiving chemotherapy versus not receiving chemotherapy is 15 percent to 20 percent, depending on cancer type," he said, according to Reuters. "What we see (in the new study) is comparable to that. That's really something." However, both researchers and critics noted that further studied was needed. Read more on cancer.
Parents with Social Anxiety More Likely to Have Kids with Anxiety Disorders
Social anxiety in parents increases the chances that a child will also develop an anxiety disorder, according to a new study in the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center said a lack of affection and too much criticism from the parents were the likely contributors, demonstrating the important role that environmental factors play in anxiety disorders. "Children with an inherited propensity to anxiety do not just become anxious because of their genes, so what we need are ways to prevent the environmental catalysts—in this case, parental behaviors— from unlocking the underlying genetic mechanisms responsible for the disease," said Golda Ginsburg, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Read more on mental health.